Gear & Equipment
Cool Find: Osprey Poco Child Carrier Backpack
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.