Another blogger and Branch Ambassador for Hike it Baby was contacted by http://www.wirecutter.com to write a review on framed child carriers. She had reached out to the Branch Ambassador community for our experiences with framed carriers, and chose to include me in this review since I had experience with the Osprey Poco Plus and asked if I would be interested in testing a different carrier to provide a comparison review on the two. Within a week a large box arrived at my door step, I opened it up and saw a brand new Deuter KidComfort Air carrier inside. (FYI Deuter is pronounced Doy-ter)
First thing I noticed was it was much lighter than the Osprey, which would be nice for bigger children, as keeping the starting pack weight down helps keep the overall weight down, especially since the pack will only get heavier the older the child gets. I evaluated the carrier. The first thing I noticed was the lack of a designated hydration bladder sleeve and ports for running a tube. For me this was a HUGE draw back, as having a bladder was extremely helpful because it makes keeping hydrated extremely easy for both the parent, and the child. No need to deal with water bottles which a child can drop. I moved on, the pockets were limited, as it only featured one hip pocket, that was pretty large but not big enough to accommodate my Samsung Galaxy S7Edge. Moving to the pack of the carrier it featured a larger storage compartment under the cockpit which provides enough room for the basic necessities, such as a first aid kid, food bag, extra layers, and diapers/changing pad. There is also a large mesh pocket for other items, and possibly I could fit a bladder in there. Then the last two pockets are on either side of the child’s cockpit area.Which really can not hold much, maybe a water bottle, snack and toy for the child, as they are easily accessible to the child and would be at risk of being dropped (or thrown). So my next big issue was, there is no where to store a water bottle! First strike was no hydration bladder compatibility, and now I cannot easily store a water bottle!
I moved on the back panel adjustment, which required me to flip down a part of the hip belt to access the adjuster. Not hard to do, but an extra step that needs to get done. If you compare this to the Osprey, the Osprey has a cut out in the back panel to the adjuster is easily accessible. The next thing I noticed, is that the back panel did not have any size labels, so when switching between users, finding the “sweet spot” is harder, as if you compare it to the Osprey, the Osprey has labels so users can easily find their ideal spot ie I know I like it just above the SM label.
This carrier is the base model hence the name “Air”, it does not come with a sunshade, but can be purchased separately, but then it still lacks a storage area for it, so you either need to use it the entire hike, or leave it at home.
So now its time to actually try this thing on! The first huge YES was the door for the cockpit area. I was able to set the carrier down, open the door and my daughter was able to climb right in! This was amazing, as I hated the fight of trying to place her in from the top of the carrier. This door made it so the child can get in on their own (if they are at that age) or make it easier to place a squirmy child. I wouldn’t realize how valuable this door would be until the winter. In other carriers without a door, trying to get a child in with bulky winter clothes and winter boots was a huge chore, and trying to take them out usually ended up with having to take winter boots off (or they would fall off). This door made it easy for bulky winter gear. It also featured stirrups that can be adjusted from a higher setting (best for pre toddlers) and a lower setting for bigger kids. To compare them to the stirrups on the Osprey, they were pretty much fixed with a little adjustment. This meant the younger children might not be able to use the stirrups so that their legs would just dangle without any support. So finally another +1 for the Deuter.
After getting Aubrey loaded, I put it on. It was very comfortable, I wouldn’t necessarily say it was better than the Osprey but I really liked it. When my husband tried it on, he claimed he liked it more than the Osprey, as he never really was comfortable wearing it.
All in all, this is a good base model carrier. I feel that it is better designed for city travel vs mountain hiking, due to the lack of water access. Or it is great for our stage as Aubrey is hiking quite a bit on her own and we just need something for back up. If we were looking at it back when Aubrey was younger, I would have passed over it, as it lacked many features I needed, however the KidComfort 1-3 feature these necessities. For the budget, it is currently selling for $239 on Amazon (Clicking this Affiliate Link helps support this blog), and when I compare it to the $289 we spent on the Osprey the $50 dollar difference is totally worth the upgrade and I do not feel that the Air is priced appropriately. I think I would spent $160 tops on the Air considering it is very basic when comparing features and prices of other carriers on the market. I don’t love it, but I don’t hate it, but it has been the only framed carrier we have used since getting it back in the fall.
DISCLAIMER- I was given this carrier for free for helping with the Wirecutter.com review. This entire review is my own genuine thoughts.