Gear & Equipment

Cool Find: Osprey Poco Child Carrier Backpack

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Child carriers and backpacks are not all that new, but you probably knew that already. The entirety of human history all over the globe show examples of slings, pouches and cradle boards used for hands-free baby transport. However, in 20th-century U.S.A., child carriers were absolutely non-existent. That changed in 1968 with a young Peace Corps volunteer named Ann Moore who witnessed the women in Africa carrying babies and infants in slings on their backs. Moore eventually returned from her service in West Africa, started her own family, and having loved the idea of keeping a hands-free active life while keeping her baby snuggled against her body, she went to the store to buy a baby sling. She couldn't find one, so she designed her own soft carrier, called it the Snugli (link) and practically launched an entire industry. Kelty came along in 1992 with their iconic kid backpack and you could say the trails of the National Park system haven't been the same since.

While child carriers truly solve a problem for adventuring parents by orders of magnitude, backpacks and carriers still have their shortcomings. Or, rather, the load they promise to haul is squirmy, drools, and droops in all directions and it takes more than a backpack to outsmart all of that. Kid carriers often suffer from a mind-numbing assault of what seems like a thousand confusing adjustment points, bulk, and a naturally challenging load. Typical adventure packs put a load close to your lower back so your body takes as little of a beating as possible. But child carriers have to put the squirmy-drooly-droopy child high and slightly away from your back. The resulting experience of treating your infant to a joyous free ride through a gorgeous southern Utah canyon is both love and, well, not love. You're often comfortable for just short stints, or the poor critter slumps over to one side during a snooze making the whole pack imbalanced on your back — and therefore nefarious.

In 2012, Osprey tackled the job. The company has made some exceptional day packs and backpacks since 1974 and now they've taken all that experience and focused it on their new child carrier, the Osprey Poco. Fine tuning the hip and torso adjustments for the ultimate fit were at the top of the checklist when Osprey set out to make the Poco, and they've crafted up a pretty decent doohicky for holding kids. Osprey's Poco promises a child carrier that's comfortable, easy to adjust, rock solid, rugged, and lightweight. I've placed my own 5-month-old in it, and taken some laps around the block, and so far so good. It's impressively comfortable, easy to figure out, and refreshingly light.

Osprey makes three models, we're thinking the middle-of-the-road Poco Plus looks like the best bang. It comes with the hideaway sunshade, and pockets on the hipbelt, but forfeits the changing pad and detachable day pack that come with the upper-end turbo version, Poco Premium. Well, portable changing pads are a dime a dozen anyway, and if you happen to have the Osprey Daylite day pack (sold separately), it will attach to the backside of the Poco Plus. Winner.

Osprey’s Poco child carrier offers 3 designs:

  • Premium: Adjustable torso length (simple to switch the harness to fit mom or dad), adjustable hipbelt, adjustable child’s cockpit (accommodates children up to 45 pounds), shoulder-strap buckles that attach out of a child’s reach, detachable day pack, diaper change pad, hideaway sunshade; $299
  • Plus: Same as above without the change pad or the detachable pack; $259.
  • Basic: Same as the Plus with a little less storage, no adjustment in the hipbelt and no sunshade; $199.


+3 / 0
# Alex 2012-01-27 10:37
You should check out the Deuter's, we found one, never used, off of ebay, for about a third of the price. While it does ride high, the sides do adjust to keep the little one in a good spot if (when) they do doze off.

Happy trails!

Ever think about organizing an AZ adventure parent meeting?
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+3 / -1
# mark 2012-01-29 09:56
While I have no doubts about the Deuter packs, this one from Osprey is brand-spanking new and deserves, in my opinion, a little parading. Osprey packs are quite nice in general. A long time ago, I bought my wife a sweet Osprey day pack that she really digs and keeps using.
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Ernie Ruiz
+3 / 0
# Ernie Ruiz 2012-03-01 09:41
That thing looks pretty sweet. We just had a baby boy and Once he can hold his body up on his own I think I will have to get something like this. We have an ergo carrier which should be cool while he is a ball of newborn.
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+6 / 0
# Geoff 2012-04-27 21:13
We just bought the Poco Plus at REI. It has a pouch to hold a water bladder and plenty of room for snacks, diapers, etc. We just used it for the first time on Deer Mountain in RMNP. Worked great, our 18 month old loved it. He slept most of the way up. He loves it so much he wants us to put him in it around the house. He also loves to just sit in it while its on the floor.
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0 / 0
# TaSha 2012-11-16 15:52
I've been doing a bit of research on these packs and I'm curious, since you've used it, did you have any trouble with the frame digging into your back? There was a review on the REI website with this complaint.I was thinking that maybe he had it adjusted incorrectly.
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ergo baby carrier
+1 / 0
# ergo baby carrier 2012-06-07 00:17
We just used it for the first time on Deer Mountain in RMNP. Worked great, our 18 month old loved it. :oops:
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+5 / 0
# LoveLife 2012-10-14 03:19
Omg! Just bought one of these things, and I must say it carries wonderfully. Was thinking about the Deuter, but found the plus of this brand better than the Deuter II price wise because you don't have to purchase a sun shade separately (almost 40 bucks new). We had a older model kelty that was given to us and carrying the little man in that thing was back breaking after a short time. The poco plus doesnt even feel like you have anything on your back really. Almost all carriers/packs with a hip belt claim the weight will be mostly on your hips (and I've had many), but this one really follows through with that claim. Kudos to osprey for making a pretty cool pack!! Looking forward to every trail now.
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Jill Briggs
0 / 0
# Jill Briggs 2013-06-01 12:44
Hi folks! Couple of quick questions as we try to decide between the Deuter and the Osprey Plus. 1) are there are problems with leg comfort with the Osprey crotch saddle? The deuter has more of a seat and I am wondering if chunk baby legs would lose circulation in the osprey. 2) do your kids have their arms out or in? The osprey is higher on the sides and I worry she might get frustrated. 3) finally and most importantly (!) is there any problems napping in the osprey? The chin rest sits pretty low. Your feedback will be super helpful so thanks in advance!
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Mark Stephens
+1 / 0
# Mark Stephens 2013-06-03 10:44
Hi Jill
  • Leg comfort? Hard to say, I don't sit in it. :-) I can say my daughter doesn't dislike taking a ride in the Osprey, nor do her legs appear to go blue.
  • Non issue. The baby has the space to move her arms in and out.
  • Chin rest seems okay. Pic below.

You can see her arm out here, that might give you a fair visual.

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0 / 0
# Channah 2013-06-25 14:30
This looks like a great product. We're thinking of doing some camping this summer and we'll definitely need something like this. I love the pics you added btw, super cute!
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Daniel in central CA
0 / 0
# Daniel in central CA 2013-09-20 00:36
This thing looks sweet. I love my ergo but I have found its not that awesome for hiking. Super sweet for everything else especially since I can take him in and out very quickly
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