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We bought this Baby back carrier after our son out grew the Baby Bjorn front carrier that we had used. We choose this model after various Internet searches about the best baby back carrier's as we wanted something that could fit my husband height 5 foot 10 and mine at 5 foot 3 so an adjustable back bit was essential and Little Life seemed to be the main company that offered this. Since we bought this carrier it has proved useful over the past 2 years. The model we have and is picture her on the review has actually been superseded by the Voyager S2 but most of the features are the same so hopefully this review will still be of use to you. Plus this model is still available via EBay and some clearance outlets for about £99.
Features and our experience.
This carrier is designed for children from 6 months to four years with a maximum weight of 18kgs
Up and down and stability
Putting my son into the carrier the first time was a bit daunting as I wasn't quite sure how it would all work out but with a bit of practice we soon got more adept at using it. At the rear of the carrier there is an anchor point within the base pocket. You place one of your feet in to this and then lift your child into the seat and then fix the harness. Holding then one of the handles as the top of the carrier you then bend down and put one arm and shoulder through the strap and lean forward and stand up at the same time placing your other arm into the opposite shoulder strap. Once you are stood up you can then adjust the shoulder straps so they can fit comfortably over your back and the base of the carrier is the small of your back. I then place the waist band and chest support strap on and clip these into place. Now as my son has gotten bigger over the years I generally now need my husband to help me lift the carrier with my son's weight into place as I personally find it a bit heavy and cumbersome to do so without his help. My husband can manage this himself without any help from myself. Getting my son out is simple you just reverse this procedure and this I can manage without any help. Now as to the chest strap I find this helpful to keep the top part of the carrier in contact with my back but my husband finds this too small for his pecks after all those gym workouts he does so he never wears this.
The adjustability of the Comfort Adjust is great I generally get this to about the right area before putting the carrier on but I find that I can make some slight teaks to getting it right are always possible once this is on. The fact that it fits both mine and my husband's differences in heights is one of the reasons we selected this baby carrier and we have been impressed with how ell this works. The straps at both the shoulders and the waist are padded and personally we both find this sufficient padding that when we are wearing the carrier it doesn't feel like it is cutting into us with the weight of my son on board.
The only thing I would say about the wearing of the carrier is that when both my husband and I remove it after a walk we find that our backs are a bit sweaty as it isn't quite as breathable as I would like. We have mainly worn this on cross county walks rather than hill walking. On the cross county walks with slight inclines I have never had any problems with the stability of the carrier and it unbalancing myself by carrying my son this way and he actually seems to enjoy the view the carrier gives him.
Detachable back pack
This model has a detachable back pack and this is frequently used by ourselves to split the weight of what we are carrying. The rucksack itself is easy to wear for either myself or my husband. The attaching on and off is fairly straight forward and easy to do via a zip. I personally find that with the weight of the carrier, my son and this back pack filled it is just a little bit too much like going an army route march for myself. My husband likes the fact that this can clip onto the front of the carrier as he finds this helps balance the weight around that he is carrying. For myself though I find it being on my front a bit awkward really as it seems to squash my breast area a bit and I find this uncomfortable
These are included in this model and are for children to put their feet in, the idea of this is to put less strain on their hips. Whilst this is good in theory my son will put his feet in the straps but by the end of a walk he has generally kicked his feet out of them and they just end up swinging in the air. That said he has never complained of being uncomfortable in the carrier all the time he has been in it and this has been for several hours at a time. Better behaved children may get more use out of them my naughty bundle but I don't think they are an essential bit of kit.
At the either side of the seat area at the top of the carrier is two toy loops here you can attach via clips a few toys for you little one. When he was younger especially we used to put some Tiny Love toys from his playmate clipped on to these and he would play or bat them around. Now he is a toddler however these are becoming more redundant as he enjoys looking at the scenery and what is happening around him and chatting to everyone.
Soft face protection mat
At the front of the seat area for the child is a detachable face protection mat with some cute animals on it. The animals themselves don't as such do anything other than look cute there is no noises for them to make when pressed which my son tried to do when he sat in it at first. This bit really when he was younger was just used to soak up droll and crumbs as he split things on it. He never fell asleep in the carrier as he was too nosy watching everything but he found it a comfortable place to rest his hands. It washes quiet well and has never shrunk. I have always hand washed it rather than machine washed it though.
At the base of the carrier at the back there is a large pocket under the seat area. Inside this is the sun and shower canopy. Even with this in it there is bags of room we have generally managed to fit into this nappies wipes a change of clothing and a sandwich box with some food in. It is also easy to get too even whilst someone is wearing the carrier.
There are several other smaller pockets in the waist band area and some mesh side pockets next to the seat these are all useful for small snacks, car keys etc. In the waist band pocket there is a small mirror which is useful to take out occasionally for you to see you little one above you. As we generally use the carrier for walks as a family or a small group the mirror doesn't get as used as much as it would say if you were walking alone as there is always someone else to visibly see my son than the person with him on their backs.
Sun and shower canopy
This is included in the price of this carrier but it is probably the least used bit of kit that has come with it as my son simple hates this being attached and tries to pull it off. So we tend to either have him in a sun hat or a water proof coat or all in one instead. To insert it into the carrier is simple to do and we never had any problems with it and it does store well in the base pocket of the carrier.
Anatomically designed seat and straps
This is just wonderful really the seat is padded on all sides. The bottom area is a curved and fits nicely under the bottom coming up at the front. At the front is the bit for the straps to click into but this is on the other side to the seat so the clip doesn't press directly into your little one. The back part of the seat and cushioning area has a fleecy section to it that is even more padded so it does provide a good support. My son has always found this comfortable to sit in and has never tried to wriggle out of it and has been content to sit in the seat. The straps have a fleecy tube over them so again this provided a nice cushioning support for the shoulder area. As this is only a three point harness however my son has often wriggled the shoulder straps off even if we have them really tight. He hasn't however tried to climb out of the seat area and this I think is testimony to how comfortable he is in it. I would personally prefer the harness and straps to be off the 5 point variety I personally think these are more secure and whilst he hasn't either tried to climb out or has fallen out of the carrier this I think would give me greater peace of mind.
The material this is made from is very sturdy and the quality does shine through there has been no rips of tears to this in the two years of use and really it does still look as good as the day we got it. The back pack has some reflective piping on it as well which is good if you are running late and starting to encounter bad weather but if you were planning on wearing this after dark then I do think it needs so more reflected bits sticking on to it or for you to put a high vis jacket over it say.
We haven't been disappointed with our purchase and I would definitely recommend the Voyager if you like going out walking. The carrier is comfortable to wear and suits well mine and my husbands different heights thanks to the Comfort Adjust system. Our son has always been comfortable on the trips we have done and enjoyed his bird's eye view of the world the carrier gives. If you do have a lot of backpacks yourself I think it may be better for you to choose the model down from this as the backpack is the main gain for this one compared to the Cross Country Model. I also would have preferred there to be a five point harness as this would stop my son wriggling out of his shoulder straps. It can also be used for some shopping trips if you like but some stores do frown on these carriers.
Designed for both long day treks and family holidays and includes a detachable daysack.