If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard, “I want to go up on your shoulders!” from one of my kids during a hike…well, let’s just say I would have a lot of nickels. During this toddler/preschooler stage of life, their stamina is so variable depending on the day (or moment) and they often want up or down several times a mile.
Enter my new best friend: the Our Expedition Carrier (OE for short). This unique carrier enables me to transfer kids on and off my shoulders easily, and provides back-saving weight distribution and stability.
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At almost 5 years old, my son has outgrown our framed backpack carrier at this point, which means hoisting him up onto our shoulders is our best option when he’s out of steam. And while my 3-year-old daughter still fits in the backpack, it’s a (literal) pain in the neck to take her in and out of it whenever she decides she does or doesn’t want to hike on her own.
With the OE Carrier, I can alternate between kids easily without removing the pack to make a ton of adjustments. I can give my 3-year-old more frequent opportunities to hike on her own for small spurts, and I can give my 5-year-old (who is small for his age and still within the recommended weight range) occasional rest breaks while we keep moving.
If you’re curious about the basic ins and outs of this specific style of carrier, you can check out TMM Team Member Stephanie’s Review of the original OE Shoulder Carrier. She shares some great thoughts on how to figure out whether or not a shoulder carrier is a good fit for your family’s needs!
Looking for more options to consider? Check out our extensive list of kid carrier reviews here!
- Carrier frame
- Removable backpack
- Removable fanny bag
- Removable sunshade
- 2 Our Expedition baseball hats (one adult sized, one child sized)
- Canvas storage bags for organizing small items
Technical Specs for the OE Carrier
- Frame: aluminum + stainless steel
- Fabric: polyester
- Padding: EPE foam
- Unit weight: 4.4 lbs with backpack / 3.4 lbs without backpack
- Dimension: 22″ x 14″ x 6″ (folded)
- Waist size: 50″
- Torso fit range: 15″ – 23″ (customization available outside this range by contacting manufacturer)
- Backpack size: 40 L
- Weight limit: 45 lbs
- Height limit: 45″
What’s New in the Updated OE Carrier
The OE Carrier brings some valuable feature upgrades from the original version. In addition to the waist strap for the child, the carrier now includes a removable and adjustable 4-point harness with shoulder straps.
The ankle straps now include both velcro and buckle closures for extra security, which allows for truly hands-free carrying.
A removable fanny bag attaches to the pack over the hip belt buckle, providing easy access to small items like a cell phone or keys. This also doubles as a “belly pad” making the hip belt fit much more comfortably.
The buckle system for the removable backpack has been updated to make removal simpler and quicker. And the buckles underneath the child’s legs have also been updated to a flatter style which increases the comfort for the child.
What We Love About the OE Carrier
Ease of loading and unloading
One of the most desirable features of this carrier is how easy it is to get kids in and out of it. While you may want to have an extra set of hands and eyes to help you get a feel for where buckles and straps are the first few times you use it, after that it’s simple. I can easily feel for the buckle behind my head and get my child secured quickly.
Great for fostering independence with little hikers
I love giving my daughter opportunities to hike on her own, but it’s challenging when I’m also trying to keep up her big brother’s pace. With a standard framed carrier, I’m much more likely to give her a few minutes on her own two feet at the beginning of a hike and then keep her in the pack for the rest of the time.
The OE Carrier allows me to lift her in and out seamlessly, giving her a chance to try a certain type of terrain without losing a bunch of time. This does wonders for building confidence without pushing her too hard.
If you’re looking for more advice on how to encourage your little ones to develop a love for the trail, check out Stephanie’s post on 9 Best Tips for Hiking with Kids.
The kids love it!
Both kids love sitting high up where they can see everything around us, and they find the carrier to be perfectly comfortable. The added stability of being strapped in allows them to feel less nervous about being up high, and they can relax and enjoy the ride.
Stable, hands-free carrying
Not only do the kids feel more stable with this carrier, so do I! I was curious how secure it would feel, but I found it very easy to keep myself steady. And I love that the ankle straps allow me to keep my hands free for better balance, handing out snacks, or snapping a photo.
What We Don’t Love About the OE Carrier
Only comfortable for shorter distances
While the carrier is (in my opinion) far more comfortable than carrying kids unassisted on my shoulders, a couple miles is about all my shoulders and upper back can take without needing some serious TLC afterwards.
If you’re wanting to do a longer hike and need the option of carrying a child for a longer distance, this type of carrier will not be your best option. The manufacturer recommends a 2 hour limit before giving both child and wearer a break, and I would definitely say this is accurate although maybe a bit generous.
The detachable backpack
Personally, I don’t see the purpose in having the backpack detach from the carrier frame. We already have plenty of comfortable day packs in our arsenal, and the attachment points for this backpack allow it to swing awkwardly.
After several outings with the OE Carrier, we were finally able to dial in a way to wrap the yellow attachment straps around the frame a few extra times for a more secure fit. The website also recommends placing the frame poles through the lower attachment carabiners if the backpack is swinging or sagging uncomfortably.
While this does help, it seems that weight could be saved and design could be streamlined by simply making the storage compartments an integrated part of the pack.
Can be difficult to dial in fit
While I found the pack fairly easy to fit, my husband did not have the same experience. He felt like the position of the seat was forcing his neck forward, and was unable to adjust the pack to a point where that didn’t cause stress on his upper back. Even after watching the fit videos on the website and following their tips, he couldn’t get it to feel tolerable.
This may just be a matter of personal preference, because he has become quite comfortable with carrying kids on his shoulders unassisted and has hiked quite a bit that way.
OE Carrier: The Bottom Line
The OE Carrier is a great option if you’re looking for a way to give your littlest hiker rest breaks while still covering ground. It’s a lightweight, easy-to-use option for the transition from riding in a framed carrier to truly independent hiking!
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