I’m the kind of woman who immediately started thinking about outdoor baby gear when she found she was pregnant. I couldn’t accept the possibility that my passion for hiking would end up on the back burner. So, even in the early stages of pregnancy I started researching how I would get out on the trail with my little one.
The Deuter Kid Comfort series came up many times in my research, and after some humming and hawing I decided I’d give the Deuter Kid Comfort III ($299 USD) – also known as “The Cadillac” of carriers – a try. I was looking for a pack that had some storage as it was likely I would bring it on a backcountry trip. My husband is a photographer and carries heaps of extra gear, so I needed to have the storage space. Thanks to ROI Recreation Outfitters, I got a carrier for review, and brought it along on various day hikes, a backcountry trip to Skoki Lodge and up Fairview Mountain in Banff National Park.
What I Loved
-Overall, this is a great pack for day-hiking – especially for just an hour or two at a time. Often the baby didn’t last much longer than that in a single stint, and having the kick-stand for easy ‘on and off’ was crucial. On longer hikes, we’d let her play and feed and then put her back in for the next round.
-I appreciated the sturdiness of this pack, and the comfort it provided to the child. The padding is fantastic (in particular the pillow/headrest). The last thing I wanted to worry about was whether or not the baby was comfortable, especially when sleeping.
-Thanks to the adjustable straps and hip belt, both my husband and I could wear the pack comfortably. On our hike up Fairview Mountain we took our turns carrying the baby and it was convenient to be able to switch so quickly.
-The padded hip belt performed very well on many types of terrain, allowing a range of motion thanks to the Vari Flex System.
-The small mirror (stored in the hip belt) came in more handy than I thought it would. It allowed me to quickly check on the baby, and offered some impromptu entertainment when the kid needed some distracting.
-Its compatibility with a hydration pack was definitely a welcome feature. As the parent, you don’t want to have to put the pack down to get your water bottle out. It is large enough for 3 litres of water, but I only carried 1.5 or 2 to keep the weight of the pack down.
-The 18 litres of storage space allowed me to carry all the baby gear, as well as some of my own, on our backcountry trip to Skoki last September. For shorter hikes, it was a great place to throw in some diapers, extra layers and snacks for the trail. I don’t think it’s ample space for overnight gear, and let’s face it, it would be quite the load to carry.
-In general, my daughter didn’t mind being in the backpack. She liked being up high and the fact that she could look out and around. It took some getting used to (like all things for a baby) and she had her limits, but she lasted long enough for us to cover some mileage on the trails.
Things to Consider
-Because of the built-in sun shade, the Deuter Kid Comfort III lacks clearance up top and is not ideal on trails with fallen trees, or sections that might involve some bushwhacking. Overall, it often felt too big. Despite having a smaller amount of storage, the Deuter Kid Comfort II, which does not have an integrated sun shade, may have been a better option for us.
-When the baby was on my back she was much more exposed to the elements. On our trip into Skoki, it was windy and snowy at both Boulder and Deception Passes and I ended up carrying her in a soft-structured carrier on my front for parts of the trail.
-It is quite difficult – no, impossible – to access the pockets on the exterior of the pack when it’s on your back. So if you’ve stored your water, snacks, and toys there you won’t be able to reach them if you’re on your own (without taking the pack off). This made it hard to keep the baby hydrated, fed, and happy while moving. I was hoping that eventually the baby would figure out how to suck from the tube on my hydration pack, but had no luck. I would have loved to see additional mesh storage pockets on the hip belt of the pack for storing a baby bottle and snacks. There is one pocket, but I had some of my own things in there, such as lip chap and my camera.
-Consider the weight of the pack (7 lbs, 10 ounces). It’s a big pack. Add a baby and it’s quite a heavy system.
-Carrying a baby backpack like this is not the same as carrying a big overnight pack. My guess is that this is the same situation for all backpacks like this. I found the weight of the pack (with baby ‘installed’) pulled back slightly, and when my daughter kicked her legs it actually threw off my balance. It just takes some getting used to and it goes hand-in-hand with carrying a human on your back.
Overall, the Deuter Kid Comfort III a great pack, but it’s not called “The Cadillac” for nothing. This is a hefty pack that means business. If big expeditions aren’t on your calendar this year, go for a more compact carrier.
Thanks to ROI Recreation Outfitters and Deuter for providing the pack for review.