Comfort and Safety Tips for Getting Started with a Child Carrier Backpack
By Baby Safety Zone
Before having children, my wife and I spent a lot of time hiking, backpacking, climbing and mountaineering. With the arrival of our first child, we knew that it would be more of a challenge to continue to do some of these activities. A good quality child carrier has been the key for us to have outdoor adventures as a family.
With a background in outdoor retail, where I had sold hundreds of kid carriers, and outdoor recreation, where I had worked as an outdoor trip leader and climbing guide, I had a lot of insight into what features I wanted in a kid carrier and what was needed to create a safe, positive outdoor experience for my son.
Based on my experience, the following are some tips for taking your children hiking and keeping them safe and comfortable:
- Choose a child carrier that is JPMA certified. You will rest easy knowing that the manufacturer has designed their product with your child's safety as a primary concern.
- Find a child carrier that is comfortable for both you and your child. My carrier of choice is the Deuter Kid Comfort 3. The well-padded cockpit with a wide seat platform gives outstanding comfort and protection for your child. In addition, the pack body includes many features for the comfort of the parent, including the Variflex hip belt that moves with your body to keep your load balanced and comfortable and the Aircontact back system, which provides additional comfort and breathability. My wife and I also appreciate how, by sliding a single piece of webbing, we can easily adjust the carrier to fit our different torso sizes.
- I highly recommend going to a knowledgeable local retailer for proper fitting and advice about proper use. If you do not have a local dealer, or choose to order by mail, carefully consult the owners's manual for fitting and safety information.
- Make sure your child is old enough to safely ride in a child carrier backpack. They should weigh a minimum of 16 lbs and be able to hold their head up by themselves. We started carrying both of our children in child carrier backpacks at about 7-8 months of age.
- Either buy a child carrier model with an integrated sun roof or buy the optional one. Young kids have sensitive skin and getting them to wear sunscreen or a hat can be a battle that you may prefer not to fight. We also have appreciated the optional rain cover for our child carrier, since it gives additional protection during surprise rain showers and windy days.
- Be aware that carrying your child in a carrier on your back can affect your balance. Avoid sudden movements or bending at the waist, both of which can throw you off balance. Consider using trekking poles to give you additional points of contact and to help with your balance in rougher terrain.
It doesn't matter whether you take your children far into the backcountry or to the local city park. Getting them into the outdoors is good for your physical and mental health and gives them opportunities to explore the natural world. My kids both started life with regular trips into the outdoors. They love to hike and bike and some of their first words (like tree, river and bird) were learned during early adventures in a backpack. When planning trips with children, remember to have fun and not be too goal oriented. You may not always accomplish what you set out to do, but what really matters is that you are spending time in the outdoors with your family.
Check out our Deuter products here.