The best baby carrier backpacks for family walks and more

child backpack carriers

by Hannah Carroll |
Updated on

Unlike a baby carrier, a baby carrier backpack is similar to a rucksack, but it has a seat where your baby or toddler sits. As well as two shoulder straps, there's a belt that goes around your waist to spread their weight onto your hips, easing the burden on your back.

Back carriers are typically for little ones from six months of age. Before this, it is best to opt for the best baby sling that meets your requirements.

You can use a baby backpack carrier until your child is more confident at walking longer distances, this usually happens at approximately three years. Always check the weight restrictions of the bag to ensure your baby is safe.

A baby carrier enables you to carry your little one easily and leave the pushchair at home, which is useful if you're heading to a place where the terrain is unsuitable for wheels or where there is little space to manoeuvre a buggy. Many parents also find them good for holidays, as they're more practical for airports or sightseeing. They're also handy for public transport.

The best baby carrier backpacks at a glance:

• Best overall baby carrier backpack: LittleLife Cross Country S4 Child Carrier - Buy now on Amazon UK
• Best lightweight baby carrier backpack: LittleLife Ranger S2 Child Carrier - Buy now on Amazon UK
• Best budget baby carrier backpack: phil+teds Parade Baby Carrier - Buy now on Amazon UK
• Best baby carrier backpack for everyday use: Ergobaby Omni 360 - Buy now on Amazon UK

Whether you want to climb hills or just keep your hands free on the high street, the best baby carrier backpack allows you to leave your baby's buggy behind and carry them comfortably instead. If you want a less bold carrier too, as opposed to funky leopard print baby carriers, we've put together a list of the best that are tested by real parents.

The best baby carrier backpacks for 2024

Best overall baby carrier backpack

The best baby carrier backpacks: Cross Country S4 Child Carrier
Price: $353.20

Mother&Baby Award: Silver

Designed for ultimate convenience, practicality and security, the Cross Country S4 will see trips from the city to hikes in the country, all with baby on board. Made from lightweight and breathable nylon, both you and your baby will be nothing but comfortable due to its carefully designed backpack system. We loved the improved fabrics and airflow shoulder straps in comparison to previous versions. This baby carrier felt comfortable and would be perfect for days out. It even comes with additional accessories, including sun shade and a viewing mirror for their protection. This design is suitable from 6 months old and can be used up until 3 years old - no wonder it tops our list.

It's not the lightest carrier of the bunch but reviews are overwhelmingly and unsurprisingly positive. "Glad I got this one as over a lighter weight one as the extra storage is really helpful for taking changing stuff, spare clothes etc," said mum. "It's a really easy to use design and feels very secure."

Our own Mother&Baby reviewer said: "Overall, I really like the carrier. It looks good, is easy to use, and a lot of thought has gone into the design regarding pockets, sunshade and little extras such as the face cushion. It's quite big but can fit in the boot of a car or on the back seat. It takes some practice to lift onto your back with your child in, but I got the hang of it quite quickly, although I found it harder to remove him."

Read our full Cross Country S4 Child Carrier review

Pros

  • Longevity of use - suitable from six months to three years old
  • Sun shade, foot stirrups and viewing mirror included.
  • 2.5kg in weight, so not too heavy

Cons

  • Tricky to store as it's bulky
Age suitability:6 months - 3 years (2kg to 20kg)
Number of carrying positions:1 - backpack mode
Material:Nylon
Fasten type: X-buckle harness
Weight range:Up to 20kg
Machine washable:No
Weight of carrier:2.5kg
  • Sunshade
  • Foot stirrups and viewing mirror included

Best lightweight baby carrier backpack

LittleLife Ranger S2 Child CarrierMother&Baby Writer, Rebecca
Price: $219.99

When it comes to good design, value for money and comfort - the LittleLife Ranger S2 Child Carrier ticks all the right boxes for parents. There are less pockets and storage spaces than in other carriers, but we love this one for travelling because it is lightweight at just 1.7kg. So, whether you're strolling around a museum with your child or going on your first beach trip, this baby carrier backpack is essential for any long wear.

