Well, we’ve had the Kelty for about 4 months now. It’s been on multiple hikes and a camping trip, I think we’ve put it through the ringer a sufficient amount of times now to give a fairly accurate review.
Now, before I get into it, let me just say this is my FIRST kid carrier of its kind. Sure, I’ve used slings, wraps and even the ErgoBaby360 many times in the past 1.5 years – but the Kelty is in a league of its own. It’s definitely not an every-day pack like the others – Point is, I don’t have anything to compare to, but I think my review is still valid.
Torso adjustment (allows for a great fit on both men and women)
Weight distribution for comfortable carry
Lower child seating (safer)
Padded shoulder straps
Leg loops/buckles for added child safety
Lower storage compartment
Removable sun shade
Hydration pocket (for a hose/bladder pack)
Three storage compartments
Front pocket (good for keys/phone)
Five-point child harness (adjustable)
50-Lb weight limit
Lightweight aluminum frame
The torso adjustment really has come in handy. Many times, I’ll start off with the pack and Tim will finish. The adjustment is easy to make even with baby seated inside (with the pack off). Although the manual instructs each user to make the proper adjustments prior to placing baby inside, that’s just not realistic half-way through a hike when he’s sleeping soundly. We’ll make the adjustments with him inside and on the ground as best we can, either loosening or tightening the straps and making the torso adjustments, then fine tune the adjustments once the pack is on. The Carry/Lift Handles really come in handy here, one of us lifts, the other slips their arms into the straps and buckles up.
The Storage compartments on this pack are fantastic. Obviously, you don’t want to pack too much and add even more weight than the child on your back, but there’s plenty of room for diapers, wipes, snacks, toys, sun screen, insect repellent, jacket, water bottles (both for baby and adult), and any other necessities. It’s been such a luxury to not have to cram everything into a hydration pack or extra backpack… In fact, before we got the Kelty we weren’t even taking diapers or wipes with us. We would change him right before and just hope things went smoothly while we were out on the trail! Oh, the disasters that could have led to!
In addition to that, one of the storage compartments houses a changing pad! Haven’t had to use it yet, but definitely a nice touch.
The Hydration compartment is definitely a bonus feature. I’m listing it as a pro even though we haven’t utilized it. Since we do have separate hydration packs whoever is not wearing Liam will wear the water. It just works out best for us, but I do see the advantage to this feature!
The Removable Sunshade got mixed reviews on Amazon. It was one of the things I was really hoping would work out since we basically live in the desert, but wasn’t holding my breath based on reviews. So far, we haven’t had any issues with it. Liam sleeps comfortably in the shade, he even doesn’t mind it when he’s awake. The most common complaint was that it doesn’t work too well in windy environments, which we have yet to encounter.
I think it’s fairly typical for packs like this to have a Kickstand, but it’s new to me and I LOVE it. Once the pack is on the ground and ready for Liam to get in he just can’t wait. He gets so excited and it’s so nice to sit him in there, strap him in and be able to leave him seated on the ground for a bit while we finish prepping for the hike (getting shoes on, sticks out, dog ready, etc…) and not have to worry about him running around.
The Removable Backpack is also another neat concept. If you don’t have anything big to tote along it definitely allows for some weight to be shed. Also- it’s come in handy as a backpack diaper bag just for everyday use! It’s small but fits the necessities when regular purses/bags are not ideal. We used it for the Light The Night Walk and loved it.
The Child Harness System is exceptional. Not too much to say here, but I have never felt like Liam was in danger of falling out or squirming his way out (and our boy is pretty stinkin’ strong!).
Keeping Liam entertained is pretty easy on our hikes… he LOVES being outside and looking around. He doesn’t need toys, but knowing the toy loops are there and available for use is definitely a nice feature.
One of the things I really researched when ready to purchase was the weight limit. I found plenty of good packs with good reviews, but the thing that always killed me was the 30-35lb weight limit. Now, ask me about it once he surpasses that weight and see if I still want to carry a 50lb kid on my back… but going into the purchase I really wanted something that would last us YEARS not months. Having that 50lb weightcapability was definitely one of the features that won me over.
The Lightweight Aluminum Frame ties in to the point above; who wants a 50lb kid on their back with an additional 15lbs of carrier? Not me. This pack was SO much lighter than I expected. I could pick it up and throw it one-handed a good 20 yards. Ok, maybe not. But maybe so! I’m not sure, haven’t tested that theory, but, point is, it’s LIGHT. And that’s a necessity in this case!
The last item I want to mention is the feeling of support you get with this carrier. The straps and buckles are all in the right place and give the perfect amount of support. My whole life I’ve struggled with back issues (thanks to a weak core), it’s been even more prevalent post-pregnancy. So, to say I’ve had hesitations/concerns about toting Liam up and down dirt paths is an understatement. But using this pack I have honestly never felt like it was an issue. It’s almost like it keeps my core/back tight and aligned due to the support system. I can’t rave about it enough, really.
The ONLY con I want to mention is the padded shoulder straps. I’m pretty sure it’s just a matter of wearing the material down over time and molding it to our bodies, but the padding isn’t exactly comfortable. It’s very thick, but also very hard. It happens to hit right when my sports bra straps lie on my shoulders too. I’ve tried about every sports bra/tank/tee combo in my closet and still have the same problem. It’s not bad enough to cause any bruising or blisters, but it’s definitely a nuisance during the hikes. Like I said, I really do think it’s a matter of time/wear before that goes away, but I found it annoying enough to be notable.
The average price I’ve found is about $235. There are some websites out there selling them for $300, but, for the life of me, I can’t figure out why. I don’t see any add-ons for that price, so definitely do some research.
When we first discussed getting one I searched used because that is a pretty steep price for novice hikers. I found some in decent condition for about $80-100. Definitly worth consideration.
I also frequent sites like Leftlanesports (Same as Active Gear Up), TheClymb, Steep & Cheap, etc… So for a couple of months I was checking frequently for any good deals. That’s how we landed our brand-new pack for $168 from Leftlane; an already discounted price which was discounted further during a sale. SCORE!
So, look around – do your research and hold out until there’s a good sale… it will be worth it!