Over generations, the child carrier evolves
December 24, 2008
I have a dim memory from my first hikes with my parents ” of riding in a carrier on my dad’s back, and being worried he was going to trip and pitch me into whatever creek we were crossing.
Years later, my parents confirmed that I did indeed experience a mini freak-out every time my dad crossed water. I quizzed them recently about their old child carrier, because now that I have a daughter to haul out on hikes, I wanted to know if the deluxe carrier I had my eye on has any of its roots in my parents’ primitive carrier from the ’70s.
The answer is not really. Comparing the two is laughable, but I’m going to do it anyway. My husband and I thoroughly inspected the Deuter Kid Comfort III, which we now call “The Cadillac of Child Carriers.” For long-distance hikes when you don’t want to worry about your child’s comfort, and would like to carry some extra snacks or rain gear, this backpack fits the bill.
A few words (from my Mom) about the child carrier I used to ride in: She never carried it, probably because the straps didn’t adjust to fit her as well as my dad (or maybe she just didn’t want to carry it). The straps weren’t padded, so it was never exactly comfortable for Dad to carry, and my mom doesn’t remember any hip strap (old photos tell me there wasn’t one). The seat was adjustable, to accommodate a small child or a large one, and there was a small space under the seat where you could cram one diaper, or some such small item. As for protection from the elements … buy your kid a hat and hope for the best.
You can still buy a very basic child carrier like this one ” we’ve seen one at REI that has more padding than my parents’ carrier from 30-plus years ago. But my argument about getting a carrier with all of the extras goes like this: If baby ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. And our daughter has no reason to be unhappy in the Deuter Kid Comfort III.
If we stop short while hiking, there’s an extra thick crash pad (which is removable) where her head can land. A sun/rain shield is built in, and if she’s lulled to sleep on our walks through the woods, an extra-tall backrest will support her neck during naps. It even comes with a small teddy bear.
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My husband and I like the thickly padded shoulder and hip straps, and how they adjust to fit either of us perfectly. It has enough storage to pack lunch and an extra layer of clothing, and a way to slide our daughter in from the side, without taking the pack off. A kickstand props the whole contraption upright when it’s sitting on the ground.
It also comes with a mirror in a small front pocket, so whoever is carrying the kid can sneak a peek at her ” again, perhaps to be temporarily entertained.
The specs on the pack say we’ll be able to carry our daughter until she weighs more than 48 pounds. I’m not sure we’ll want to, but I have a feeling there are many happy trails in our future.