My nephew is a stereotypical five year old. His mum and I were participating in a firewalk (yes, we are badass, but let’s try to focus on the child carrier here). He was excited to watch his mummy burn the dead skin off her feet, but when it came to making the 20 minute trip from their house to the event, he decided his legs didn’t work. The Piggyback Rider SCOUT toddler carrier could have been just the thing needed at that moment.
This rather unusual child carrier comes in the form of a bar for the lazy sod child to stand on and a harness to keep them secure, effectively allowing them to ride you, piggy back style but fully standing, and allow you to have both hands free. Suitable for ages 2+ and up to 50lbs, they are tethered via six points of contact, with hand holds, bar-tacked seams, a sturdy non-slip aluminium bar and an emergency whistle (thankfully out of the child’s reach). There is a small storage pocket in the rear that can be reached by both you and the child (not necessarily a good thing if it’s got your snacks in it), but this is mainly intended to store the safety harness in when not in use
This system is much lighter (less than 3lb), more compact and minimalist than seated child carriers, making it great for crowded spaces and short rides - at the fireworks, festivals or theme parks, for example. This child carrier has an upgraded design with thicker padding and chest strap for more flexibility and durability, and has safety harness tethers with military-grade buckles and webbing. This is probably going to fall into the same category as baby slings: some families will love them, and others will find them a nightmare depending on whether both adult and child find it comfortable.
From the adult’s point of view, the harness is easy to put on. The scaled back design means you have loads of surface area free for ventilation, and you can adjust all the straps whilst wearing it. The sternum strap at its tightest was still loose on me, and the excess straps dangle loose and can get in the way. A hip belt is sold separately and not included as standard, which could help to distribute the weight better. I found the carrier uncomfortable rather quickly, as the weight put pressure on my shoulders and neck. My partner, however (uncle carrier), found it comfortable. From the child’s perspective, they are raised up to adults’ height without being as vulnerable as when they are riding on your shoulders. The bar they stand on is quite narrow, though, which can cause their feet to hurt after a while. The other issue is that the long bar can make it tricky to pack into daypacks - if there was a way of folding it down with a secure hinge, this would make it much more compact, however there is a separate carrier bag to make the assist.
This is a try-before-you-buy product. Just because the bar can hold up to 50lb certainly doesn’t mean your body can, but the fact that their hands are out of your eyes and hair is a welcome relief. RRP $109.98
4 out of 5
Different carrying configuration
Frees up your hands (and you face from their hands)
Easy to put on and adjust
Lots of free space for ventilation
Can be uncomfortable for some people (petite weaklings like me)
Narrow bar can irritate little feet over time
Bar makes it awkward to pack into day packs
Excess straps can get in the way