If you were an intrepid explorer in your pre-baby life, there's no reason that should change now. Even if you weren't, now's the perfect time to throw yourself into hiking – you just need the right kit. And top of that list is one of the best hiking baby carriers. Sling one of these on your back and your little one can join you on your next countryside ramble, opening up routes where buggies and pushchairs can't go. Even if your child is of toddling age, there's no guarantee they won't get tired, distracted or bored of walking halfway round your route, and a hiking baby carrier gives you the flexibility to keep going with them on your back when they do.
There are plenty of different products to suit different budgets and needs, so it's worth thinking about the type of walking you'll be doing. Do you want a lightweight system? One with plenty of storage? Or is comfort your biggest priority? If you've got the cash, we think the best hiking baby carrier is the Osprey Poco Plus, offering excellent quality and sturdiness, but for an all-rounder at a great price, you can't go wrong with the LittleLife Voyager S5.
When can you use baby carriers for hiking? The products in this guide are all designed for babies over six months, who can sit up unaided. If you're ready to put on your walking boots with a very tiny baby (kudos to you), then stop right here – you'll be better off looking at front-worn baby carriers.
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How to choose the best hiking baby carrier
First and foremost, you want your baby to be safe and comfortable, so look out for safety harnesses and cushioning. Some carriers aren't suitable for napping, so it's worth thinking about how long you'll be out if there's any eye rubbing going on.
The type of carrier you go for may well depend on the type of walking you're planning on doing. Do you need lots of storage for cross country adventures? Or are you imagining gentle strolls in the forest? Lots of storage can be really handy, but there's no escaping the heavy (and wriggly) load that you'll be strapping in before you've even thought of picnics, water, and nappies. If you're walking with someone else, perhaps they can share the load.
We've established that baby needs to be comfy. But guess who else needs comfort? You! Look out for fabric breathability, cushioning on hip and shoulder straps, and good weight distribution.
Does size matter? The weight of hiking baby carriers varies wildly, so it's worth taking that into consideration. There's a 2.1kg difference between our lightest recommendation, the MiniMeis G4 at 1.5kg, and our heaviest, the Osprey Poco Plus coming in at 3.6kg.
If it's flexibility you're after, the LittleLife Voyager S5 is the best hiking baby carrier for you. There's plenty of storage for big adventures (one cavernous base pocket, smaller zip pockets, and side pockets for water bottles), and by popping off the detachable backpack and folding in the kick out leg to reduce some of the storage, you've got yourself a more compact baby carrier for shorter strolls. Baby's nice and safe in the x-buckle harness and height-adjustable seat, no doubt waving at passers-by, and the adjustable back mesh system is pretty comfortable without putting any strain on the lower back. This is one of the few LittleLife carriers that comes with its own sunshade, but it does require a bit of assembly, and it's a little fiddly.
If you're looking for a sturdy, high quality baby carrier that will see you safely through forest treks and countryside rambles, you can't do much better than the Osprey Poco Plus. Sun got its hat on? Pop up the in-built sunshade with UPF 50+ rating. Raining? Crank out the integrated rain cover. We all know both babies and hiking come with an excess of stuff, and the Osprey Poco Plus has an impressive amount of storage. Throw in toy loops to keep your precious cargo entertained, a well-designed cockpit with adjustable harness, and a suspended mesh back system, and you're good to go. But all that comes with a price tag. If you're seriously into your hiking, it could well be a worthwhile investment. The downside? Some people say it feels a little like you're being pulled backwards.
The Explorer S3 isn't the very cheapest baby carrier in the LittleLife range (the Ranger S2 gets that spot), but it offers a lot of bang for your buck. There's a decent amount of storage for a day's hike (plenty of room for nappies, water, and a couple of sarnies, but hold back on the tent poles), a washable face pad, a toy loop, and it's considerably lighter than a lot of hiking baby carriers on the market – although note that it doesn't fold down. The x-buckle harness and cockpit are easy to adjust, and give a height-adjustable viewing platform for your pillion passenger. Although the Explorer is by no means uncomfortable, the hip straps and back system are much less comfy than its pricier sibling, the Voyager. But it's much more comfortable on your wallet.
With the MiniMeis G4, baby takes prime position perched on your shoulders. This nifty baby carrier isn't designed for long hikes (your shoulders won't thank you), but if you're heading out for under an hour then it's perfect. It's a bit unwieldy to put on by yourself, but simple if you've got a helping hand, and the harness system keeps your little one tucked in safely. The MiniMeis folds up to practically nothing, so you could easily carry it with you when out and about, or fit it in your luggage if you're going away. There's no storage in this one, but there is a matching backpack. It's an extremely lightweight system, and the real magic is in how close you feel to your baby – especially when they're grabbing your sunglasses from the top of your head. Just watch out for any low branches.
While anyone can use the Deuter Kid Comfort Active SL, it's specifically designed for the female anatomy, featuring thinner, narrower shoulder straps and a conical hip belt. For the price you'd probably expect a sunshade to be included, but sadly it needs to be bought separately, so that's worth factoring into your sums. This baby carrier is also a little light on pockets, and it's worth noting that the two bigger pockets don't have a zip. One of the best features of this system is the ventilated back – it's certainly nice to keep cool when you're hauling around a wriggly baby! The cockpit is also well ventilated, and features a height-adjustable seat and secure harness. The whole baby carrier feels ultra-secure, with a tip-resistant kick stand and sturdy aluminium frame.