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March 27, 2019 / Comments (0)

Deuter Kid Comfort Active SL First Look

Not long after my son was born I got back on the trail, spending early Spring on short hikes like Oak Hill in Concord NH when Oren was 2 weeks old. I began carrying him in a wrap for grocery trips, getting stuff done around the house, and hiking of course! I was able to wrap him very securely in a womb like environment and he’d sleep the whole hike. This lasted for the first few months and then I moved to using a soft carrier pack.

2 Weeks Old

For hikes I began carrying Oren in front with a daypack to counterbalance the weight, especially as he got heavier. At first I used the Boba Air, but because it doesn’t have any padding, it would dig into my shoulders on longer hikes. I then started using the Lillebaby Complete All Seasons Carrier which worked very well, but he was just getting too heavy to carry him in front during longer hikes.

5 months on Mt Moosilauke

I’ll have a dedicated post of my go-to hiking gear when adventuring with babies, however I did just want to explain that I didn’t start out using this system and include some other options if your baby is smaller than 16 lbs (the recommended weight for most child carrying backpacks).

Last fall I was doing a ton of research of structured child carrying backpacks because I needed a better way to carry Oren and the gear I needed for a hike. I needed something that would remain comfortable for me on a long hike, be able to keep Oren comfortable, and allow me to carry the gear we’d need for the day.

Pre-baby I was used to an UL setup (my baseweight for thru hiking the John Muir Trail was 12 lbs). Now I have a 21 pound baby PLUS the weight of the pack and my gear. Most child carrying packs are 8-9 pounds empty which was an issue for me as I was already carrying almost double my UL baseweight for backpacking in just baby alone, nevermind the rest of what I need and things like diapers and snacks for him.

I contacted Deuter about their packs and was actually told they were coming out with a few new versions.

The pack I have is the women’s specific version (the SL). There are three other new versions from Deuter:

Kid Comfort Active– essentially this pack but not a women’s specific fit

Kid Comfort– More storage, more weight

Kid Comfort Pro– Bells and whistles version with the biggest feature difference is having the actual pack section removable to be used separately

 

Welch and Dickey

This is a first look review of the Deuter Kid Comfort Active SL. I have used this pack on a handful of hikes, both short local hikes and longer day hikes. This is not an in-depth long term review so my thoughts may change over time and I cannot comment on the longevity/wear of this product. This pack was given to me from Deuter, however the review is my own opinion. Let’s start by looking at the stats:

Weight: 5 lbs. 13 oz.

Recommended Child Carrying Weight Range: 16-40 lbs

Fits Torso lengths 14-18 inches

Material: 210-denier polyamide polyester

Dimensions: 28 x 17 x 13 inches

Gender: Women’s Specific Fit

Ready to hit the trail!

This specific version of the Deuter Kid Comfort was designed in partnership by members of Hike it Baby which is an organization that inspires and gets women and their babies outside. They have a number of chapters throughout the country and offer group hikes and other outdoor activities. The goal was to make a superior functioning pack specifically for women. In my experience working closely with pack design with another company, a women’s specific pack will be comfortable for most men but the reverse isn’t true. I am surprised more gear companies don’t utilize this, especially with the number of women on the trail

What makes this pack great for moms?

This pack has an easy, customizable torso length adjustment for comfort as well as S-shaped shoulder straps for a women-specific fit so it is more ergonomic than unisex carriers. The Aircontact Lite back system makes this carrier lighter and helps with weight transfer and carry.
The kickstand makes an audible click so it’s easy to tell when it’s opened completely before setting the pack down. When you’re ready to begin your hike, there’s an additional handle to pick it up making that easier than many others I’ve tried out. The straps, including the ones for the hipbelt, pull forward allowing you to get a really snug fit. I found the pack to be comfortable to carry, even on a steeper hike. I know older toddlers are bound to wiggle more but so far it seems like it’s very stable even with movement. I felt very secure hiking on all sorts of terrain which included slushy snow and ice, more dense trails, and large granite slabs. There is also enough storage space for all your dayhike essentials including extra baby gear. The hipbelt pocket includes a daisy chain to clip your keys to securely.

Sit back and enjoy the view!

What makes this pack great for babies and toddlers?

There are a number of unique features to make for a fun and comfortable ride. First, if you’re going from a wrap or soft structured carrier, the view is much better with a child carrying pack! More specific to this pack, the side completely opens allowing for more independent toddlers to get into the cockpit themselves. There is a colored coded harness which is easy to secure as well as an adjustable seat stirrup straps for a comfortable ride. Oren just turned a year old and fits very well. He was happy and looked very comfortable, even when sleeping (see below) on the chin rest. The side panels are mesh for great airflow. There is a sun hood available separately which I will be purchasing soon that connects easily.

Summit of Welch with Ruckus

How can this pack improve?

I have a lot more use to really understand all the functionality and limitations, but there are a couple things I wish were a bit different.

The first is the storage. I like the amount of gear storage, however I wish the bottom larger pocket was a stretchy mesh like the top one so I could stow items away while hiking. It’s impossible to reach into the top pocket yourself and if the bottom pocket were mesh it would be far easier to reach back and tuck a winter hat or snack away.

A tiny tweak would be to have the daisychain for your keys be in one of the rear pockets as there is only one hipbelt pocket so you have to prioritize what to put there- phone, snacks, gels?? 

The last issue is a huge one for me. There isn’t a place to carry your water. You could of course toss a water bottle in the rear pocket but you’d have to ask someone to grab it every time you need a drink. I don’t know if the number of women solo hiking with their baby is just too small for them to think about this but I personally do and need to have easy access to my water and even if I am hiking with someone, I don’t want to pester someone to grab it for me or worse, hold my water while we hike. For these hikes I had my dog carry it in her pack! I am going to try storing a hydration bladder in the top mesh pocket, however, it’s not actually designed for that.


Snoozing on the trail

Some tips and tricks:

  • I recommend hitting up shorter local trails first to get used to the pack before doing a larger hike- especially for your child to become accustom to it.
  • Beware of brush! Imagine hiking with a very large head. You need to accommodate for the space of the pack and where your child sits when hiking in more dense areas or trails that have caves or ladders with less clearance. 
  • Younger toddlers may not be into using the foot stirrups and that’s ok.
  • After putting the pack on, tighten your hipbelt first to transfer more of the weight there instead of your shoulders.
  • There are loops to attach a water bottle holder, additional storage pockets, etc. so you are able to add what you need in a convenient place.

If you own the Dueter Kid Comfort Active SL pack or the other variations or are thinking about purchasing it, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Leave a comment below 🙂

Last modified: March 27, 2019

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