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Backpacks: are they worth the price?

(20 Posts)
chiara71 Wed 13-Mar-02 13:53:18

I'm thinking about buying a backpack for my 10 month old dd, but I'm not sure how much I'm going to use it.

I've used a sling when dd was younger and found it absolutely necessary at times, but a backpack is a lot more expensive and I'm not sure if I'll get the most out of it..?

What do owners of backpacks think? Do you find that you actually use as much as you would a pushchair or only in those situations when a pushchair is absolutely impracticable?

Also I'd like to hear from people who own or have tried one of those backpacks that double up as strollers, what do you think of those???

thanks everyone!!!

Tetley Wed 13-Mar-02 14:04:47

We have a Bushbaby one, which is brilliant! It gets lots of use - its amazing how much easier shopping is, using this rather than a pushchair. Ds is 16 months old now though - and too heavy for me to carry far, so it is usually dh who carries him.

As far as buying one goes, I used to work in the outdoor trade, and used to sell these to the public. I would say that you should spend at least £80-£100 on one. The cheaper ones (incl. those that double up as strollers) aren't that comfy. Make sure that the carrying system for you is very padded and very supportive - a good hipbelt is a must - you should take the majority of the weight on your hips and not on your shoulders. Also, look at the part where the child sits. Again, a problem with cheaper ones is that there isn't enough support, and you see many an uncomfortable child trying to sleep when there's nothing to rest against.

I would suggest that you go to walking shops to have a look at them - and try your daughter in the different ones. Where are you based? Do you know of decent walking shops in your area. Bushbaby, Macpac, Vaude are all good makes to look at.

Ds loves being in his - he can see so much more around him - and grab onto Daddy's ears/hair etc....

bettys Wed 13-Mar-02 14:19:33

We were given one & found we only used it on holidays & at weekends. It was brilliant for walking and exploring, much easier than a pushchair. However I didn't like using it in town for some reason, & once ds started getting a bit heavier I didn't find it very easy to lift on & off if dp wasn't around so didn't use it for shopping or anything.
If you plan to do a lot of walking or a country holiday it's great, but it hasn't replaced the pushchair.

Enid Wed 13-Mar-02 14:32:06

Completely agree with bettys. We used ours (borrowed thankfully) very rarely, when going on longish walks and on one holiday. Once dd started to walk we encouraged her to walk, and she went in the buggy for shopping trips, much easier and more convenient. We have returned the backpack now and although I am pregnant again I have no plans to buy one in the future.

If you genuinely do a lot of walking, or are going on holiday then it might be worth getting one. We had a rugged three wheeler as well, and quite honestly I found that preferable when going on long walks.

dm2 Wed 13-Mar-02 14:55:48

We've got a karrimor backpack for our 8 month old ds, (half price in a NCT nearly new sale). I have used it when taking him on the tube (as can't work out how to negotiate escalators/stairs with baby, buggy, and bags) and we used it for hill walking on holiday recently.
It has let us do things that we just couldn't do with a buggy, however, it is not easy to get it on and off without help (I find the easiest way is to kneel down and then slide it off onto the floor), and there is not enough support if the baby falls asleep.
When he fell asleep when I was carrying him, his head kept falling forward and hitting the back of my head (0uch for both of us!).
When dh was carrying him he leant his head on dh's back - resulting in a nasty little graze on ds's nose!
We solved this by tying a muslin cloth around one of the straps and ensuring his head leans against this.

maryz Wed 13-Mar-02 18:19:45

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

honeybunny Wed 13-Mar-02 20:08:54

We've loved our bushbaby too. Used it loads in London, from 6-10months and then since moving to country, fairly regularly for walks over the rougher terrain. I was using it up to about 5months pregnant, but feel my 16month old is too heavy for me at 34 weeks gone! Dh gets the pleasure now and ds loves it just as much as ever. He's much more vocal in it and takes real pleasure from his surroundings, something he doesn't do in his pram. He's not a keen walker, despite achieving this milestone at 12months, so its been ideal, as our pram can't cope with mud and rough ground.

MalmoMum Wed 13-Mar-02 20:39:59

I, too, have found the bushbaby great. I have found that I used the backpack differently from the sling so it wasn't a seamless transition.

The first time ds went up there was a big grin on his face. It has worked well as a diffuser when things are getting a bit grumply. A lot of how you use a backpack obiviously depends on your lifestyle and transport options.

I liked being able to keep the sling under the buggy and swop ds around as suited the two of us. There came a point around 10-11 months when he let me know that an hour in the pushchair was his limit. Walking is something he still does for his own amusement so if you are trying to get somewhere on foot it useful to have alternatives. I live in a foot and cycle friendly place, so if I'm going out on a wander for more than a couple of hours I sling the backpack straps over the three wheeler handle and set off.

I don't think I use it like a pushchair but as something to complement, vary and extend from. Practically, you can't carry a growing child around all the time because of their weight and because they want to scamper. They can't get restful sleep in there either. They seriously come into their own in situations where you need to contain a child while concentrating on something else like supermarket queues or check in queues.

The backpacks that have wheels might be useful on holiday or something but my gut reaction is that something designed to be two things rarely does either very well.