The Ranger S2 Carrier was tried and tested by mum, Kate Gillies, who said: "The shoulder straps are good quality, plus it's lightweight, slimline and comfortable for longer walks. One drawback – it doesn't stand up on its own, but at the price, I can live with that.This backpack carrier is perfect for either caregiver as the straps can be adjusted to suit the person who is wearing it. We found this is a great option for parents who plan to use it all day as it is very lightweight. We also like that you can buy additional accessories if you need them."

Any less than brilliant reviews tended to come from mums who are of shorter height and find it difficult to balance whilst wearing it. Just something to keep in mind.

Read our full LittleLife Ranger S2 Baby Carrier review

Pros

  • Super-lightweight, easy-to-use child back carrier.
  • Suitable for children aged 6 months to 3 years.

Cons

  • It doesn't stand on its own
  • Some shorter height mums reported difficulty with balance
Item weight:1.7 kg
Adjustability: Yes
Maximum weight:20 Kg
Care instructions:Hand wash
Material:Nylon
Fasten type:Buckle
  • Fully adjustable back system
  • 5-point harness with anchor point

Thule / Mamas & Papas

Pros

  • Is a lightweight design
  • Plenty of space for storage too
  • Can easily stand on the floor

Cons

  • The fitting instructions are not quite clear on how it should sit on you
  • Comfort:
    5.0
  • Ease of use:
    5.0
  • Ease of cleaning:
    5.0
  • Design:
    5.0
  • Durability:
    5.0
Suitable for ages:6 months+
Dimensions:35 x 31 x 73cm
Weight:2.3kg
Capacity:22L
  • Removable elements for machine washing
  • 22 litre gear compartment
  • Ventilated back panel
  • UPF 50 sunshade
  • Hydration compatible design

Best budget baby carrier backpack

As well as carrying your toddler, these backpacks should be able to store bottles, nappies and a spare change of clothes for your little one. We like that this has space for all your kid's essentials, as it includes a bottle holder and pockets. That said, our favourite thing about this phil&teds Parade Baby Carrier is that it comes with a detachable backpack for tots to wear when walking.

The phil+teds Parade Carrier was tried and tested by mum, Nikki Hunt. She said: "My favourite! There's no headrest for naps, but it's lightweight and compact when folded, so fab for popping in my small car boot. It's comfortable and simple to adjust – the harness is easy to fasten. I can reach the support leg unaided, and there's plenty of storage space. Emmy loved being able to fill the little bag with all her 'treasures' too."

The frame of the carrier is reportedly a little uncomfortable in the lower back for a few wearers, and another says there is space between a smaller child and your back, even at the tightest setting, which makes the wearer lean forward.

Read our full Phil&Teds Parade review

Pros

  • Compact & light - weighs only 4.4 lbs., but carries children up to 40 lbs.
  • Adjustable - easily adjustable parent & child harness for a secure fit to different bodies and ages.
  • three colour options
  • Comes with a child backpack
  • Plenty of storage for necessities on trips

Cons

  • Stand is unstable
  • A few reviewers say the metal frame is uncomfortable against the wearer's lower back
Item weight:2kg
Adjustability:Yes
Maximum weight:‎39.7 Pounds
Care instructions:Hand Wash Only
Material:Polyester
Fasten type:Buckle
  • Free standing
  • Active-ergo fit harness system
  • Padded shoulder & hip belts

Best baby carrier backpack for everyday use

 The best baby carrier backpacks: Ergobaby Baby Carrier
Price: $119.00
Alternative retailers
Walmart$110.00View offer

Do you suffer with a bad back? You don't have to rule out a baby carrier backpack thanks to this incredible option from Ergobaby. This carrier can be worn not one but in four different positions: parent-facing, on the back, on the hip and on the front-facing outwards, which will ensure you and your little one are comfortable at all times. We love it - and there are many happy parents out there who agree.

