Which backpacks hold gear and have a child carrier?

My wife and I are looking for a backpack with a child carrier so we can introduce our new little one to the pleasures of nature. Should we go with a backpack/carrier with less storage space for my petite wife, or a big carrier for me with lots of storage space? Alex Toronto, Ontario


That’s an interesting question: Do you carry the child and as much gear as possible, or does your wife carry the little boopster while you lug all the gear? Hmmm…

Sherpani Rumba Baby Carrier

Rumba Baby Carrier

You really can go either way. The Sherpani Rumba Baby Carrier ($210;, for instance, has a comfortable, sheltered seat for a child, plus 2,800 cubic inches of room for other stuff. The total capacity in pounds is 70, with 50 allotted for the child and his/her traps. So that means you have a fair amount of capacity for camping stuff. Maybe not bulky tents and bags, but certainly cooking gear, food, clothing, etc. Kelty’s Adventure Child Carrier ($240; is a well-designed carrier with a “kickstand" so you can set the pack down in a stable fashion, and kid-friendly features such as a padded, reclining cockpit. But even though it has several gear pockets, it’s limited to about 1,500 cubic inches. So it’s maybe not quite as ideal for the kid-and-gear scenario.

If you opt for your wife to handle the child-hauling tasks while you haul the gear, then Deuter’s Kid Comfort II ($179; is an excellent choice. It has a comfortable seat for the child, pockets for toys and diaper supplies, and a hydration pocket to keep mom from getting thirsty. Plus, the suspension system lends itself to long use. Kelty, which tends to be the market leader in this category, makes a carrier called the Pathfinder ($190). It basically holds a child and a few child supplies, and it has a slightly smaller frame that’s perhaps better for your petite wife.

Of course, always take care to ensure the child’s health and safety is paramount. Dehydration can be an issue, as can insects and sun. Don’t make the youngster’s first memories be of a hot, buggy hike! Save that for later, when as a teenager they can carry YOUR gear.

Check out this year’s more than 400 must-have gear items, including a comprehensive backpacks section, in the 2006 Buyer’s Guide.

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Filed To: Backpacks
Lead Photo: courtesy, Sherpani
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