Currently Wandering » Outdoor Family, Adventure Travel, Simple Living - Family of 5 Traveling the United States in an Airstream.

Best Seat on the Trail

For the past 7 years, most family hikes involved the littlest child riding in a kid backpack. We once hiked a 9 mile, 4,000 ft up, 5,000 ft down trail with Rachel on my back. I have fond memories of singing songs while we hiked, and passing snacks over my shoulder to little waiting hands.

Little Rachel and Jess, 2007

We bought one when our oldest child outgrew the infant sized front carriers. While a sizeable investment for some newly married students, it has paid off handsomely in the years since then. At the time, the Kelty kid carriers were not well designed, and we bought a Deuter Kid Comfort. I considered it to be an investment that would guide our family activities, and it has performed as expected. We have hiked more, and longer, as a result of having a good way to carry a tired child. When young, they took naps during hikes. As they got older, more and more time was spent hiking, taking riding breaks to rest tired feet.

Deuter has been a fantastic brand. Kelty has stepped up their game, and they have some good options as well. Whatever brand you consider, look for the following features:

A built in sunshade  Sleeping kids burn easily. The sunshade on our Deuter has been awesome. It’s attached, so I can’t forget it, and it deploys in seconds.
A hydration bladder. When you are carrying the load, having a drink when you need it is really convenient.
Nice grab handles. Nice handles on both front and back of the top come in very handy when you need to unload in a less than flat terrain.

After years of hiking kids, our littlest is almost grown out of it. On our recent hiking in Arches National Park, little Cara hiked 3 miles of our 4 mile hike. She spent two short segments riding: one at her request, and the other I insisted upon to speed a rocky descent. Though she’s nearly outgrown it, she still loves a ride when her feet get tired. She happily (and loudly) sang songs as we hiked, and I paused briefly to capture one of my favorites.

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