Best Hiking Backpack Carriers for Toddlers and Babies

Finding the best hiking backpack carrier for toddlers and babies is key to ensuring a great day out hiking. Comfort for both you and your little one is of the utmost important. We’ll cover all the things to look for to help you find the best backpack to carry toddlers or babies, so that you’ll use it for years and make you excited to get out on the trail.

As parents who have hiked around the world using a hiking backpack for carrying a baby or toddler, we recommend getting the best hiking carrier you can afford. You’ll get much more value for your money if you purchase something you enjoy using.

When we first went shopping for a hiking carrier for a baby, we tried on a budget option followed by the Deuter Kid Comfort. Once we had seen the difference, we knew it would be worth the money to buy one that was so well designed.

best backpack carrier for baby

If you don’t plan on doing a lot of hiking, then by all means go for a budget option or even just use your soft structured toddler carrier. For anyone who wants to do longer distance hiking with a baby or toddler, then it will be well worth your money to buy a toddler or baby backpack carrier from a well known outdoor gear brand like Deuter, Osprey or Thule.

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What is a Hiking Backpack Carrier

A backpack carrier for a baby or toddler is a framed carrier with a seat for your baby or toddler. You carry it on your back like a backpack and your child sits in the carrier, up high where they can see over your shoulders.

best baby backpack carrier

Your baby or toddler is strapped in the backpack carrier, typically with a 5-point harness, to keep them safe. However, your baby must be able to sit independently before using this type of backpack carrier for babies and toddlers.

Benefits of Using a Hiking Backpack Carrier

Rain cover – A good rain cover when hiking with toddlers or babies will ensure your little one stays warm and dry if you get caught hiking in the rain. You can just leave your rain cover in your backpack carrier, so it’s there when you need it.  

best backpack carriers for toddlers and babies

Sun protection – Your baby backpack carrier for hiking should have a canopy (either integrated or purchased as a second piece). This will offer your toddler or baby good sun protection on long hikes or hikes with minimal shade.

Added storage – The best backpack carriers for babies and toddlers have plenty of storage so you don’t have to pack a second bag with all your baby or toddler hiking gear.

Room for a water bladder – In addition to the storage compartment, often you’ll find a spot for a water bladder. This is a much better alternative to carrying water bottles since your water is much more accessible. If you can teach your toddler to drink out of the straw, you don’t have to stop when they get thirsty or inevitably drop their water bottle on the hiking trail.

Adjustable fit for both parents – Hiking backpack carriers often have several different ways they can be adjusted to get the perfect fit for both parents.

best backpack carrier for toddler

Less heat and sweat transfer – Hiking with a baby on your back is hard word and it’s even harder carrying a toddler up the mountain. A backpack for carrying toddlers and babies will keep airflow between your back and your baby or toddler. You’ll still be sweating but at least you won’t be transferring it to your baby or toddler. Just remember to dress your baby or toddler in an extra layer since she’s not moving in the carrier or getting your body heat.

Visibility – For some babies and especially toddlers, they’ll be much happier if they can see what’s going on around them. A baby or toddler backpack carrier for hiking should have a way to adjust your little ones seat so they can sit up higher and see out.

Pillow for sleeping – Most good backpack carriers will have a pillow for your little hiker to rest her head on when she falls asleep.

Travel with a backpack carrier for toddlers or babies While we didn’t purchase our backpack carrier specifically for travel, we found it to be a must-have baby and toddler travel product for us. We even used it to travel with a baby in cities where the crowds or cobblestone streets made it difficult to maneuver a stroller.

Don’t miss all our Resources for Hiking with a Baby or Toddler. We cover everything from hiking tips to the best carriers for hiking.

How to Choose the Best Backpack Carrier for Toddlers and Babies

There are some key things to look for when shopping for a baby or toddler hiking backpack. The most important will be how well it fits you and the comfort of your little hiking companion.

best backpack for carrying toddlers

Here are the things to consider when purchasing a backpack carrier for baby or toddler.

  • How much storage does it have?
  • Does the backpack carrier have a spot for a water bladder?
  • Is there a canopy or sunshade? Is it integrated or does it need to be purchased separately?
  • Can you purchase a rain cover for the hiking backpack carrier?
  • How well can you adjust the fit to work for yourself and your partner? Is it easy to adjust on-the-go?
  • How much does the backpack for carrying toddlers and babies weigh?
  • Are there any weight or height restrictions for your baby or toddler?
  • How is your baby or toddler strapped into the backpack carrier? Is it a 5 point harness?
  • How easily can you adjust the height of the seat for your little one?
  • Are there additional accessories like footrests for your baby, a plush pillow or extra pockets?
  • What’s the price?

Looking for some great hikes? Don’t miss this list of best hikes in the USA with a baby or toddler. These are all hikes done by other parents just like you.

Best Hiking Backpack to Carry Toddlers and Babies

Here is a breakdown of the best backpack carrier for a toddler or baby including answers to the questions above. This should help you make a decision on the best hiking backpack carrier for your family.

Of all the backpack carriers, the best options are the Osprey or the Deuter backpack carriers. They are similar in features, in price and are the ones most loved by parents. This is really one area where you don’t want to go for the budget version, unless you don’t plan on using it all that much.

Trust me when I say, you’ll be so much happier if you are comfortable. We’ve talked to countless parents who weren’t happy when going for budget backpack carriers.

Get even more info on buying the best hiking carrier for baby.

Deuter Kid Comfort Backpack Carriers

Deuter now has three levels of backpack carriers for carrying a toddler or baby. The levels range in price, weight and features. They also have one specifically made to fit a woman’s body, if you are having a hard time getting a good fit with one of the other carriers.

Weight restrictions on all the Deuter Kid Comfort Backpack Carriers is 48.5 lbs including child and carrier.

This is the rain cover that fits all of these Deuter backpack carriers.

Our Recommendation

If you are considering a Deuter Kid Comfort backpack carrier, the Deuter Kid Comfort Pro is the one we recommend. You’ll be happy to have any extra pockets and having an integrated sun canopy is a great feature.

We’ve owned two Deuter Kid Comfort 3 backpack carriers and hiked around the globe with babies and toddlers, so we speak from years of experience when we say they were well worth the money.

Osprey Poco Hiking Carriers

Osprey makes two backpack carriers, the Osprey Poco and the Osprey Poco Plus, which are virtually identical except for a few differences.

One added benefit is the Osprey Poco has a carrying case (to be purchased separately) which would be useful for traveling with a backpack carrier.

Both Osprey backpack carriers use this rain cover and also have a weight limit of 48.5 lbs including child and carrier.

Other Hiking Carriers for Toddlers

While the Osprey and Deuter make some of the best toddler carriers for hiking, there are a few others that are well worth a look.

Included in this section, we have other toddler carriers that aren't a framed backpack carrier. They'll pack down smaller and are especially good for when your toddler starts doing a lot more walking.

Other Toddler Carries that Aren't Backpack Carriers

While we recommend a good backpack carrier for toddlers or babies if you are planning to hike frequently or for longer distances, there are two other options for a hiking carrier for toddlers to consider for those shorter hikes or for carrying your toddler for short amounts of time.

Everything listed above can be found in our convenient Best Hiking Backpack Carriers list on Amazon.

If you have any questions on the best backpack carriers for toddlers and babies, send us an email at info[at]babycantravel[dot]com or join us over in our private Facebook group for traveling parents! Join here.

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