Carry Your Heavy Load in Comfort
- What: Kelty Kids Pathfinder Backpack
- When: 6 months to 50 lbs
- Why: Lug your kid without a stroller
- Where: Amazon
We invested in a Kelty Kids FC 3.0 backpack carrier with my first child. We originally got it for our annual backcountry camping trip, and it worked great for that purpose. In fact, it worked so well we started using it for other things, like geocaching and street scramble scavenger hunts where strollers had a big disadvantage.
If you travel places where sidewalks rarely appear or with lots of steps and little to no handicap access, a backpack can be a godsend. It distributes the weight better than even the best fabric carrier. And depending on which model you choose, you can actually pack things besides a baby or toddler in them as well.
We choose the model with the most packing capacity and a stabilizing bar. The bar, which acts as a kickstand, means it can stand on its own, which helps tremendously with loading and unloading our child even if only one of us is present or has their hands free. The kickstand automatically retracts when you pick the bag up, so we didn’t bump into even more things with a giant load attached to our backs.
It also has a handy pocket on the hip strap for things like phones or keys. The hip strap supports often cut off access to front and back pockets, so that comes in extremely handy. Because we have the largest capacity model, it came with a shade that collapses into a small flat case and stores in a zippered pocket. We used that accessory a couple of times. It also had drool pads. I wouldn’t have gotten those, but it turns out when your toddler falls asleep, the pad keeps the saliva from trickling down your neck into spots you can’t reach loaded down with a child on your back.
The sliding torso adjustment makes things easier if you want to switch the backpack between two people with different heights. We rarely used that feature, but had no trouble adjusting it when we did need to change the setting. The handle attached to the top of the frame made a big difference in swinging the loaded carrier around to get it onto our backs.
I could carry an additional shoulder bag, a smaller backpack on my chest, or even a second child in a carrier while wearing our Kelty Kids FC 3.0. I could do that with other carriers, too, of course. But the weight capacity on this one goes up to 50 pounds for gear and child combined, and the frame means that my child could see over my back instead of spending the entire time staring out to one side or the other. Because we got the fancy version, it even came with a changing mat. That meant I didn’t have to move one from my regular diaper bag over, and then forget to move it back once we got back to the car and civilization. The padding can be removed for cleaning, which helps when younger infants still urps regularly.
If you plan to engage in any sort of serious physical activity that isn’t stroller friendly, this backpack works very well. I’d much rather wear this one for several hours straight, even over my beloved Beco.
The added advantages come at a cost, of course, and not just monetary. Our backpack barely compacts for storage when not in use. The bottom stabilizing bar folds in towards the main pack, but nothing else folds. It also weighs more than any fabric carrier and takes up a ton of room.