The Best Hiking Baby Carriers for New Adventures Big and Small

The Deuter Kid Comfort Carrier Backpack is easy to use, supportive, and durable

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A hiking baby carrier can be a wonderful way to carry your kiddo, whether you are exploring a new city, walking around your hometown, or going on a hike. A carrier offers more freedom than a stroller, and when it's built with features like a metal frame, one made for hiking can be more comfortable for longer walks than an everyday carrier or wrap.

Reviewed & Approved

The Deuter Kid Comfort Child Carrier Backpack is made with a sturdy metal frame, adjustable straps, and a sun roof. For a budget-friendly option, we recommend the Chicco SmartSupport Backpack Baby Carrier.

According to pediatrician Heather Shafi, MD, there are a few safety steps that caregivers should keep in mind before reaching for a hiking carrier for their next adventure. They need to be aware of their airway, for example. "They need to be tightly snug to you, with a supported back and facing you, close enough to kiss, chin off of your chest, and in view at all times,” Dr. Shafi tells Verywell Family.

Consider whether you want a frame or non-frame carrier and if any additional features will be necessary, like storage or a canopy to shade your little one. We carefully considered design, material, frame type, ease of use, size, comfort, additional features, and value when reviewing products.

Here are the best hiking baby carriers for your next adventure.

Best Overall: Deuter Kid Comfort Child Carrier Backpack

5
Deuter Kid Comfort Child Carrier Backpack

REI

Pros
  • Easy 5-point harness

  • Wide hip/waist fit range

  • Comfortable load transfer

Cons
  • Sunshade doesn’t cover sides

The Deuter Kid Comfort Child Carrier Backpack earns our top spot because it's made with a sturdy metal frame that evenly distributes your child’s weight comfortably into the ergonomic hip straps. An award-winning carrier, we like this pick for avid hikers, walkers, and all-around adventurers. A smart system—the hip belt, back length, shoulder straps, and chest straps are all adjustable—makes this backpack a size-inclusive option for adults.

Kiddos will stay cool in the airy, durable mesh, and a color-coded five-point harness makes it easy to keep your child secure. The carrier boasts 14 liters of gear capacity, and it comes with a removable chin pad and detachable sun and rain roof.

Weight Limit: 48 pounds | Product Weight: 7 pounds, 2 ounces | Extra Features: Kickstand, foldable design, lifetime warranty

Best Storage: Osprey Poco Plus

Osprey Poco Plus

Source: Osprey

Pros
  • 26 liters of storage

  • 10+ pockets

  • Child seat height is adjustable

Cons
  • May not be comfortable for shorter adults

With 26 liters of storage space and more than 10 pockets, this carrier holds your baby and everything else you may need for a family hike or overnight adventure. While this option is an investment, it does hold tons of stuff and securely keeps your kiddo in place. We love that caregivers can adjust the seat height so that their little passengers can always see the best view.

While it’s made with a lot of flexibility, shorter parents may find that this pack is not as comfortable for them as others. What you gain in storage, some parents may lose in comfort.

Weight limit: 48 pounds | Product Weight: 7 pounds, 14 ounces | Extra Features: Cord attachment loop for toys or pacifier, built-in sunshade, removable drool pad

Best Budget: Chicco SmartSupport Backpack Baby Carrier

Chicco SmartSupport Backpack Baby Carrier

Source: Chicco

Pros
  • Affordable

  • Three seat heights

  • Folds flat

Cons
  • No storage

  • Limited padding

This affordable option is a great choice for families who may have stroller-averse kiddos or who want a stroller alternative for a quick hike, day trip to a theme park, or other adventure. Since it folds flat, it’s perfect for travel and won’t take up tons of space. There are no pockets or storage spots, so you’ll need to plan accordingly and have a different way to hold any essential baby gear.

An adjustable sun shade provides protection and the seat adjusts to three heights, so your kiddo will get the best view around. While it’s probably not the best for avid hikers, we like this pick as a budget-friendly carrier that gets the job done.

