Pros:Comfortable, sturdy, durable, safe
Cons:A bit pricey, but worth it if you're planning on heading off pavement!
The LL Bean Deluxe Child Carrier is one serious piece of equipment. It is thoughtfully designed with great attention to detail, but don't be fooled into thinking it is only for the serious hiker--this pack is for anyone who wants to get off the beaten path, if only for a leisurely stroll through the woods.
Recommend this product?
When my daughter was born three years ago, we purchased the LL Bean "regular" child carrier after several mis-steps with a very inferior Gerry hand-me-down pack. We love to hike, even if it is only for relatively short hikes of one to two hours, and the Gerry child carrier was torture. My then-5-month old daughter didn't weigh that much comparatively, but since the pack's weight was totally suspended from the shoulders, after 5 minutes my shoulders and back ached. My husband and I traded off every 20 minutes or so, but hikes really weren't all that enjoyable with a constant back and shoulder ache.
Solution: the LL Bean Child Carrier (the one we had was actually recalled because of the potential for the child to slip down in the leg hole and cause a potential choking hazard; we have since traded "up" to the Deluxe version, which is more expensive than the first, but also offers more features.) The main key to comfort here is that it is designed with a waist belt, which effectively transfers the weight of the child away from your shoulders and down onto your hips. This not only relieves shoulder discomfort, but it also adjusts your new center of gravity downward giving you greater stability. The contrast between the Gerry shoulder-only harness and this was HUGE--I was suddenly able to carry my daughter for well over an hour without a break.
* 5-point harness with a soft, fully lined "cockpit" to keep your child comfortable.
*Cockpit release straps open up the width of the child-opening for easier in-out access. These then cinch in to provide a snug ride for your child.
*Lightweight aluminum kickstand with a wide, stable base and rubber no-skid feet.
*Toy loop to tie your child's pacifier or rattle--or clip on a baby mirror to check out your child on the trail.
*Padded shoulder straps with Load Lifter straps which adjust to fit you comfortably.
*360 degree Reflective Tape for night visibility.
*Padded lumbar supports for comfortable carrying over long distances.
*Padded waistbelt with "Sherer Cinch" for easy tightening.
*No-Pinch hinges on kickstand to keep little hands and feet safe.
* Auto-retraction strap runs from shoulder straps through to kickstand to aid in retracting the kickstand when you put your carrier on, and deploying the kickstand when you take your carrier off.
*It has been tested to accommodate a child of up to 45 pounds, with a total load limit of 60 pounds, including carrier, child, and cargo.
*Many roomy pockets to accommodate diapers, wipes, snacks, etc.
I used the first pack I had (before the recall) several times a week for over two years and it still looked like new. The durability has been impressive, as are most LL Bean products. And the LL Bean guarantee is second to none--if you have any problems they will refund your money or replace the product with no questions asked.
As for the recall--I never had any hint of a problem with the pack the recall addressed, but I returned it anyway for safety's sake; if you are considering purchasing a used dark-green original pack, be aware of the recall and SEND IT BACK TO THE COMPANY. LL Bean will refund your money for the original pack, or you may use it towards a new Deluxe pack ($99 versus $159).
We are expecting our second child in June; the LL Bean Deluxe Child Carrier is at our house, ready to go whenever he can hold his head up. After the recall, I could have taken the money and chosen another brand--the fact that I chose another LL Bean pack is testament to the fact that these packs are terrific, and I didn't even consider another brand.
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