A toddler pack is ideal for family hikes.

Hiking Packs to Carry Toddlers

by Eliza Martinez

If you have a toddler, you know that walking anywhere is a slow process. Your little one's legs are short and he has to stop every couple of feet to check out a rock, a bug or a piece of trash. Hiking could be a nightmare at that rate unless you invest in a pack to carry your toddler. You can both enjoy the great outdoors without a tired and curious toddler turning an hour hike into an all-day excursion.

1. Types

With several types of hiking packs out there, you're sure to find one that fits your needs and your budget. A framed pack features an aluminum structure to keep the seat in place. If you're an avid hiker, a framed pack might be the best choice because it's a sturdy option with plenty of storage in addition to a comfortable seat for keeping your little one safe and happy. An urban hiking pack is ideal for trips to the zoo, the park or other outdoor day trips in which you know your toddler won't be up for walking for too long. These packs are lighter weight, but still have a seat for your toddler minus the bulk of a huge frame and tons of pockets.

2. How They Work

Similar to a front carrier, a toddler hiking pack allows you to hold your child with your hands and arms free. Once your child hits 25 to 30 pounds, you can safely carry him in a pack on your back while you hike. The packs resemble backpacks, with straps that go over your shoulders and buckles that hold it in place while distributing the weight evenly on your back. Your toddler snuggles into the seat and gets a birds-eye view of the flora and fauna on your hiking trail, while you get to finish the hike in a reasonable amount of time before your back gives out on you.

3. Choosing

With so many toddler hiking packs on the market, it might be overwhelming to choose one that works best for your toddler. Weight is an important factor to consider when choosing a hiking pack. Most safely hold 30 to 50 pounds, but some can carry up to 70 pounds, notes Consumer Reports. If you hike often, a well made and durable pack holds up to the rigors of life on the trail. Unless you want your pockets stuffed with gear, choose a pack with storage for diapers, wipes, snacks and a water bottle for your little mountain kid.

4. Safety

It might seem like a no-brainer, but following the directions that accompany your toddler hiking pack is vital for keeping you and your little one safe while you hike. Make sure you secure the straps snugly and firmly to keep the pack from sliding around and jostling your toddler out. This is also important for keeping the weight of the pack even, which protects your back and shoulders from strain and injury. Check the pack often for damage, which can make it unsafe to use. Frayed or torn straps, a bent frame or a broken seat could result in your toddler tumbling to the ground, which could keep him from ever wanting to hit the trail with you again. Once your toddler exceeds the weight limit, stop using the pack.

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