Weight limit: 40 pounds | Product Weight: 6.5 pounds | Extra Features: Folds flat, sunshade

Best Lightweight: Phil and Teds Escape Child Carrier

Phil and Teds Escape Child Carrier

Source: Phil and Teds

Pros
  • Compact fold

  • Made of breathable mesh

  • Detachable daypack

Cons
  • Lower weight limit

Made for long-wear, the lighter-than-others pack is quite comfortable, which is super helpful since every pound counts when you’re toting around a tot on your back. Crafted with an adjustable harness, easy torso length adjustments, and loads of straps, it’s easy to swap on and off between different-sized parents.

A five-point harness keeps your kiddo strapped in and the adjustable seat ensures they are at an ideal height at every stage of growth. We love that the carrier has a detachable daypack that provides lots of room for storage and makes it easy to share the load with other adults. While on the pricier end of the spectrum, this carrier is great for travel or a family camping trip, since it’s so lightweight and has a truly compact fold.

Weight limit: 39 pounds | Product Weight: 6 pounds | Extra Features: Detachable daypack, changing pad freestanding design, torso length adjustability

Best Frameless: TULA Free-to-Grow Baby Carrier

TULA Free-to-Grow Baby Carrier

Baby Tula

Pros
  • Lightweight

  • Minimum weight limit is 7 pounds

  • Multiple ergonomic positions

Cons
  • Less lumbar support for older kids

  • No storage

One of the most alluring features of frameless carriers is that they are much lighter than compared to their metal frame counterparts. This carrier by TULA holds your little one close like a hug, but the cotton and mesh fabric keep you both from getting too hot. Safe for babies as small as 7 pounds, this carrier is useful for carrying infants, babies, and toddlers.

Lightweight and easily packable, it’s great for on-the-go travel. If you’re a serious hiker, there are some limitations to keep in mind. A frameless carrier provides less lumbar support, especially when you're carrying bigger kids. There’s no built-in storage and no sun/shade cover on this carrier. If you’re using it front-facing, be aware of your surroundings and avoid especially tricky or uneven terrain, since you’ll put both yourself and your baby at risk for tripping.

Weight limit: 45 pounds | Product Weight: 1.7 pounds | Extra Features: 100 percent cotton frame, breathable mesh, no infant insert needed

Best for Carrying Babies: Luvdbaby Premium Baby Backpack Carrier

Luvdbaby Premium Baby Backpack Carrier

Source: Luvdbaby

Pros
  • Lightweight

  • Well priced

  • Lots of pockets and special features

Cons
  • Lower weight limit

  • Seat height doesn’t adjust

Ideal for younger tots and babies that are at least 6 months old, this carrier is an affordable option that doesn't skimp on the essentials. This cushy pack is lightweight and has tons of special features, including zipping mesh pockets, hip pockets for phone and keys storage, a diaper changing pad, and a thermal insulated zipper pocket. Little ones can comfortably rest their feet in the stirrups and the sunshade can be removed and stowed away. Since the weight limit is 40 pounds, parents of bigger kids or older toddlers may be aged out of this carrier earlier than others.

Weight limit: 40 pounds | Product Weight: 6.4 pounds | Extra Features: Sun shade and rain cover, Adjustable stirrups, Insulated zipper pocket, Included changing pad

Best for Long Distance: Thule Sapling Child Carrier

Thule Sapling Child Carrier

Source: Thule

Pros
  • Seat design has baby sitting rather than standing

  • Sunshade included

  • Lots of storage

Cons
  • Minimal padding on shoulder straps 

Serious hikers will want to invest in this supportive, high-quality baby carrier. With plenty of storage, the seat design is crafted so your kiddo is fully sitting, rather than semi-standing like they are in other carriers. We know that a comfortable kid will buy you longer stretches of time on the trail.

While there is not a ton of padding on the shoulder straps, this carrier is designed with the comfort of avid hikers and active families in mind with features like easily an adjustable torso and hip belt. Our favorite feature is the removable and totally machine washable child seat and drool pad, making messes a breeze to clean post-hike.

Weight limit: 48 pounds | Product Weight: 7 pounds | Extra Features: Removable and machine washable seat, UPF 50 sunshade, easy access gear compartment and side panel pockets 

Best for Toddlers: Piggyback Rider Scout

Piggyback Rider Scout

Source: Piggyback

Pros
  • Lightweight

  • 50 pound weight limit

  • Portable

Cons
  • Child should be 2.5 years old and up

  • Limited padding

  • No storage

An innovative design, this carrier is made for kids 2.5 years and older. While we wouldn't recommend this one for long days out on the trail, it is a cool, supported way to carry older kids and ditch the stroller. Once you attach your kid with the child safety harness, they can hold on to the two handles while they stand on the non-skid standing bar.

