Hiking always makes for a fun adventure. It’s fun exploring the outdoors with a group of people. It’s just as fun tackling those dirt paths on your own. Heck, it’s even when fun when it’s just you and your dogs (or your goats, whichever the case may be). And it doesn’t stop being fun even when you have kids. In fact, hitting the trails may be one of the most rewarding activities you can do with your family.
Your kids don’t have to be a certain age to explore the trails with you. Even smaller kids can benefit immensely from being exposed to nature. And if your kids don’t walk yet or can’t walk up light trails effectively on their own, you can always use a child carrier for hiking to bring them along every step of the way.
Child carriers for hiking make it easy to bring a small child with you to local hiking spots, allowing you to foster a bond while they discover nature and start feeling comfortable with all of the wonder the outdoor offers. From trees and rocks to rivers and all those unfamiliar sounds, there are plenty of new sensations for kids to experience during these hikes while strapped across your back on a carrier pack. Sure, it’s going to get tiring with all that extra weight you’re hauling, but creating shared moments and, if you’re lucky, making a few early memories should make it all worth the trouble.
These are the best child carriers for hiking with a young family.
No, it’s not the most comfortable child carrier for hiking in the list. However, it covers all the basics just fine at an affordable price, making it a good entry-level pick for parents who only want to go on occasional short hikes with their kids. You get an adjustable padded child seat with a detachable sun shade and adjustable foot pads to get your kid settled in nice and comfy, while the lightweight design (only 6.5 pounds), adjustable shoulder straps, and adjustable hip strap should help make the load very manageable. It has plenty of pockets, too, including stretch side pockets, zippered hip pockets, an insulated waterproof pocket, and a large rear pocket that’s sized for your stash of diapers. The structured metal is designed to fold flat, by the way, allowing it to take up minimum space when not in use.
Designed specifically for moms, this child carrier for hiking is specifically adapted for the female anatomy, ensuring perfect comfort while you explore the trails with a kid in tow. For one, it’s incredibly light at just 5.8 pounds, with a minimalist and athletic build that should offer a better fit on female physiques. The back panel also ensures physical contact at all times, keeping the weight close to your body for highly-efficient load transfer. It pairs the female-friendly design with a comfortable child seat that’s adjustable for both height and width, along with an adjustable footrest and a handy side access point that makes it easy for children to get on and off their chair. Yes, there’s storage on it, too, with the main compartment available at the lower section of the pack. Do note, the main compartment is limited to 14L, so this is for moms who plan to pack light. Features include adjustable back length, load adjustment straps at the shoulders, and a pull-forward hip belt with a built-in zippered pocket.
While the Poco Plus is, hands down, the best child carrier for hiking in Osprey’s lineup, we’re also very fond of their Poco LT model, which is very light at just 5.1 pounds. They managed to shave off weight by using a shorter frame and minimizing the padding on the hip belt, so while it doesn’t have the versatile adjustments of the Poco Plus, it keeps everything trimmer and more streamlined. It even collapses flat for storage, courtesy of the foldable frame design. The biggest casualty of streamlining is that it’s not really viable for use with bigger kids, making this only suitable for children three feet or shorter. Another is that it’s best for use by parents under six feet, which, we guess, is the real target demo for this particular model. Despite the smaller size, it manages to offer a really comfortable child seat with drool pad, deployable sun shade, and the same comfortable seating position as their larger child carrier. It also offers a spacious 21L of storage, along with that supportive yet ventilated back panel.
This child carrier for hiking is also a full-fledged backpack, allowing you to bring a whole load of gear along with your kid. It’s a generous pack, too, with 26L volume capacity and a whopping nine pockets for organizing all your stuff, complete with a zippered compartment dedicated for soiled items, so you’ve got a place to stash the inevitably messy results of letting your kid loose on the dirt. The child seat sits between the pack and your back, so your kid is safely sandwiched in the middle, with a five-point harness and an aluminum roll cage frame ensuring they’re snugly secured in their place. It has a generously-sized, too, allowing it to fit bigger toddlers just fine when they get tired of walking. To ensure you can properly stabilize the weight of your kid and all your gear, it comes with load lifters, a waist belt, and sternum straps. Features include easy-access hip belt pockets, side stretch mesh pockets, a hydration sleeve, and even an integrated sunshade.
We love the multiple adjustment points on this hiking carrier pack, allowing it to offer a great fit for taller and shorter individuals alike. That means, mom and dad can take turns carrying the pack without any trouble, so long as they make some quick adjustments to customize the fit. This adjustable design, along with the trampoline suspended mesh back system, arguably makes this the most comfortable child carrier we’ve tried. And it’s equally as good for children, putting them in a great seating position, complete with a built-in sun shade, side mesh covers, and even a detachable rain cover, so don’t be surprised to find your kid regularly taking naps in there. There’s also enough room on the bag to fit snacks, clothes, and various baby items, while seven individual pockets let you organize your gear neatly.
In our opinion, this is the best-looking child carrier for hiking. It’s just nice. And it feels just as good for both parent and child. It uses a unique seat system the outfit calls ErgoRide, which provides full support underneath a child’s legs in an effort to further disperse their weight. Because children’s legs are supported even when they move or kick around, it eliminates the need for foot pads, resulting in a sleeker profile. For parents, the fully-adjustable torso and hip belt allows you to fine tune the load, while a side panel opening makes it easy to get your kid in and out of the seat for those times they want to go put their little hiking legs to work. The backpack section at the bottom offers a 22L main compartment easily accessible using side zippers. Features include a deployable UPF50 sunshade, zippered pockets on the waist belt, a ventilated back panel, a durable frame and kickstand, and a hydration compatible pocket.