Kid carrier
This backpack opened up so much of the world to my daughter and me. (Photo: Sarah Jackson)
Gear Guy

This Kid Carrier Changed Our Lives

A sentimental look at the best piece of gear for hauling your child

Kid carrier

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

I originally thought this review would be a heartfelt goodbye to the Deuter Kid Comfort Pro that I wore to tote around my daughter, Jojo, over the past two years, logging more a hundred miles with her. I would talk about how I keep it in a visible spot in my garage so I can reminisce about all the adventures my daughter and I have been on, even though she now prefers to amble on her own. But when I pulled it out to photograph for this piece, she sweetly asked to “ride with Dada.”

We took a short hike together down a greenway at the end of our street. She pointed to a pile of deer poop and laughed. We talked about the dusting of snow that still sits on top of nearby Grizzly Peak. We both impersonated Canada geese as they honked overhead. I explained to her that I thought because she was so big, I assumed she wanted to walk on her own. She replied, “I yike to be big. I also yike ride with Dada.”

This carrier opened up so much of the world to Jojo and me. Before she was born, I had grand intentions of not slowing down, just bringing her with us everywhere. I loaded up on gear to do just that. But the reality of bringing a small child with me on extended, difficult hikes proved terrifying. I was so scared I would fall and hurt her, or that I’d incorrectly strap her in and she’d tumble out, or that I wouldn’t dress her correctly and freeze her. For the first eight months of her life, I only walked on pavement with her in a carrier next to my chest, too scared to bring her on the trails that I ran or explored on my own.

Kid carrier
(Sarah Jackson)

The Deuter Kid Carrier Pro changed that. It stands freely and firmly on an aluminum frame that makes placing a little one in there—even when they’re new and delicate—simple and safe. It has a side-entry system that opens wide enough to get an ornery and flailing child in there. (This usually happened after a picnic or snack break for us.) The harness was easy to fully and confidently click in around Jojo’s chest and legs and soft enough that she never complained of discomfort. Every part that interacts with her body was plush and super comfortable. She has fallen asleep on the removable chin rest dozens of times. The two hip pockets are the perfect size—one for my phone, the other for snacks—and I never felt uncomfortable when hiking with her on my back.

All of those attributes led me to believe that both Jojo and I would be fine together on longer hikes. After my first hike of over an hour—spent catching up with a dear friend I had barely seen since Jojo was born—I asked if she was asleep, because I could feel her head softly resting on the chin cushion. “No, dude, she’s blissed out and staring up there,” my friend said. 

That pack has been on every car-based adventure our family has taken in the past two years, including a magical trip to Yosemite, California, last spring, where we were able to get far enough above the Valley floor to have some alone time with its grandeur. There’s no way we could have successfully gotten to the places we did if Jojo disliked being in her carrier. She even spent six months on my wife’s back, on the occasions my wife was taking pictures of me and the gear for this very column. 

Then, one day, Jojo stopped wanting to ride in it. Hikes seemed more fun on her own two feet. I am not in the business of wrestling my daughter into things she doesn’t want to do outdoors, so I put the Kid Comfort Pro in my garage in a place where I could at least look at it and remember the good times. I wasn’t ready to ditch it. After this hike, I guess Jojo isn’t, either.

Buy Now

Lead Photo: Sarah Jackson

When you buy something using the retail links in our stories, we may earn a small commission. We do not accept money for editorial gear reviews. Read more about our policy.