Your kiddo stands on the pack, so they’ll need the stamina to stay up as you carry them. Functioning like a backpack, the pack distributes the child’s weight along your core and back. While there is no storage, you can buy add-on accessories such as pockets.

Weight limit: 50 pounds | Product Weight: Less than 3 pounds | Extra Features: Two hand holds for kids, non-skid standing bar

Final Verdict

A hiking backpack is a big investment and a very personal decision. If possible, it’s helpful to go to your local outdoor store so you can try a few on and make sure they work for your body and your kiddo. If you know a hiking backpack is what you want, the ever-popular Deuter Kid Comfort (view at REI) is a great choice with lots of features and a high weight limit.

A more affordable way to dip your toe into the world of hiking backpacks is the Chicco SmartSupport Backpack Baby Carrier (view at Amazon). Finally, a frameless carrier like the Tula Free To Grow Carrier (view at Baby Tula) is useful for all babies, can be used for the occasional nature walk, and is super helpful for everyday strolls around down.

What to Look For When Buying Hiking Baby Carriers

Frame vs. Frameless

Choosing between a frame or frameless carrier really depends on how you’ll be using the gear. Framed carriers typically have a more rigid construction. They are sturdier, hold more weight, and distribute the child's weight better, so the load feels lighter. On the flip side, they tend to be heavier, more expensive, and less portable.

Frameless carriers are a great choice for everyday wear, can be used for younger babies, and are useful in a variety of positions. However, frameless carriers don’t offer the same level of support, protection from the elements, or space to store your gear. They aren't ideal for avid hikers as they simply won't provide the same level of support for your child and, after a while, can make hiking less enjoyable for the wearer.

We recommend choosing a frame carrier if you plan on hitting the trails regularly with your little one in tow so that you can really enjoy your investment. A frameless option is ideal for caregivers who want to use it for stroller-free walks that are less strenuous on the carrier.

Comfort

You want to find a carrier that is both comfortable for the baby and the wearer. Pediatrician Dr. Heather Shafi recommends a carrier that “is either wrapped or buckled at both hips and upper chest, as this will minimize stress to the parent’s back.” If the carrier will be worn by different adults, make sure it’s fully adjustable so that it is easy to transfer from one parent to another. “If you are hiking with heavier toddlers, I recommend [a carrier] that has a large weight capacity,” she adds.

Extras

Many carriers come with lots of extras like canopies, storage, add-on packs, and more. Consider in what setting and how often you’ll be using the carrier before adding on extras. Every add-on leads to additional weight, so make sure the extra load is truly needed. If you are hiking, prioritize storage that allows you to carry all of the essentials for you and your child safely.

Bring supplies like water, diapers, wipes, and any other essentials with you. Dr. Shafi advises against trails that are “too onerous where you would be likely to trip and fall.”

Frequently Asked Questions

  • When can my baby go in a hiking carrier?

    According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), babies that are born prematurely should not sit in upright carriers (i.e. frame hiking carriers). While the AAP doesn't offer clear guidelines on age range, many experts agree that caregivers should not put babies under 6 months old in a hiking carrier.

  • Can I only use a hiking carrier while hiking?

    No, you don’t have to use a hiking carrier. You can use a traditional baby carrier for hiking, but be aware that front carriers will obscure your view of the trail and can be less safe. Also, traditional carriers may not offer the same support and storage options to safely sustain a hiking trip. If you find you really enjoy hiking with your kiddo, it’s wise to invest in a hiking carrier for safety, convenience, and comfort for both you and your little one. 

Why Trust Verywell Family

Maya Polton is a former marketing manager and current freelance writer who covers food, home, and parenting. She’s also the mom of an 11-year-old son, an 8-year-old son, and a 4-year-old daughter. She is a huge fan of frameless baby carriers and still remembers the day when she put her firstborn in a carrier as a newborn and was amazed at the thought that she suddenly had two free hands! Maya considers a carrier a beach-day essential, since it leaves your hands free to carry all the rest of the never-ending gear.

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  1. Kemp C, Editor S. Keep babies safe while in carriers, slings.