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Baby carrier backpack - Need one?

33 replies

Lattewithcinnamon · 24/04/2023 13:26

Why would someone get a baby carrier backpack like Osprey and not use something much lighter like an ergo carrier?

I am really wondering whether I need to buy a proper backpack or whether my ergo carrier is enough?

In which circumstances people prefer to carry their baby/toddler on their back for a long walk and why wouldn't they just have the baby in an appropriate stroller for all terrains?

Any insight would be very welcome as I am puzzling whether I need one or it's a marketing thing.

This thread is a little old now so some of the suggestions may be out of date, but if you’ve landed here looking for a backpack carrier for your baby or toddler, we’ve recently updated our best baby carrier backpacks article with lots of great options, as tried and tested by Mumsnet users. We hope you find it useful. Flowers

OP posts:
Hugasauras · 24/04/2023 13:29

Personally I found that carriers that do front and back are actually very difficult to get your child actually in on the back. I love my Tula Explore but find it a nightmare to try and back carry with in terms of actually getting my baby easily in it. Probably easier with an older child who can reliably hold on and help out, but I am not comfortable at all doing it with my 10mo. We have a Phil and Ted back carrier that is much more structured and stands upright so you can put baby in first and then put it on, which is far easier.

Hugasauras · 24/04/2023 13:30

As for when to use it, if I'm going for a walk with my older DD and the dog, I want my hands free and not occupied with pushing a pram the whole time.

Kiwisarenotjustfruit · 24/04/2023 13:32

I’m not sure an all terrain stroller, even a proper out and about/mountain buggy type one, can deal with proper hiking trails involving climbing hills - if only because often the path is too narrow.
I also don’t really get the need for the backpack type ones over the lighter option of using a soft structured carrier on your back. The only advantage I can see is that it might be easier to put on alone with a baby who isn’t yet cooperatative enough to climb onto your back while you attach the soft carrier. Putting a baby on your back in a soft carrier when you have a second person available to help is a total non issue though.

TheNachtzehrer · 24/04/2023 13:33

You really only need a hiking-type backpack carrier if you're planning to hike or walk a lot with an older baby, as they're not suitable for young babies anyway. The point is generally the intrinsic sun and rain shades and the fact that you can carry both baby and some other things on your back. For short walks or everyday knocking around, baby on your front in a regular carrier and backpack on your back is fine. We had an Osprey, but we only used it for holidays when we were liable to be walking around all day.

Incidentally, when it comes time to put an older baby on your back in a regular carrier, you can fasten it on the front and then wiggle it around to the back. I kept carrying my DC on my back until age 3 so I've done it a million times.

ZacharinaQuack · 24/04/2023 13:34

We have both and would use the Osprey for actual hikes, e.g. hillwalking. Toddler not keen on getting in the ergobaby on my back (though we did try it out) and is getting a bit big for it now anyway. The Osprey has footrests so you can go for a long walk without the child's feet getting numb, and a big pocket under the seat for carrying stuff, plus a sun/rain cover. It's for serious outdoor days out, I think.

chillih · 24/04/2023 13:35

It's a lot easier to have toddler DS (17mo) in a backpack carrier than buying an all terrain buggy and only going places suitable to use one. I wouldn't fancy pushing one up mountains!

As a toddler now, DS also isn't keen on sitting in a pram for long but he does like bobbing around enjoying the view on his dad's back Grin it works for us because we live in the countryside and use it a lot for dog walks.

PuttingDownRoots · 24/04/2023 13:37

We used the backpack when out hiking for example, DH especially. All the other stuff he needed went into the carrier as well (water bottle and food for example). It had a sunshade and a rain cover if the weather turned. You can't get a so called all terrain buggy properly off footpaths.

The carriers like Ergo etc are designed more for "lighter" activities or smaller babies... I could wrap my coat round the baby on my front for example.

So whether you need one depends on what you are planning to do really!

ZacharinaQuack · 24/04/2023 13:37

I would add that if you can't imagine wanting to go on a walk for which an all-terrain buggy wouldn't be suitable, you definitely don't need an Osprey or similar. Maybe don't bother buying one until you're going somewhere you will definitely need it?

BananaPalm · 24/04/2023 13:39

I'm actually looking for recommendations of backpacks for toddlers.

There have been many times I couldn't enter a public footpath in the country with a pushchair. Usually it was because it was too steep or because the entrance was too small (you know, the little flap gate that prevents animals from escaping). With my toddler in a backpack this wouldn't have been an issue.

Hugasauras · 24/04/2023 13:42

I didn't want one of the huge ones so I got a Phil and Ted Parade, which is pretty compact as backpack carriers go and I use it around town as it's not giant. Very comfy!

