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It may be hard to tell judging by the baby-free content on my blog, but I’m a mom. A mom whose baby travels with her. So, I guess I’m gonna need to start writing about some of my travels with baby (a.k.a. Jack!) and maybe even my husband, Steev, too! This is as good a post as any to start with… an ode to my baby hiking carrier.
I was a little worried freaked the hell out that the addition of a baby would mean my travel days were over. So, the day I found out I was pregnant, my mantra became, “This kid will NOT cramp my style! By God, I’m still gonna go places!” And, lo and behold, the mantra worked! I do still go places – and some pretty cool places, at that (‘scuse me for a sec while I pat myself on the back)…
I’m especially stoked about some recent national and state park visits we’ve made, particularly trips to the Grand Canyon, Yosemite and Big Sur, that included some less-than-baby-friendly hikes we were actually able to conquer! This, thanks to our best investment to-date – our Osprey baby hiking backpack.
Outdoor Travel with Baby
If you’re anything like us, you try to incorporate as much outdoor time as possible into both your home life and your travels. But damn, sometimes it’s super hard to keep that up when you’re towing a baby around. Even harder when a potentially strenuous outdoor adventure gets added to the itinerary…
Like our Grand Canyon trip, which I knew we wouldn’t be able to fully experience without investing in something that would allow us to go hiking with baby. I mean, overlooks are nice and all, but driving from one to the next for nothing more than a pretty view and photo op? That wasn’t gonna cut it. We wanted to take Jack to the more out-of-the-way areas of the park. We needed to be able to haul him down, up, through and around some trails.
Best Baby Hiking Carrier
We were suddenly in the market for a hiking kid carrier. So, we spent hours and hours (like, for-eh-VER) researching basic functions, bells and whistles, and price-points. After which, we hit 2 outdoor stores, spent 4 hours, and shoved Jack in 6 different backpacks to test all the functions and features.
After recovering from a mini-heart attack over the ~$250 price tag, we settled on the Osprey Poco AG™ Child Carrier. We’ve since taken it on dozens of hikes… and it literally saved our post-baby outdoor lifestyle!
Grand Canyon with Baby
One of the Grand Canyon National Park hikes we wanted to do was the top part of the South Kaibab Trail, down to Ooh Aah Point. But it was nearly a mile down to the lookout spot, that involved a 600 foot elevation change with dozens of steep switchbacks – then back up again! But with an opportunity for a beautiful view away from the crowds, we wanted to give it a shot.
Determined to show Jack the view, and more determined to prove that we could carry him down and back up (let’s be honest… he’s a baby… he doesn’t give a F about the view!), we strapped him in and headed off to give our new Osprey baby hiking carrier its first test.
We were rewarded with one of the most beautiful scenes ever, which we shared with only a half dozen other brave souls (kid or not, this is a pretty big feat for your average visitor). And our little guy was the only baby in sight. Success!
After breaking-in the kid carrier with the most ambitious hike of the trip, our next hike was the easy-by-comparison Shoshone trail, a beautiful mile-long stroll through the forest. It’s so wide and flat that, had Jack been older, he could’ve easily walked it with us. But, since walking wasn’t on his agenda for a couple more months, into the hiking carrier he went.
And a quick mile later, scenery that rivaled that of Ooh Aah Point. We were treated to a spectacular view, shared with only 2 other couples. Hiking baby carrier for win #2!!!
Yosemite with Baby
Not long after, we decided to recreate the magic on a trip to Yosemite National Park. The baby carrier came in most handy during our hike to Vernal Fall Bridge – 1.6 miles round-trip. This was a bit similar to our South Kaibab hike in that it was short, but steep – a 300 foot elevation change. Luckily, the Vernal Fall trail has you going up first, so you get a bit of a break on the hike back out.
Once again, hiking kid carrier for the win! This trail wouldn’t have been in the cards for us without the ability to carry Jack the whole way. Yosemite above-the-valley is a gorgeous sight.
California’s Big Sur State Park had a shitty 2017, with storms and mudslides that collapsed Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge and closed Highway 1 for more than a year (side note – the highway just reopened today!). But, for those willing to take on a 300-foot elevation change, a temporary half-mile hiking trail that bypassed the bridge opened up for tourists. Since the highway closure meant crowds were wayyyyy thinner than usual, we knew it was a perfect time to visit the park.
We arrived, towed Jack up a hundred switchbacks and made our way to Nepenthe Restaurant to have lunch with a kick-ass view… one we wouldn’t have been able to enjoy were it not for our baby hiking backpack. Jack even got to experience his first giant redwood along the way. Oh, Osprey Poco, how do I love thee? (Note: I’m not in any way affiliated with Osprey [though I’d love to be]! I’m writing this purely because I’m so in love with this carrier.)
Osprey Child Carrier Specs
Ease of Use
It is extremely simple to adjust, disassemble and clean. The kickstand makes it super easy to load Jack in and then put on the pack. Fixed parts are easy to wipe down, and there’s removable padding that can be thrown in the wash. Like the drool pad… pretty sure Jack’s on a mission to make sure he soaks it every time we go out!
Both my 5’3 frame and my husband’s 6’3 frame can use it comfortably with a couple easy steps to adjust the torso length and tighten/loosen the strap clips. (For a few extra bucks, the Osprey Packs Poco AG Plus Child Carrier offers even more adjustment features on the waistband. Click here for details and price info.)
Room to Grow
The “seat” expands with the child – Jack will likely fit comfortably until he’s about 5.
There’s a rescue whistle! And the pop-out sunshade provides coverage both overhead and on the sides, to keep Jack protected from the sun.
Stirrups! Whoulda thunk?? (The designers, I guess…) I hate for my feet to hang when I’m sitting, and it’s cool they recognized that a kid would probably hate it, too.
I also love the sunshade (I know, I already mentioned it… but, surprisingly, it doesn’t come standard on all carriers). The sides are a breathable see-through mesh, so Jack isn’t riding around like a horse with blinders on.
There’s a small upper storage pocket, a huge lower storage compartment, and side pockets – we’ve fit snacks and drinks for 3, diapers and wipes, sunscreen, phones, keys and more with ease.
Tough for us, at first, because we’re cheap AF! But after some deep breaths, we took the $250 plunge. This is about average, as prices for the most highly-recommended hiking carriers range from $135 to $330. In my opinion, it paid for itself after the first use.
May not seem like a priority, but it is! You can’t haul a kid on your back for long if it’s not comfy – for both the Sherpa and the kid. The Poco has what they call “Anti-Gravity™ suspension” that provides stabilization, with multiple padded clip points to distribute the weight – especially important for my smaller frame.
Gotta mention the stirrups once more – Jack likes that his feet have somewhere to rest, and is sure to let me know if one of them slips out. The sunshade (again!) is an obvious one – shade is clearly comfortable on a hot, sunny day. Jack has fallen asleep in the carrier more times than I can count, so I’m gonna go out on a limb and say he finds it comfy.
If you’re hardcore and hike in downpours (not me, I’m good), Poco rain covers are available. They also offer Poco carrying cases — good for keeping it nice and contained while en route to your next epic hike.
The Moral of the Story
Basically, there’s no need to be all doom-and-gloom about outdoor travel with baby (in other words, don’t be like I was). Off-the-beaten-path hikes/sights/etc. are doable with youngins. You don’t have to keep to the driveable areas… you don’t have to keep to the overlooks!
Thanks for bearing with me through my first product post! MBsees is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This post does contain affiliate links. I’m ONLY recommending this carrier because I use and love it.