We always recommend using a baby carrier for travel, especially if you plan to get out of the major centers. Not only do you get benefits of baby snuggles and free hands, but not having to worry about where you can go with your travel stroller is a big plus.
If you plan on doing a lot of hiking with a baby or toddler while traveling, then we recommend traveling with a hiking baby carrier to keep everyone happy on longer hikes.
If you are flying with a baby and wondering if flying with a hiking baby carrier is possible. Yes it is!
Taking it one step further, a baby carrier backpack is a great option if you want to travel without your baby stroller.
We’ve traveled extensively with our hiking backpack carriers for toddlers and babies, so we’ll go through all the details plus the benefits we saw traveling with a backpack carrier (and leaving the stroller behind).
Travel and Flying with a Hiking Baby Carrier
- What is a Hiking Backpack Baby Carrier?
- Do I Really Need a Hiking Backpack Carrier?
- Flying with a Hiking Baby Carrier
- How to Travel with a Baby Hiking Backpack
- 1. Crowded public transit with a baby or toddler backpack carrier
- 2. No breaks from carrying your baby or toddler
- 3. Carrying water and snacks
- 4. Carrying baby and toddler essentials
- 5. Dealing with rain when traveling with a baby or toddler
- 6. Using a hiking backpack baby carrier in cities or busy areas
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What is a Hiking Backpack Baby Carrier?
A toddler or baby backpack carrier is a framed carrier that you wear on your back like a backpack. There’s space for your baby or toddler to sit, then often below there will be a storage area. The entire hiking backpack carrier is made on a frame that allows it to stand on it’s own, making it easier to put your baby or toddler in.
For the safety and comfort of your child, your hiking carrier for your baby or toddler should have a 5 point harness and even a pillow for your baby to rest her head on.
For your comfort, there should be several ways you can adjust it for the best fit.
The best baby carrier backpack for travel is one that is comfortable for both you and your child. We have a complete list of all the best hiking backpack carriers for toddlers and babies.
You don’t have to worry about the size when it comes to flying with a hiking baby carrier. We have traveled with the Deuter Kid Comfort 3 (now called the Deuter Kid Comfort Pro) and it’s one of the largest, so we recommend just finding the best fit for you.
You shouldn’t have any issues traveling with any of the ones on our list of the best hiking carriers above, but be sure to continue reading to get all the details on traveling with a hiking backpack carrier.
Do I Really Need a Hiking Backpack Carrier?
It’s true, a regular baby carrier for travel can be used for all activities, including hiking with a baby, but you may come to a point where it just isn’t working that well anymore. Maybe it’s your back or maybe your little one just isn’t happy in it for long periods of time.
We switched from a soft structured carrier to a backpack carrier for a couple of reasons:
- It was more comfortable for all of us to carry our daughter for longer periods of time.
- She enjoyed being higher up and was happy to be in the backpack carrier longer.
If you aren’t ready to switch to a hiking backpack baby carrier yet, see all our best baby carriers for hiking here.
After our son was born we started incorporating more hiking into our family trips. It worked better for everyone if we invested in two hiking backpack carriers. Our daughter was capable of doing some hiking, but only for short periods of time and she also still enjoyed being in the backpack carrier.
Our son was quite happy in the backpack carrier and could sit for a few hours watching the world go by. As long as he could easily see everything, he was happy.
See all the best hiking backpack carriers in our convenient Amazon Shopping List here.
Our family trip to Japan was the first time we considered traveling with our hiking backpack carriers. In the past we had always tried to pack as minimally as possibly, which had us hiking with either an Ergo Baby Carrier or a rented backpack carrier.
As we researched how we would spend our time in Kyoto, we were excited about the hiking possibilities. These hikes would be longer than what we had previously done with our Ergo carriers and we knew from past experiences that if we really wanted to all enjoy the kid-friendly hikes in Kyoto, we would need our backpack carriers.
Traveling with backpack carriers to Japan was such a positive experience that we brought them both along on our next family trip to Italy where we also did a decent amount of hiking with toddlers. Having backpack carriers allowed us to do some hiking on the Island of Elba plus hike between each of the five villages while in Cinque Terre with toddlers.
After Italy, we packed up both of our Deuter backpack carriers again and headed to Norway. One last free flight for our son (who turned 2 years old shortly after we returned) and one last hiking trip where we could do the hikes we wanted while carrying both kids.
For more great hikes with a baby or toddler around the world, see this post with recommendations from other parents. Or this post with best hikes in the USA with a baby or toddler.
Flying with a Hiking Baby Carrier
What do you need to know about flying with a baby hiking backpack? It’s actually pretty simple. We checked ours with our luggage.
Since we weren’t traveling with a stroller, we were able to count our baby backpack carrier (a Deuter Kid Comfort III) as our “baby item” on flights. Our daughter had her own seat, so we counted the second hiking carrier as her piece of luggage (she was 3 years old at the time).
