This article about the Best Hiking Baby Carriers was written by baby travel expert and outdoor enthusiast Celine Brewer and may contain affiliate links.
My partner and I are lifelong hikers, so we wasted no time getting our newborn child out onto a hiking trail. We started hiking with a baby early and we just kept going, including when baby #2 joined our family. Over the years, I came to appreciate the many benefits of hiking with a baby carrier. I’ve personally tried many of the best baby carriers for hiking and I am happy to share my experiences with you.
What You’ll Find in This Article on the Best Hiking Baby Carriers
Best Baby Carriers for Hiking
Based on my many years of experience hiking with newborns, babies, toddlers and preschoolers, with experience using several different carriers over the years, these are my recommended hiking baby carriers:
1. Baby K’tan Original Baby Wrap Carrier
Based on my experience, the Baby K’tan is an all-around great baby carrier for hiking with newborns. It’s comfortable for both mom and baby plus it keeps your infant snuggled in close. I like that its design gets you all the benefits of a wrap but without the added complication. It’s made of machine washable 100% cotton, for the perfect cozy fit around baby.
I often used a Baby K’tan wrap carrier for hiking with an infant, especially when my Ergobaby Carrier with an infant insert was too warm.
The only downside to the Baby K’Tan carrier is that it’s size specific, so you may not be able to share it with your partner unless you are similar sizes. If you’d like to share the carrying duties with your partner, the Boba Wrap is a highly regarded one size fits all alternative to the Baby K’Tan wrap.
2. Ergobaby Carrier, Original 3-Position Baby Carrier
In my experience, the Original 3-position Ergobaby Carrier is one of the best infant carriers for hiking. I got years of use from my Ergobaby carrier, starting very early by using an insert for hiking with our infant.
I loved how comfortable the Ergobaby carrier was for hiking, and it is easily adjustable for both parents. While it doesn’t have all the different seating options of the other Ergo carriers, I felt the the front and back carry positions were all I needed.
If the forward facing position is important to you, then I recommend looking into the Ergo 360 carrier (for babies 4 months or older). If you prefer one with all positions that you can use from the newborn stage without the insert, then the Ergo Omni 360 will be your best option. You can also get both of these with a Cool Air Mesh.
I loved the Ergo carrier for hiking with our toddlers. It was so easy to pack away when our toddler was walking, then simply take out and carry our toddler as needed.
3. LÍLLÉbaby Complete All Seasons Baby Carrier
I transitioned from the Ergobaby to using the LILLEBaby Complete All Seasons when my kids started to get bigger. With 6 positions for carrying, a zip down front to help control your baby’s temperature, a headrest and a sleeping hood that also works for sun protection, I liked the LILLEBaby has all the features in a great baby carrier for hiking.
I like how the LILLEbaby has lumbar support and padded shoulder straps to help with any back issues.
It can be used for hiking with an infant (starting at 7 lbs) without an insert all the way to hiking with a toddler. However, if you plan to carry your toddler a lot, I highly recommend using either a sturdier backpack carrier or a Lillebaby CarryOn Toddler as they have a much better fit for toddlers.
4. Baby Tula Explore Baby Carrier
If you ask any group of moms about which baby carrier is the best, included in that list you’ll get the Ergobaby, LILLEBaby and the Tula. The Baby Tula Explore Baby Carrier will give you all the same benefits of the Ergo Omni 360 and Lillebaby Complete. It can be used from 7-45 lbs, has all the carrying positions, and it comes with a detachable sleep cover that can offer sun protection.
For parents, you’ll have padded shoulder straps for comfort and it can be adjusted to fit all parents.
5. Deuter Kid Comfort Backpack Carriers
Once we graduated from using soft baby carriers for hiking, we started using a Deuter Kid Comfort backpack carrier. We loved our Deuter so much, we got a second one when our littlest was big enough. We used the Deuter Kid Comfort 3, but they now make 3 options for backpack carriers: Deuter Kid Comfort, Deuter Kid Comfort Pro and Deuter Kid Comfort Active.
A hiking backpack carrier for babies should only be used for children who are sitting independently (around 6 – 8 months old). Once they are big enough, the Deuter backpack carrier offers many benefits enhancing the comfort of your little one, such as a plush chin pad, plus adjustable seat height and footrests. The maximum load (including child and carrier) is 22 kg or 48.5 lbs. For safety it has a 5 point safety harness.
The Deuter Kid Comfort Active is the lightest of the packs at less than 6 lbs. It also comes in the SL version which is made for a better fit for women. Two downsides of this pack is that it does not have an integrated canopy or a spot for a water bladder. So if weight is the most important aspect or you are having an issue with fit, then this is a good option. Otherwise, I recommend one of the other two Deuter Options.
The Deuter Kid Comfort is the latest version of the Deuter Kid Comfort 2. It weighs one pound less than the Pro version, but does not have a detachable daypack or an integrated sun canopy.
The Deuter Kid Comfort Pro is the new version of the Deuter Kid Comfort 3 (which is the hiking backpack carrier we’ve been using for years). The main improvement is that it now comes with a detachable daypack.
The Deuter Kid Comfort and Deuter Kid Comfort Pro both have the same back length adjustment system and hip belts to help distribute the load. Either model can be adjusted between parents easily.
While the Deuter Kid Comfort is not as expensive as the Pro version, you’ll eat up almost all of that price difference by the time you purchase the sun canopy (which I wouldn’t go hiking without).
If you plan to go hiking with your kids often, my experience has shown the Deuter Kid Comfort Pro is well worth the money. These packs also tend to have good resale value, so keep that in mind if you are worried about the price.
