Hi - DH and I have three boys, ages 9, 7 and 3.5. We like to do a lot of walking and hiking. Lately we've been doing moderate hikes in the 3 to 4 mile range. The older kids can manage the entire walk at a good pace, but of course the 3.5 yo cannot.
DH has been carrying him on his shoulders for years. Now it's getting harder to do this. It's also getting dangerous, since DH could trip, and it would be a long way for DS to fall.
DS is the "laziest" of our three boys and hardly ever wants to walk on his own. And if we do get him to walk, he's very slow. Obviously we can't expect him to keep up with us at this age.
We're hoping to find a carrier that is suitable for a bigger kid. He only weighs about 36 lbs. We will have our Ergo, and tried using that as a backpack carrier, but it's very awkward and uncomfortable for both DS and DH.
Anyone have any suggestions or ideas? Is there a better place to post this? I'm assuming most people are discussing carrying babies and toddlers!
I can't make an specific recs, but have you looked into a backpack carrier with a frame, such as those made by Kelty? I have seen them at places like REI and they seem good for carrying older children.
You can try a larger bodied mei tai, with a structured waist band, or maybe the Toddler Patapum, which is taller than the Ergo. I don't think the "hiking backpacks" are very comfortable, as they throw off my center of gravity.
Either look for a longer bodies soft structured carrier. www.thebabywearer.com for recommendations.
IF you decide to go with a framed carrier. Use it in store make suire it fits your body and that you can change setting easily should you and your spouse plan to change off frequently. Make sure the carrier has stirrups to support legs, and that that seat does NOT lean forward into the frame, when worn. I would recommend Sherpani, MacPac, Dueter. REI has a 100% satisfaction guarentee.
You could try to find a preschool or toddler size Kinderpack. Check out kindercarry on facebook to see when they are listed for sale, or check out the fsot on thebabywearer. We have 2 toddler sized Kinderpacks. My DH has worn our 4 (almost 5!) year old in it, but a preschool size would work better for my DS I think. They are amazingly supportive carriers, extremely well made.
idk what your budget is but this is a cool idea: http://www.chariotcarriers.com/english/html/cabriolet_conversion_kits.php?conID=4&flaID=
I would suggest a woven wrap. It can give you lots of support and be soft and comfortable. They take some practice getting used to them, however, they are really nice. Here are 2 that I like. Dolcino and Storchenwiege. I also have a Kozy Mei Tai which I love but do not find it as supportive. It is however much simplier to use.
Cloth Diapering, Babywearing Mom to Cole, 3, and Max 6 months
We are major hikers and carry our two year old with a Kelty Kids Hiker/backpack. Depending on your comfort and wallet there are different kinds. I personaly use the the FC 2.0 series, with the sun visor and extra foot holds. My friend uses the same kind for her three year old. They are not cheap, but worth every penny when considering your comfort and back, stability, quality, durability, ease when trying to get your child off and on your back by yourself. Our son even falls asleep in it. We love it at large fairs, old car shows, steam engine competitions, NHRA drag racing events, and just hiking and picnic-ing up a mountain. And it holds A LOT! Hope this helps.
I usually carry my 3.5 year old dd (32 lbs) in a woven wrap or toddler sized kinderpack. A kinderpack would be easier to use on hikes than woven wrap most likely, especially if your 3.5 year old will be up/down throughout the hike to look at things. They aren't super hard to find, but they aren't always available on a day to day basis. She usually lists carriers every few weeks on her webshop. Preschool sized kinderpacks go quickly for the most part, but the toddler sized is very generous and fits my 3.5 year old well. Toddler sized is much bigger than an ergo. GL finding something that works for your family :)
I want to second the Sherpani recommendation. (And the REI one as well - their return policy is fairly amazing, and their employees always seem to fulfill it with a smile!) We got the Sherpani Rumba - http://sherpani.com/sherpani-rumba.aspx?bO3FscouH=1&GQd0EjaqX=6&pmdoXJC4W=304# I actually have the previous model, and I'm a little jealous because it looks like they've made the detachable daypack quite a bit more useful. It is rated to carry up to something like 70 pounds of kid, or combined kid and cargo. I got this particular one because it has the greatest cargo space of any I could find, and I wanted to know that I could really haul a bunch of cr@p if I wanted to! This is definitely awesome for long term comfort - great adjustability (dad likes this one a LOT as well) and good suspension. Of note is the fact that Sherpani is dedicated to making great backpacks, bags, luggage, etc. for women - I think they have a pretty good handle on women's ergonomics. This also seems pretty comfortable for the rider - it comes with adjustable stirrups which can really help them keep themselves comfortable. My son loves this. This is what I use instead of a stroller. We use this for hiking, or just general walking around if we know we're going to be going for a long while, or need to carry some additional items. Because it will sit on the floor with the child in it, I have used it (in a pinch) as a make-shift high chair. (In this case, you MUST stabilize it, you can't just leave the kid in it and walk away!) I also use this around the house sometimes specifically if I'm going to be cooking and really want to be sure that those grabby little hands are well away from the hot stove.
Something to be very aware of are trail conditions. A framed carrier really changes the wearers center of gravity. In wet, muddy conditions the wearer needs to be super careful with any elevation changes to maintain balance, weight distribution of the carrier. I would recommend trekking poles to assist with these concerns.
FYI Rei-outlet.com often carriers last years model of Sherpanis. You can order one have it shipped to a local store for free and try it out in store to get a really good idea of how it will work for you.
I second the trekking poles recommendation. We did a lot of hiking in NH last summer with my very big, very heavy 2.5 year old and the poles saved me from falling or slipping more than once -- worth their weight in gold!
We did all of our hiking with dd in the Boba -- it's taller than the Ergo and better for bigger/taller kids IME. It also has footrests although your ds may be too big for them at this point. It's just about the only carrier I can still carry my 36", 40+ pound now-3 year old dd in.
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