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I'm going to be a Dad for the first time early next year. My wife and I are very active outdoorsy kind of people. I've started looking at a baby carrier so we can take our wee one out on short walks and for me when I take our dogs out for a walk (which I do a couple of times a day).

I want a carrier as we live quite rural and a lot of the places I go on a day to day basis have no pavements, etc. So a pram simply won't be practical. I also often climb the local hills and I'd like to take the baby with me occasionally.

Looking at baby carriers though there is a bewildering array of different styles, positions, etc. From the high end fully outdoors backpacks:

Smaller picture of carrier

Source

To simple baby slings:

enter image description here

source

Obviously money is a factor here, we've got a baby on the way, we're not exactly flush for cash so I don't want to spend a lot.

Given activities such as:

  • Gentle hill walks

  • Walking in low country

What kind of carrier should I be looking for? What features do I want, which are over kill and which are required?

  • It is worth pointing out that you can get used gear really cheap. I bought a nice backpack style carrier with sun and rain shade used for $40, and when my kids grew out of it I resold it for the same price. – Erik Oct 12 '17 at 17:27
  • Yeah We're pretty much looking second hand @Erik. So much barely used stuff on the market. We got a £600 pram, car seat, etc. for £200. – user2766 Oct 13 '17 at 8:03
  • I believe it. There’s so much quality kid gear for so cheap that it almost always makes sense to buy used. Be careful with the car seat though. I’m pretty sure they have a five year life span like a bike helmet and are supposed to be discarded after an accident. We had a used one from a trusted friend that we used as a loaner/backup. – Erik Oct 13 '17 at 14:52
  • Girl we bought it off didn't have a car! It's one of those pram module system things, where the baby seat is also a car baby seat. So need an ISO fix base yet. – user2766 Oct 13 '17 at 16:02
  • Once our son was old enough to hold his head, we used a convertible stroller for many trips. Not the best backpack carrier, not the best stroller, but very versatile. – user5330 Oct 15 '17 at 5:03
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All our kids have been coming on hikes with us since they were newborns. We have two types of baby carrying hiking packs, two more snuggly baby carriers, and a variety of baby wraps.

The answer to your question is to carry the kid in the carrier suitable for their size and age. When your baby is brand new and can't sit up on it's own, then you should carry it in a wrap, after it gets to about 6 months old, then you can carry them in a back pack.

We had our pack and a couple snuggly carriers before we got our first baby wrap. I highly recommend getting a wrap first, the babies like them much better because they keep their arms and legs tucked in and hold their heads too. They literally just sleep the whole time when they're in the wrap.

enter image description here

When they get bigger you can move them into the backpacks. We were hiking this year with my 4 and 2 year old both in backpacks, that way my wife and I could have a good hike without having to wait for littles to keep up, or listen to them complain about being tired.

But for a brand new baby, you definitely want to go with a wrap like this one:

enter image description here

They're very versatile, they keep the baby up close to your centre of gravity, they're comfortable for you and the baby, and you can wear a backpack over top of them. After that, invest in a nice comfy hiking backpack for the kid.

The one I have comes with a hood and a full rain cover, so I can basically take my kids hiking with me in any weather.

enter image description hereenter image description here

enter image description here

Sometimes the littles want to hike too: enter image description here

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    @knitti We took our first born camping before she was 1, and one of the hikes we went on with her in the backpack both my wife and I were sweating, but when we stopped to figure out why our baby was upset, we noticed that she was starting to turn blue. Poor thing was freezing in the shade even though it was a nice warm day out, so we put her back in the wrap. On the flip side, I've never had a baby complain about being too warm in the wrap. They just sleep, soaking in Mommy or Daddy's sweat. – ShemSeger Oct 12 '17 at 17:44
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    @ShemSeger This is an important point, and worth a Question on its own -- how to ensure the baby is warm enough -- how often to check, etc, what trips are no-nos. Some time ago, I read of a couple cross-country skiing with a baby. The baby froze to death. – ab2 ReinstateMonicaNow Oct 12 '17 at 19:36
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    @ab2 Oh babies let you know when they're cold. We went on one ski with our kids with our Chariot where our son was especially cranky after being in the chariot for a while after leaving a ski cabin. Usually he'd just fall asleep, and was giving us all the indicators that he was tired, but he just screamed and was inconsolable, so we just booked it back to the car as fast as we could. When we got to the bottom, he was still crying when we got him out, we noticed that despite being bundled up, and covered with a blanket, his toes had gotten cold resting in the bottom of the chariot. – ShemSeger Oct 13 '17 at 3:16
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    We learned we had to put a blanket in the bottom of the Chariot and wrap their feet in another to keep their toes warm. As a parent you need to learn how to troubleshoot you child's needs, they let you know things aren't good by crying, if you're out in the cold there is a good chance your kid is getting cold when they start complaining. A rule of thumb I go by now is to always dress myself down from my kids, so if I get cold I know that they are not far off. I always overdress my kids too, because they aren't going to be as active as I am, so they need to be warm while not moving around. – ShemSeger Oct 13 '17 at 3:22
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    Absolutely right. I'd add though that fit is vital. We had an expensive front sling carrier that fitted neither of us, and two that we got for next to nothing second hand that were perfect (not expensive models even new). For our rucksack we paid good money in a shop with a choice. We were lucky enough to have a cooperative little person that day who was happy to be put in several. The last time we tried our rucksack our daughter was nearly 4 and we were getting ready to pass it on - it was still usable for her but she no longer needed it. – Chris H Oct 13 '17 at 7:46
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As a supplement to @ShemSeger's answer, NZ rucksack makers Aarn offer clip-on front pockets that help counterbalance the weight of a kid on your back if you're using a carrier with a waist-belt and sternum strap.

The idea is that you fill the pockets with some of your heavier gear and your water. As well as keeping your stuff to hand, balancing the load in this way makes a surprising difference if you are carrying a larger kid for any kind of distance - it's less fatiguing and kinder to your back and shoulders.

enter image description here

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    I've improvised something similar in the past. It helps – Chris H Oct 13 '17 at 7:41
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    Oh, this is an interesting idea. Thanks for sharing. – user2766 Oct 13 '17 at 8:02
  • ...at least until you stop for a drink – Strawberry Oct 13 '17 at 16:19

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