Being a parent for many means sacrificing your hobbies entirely and dedicating all of your time to activities that other people tell you are in your child’s best interests. Those of us with adventure always in the back of our mind and wanderlust in our hearts have other ideas. Does having a child mean we have to leave the trail behind?
Of course not. However, even people without children know that taking a toddler on a hike and letting them walk is going to make your day a whole lot longer.
The good news is that there are now an eclectic range of child carriers on the outdoor market. And in this reviewer’s opinion, the Osprey Poco Plus is probably the best out there.
The first thing I noticed about the carrier was its metal kickstand. This stand allows the carrier to sit firmly on a level surface, meaning that you can strap your child in while the pack is on the ground.
It even means you can use the carrier for brief periods as you do other things, which is exactly how I am writing this review. My eight month year old has honestly never looked so cosy.
Let’s address the elephant in the room. This bag has a high price tag, just like most products designed to keep children safe while moving. Yet, this is one of those rare products where you can see that every bit of your hard-earned cash has been well spent.
The quality is consistently on point and the ergonomic design, aesthetic appeal and plethora of gadgets will have you grinning just like your little one. I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a first look at a product as much as this carrier.
The hip belt features Osprey’s Fit-on-the-Fly™ technology. This means the sturdy parts of the belt are adjustable using Velcro as well as the usual straps. You therefore have twice the comfort control as most carriers and backpacks on the market.
This freedom of adjustment is a great feature when sharing the Poco Plus between parents. The hip belt features large pockets (great for maps and phones) on both sides.
The left pocket includes a sleeve inside where a mirror with its own easily detachable lanyard sits. The mirror is concave and allows you to easily see how your child is doing while you are on the trail without having to do a 180° Exorcist-style head spin.
The carrier’s back plate has an easy to use ratchet strap style mechanism which allows you to modify the height of the shoulder straps. Another feature that means there is no excuse for the other parent to not wear the bag for a while on long hikes.
Features For Days
Distance from the back plate to the breathable mesh is the greatest I have ever seen on a carrier or backpack which is perfect for the warmer months. The void is so large that there is a hook allowing you to hang your water reservoir in the empty space.
The usual adjustments you would expect to see nowadays such as the shoulder strap length and chest straps are also present. You can even change the tautness at the top of the shoulder straps.
The level of features can initially be a bit intimidating but once you have got your head around it, you have a pack that couldn’t be more ergonomic unless you evolved to have a pouch.
When adjusted to my frame I found walking with the carrier very easy even when packed full of outdoor essentials, not forgetting the baby. The majority of the weight sits comfortably on your hips and everything is so padded that even when worn for hours you barely notice it’s there.
For the Little People
Enough about the adults, the star of the show is the child that gets to ride this thing. The depth of their seat is adjustable allowing for extended use as they grow bigger.
Osprey hasn’t given a maximum age limit for the carrier but they state that total weight should not exceed 22kg. 6 months old is the minimum riding age, but the baby must be sitting on their own by this time.
Your child’s legs won’t get tired as there are little adjustable stirrups for them to put their feet on. There is even a removable drool pad which you can clean without getting the rest of the bag wet after those long sleepy walks.
Every safety critical adjustment on the carrier has been ingeniously coloured red which gives you peace of mind when remembering what parts to secure before setting off.
These red sections are applied to the sunshade fixings. Covertly stowed in the front of the carrier, pull the shade up to offer UPF 50+ protection from the sun for your child. The sides are made out of a breathable translucent mesh which shouldn’t make them feel closed in.
If you want to use the carrier on a child-free day, you can pull the pack tight and re clip it, transforming it into a limited backpack. I can’t see why anyone would want to use this feature unless they don’t own a backpack although it could make the carrier easier to transport depending on your airline of choice.
When it comes to storage the carrier can take on your average day sack and then some. The Plus expands on the standard Poco design with optional storage when the kickstand is deployed.
There is also a large pocket at the top of the front section with another pocket inside, Russian doll style. The carrier also features three large open mesh pockets and two large bottle holders. There is no chance of being caught out on the trail with this level of storage.
And the pièce de résistance; a rain cover that is stowed in the kickstand storage which is included with the unit. This is not something you see often from outdoor brands.
The bag comes in blue and grey or black and grey, personally I think it’s a no brainer to stick with Osprey’s flagship design choice (black). But this is of course personal preference, safety and good design features are way more important than turning heads on the mountainside. And this carrier is brimming with them.
With more clever tricks than a Bond car I am struggling to think of anything negative to say about this carrier apart from its high price tag of course. But this is Osprey, a brand I have used and trusted many times before.
Give this carrier a go to give your kids an introduction to the outdoors at a younger age than most can only dream of.