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My husband and I decided to buy a back carrier for our daughter when she was about six months old. We had been bumbling along with a Baby Bjorn front carrier which was great for when she was very young, but it was starting to be too heavy and uncomfortable for me, I felt it was putting a strain on my back. For my husband a back carrier seemed a much better choice as he is used to carrying backpacks anyway, being a bit of a hiker. My husband did most of the research before buying and, 99.9% of the time, has carried our daughter around in this. He decided this one looked ideal; lightweight and simple, not too expensive and with enough space to carry around the necessary extras.
After searching around we finally bought ours on Ebay after putting in an offer and got quite a good price for it, somewhere around the £50 mark, as far as I remember. I've just seen it retailing on outdoorkit.co.uk for £74.99 so we did alright, it's worth shopping around, but I'm sure all you wise Dooyooers already know that. We bought a neck pillow too, for about £7 - an accessory which was definitely a good purchase and I would recommend anyone buying a carrier gets one, as it seems to really help with comfort if your little one falls asleep on your back. There is a rain cover available to buy separately but we never bothered. In the case of rain we have simply used waterproof clothing and an umbrella - best if there's someone, (me), walking alongside in this case. You can also purchase leg stirrups for when your child gets taller, although we have never felt the need to buy these either.
It's quite comfortable and secure. Inside there is a padded adjustable seat so the child can sit at different heights, plus shoulder straps and side straps. It's quite warm around the child's upper body with thick padded side flaps, and I always think my daughter seems very snug in this in the winter time, although legs need to be taken more care of than in a pushchair; there has been a certain amount of pulling up of socks and yanking trouser legs down to cover bare skin, (tights under trousers work well). In the Summer the temperature seems okay for the child if dressed appropriately, but the person carrying them may come home with a back drenched in sweat. There is a soft removable chin rest or face protector as the Little Life website calls it, (or drooling pad as my partner calls it). This has cutesy pictures on it of a frog, a duck and a sheep. My daughter occasionally has a little chat with these whilst being ferried about.
Under the seating part there is a zip up bag to keep your bits and bobs in, and below that is the anchor point. This is basically a hard shell to stick your foot in when placing the carrier on the ground. It's purpose is to keep the carrier stable while you strap your child in or get them out. There is a very chunky padded adjustable belt for extra support for the adult and well padded easily adjustable shoulder straps. My husband has no complaints about the comfort of this backpack for himself and my daughter seems happy enough in it, so I don't think she has any complaints either, she's certainly slept in it enough times.
Other features: the back has reflective piping; there are colourful toy loops on the side for attaching things to, (never pick it up with these when a child is in it!), we did attach an Upsy Daisy for a while which went down well; 'grab' handles at the the top to lift it by; comes with a carry bag, which you might want to use if packing it in the boot of the car next to muddy boots. There's not much choice in the colour department - grey or black, take your pick.
I found it a little hairy to watch my daughter in this at first, you do have to keep an eye on the height factor. At first my daughter's head was below that of her Dad's when she was sat in the pack, but now she is taller and he has to keep this in mind so as not to bump her head when going through low doorways, bending, etc. There have been a few lucky escapes but she has remained unscathed (so far).
This is great for keeping your hands free when out and about and my husband has always preferred it over the pushchair. I prefer to use the pushchair because I find it too tiring carrying a toddler on my back, but he is younger and fitter and claims it's no problem. It's ideal for getting around town when the shops are busy and there's less hassle getting on the bus or train with a back carrier as opposed to a pushchair. As a family we like to get out for walks in the nearby countryside and as a buggy can't be pushed through the woods or down country tracks we've had plenty of use from this. It's great for walks along the beach too, anywhere where a pushchair is awkward, (If we had a dog to walk, I'm sure a back pack would make the job much easier!). Apart from whether or not the person carrying this might get tired, the only other drawback I can think of is the fact that you can't see what the child is doing. My husband took to carrying a small mirror around with him so he could check that our daughter was looking happy and still had her hat on. Discarded hats and gloves can go unnoticed. I remember being asked not long ago, by a stranger with a baby in her back carrier, if I would be so kind as to put her child's hat back on his/her head as it was awkward for her to keep on doing. It's also inconvenient to do things like wipe their face when they're on your back, and you might want to put them down to do it. I will never forget the day husband and daughter returned from an afternoon's blackberry picking and eating, and he hadn't bothered to wipe her face at all because she was in the pack, what a picture.
We have pretty much outgrown our need for this backpack before my daughter has physically outgrown it which is good, although I'm not sure if it will still be comfy for her to sleep in due to her height. The maximum weight load is 18kg, (2st 11.7lb), the pack is recommended from age 6 months to roughly 4 years, which leaves plenty of time for it still to be used if we want to. We haven't used it for a few months, mainly because our daughter is now such a good walker, but it's on standby for those days when we might be out on a long country walk and she gets weary and wants a carry. We usually take the pushchair out and about in town now, as I think it's more comfortable for her to nap in.
I'm sure that carrying a child on your back must be better for your posture and back than a front carrier. Research has shown that back carriers are much safer than front carriers too, one of the reasons being that if the adult falls, the child tends to stay out of harms way.
Having had a look around, this particular carrier seems to have been generally superseded by the LittleLife Traveller S2, but it can still be found in some online outlets and is worth searching for as it is good value for money. We've had ours for two years and it shows very little sign of wear and tear, a few minor scuffs and a bit of bobbling on the face rest, but that's all. I'm aware that a lot of the pros and cons in this review apply to back carriers in general and I think the main selling points of this particular one are it's price and how lightweight, compact and streamlined it is, (Weight: 1.9 Kg, Dimensions: 26(w)x 20(d)x 70(h)cm). There are more expensive back carriers with extra features and carrying space, but this one has fitted our needs very well.
Anatomically shaped child seat. Soft face protection pad (removable). Toy loops for attaching items that may get lost. Reflective piping for increased visibility. Large base pocket for accessories etc.