Deuter Kid Comfort
Cushy straps and a waist belt that fits well make this the most comfortable carrier we tested. We also like its parent- and kid-friendly features, including easy-access pockets and a sunshade.
The Deuter Kid Comfort was the most comfortable carrier we tested, due to its cushy, easy-to-adjust shoulder straps and a waist belt that hugged the hips of parents of all body types. Kids found it to be a cozy ride, too: Two side harness straps tightened our small passengers securely into a nap-inducing suede cockpit and also made it easy for us to pull a kid out of the top or side exit for independent exploration or emergency diaper changes. The pack had the storage we needed for longer treks, but it didn’t feel too hefty for a quick stroll through the farmers market. The large pockets on the waist belt and the side of the pack are easy to reach mid-hike; an upper rear pocket holds a hydration pack, and the lower zipper compartment can store as much kid gear as the typical diaper bag. This Deuter pack also has features that provide additional comfort on the trail, including a sunshade, foot stirrups, and a kickstand.
Carrier weight: 7 pounds 1 ounce
Weight limit: 48 pounds
This carrier has the roomiest seat of any carrier we tried, plus nearly all the comfort features we could want, including a great sunshade. But we wish it had more padding on the hip belt.
If the Deuter Kid Comfort pack is unavailable—or if you have a kid who likes to take frequent trail breaks to explore—the Osprey Poco is a great choice. This baby carrier has the roomiest seat of any carrier we tested, although kids with big feet (like one of our tester toddlers, who wears a kids size 8) may get a bit stuck moving in and out. As many parents of toddlers know, there’s often a near-constant back and forth of getting your child settled in a carrier before they immediately decide they want to walk by themselves again. But in most cases, the Poco’s roomy seat makes it easy enough to get a rowdy toddler situated. Our testers found this pack to be as easy to adjust as the Deuter Kid Comfort. It was almost as comfortable to carry, too, but it had less padding on the waistband, which some testers disliked. Overall, the Poco offers features similar to those of our top pick: It has adjustable foot stirrups, plenty of extra storage space, and an easy-to-use kickstand. An attached sunshade folds into its own pocket, which we preferred to Deuter’s removable (and easily misplaced) shade. And Osprey’s newest upgrade adds an “anti-gravity” panel, which is essentially a panel of striated foam covered in mesh that sits along the low back to help with ventilation and comfort.
Carrier weight: 7 pounds 7 ounces
Weight limit: 48.5 pounds
Deuter Kid Comfort Active SL
This carrier, which is designed specifically for people with a shorter torso, is the lightest model we tested. But its stripped-down design sacrifices some features found on our other picks, such as a sunshade.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $269.
The Deuter Kid Comfort Active SL is the lightest carrier of those we tested, and it felt the most ventilated, too. It’s a great choice for city strolls, travel, and shorter day trips. We found that it made a nice stroller replacement, since it has as much cargo space as a diaper bag but is easier to break down and stow in cramped spaces. Smaller-framed hikers on our test panel especially liked the fit of the Active SL’s shoulder-strap system, which is designed for those with a torso measuring 14 to 18 inches (by contrast, the standard Kid Comfort is designed for torsos measuring 15 to 21 inches). This carrier has the same easy adjustment system, adjustable foot stirrups, and easy-to-use kickstand that we like on the regular Kid Comfort. Unlike our other picks, though, the Active SL doesn’t come with a sunshade, and it has limited storage space.
Carrier weight: 5 pounds 13 ounces
Weight limit: 48 pounds