TheNachtzehrer · 24/04/2023 13:43

@BananaPalm why not look at renting a toddler carrier first to see if you like it? You probably don't need a backpack carrier unless you're planning to be out for hours/all day. You can rent online from


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Wellhellother · 24/04/2023 13:44

Because people (like us) actually hike with yound children. Good luck getting an "all terrain" pushchair up scafell pike or Cat Bells

Wellhellother · 24/04/2023 13:44

And to add, we do have the Osprey one and think it is great

Klex · 24/04/2023 13:55

We actually found a backpack carrier great for going into the city with - smaller than a pram and no need to fold it on the bus, and easier to move about when DS wasn't in it (Ie if we were at the museum)
I found it spread the weight more evenly across my back and hips than a softer carrier.

Lattewithcinnamon · 24/04/2023 15:17

That’s all incredibly useful! Thanks all!

May I please ask how much weigh do you totally carry when you wear one e.g. osprey plus food/water etc. plus a kid around 12kilos?

Is it like carrying a 20kg suitcase on your back? And if yes, for how long can you walk carrying that much weight?

Is it doable?

Thanks all again!

OP posts:
ZacharinaQuack · 24/04/2023 15:22

The Osprey we have is 3.6kg, so add your child's weight and a few bits and pieces to that? We tend to use ours only when going hiking and whoever isn't carrying the child can carry anything else heavy. I wouldn't say it's like carrying a suitcase - it's more like going backpacking, as it has a waist and chest strap to distribute the weight properly. However, I would add that DP and I are quite short, and we find that the smallest setting is just about okay, but tends to rub on our shoulderblades because really it's not optimised for small women (5'4'' and under) - I think the manufacturers have made the sexist assumption that it's mostly Dad carrying the baby on hikes.

In terms of fitness, you might want to build up to it before your baby gets really heavy!

BenHolland · 24/04/2023 15:26

We have an Osprey one and DD is now about 3 years old and 13 or 14 kilos. It's great for proper hiking where a buggy can't go and beach walks. The sun shade is good and rain cover quite fun for DD. The weight is ok for my wife (5'10") but it is tiring when DD starts wriggling! But to be honest we hardly use it! Beach walks are limited to good weather and hiking is like once a year...and some days DD just isn't up for it! Pretty soon it will be too heavy for my wife so I expect I can keep using it for a couple of years then it'll be on ebay!

It got the most use when DD was small and it was handy for wandering round town during the lockdowns...much easier than a full on Bugaboo type massive thing!

BertieBotts · 24/04/2023 15:31

I think it used to be that the Osprey ones were the only option, Ergo etc are newer, and the well known baby carriers were front pack narrow based ones like the original Baby Bjorn.

So the perception that a framed hiking carrier is the best option persists even past the point that newer, better options also exist.

Of course there have been traditional back carriers for much longer but those aren't usually available in normal shops or well known.

I think a decent SSC carrier is likely to be much more comfortable and lighter. I probably wouldn't go for Ergo though. Look at Boba or Tula for example.

Bluedressyes · 24/04/2023 15:33

I use my frame backpack most out and about with 3.5 yo and 2yo - DD can walk longer distances now but DS still slows or tires and it's useful to be able to carry him to give him breaks, plus spare clothes, picnic, etc. Pushchair can be a PITA when they're both walking as I feel like I need more than two hands wrangle two free range DC plus buggy. I do sometimes use a soft carrier and rucksack/handbag though with much the same effect so you don't neeeeeed a big frame I guess

BertieBotts · 24/04/2023 15:33

Oh sorry - if you already have an Ergo it's probably fine - I just meant if you're buying one then I don't think they are the best ever option for older toddlers. Fine up to 2 or so.

Lattewithcinnamon · 24/04/2023 16:14

Yes, I have an ergo carrier which in theory will last a few more years ahead of us (in practice I am not convinced - my DD is one year old at the moment).

It’s only that I was wondering whether I need an Osprey kind of carrier in addition to our Ergo.

I am very pleased with Ergo to be honest but suddenly many friends of ours got an Osprey and it got me wondering if we need one.

OP posts:
ZacharinaQuack · 24/04/2023 16:21

My DS is nearly 2 and he is getting a bit big for the ergo now. Might be okay on back, but only if he would cooperate. He'll go in forward-facing on the front, but his head's nearly in front of mine now and it's not super comfy. I could do the Osprey for a lot longer, only use the ergo now for 20 minute dog walks where I need my hands free.

But - the Osprey only comes out occasionally as we don't go hiking that often. We use the off-road buggy a lot more.

CMOTDibbler · 24/04/2023 16:24

When ds was a toddler I thought we needed a framed backpack carrier for longer walks rather than the SSC we used, but tbh neither of us liked the weight distribution as it moved him up and out from your body. I carried ds until he was 4 if he needed (and he was a hefty/tall lad) in a meitai and then a half buckle wrap conversion meitai (and so did DH).

gogohmm · 24/04/2023 16:27

I hiked long distances so a proper framed carrier was essential to me. You can't take a buggy on the sort of terrain we walked on.

gogohmm · 24/04/2023 16:30

My DD's were light so I used it fine until 4.

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