When possible, we asked them to put our Deuter backpack carriers in large plastic bags and made sure the all the straps are fastened and the hoods were zipped in.
If you are flying with an Osprey child carrier, they have a travel bag, though we never had any issues with damage.
Can You Gate Check a Baby Backpack Carrier?
While we haven’t gate checked our hiking backpack carriers, we have seen other parents at the airport do exactly that.
We also traveled with a soft structured carrier, just for those small outings where our toddler was going to do all the walking and we only needed to carry the baby. So we used our soft structured carrier for the airport and just checked our hiking carriers with our luggage.
Don’t forget to fill the storage compartment on your baby backpack carrier before checking it onto the airplane. If you are going to check the baby backpack carrier with your luggage, you might as well use that storage. We often filled it with diapers (so we didn’t have to buy as many at our destination) or jackets, which tend to take up a lot of room in a suitcase.
How to Travel with a Baby Hiking Backpack
Aside from flying with a baby hiking backpack, here are a few other things to consider when traveling with a hiking backpack carrier and how we handled them:
1. Crowded public transit with a baby or toddler backpack carrier
Hiking backpack carriers for toddlers and babies are large, which can be a drawback in tight spaces or crowded buses. We tried to avoid times when the subways would be crowded.
We usually found it easiest to leave the backpack carriers on, but tried not to move around too much so we wouldn’t accidentally hit someone. If we had a seat, we took them off and put the backpack hiking carriers at our feet.
We also always traveled with a soft-structured carrier (which we eventually upgraded to a soft-structured toddler carrier for travel) that we’d use for short outings or hikes where we knew our toddlers were capable of doing most of the walking.
2. No breaks from carrying your baby or toddler
With the large padded hip-belt and fully adjustable harness straps, you can get a really comfortable fit. With the weight adjusted properly we were able to wear our toddler hiking carriers comfortably for long periods of time.
Though we didn’t ever get a break from carrying at least one kid, the backpack carriers were so comfortable we didn’t ever find it to be a problem.
There were many times when our toddler would hike, so we’d take turns carrying the baby.
Is your toddler starting to do more hiking? Get all our recommendations for toddler hiking gear.
Take some time prior to your family trip to adjust the straps for the most comfortable fit. It would also be a good idea to find the best, quick adjustments you can make so it’s comfortable for both parents.
Being familiar with how your backpack carriers for toddlers adjust will make it so much easier to do on-the-go.
3. Carrying water and snacks
Most baby backpack carriers have a compartment for a water bladder so you don’t have to carry additional water bottles. It’s large enough to fit 100oz (3 litres). We made sure both ours toddlers knew how to drink out of the straws.
For baby or toddler snacks, hiking is a great time for your little one to have a snack. We used a spill proof snack container most of the time. Just make sure you can check on your child and don’t give anything your child could choke on.
4. Carrying baby and toddler essentials
The storage area in the back is perfect for storing extra layers, food and diapers/wipes. We especially liked that we could carry all our baby or toddler travel essentials for the day without having to carry an extra bag.
5. Dealing with rain when traveling with a baby or toddler
You can purchase a rain cover for your hiking carrier for baby that provides great coverage. If you are visiting your destination during winter, make sure to give your baby or toddler an extra layer.
If you are going somewhere hot, you get to enjoy not having your baby or toddler right up against you the entire time, which makes both of you sweaty. Just make sure your hiking carrier for toddlers and babies has a good sun canopy.
6. Using a hiking backpack baby carrier in cities or busy areas
While it’s easier to travel in cities with one of these best baby carriers for travel (and we always had one with us), we actually came to enjoy using our hiking backpack carriers for toddlers in the city.
It was so easy to carry our kids, plus it left our hands free when our toddler wanted to walk.
We preferred this over pushing an empty stroller or having to worry about stairs.
We’ve even been allowed to take them places where strollers are not allowed. For example, while in Rome with a baby, we visited St. Peter’s Basilica with our hiking carriers.
Had we brought a stroller, we would have needed to get into a separate line-up at coat check to park our stroller, but with the Deuter backpack carrier, we were allowed in without issue. We were also able to carry the kids up the 550 steps to the top of the Dome.
As we started to incorporate more and more hiking into our holidays traveling with a baby and toddler, we really came to love traveling with a hiking backpack for carrying babies and toddlers. It allowed us to do all the hikes we wanted knowing that our children were happy and comfortable.
We did get some looks when we were in cities and sometimes we cursed those backpack carriers when we were on crowded buses, but overall they worked really well for us. For the small amounts of time we spent in cities, we found the little inconveniences to be just that.
It was more than worth the effort to have them with us.
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This post was written & edited by:
Celine is the owner of Baby Can Travel. Not only does she have years of experience traveling with babies & toddlers, but she's been helping new parents travel with their babies and toddlers for over a decade.
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.