That's Kyan, 6 months old, hiking with Kevin on the South Kaibab Trail at Grand Canyon. It is easy to get caught up in busy, overwhelming days, especially as a new parent. Going outside takes tremendous effort most days, much less thinking about climbing a steep hill, hiking a big mountain. If not for my very outdoorsy husband inspiring adventures, I would have probably chosen to stay in and sleep or veg out every single chance I had. But I am grateful I have him in our lives, motivating and getting me off my butt.
Baby-wearing has allowed us to hike with Kyan since he was 10 weeks old. It is the only successful way to get us out into nature continuously as a family. We also believe that sometimes an investment in great gear is a worthwhile decision in getting the whole family out.
When Kyan was 10 weeks old, we were rookie parents and decided to push him up Mt. Baldy Notch Trail (a regular trail we hiked before we had him), thinking our sport stroller would do the job. We were wrong. I was 10 weeks postpartum, sleep-deprived and exhausted. I gave up halfway up the 3 mile hike and turned around to go back to our car to sleep while Kevin pushed on. When he finally made it back, he said coming down was harder than go up.
That's when we started using this baby carrier he found at a garage sale for $10. We loved it. Kevin was able to wear him in front, close to him and Kyan felt safe and cozy. They don't sell the one we have anymore, but you can still find them sometimes on craigslist or they have a really cool updated version here, suitable for outdoor activities and warmer climates.
It wasn't long before Kyan approached 20lbs and carrying him uphill, strapped in front was starting to strain Kevin's back. I started researching all the child carriers available in the market and went for the one I felt best suited our needs.
We clearly love our Deuter Kid Comfort III Child Carrier. I bought it for Kevin on his 1st Father's Day in 2012 and it remains the best investment for our outdoor life. I love that we get to take Kyan with us on our adventures while he rides comfortably on Kevin's back, taking in all the beautiful sights, sounds and smells mother nature has to offer. There's just something fun and energetic about being outdoors with your child on your back. The spirit he gets to experience and the perspective from the best seat in the house is priceless.
Kevin started carrying Kyan in this Deuter backpack since he was about 6 months old, 20lbs. Kyan is now 3.5 years old, 35lbs and Kevin is not sure how much longer he can lug this sack of potatoes around. The backpack weighs 7lbs 11oz and allows up to 48.5lbs (child+gear+pack). So we have about 6 more pounds for Kyan to grow into on an empty pack and that's approximately one more year.
WHAT WE LOVE ABOUT THE PACK
- Side-entry buckle - As Kyan got older and heavier, it was harder to lift him up so it is really helpful to have the side entry option for him to climb back in on his own.
- Fold in kick stand - Handy and makes a more compact pack compared to others in the market.
- Built in sun shade - This feature has been incredibly useful for light showers too. No apparatus to remove / install and put away which means no risk of losing it. Just unhook and zip up if not in use.
- Adjustable seat height - When Kyan was six months old, he sat pretty low even on the highest seat setting. We simply added these light receiving blankets on the seat so he can see above the pack. At 3.5 years old, 38" he is on the lowest setting and can still sit comfortably, fall asleep.
- Deuter's unique VARIQUICK adjustable harness - We couldn't be more pleased with the harness system. Kevin's had lower back surgery before and carrying the pack has never bothered him.
- Cushioned 5 point harness buckle - Easy to use and Kyan's always eager to buckle up and has never complained about the buckles bothering him.
- Removable chin-rest - Comfy mircofiber washes well and provides good cushioning for when he falls asleep on hikes, which is very important to have.
- Waist zipper pocket with handheld mirror - Really handy to have when you're hiking on your own and need to check if he's fallen asleep and comfortable (head not hanging off the side or have blankets bundled up around his face). The little zipper pocket is also big enough to house a lip balm and mini bug spray bottle.
WHAT WE WISHED OUR PACK HAD
- Footrests - Which Deuter has added to the updated edition of this backpack. Despite not having footrests on our version, Kyan has never complained about pins and needles in his legs, he also learned to rest his feet on the bottom frame. (see photo below)
- Lower height setting - At 5'2", the pack felt just a tiny bit top heavy for me even at the lowest setting.
- Rain cover - At the price, it would have been nice to not have to pay extra for the rain cover. We never ended up buying it only because our adventures were mostly in dryer climates and have only gotten completely drenched once.
After 3 years of hiking and trekking through several National Parks, forests, rivers, trails and peaks with our Deuter Kid Comfort iii Child Carrier, we are still in love with it. It still looks almost new despite our rough abuse. Nothing's broken, came undone or snagged. The elastic on the side mesh pockets has lost some of it's elasticity from the sun beating down on it but otherwise, everything works perfectly. At its class, it is super utilitarian, extremely well-designed and I am happy I did all my research on child carriers available back then and picked this one. It was money well spent. We even took it with us for long walks at the beach.
I believe good gear is essential to happy adventures because there really is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing, or wrong gears! I hope you've enjoyed my review. All thoughts and opinions are completely my own, through my experience (or lack thereof!) and repeated use with the gear. Thank you for reading!
P.S. More outdoor fun on How To Camp With A 3 Year Old (And Still Love It!)