6. Osprey Poco Child Carriers
While I absolutely loved my Deuter backpack carriers, you’ll undoubtedly notice the popularity of the Osprey Poco and Osprey Poco Plus backpack carriers for hiking with a baby. You’ll find the Osprey and Deuter carriers to be similar in many aspects, including price and features.
They are adjustable for the parents, have an external hydration sleeve and have plenty of gear storage. The Poco Plus has additional hip adjustments that can be made to fit a wider range of bodies.
Comfort features just for your baby include adjustable stirrups, an adjustable seat, a padded drool pad and a built-in sun shade.
The main difference between the Poco and Poco Plus is the amount of storage. The Poco Plus has more storage at the bottom and in the hip and side pockets. If storage isn’t a concern, you can save some money and weight by going with the Osprey Poco, but in my experience I always appreciated having the extra storage to carry baby supplies, snacks, etc.
These two brands (Deuter and Osprey) are the best options for hiking backpack carriers. If you’d like to consider more options, I have written a complete post on the Best Backpack Carriers for Babies & Toddlers.
Not finding what you are looking for? You can see more models of hiking backpack carriers which may meet your needs.
Benefits of Hiking with a Baby
As a parent who started hiking with a baby when my first child was only 6 – 8 weeks old, I can say with confidence that getting out in nature with your baby makes for wonderful experiences. Not only do you get the benefits of being out in the fresh air and in nature, but there are so many more reasons why you should be out hiking with your baby.
As a new mom, staying at home all day is not the best option. Getting out gives you confidence in your ability to do more things with your baby. Plus, the fresh air and exercise that hiking with your baby provides is just so good for your mental well-being.
Hiking with a newborn is a great time to start, since newborns are most happy when they are cuddled up on you. They are quick to sleep while you are enjoying your hike. Also, if you use a baby carrier for hiking, they will quickly get used to being in a carrier, which you can reap benefits from well into those toddlers years.
In my experience, the best way to get out hiking with an infant or baby is to have a good hiking carrier for baby (and for you).
How do you Choose the Best Baby Carrier for Hiking?
Based on my experience, the best hiking baby carrier will be the one that is most comfortable for you and your baby. I’ve learned there are several considerations for finding the best baby carrier for hiking for you:
1. Climate is a big consideration when choosing which baby carrier is best for hiking. I used my original Ergobaby carrier with an infant insert when we first started hiking with a newborn. In our Canadian summers, the Ergobaby was a good choice, but when we traveled to a warmer climate, I found the infant insert was quite hot.
In warm climates, a hiking baby carrier with some airflow and mesh is the best option.
2. Also, depending on the age of your baby, you’ll want to consider a baby carrier for hiking that gives you multiple ways of wearing it. For newborns, infants and young babies, front carrying is the best way to use your carrier. Then, once your child is old enough, back carrying your baby during a hike is easier since you can see where you are stepping.
By choosing a good quality, versatile hiking carrier, you’ll get plenty of use out of it not only hiking with a baby but hiking with toddlers too. Just make sure you practice using your carrier around the house and in your neighborhood before heading out on your first family adventure!
If you are hiking with a toddler too, make sure to check out all my favorite toddler hiking gear.
What about Hiking Backpack Baby Carriers?
I LOVE hiking backpack carriers! In fact, I’ve owned two Deuter Kid Comfort backpack carriers and am a huge proponent of these types of hiking carriers for babies.
Some people will claim that a soft structured baby carrier is all you need for hiking, but while I like having that option, a hiking backpack baby carrier has many added benefits. If you plan on hiking often and/or doing longer family hikes, I recommend going with one of these hiking backpack carriers for babies.
Making a Final Decision on the Best Baby Hiking Carrier
How do you know which baby carrier for hiking to choose? Choosing the best baby carrier comes down to the right fit for you and your baby. This means, you need to try them on.
I recommend you either purchase several and return the ones that you don’t like or find a local babywearing lending library where you can try on different options.
Other Baby Hiking Gear
Hiking with a baby is so easy and enjoyable. You don’t need much baby hiking gear to get out on the trails, but I recommend you bring these accessories when hiking with a baby:
- For soft structured carriers, this Ergo Fleece Lined Cover is great for when the weather gets chilly. For wet climates, the Ergo also has a rain cover.
- A wide brimmed baby sun hat is a must, even if you have your child in a backpack carrier. I love these sun hats by Sunday Afternoon, the sun protection is excellent and my kids have happily worn them for years.
- If they are old enough to use it, further protect your baby from the sun with sunscreen.
- For hiking with a newborn, don’t forget the infant insert if your baby carrier requires it for children that small.
- Diaper changes don’t stop just because you are hiking. I couldn’t live without my portable diaper changing mat.
Where to Get Out Hiking with a Baby
If you are traveling internationally with a baby, see these best hikes with a baby or toddler around the world or these best hikes with toddlers and babies in the USA.
If you love the idea of hiking with a baby, but don’t want to do it solo, talk to fellow moms in your new mom group or look into a local chapter of Hike It Baby to find a community of hikers!
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This post was written & edited by:
Celine Brewer is the owner of Baby Can Travel. Not only does she have years of experience traveling with babies & toddlers, but she's helped millions of new parents travel with their babies and toddlers for over a decade. In addition to writing on her baby travel blog, she has shared her expertise on traveling with a baby or toddler by contributing to articles about traveling with a baby with the Washington Post, USA Today, the Lonely Planet magazine and Pregnancy & Newborn magazine.
Celine also writes about family travel on the site FamilyCanTravel.com, which she co-owns with her husband. Being from the Canadian Rockies, she shares her passion about her home and travel to Banff National Park and area on their site TravelBanffCanada.com.