"My husband and baby love this thing!" said one mum. "My husband has really bad back problems, and he says this doesn't hurt his back at all and supports it well. He says it is comfortable, and my baby loves it. He falls asleep almost instantly and stays asleep the entire time he is in it. My little one is only two months, so we haven't tried the other positions yet, but I'm excited to try the forward-facing position. I have yet to use it because I feel it is too bulky for me at the moment, and prefer my Ergobaby Aura wrap carrier. Right now, I do have to help him get the baby in."

There are some reviewers who say they don't feel the ErgobabyOmni 360 is ideal for newborn and very small babies, but better once they grow a little older.
"I purchased this as it says it doesn’t need an infant insert," said one. "I tried my baby from around 9lbs, he’s currently about 13lbs and he’s still too small for it. I’m keeping it for now as I really hope he likes it when he is a bit bigger and hoping it’s just an issue with him not fitting well in it yet."

Another reviewer said she felt similarly, but that her nine month old and three year old are both carried comfortably and happily.

Pros

  • Baby carrier with 4 ergonomic wearing positions parent facing, on the back, on the hip and on the front facing outwards.
  • Adapts to baby's growth infant baby carrier newborn to toddler

Cons

  • Limited storage
  • Difficult to put on your back alone - a second adult is often required
  • Some reviewers feel it's not ideal for newborn babies
Item weight:‎18g
Adjustability:Yes
Maximum weight:‎45 Pounds
Machine washable:Yes
Material:Polyester
Fasten type:Buckle
  • Adjustable seat
  • Breathable back

Best baby carrier backpack for outdoor activities

Expert rating:
4.0
Kids Baby Carrier Deuter Comfort PlusMother&Baby tester, Hayley

Like an adventure? With a sun shade, waterproof fabric and side pockets for all the bits you may need on a walk, this one is for fans of the great outdoors! Boasting a ventilated back, comfortable waist belt, padded shoulder straps and a height-adjustable seat for your child, it's made with sturdiness in mind. It even has a stand for when you put it on the ground. Having said that, it's not one of the lightest options."Bought this as a gift for my son who is 6ft and well built," said one grandma. "He's delighted overall with the product but said that the waist strap could be a bit more generous! Apart from that, one thing he said is that it's a great product - well made and very comfortable when on."

We particularly love the sun shield, which helps to keep your child safe in the sun. This is the perfect baby backpack carrier for hikers and accompanying little ones aged one and above.

Pros

  • Adjustable seat
  • Breathable material
  • Great for hiking

Cons

  • Only one colour option
  • Suitable from one year old, not sooner
  • Comfort:
    4.0
  • Ease of use:
    3.0
  • Ease of cleaning:
    3.0
  • Design:
    4.0
  • Durability:
    4.0
Item weight:2.75 kg
Adjustability:Yes
Maximum weight:18kg
Suitable from:one year old
  • Sun shield
  • Adjustable seat

Best luxury carrier

Osprey Poco LT Child CarrierMother&Baby tester, Melissa
Price: $240.00
Alternative retailers
Backcountry$230.00View offer
Walmart$242.25View offer
DICK'S Sporting Goods$300.00View offer

It may have a trendy Osprey label, but there's more to this carrier than designer status. Its fold-flat frame is the standout feature, making it convenient to travel with and store. But once in use, it boasts an SPF 50 sunshade, drool pad, various pockets for carrying essentials, and snug, adjustable seat for your little one.

Comfort for the wearer hasn't been compromised either. "This carrier is worth every penny," said one mum reviewer "I'm 5'2" and have a bad back so I was worried about using this carrier for my 19 month old for a week long camping trip but my back didn't hurt from the carrier at all! It distributes the weight so comfortably and was worth the extra money to have the quality, extra storage and comfort."

The carrier is pricier than other options but worth the investment if you're going to use it often, according to another reviewer: "There is ample room for essentials and the straps adjust for a perfect fit. The carrier is attractively designed and very durable and is easy to keep clean because of the dark colors. It is well worth the expense as it will last you well beyond the child's outgrowing and you can keep in the family for a long time."

