If you’re outdoorsy and want to hike with your baby, a hiking backpack is probably one of the first things you look forward to buying. I know that’s how I felt! Two kids later, we’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of our pack but there are a few things I think are worth mentioning that I hadn’t considered pre-kids.
I wound up getting the Deuter Kid Comfort II because one of my good friends sold it to me used. She had gotten it new from MEC back when this was the Deuter pack they carried (now they carry the Kid Comfort III).
Things I love about the Kid Comfort II:
- The storage is just perfect. There’s lots of room to put in a few extra layers for baby, water, snacks and diaper changing items.
- The pad at the front that your baby rests their face on (or drools on) is removable and washable!
- If you’re looking at all the Deuter packs, this one is lighter than the Kid Comfort III due to the removable sun shade/rain cover (this also means the pack is small enough to fit in a checked suitcase if needed) but the same storage capacity.
- The pack opens on the side with a clip to allow side entry. Awesome for getting kids with snowsuits in and out and also great for being able to access the harness for adjustments.
- It takes no time at all to adjust the shoulder strap height of the pack for different users. Very intuitive, quick and easy!
- It has a similar design to Deuter backcountry hiking bags which means they are built well and help distribute weight to your hips so it’s more comfortable to carry.
- The sun shade is very large and provides great coverage for head and arms (you can use a bamboo/light receiving blanket to cover legs.
- Due to the padded sides all around, the pack does provide some warmth in cold weather. If you want to up your winter game, you can fit a MEC stroller bag into the carrier for extra warmth (I don’t own a stroller bag to try this with but friends have done it)
Things to consider about the Kid Comfort II:
- I found it finicky to adjust the child’s seat height. This is good in that you never have to worry about the seat slipping down. It does mean if you need to adjust the seat height, plan to do it at home, indoors – not on the trail when you’re in a hurry!
- Ours didn’t come with foot straps though I believe newer models do now. Best to check before you purchase.
- The sun/rain cover must be purchased separately with this model.
- The mesh pockets on the outside seemed too shallow and if the pack tilted, heavier items like a water bottle slid out. They were ok for granola bars or mittens though. Newer models seem to have different pockets which has hopefully fixed this!
Things to consider about any backpack carrier:
Here are some tips that I hadn’t thought of before I had kids and are worth mentioning given the hefty price tag of almost all backpack carriers.
- They are designed to be used once a baby is sitting independently. This would likely be around 6 months for most babies.
- Their max carrying capacity includes gear + kid + pack. For the Kid Comfort II, the max capacity is 48.5 lbs. If you subtract the weight of the pack (7.2 lbs) and gear/food/clothes (~8 lbs) this means you can carry a child up to 33.3 lbs. Depending on how large your toddler is this could be anywhere from 2-4 years old.
- While the pack can weigh up to 48.5lbs, you may or may not be comfortable carrying that much weight. The general rule is that you should carry no more than 30% of your body weight (If you weigh 100-150lbs this is 30 – 45lbs, if you weigh 150-200lbs this is 45-60 lbs). How much weight you can carry comfortably depends on your fitness level as well as the length/elevation gain of the hike.
- There is great variability in how long toddlers enjoy sitting. Some prefer to walk and be carried occasionally while others are ok sitting an entire hike. This obviously depends a lot on the age of your toddler, how often you go out, how long you’re hiking and their individual temperament.
- Try it on before you buy it! You’ll want to make sure it fits whoever will be wearing it and this can’t be tested online.
We started using our backpack when Little Bear was 6 months old for summer hiking. It provided her with a nice view and an escape from the summer heat. In the fall and winter, we hiked with her in the pack in her snowsuit. During the next summer when she was 18 months, she stopped sitting in the pack the whole duration of a hike and wanted to walk until she tired herself out. That fall, I retired the pack as Little Bear disliked sitting for long periods and I found the weight of the pack wasn’t enjoyable (>30lbs all in). So far we’ve had the same usage pattern for Baby Bear.
While I may not have used our Deuter for as long as I thought I would, it’s been invaluable in getting us out hiking with both kids. It was virtually the only carrier we used for hiking from 6 months until almost 2 yrs so I felt the purchase was 100% worthwhile. And really, your mileage will vary in how long you can use it depending on your toddler, their weight and your comfort level. It’s not unreasonable for some families to expect to use it until they max out the weight!
Although I didn’t do any research into other backpack carriers prior to buying, I’m really happy with our choice and would recommend it. My only regret is we don’t have the newest model which looks like it has some awesome improvements!
Want to do more research into backpack carriers? Check out these reviews of other brands/Deuter models:
- For a full review of all the carriers I used for Little Bear’s first two years
- Review: Deuter Kid Comfort III from The Adventures in Parenthood Project
- Review: Deuter Kid Comfort III from Wild Tales Of
- Deuter Kid Comfort III Carrier Review from Adventure Tykes
- The Deuter Kid Comfort III Takes Us Places from Adventure Tykes
- Gear Review: Deuter Kid Comfort Air from The Kid Project
- The Great Babywearing Project from Tales of a Mountain Mama (scroll down to Framed Carriers for reviews of the Deuter Kid Comfort II, Deuter Kid Comfort III, Deuter KangaKid, Kelty Pathfinder, and Osprey Poco Plus)
- Thule Sapling Elite Carrier Review from Wild Tales Of
- Kelty Kid Carrier from Mountain Mom and Tots
You may also be interested in a full review of all the carriers I used for Little Bear’s first two years.