I would also recommend the hippychick hip belt, it takes the strain out of carrying them in your arms. You can carry it around very easily and might be a more useful, everyday transition from your sling. Very handy on airplanes.

robinw Wed 13-Mar-02 22:07:14

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pob Thu 14-Mar-02 00:35:23

I used a sling then a rucksack (from 11 months) pretty much exclusively for dd until pregnant with no 2 and really miss it!! Much much easier for buses/metro/shopping (still haven't really got the hang of a pushchair), keeps you fit, child loves being at the same height as all the faces going by and gets loads of attention, as well as being out of the car exhaust area, and if your child wants to get out and walk, your hands are free to help...Thought the ones with wheels were too heavy; got an Evenflo one (they had them last year in Mothercare). Less expensive than the 'trekking' ones, very comfy, light, with a little rucksack on the back for essentials (unfortunately not accessible by wearer) and with a very solid stand for getting child in and out by yourself. Only downside was no front pockets etc for money/keys...bought a 'belt purse' thing which slipped onto the waist strap and was perfect. Do you know anyone who has one you could borrow just to see if you like it?

alison222 Thu 14-Mar-02 18:54:17

We have a macpac and I love it. As others have said, DS loves being at the same height and babbles away in my ear endlessly in it. The only trouble is I can't always see/guess what he is pointing at.
We tried out loads in different shops. It is very important that you get one which is comfortable and takes the weight on your hips just like carrying a rucksack. DH is tall with a v. long back so this was the only one which fitted us both comfortably.
DS is 15 mo and weighs about 29lb. I don't have a problem carrying him though and can wander around quite happily for ages. He won't fall asleep in it (mind you nor in the pushchair unless desperate)and others have to get to the pockets when you are carrying it. I have also carried DS and a bag of heavy shopping in it home, but don't recommend this too often.
Great for buses, tubes and trains and all those places with stairs that you can't get a chair up - I guess I use it about as much as the pushchair at the moment.

chiara71 Thu 14-Mar-02 22:26:34

Thanks to all of you, I'm overwhelemed by your suggestions, but still undecided. I live in LOndon and it may be useful for buses/tube etc. but I'm small and not very strong, I'm not sure how long I'd last....I'm thinking of using on holidays mainly, that's why I'm not sure it's worth the price (we're not going to take that many holidays before dd's second birthday...)

Unfortunately I don't know anyone who owns one, but I think I'll start looking at shops and try them with dd on to get a feel for them...

For those of you who suggested the NCT sales, did you buy on line?

Malmomum, How does the hippychick belt work, and does it leave your hands free?

Well thank you all for your suhhestions, gave me a lot to think about!!!!

Indie Thu 14-Mar-02 22:49:49

MalmoMum - I am thinking about buying the hippychick hip belt especially as I am soon to catch a plane on my own with both kids. DS is now 20lbs and as our buggy has to be checked in at the check-in (too big to be checked in at the boarding gate) I was wondering how I was going to carry him around the airport. However I was concerned if they work OK if you are quite small and short waisted? Do they actually go around your waist or your hips? How heavy can the baby be? How comfortable are they for any length of time?
Any comments would be great - thanks!

SueDonim Fri 15-Mar-02 01:06:31

Chiara, you can see the Hippychick Seat here .

robinw Fri 15-Mar-02 06:01:12

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bloss Fri 15-Mar-02 08:59:44

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MalmoMum Fri 15-Mar-02 21:56:19

The hippychick is like wearing a bumbag with a steroid problem. It costs around £40 and it comes in at #4 on the Mumsnet Slings and Carriers list (so it must be good).

Chiara, you can't actually be hands free but you can be hand free and get a greater freedom of movement. You can drop let your child down when they need to wriggle and scoop them back up when you need to cover distant. They prob like the freedom in comparison to a sling. Obviously see if you can try one, they are very simple and work so well. Could be just what you are looking for.

Indie, I would def recommend the Hippychicks for flights, I don't think they have ever been included in my luggage allowance anyhow. I've done about 30 flights with ds, 18 months, and always aim to be as capable as poss getting on and off the plane. Nice to be offered help, often easier to have an operational system worked out before you get on.

Surprised you can't take your buggy to the gate, I've always done so with Pegasus ATP (not your compact buggy. Never had to fight to take in up the gate either). I've always wanted to have the buggy around just in case of delays so that I can get ds to sleep if need be. Also check whether the airport/airling has pushchairs you can use to avoid this problem (you can at Copenhagen and Malmo).

My mother like the Hippychick too.

Indie Fri 15-Mar-02 22:47:28

MalmoMum & Bloss - thanks for the advice. Will def get one as it sounds like it will also be very useful in carrying my rather clingy and very non-mobile ds around the house! As for checking the buggy in (it is a NZ Mountain Buggy)we were stopped twice - different airlines different countries with dd and made to check it in and after that have just made our life easy by having it packed away in the travel bag from the start. I have also had the experience of taking a smaller stroller right up to the gate where they have taken it off me but then I had to carry dd all the way to the baggage reclaim room to get it back at the other end! Just bad luck I guess! So the idea of being totally self contained in the carrying department with a hippy chick seat sounds great!

MalmoMum Sat 16-Mar-02 03:35:17

Well worth giving it a try Indie. Still really surprised about the attitude to your Mountain Terrain. I don't put the Landrover in a carry bag just fold it up and secure it with a band just before we board. Never felt the size of the thing was the issue. Have found the picking up at the other end very much a lottery and not much to do with the airline or size of airport.

Sounds like the Hippychick could be just what you need. Have you ever needed a double buggy for general use?

SueW Sat 16-Mar-02 08:46:12

I used my Huggababy sling until DD was slightly over 2yo I think. It was suitable to around 30lb, IIRC. I had a McLaren buggy which I'd also take with me once she was over 18mo but more often than not just for carrying the shopping.

I lived in London too, until she was 18mo and it was only once we moved to Nottingham that I saw the difference in how your lifestyle dictates the products that are useful e.g. if I had a baby up here, I suspect that a rock-a-tot with pushchair frame would be extremely useful as I use the car more and can drive to the shopping centre. In London, a sling/baby bjorn was much more useful and our pram and buggy were barely used.

Haven't tried backpacks or the hip seat because the sling worked for me. When I flew, I always took the pushchair to carry my hand luggage and the sling to carry DD (very rarely flown with DH).

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