At 2.31kg it's neither the lightest nor heaviest carrier in our round-up but this does include a stand.

Pros

  • Fold-flat frame for convenient transportation and storage
  • Adjustable back system to cater to individual wearers
  • sun shade included
  • Good number of pockets

Cons

  • More expensive than many other carriers
  • No rain protection included. You can buy a rain cover separately.
Weight of carrier:2.31kg
Suitable for child weight:23-48.5 pounds
Adjustability:Yes
Washable:Handwash
Size:71 x 38 x 45cm

FAQs ...

What should I consider when choosing the right baby carrier backpack for me?

Before purchasing a baby carrier backpack, you need to decide where you will be wearing it most. Those with more features might be great for longer hikes or if you want to carry your youngster for more than a few hours at a festival, but their dimensions can make them a big piece of kit to store. If you're only going to be using it to pop to the shops or on holiday, a more compact model might be better for you.

Weight: Another consideration is the weight of the carrier. You might think that all those extra features are great, but they all add weight to the carrier on top of the load of your increasingly heavy toddler. So, think carefully about what features you really want and whether they're worth the extra weight.

Where would you use a baby carrier backpack? If you are planning to use your backpack carrier abroad, you will want to get a carrier which has sun protection for your baby. Similarly, if you are planning on hiking with your little one on your back, you will need to make sure that the carrier is made of breathable material.

Adjustability: If both you and your partner plan to wear the carrier, you will need to ensure that the carrier is adjustable. This will bring comfort to both the wearer and your baby. As your child grows, the backpack carrier will need to be adjusted to ensure your little one is at the correct height.

Check the specifications: If you speak to parents of older children, the biggest reason they didn't get their money's worth from a carrier was because it proved too tricky to get their child into it and then lift them onto and off their back. So, this is a piece of baby gear that's worth noting the dimensions and weight.

How do you put a baby in a backpack carrier?

It is important that you can put the carrier on and off without any help. You should be able to clip and unclip any buckles. Each backpack carrier will have different instructions on how to safely put your baby in the carrier. It is important to thoroughly read the instructions. We recommend practising putting your little one in and out of the backpack carrier before you plan to take it out and about.

What age can babies go in backpack carriers?

Your baby will need to be able to sit up by themselves confidently. Whilst sitting, they will need to be able to hold up their own head and neck. Usually, this is around six months. Most carriers will be adjustable and can last until your little one is approx. four-years-old. It is important to only carry your little one when it is comfortable to do so. Lugging around a heavy toddler may lead to injury.

Are backpack carriers safe for babies?

Backpacks and framed carriers are not recommended for children under four months. It is better to opt for a baby carrier or sling.

Hannah James is a Parenting and Lifestyle Writer working across Mother&Baby, Yours and Grazia. As a mother of three, Hannah lives, breathes and consumes all things family orientated.

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us

How we write our articles and reviews

Mother & Baby is dedicated to ensuring our information is always valuable and trustworthy, which is why we only use reputable resources such as the NHS, reviewed medical papers, or the advice of a credible doctor, GP, midwife, psychotherapist, gynaecologist or other medical professionals. Where possible, our articles are medically reviewed or contain expert advice. Our writers are all kept up to date on the latest safety advice for all the products we recommend and follow strict reporting guidelines to ensure our content comes from credible sources. Remember to always consult a medical professional if you have any worries. Our articles are not intended to replace professional advice from your GP or midwife.

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us
How we write our articles and reviews
Mother & Baby is dedicated to ensuring our information is always valuable and trustworthy, which is why we only use reputable resources such as the NHS, reviewed medical papers, or the advice of a credible doctor, GP, midwife, psychotherapist, gynaecologist or other medical professionals. Where possible, our articles are medically reviewed or contain expert advice. Our writers are all kept up to date on the latest safety advice for all the products we recommend and follow strict reporting guidelines to ensure our content comes from credible sources. Remember to always consult a medical professional if you have any worries. Our articles are not intended to replace professional advice from your GP or midwife.