www.kelty.com

Retail price: $249.95

Specs per manufacturer: Safety Features: Auto-deploy kickstand (US Patent 5,626,271), Five-point, adjustable child’s harness, No-pinch Hinges (US Patent 5,626,271)

Carrier Features: Sun Hood included (US Patent 5,609,279), Changing Pad included, Under-seat storage, Padded adjustable-height child’s seat, Toy loops, Carry/lift handles, 50-pound weight limit, Removable, washable cockpit pad, Lightweight aluminum frame, Organizer pocket

Suspension Features: Sliding waistbelt torso-length adjustment, Laminated, padded and contoured waistbelt, Laminated curved, padded shoulder straps, Laminated, padded backpanel, Waist belt storage pockets, Load-lifter straps, Sternum strap, Scherer Cinch waistbelt system (US Patent 5,465,886)

Findings: What I love about the Kelty: It’s super comfortable for both me and my kiddo. For the adult, the torso length adjusts very easily, and so does the chest strap, on a sleek little slider, making it easy to switch the pack between my husband and I.  It rides well and I’ve never had a moment of discomfort in it.  I hike, my munchkin bobs along happily, and occasionally naps.  The 5-point harness has held even a very mobile toddler securely and comfortably. The sun/rain hood is great.  It provides coverage on all sides without blocking my son’s view; he pretty much has to lean out to get hit by sun or rain.  A few bonuses: The curry color of the pack looks great in pictures. (Yes, this matters!)  It’s also great that there’s a waist-band pocket the perfect size for a small camera. The “cockpit” is enclosed on the bottom, so that during winter weather, a warm water bottle or down blanket would fit in there to help keep the little one warm. The pack is also well made with durable materials.  This will last us for years and get lots of use!

What I wish were different: The waistband has a second little pocket just about big enough for keys (and with a key fob), instead of a water bottle holder!  Who needs keys at the ready while hiking? A water bottle holder anywhere within reach would be great, since, after all, the pack is meant to be worn hiking.  There isn’t a great head rest for the napping child, but then I’ve never seen a child carrier with a great headrest.  The colors are beautiful, but with cream microfleece in the cockpit it not only collects dirt, but shows it off!  (There is one piece that is removable for cleaning, a paddedn“drool pad” the front of the cockpit.)   However, the microfleece does wick away his sweat well on a hot day, and is limited to the cockpit.

This pack is heavy (7lbs) and big.  It definitely takes up trunk space.  For all its size, though, there actually isn’t a whole lot of storage space.  I think it is 1100 cubic inches, much less than my day pack, and even less than Kelty’s otherwise smaller TC 3.0.  This isn’t a problem if I’m hiking with my husband, but when I’m on my own, I need to be able to carry kiddo and gear.  When I’m hiking in colder weather, it’ll be really hard to fit warm layers in along with diapers, food, water, change of clothes for kiddo and first aid items. To make up for the lack of storage space, the pack could use a few D-rings, webbing straps, mesh pockets or elastic bands on the outside to strap things to.  There aren’t any.

All in all,  it’s a great pack. We use it at least weekly to hike, and when I take it out of the gear closet, my son starts yelling with excitement.  He’s happy to be going hiking!

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