Gear Review: Kelty Journey PerfectFit Child Carrier
Before becoming “mom and dad”, we were full-time RVers. We traveled the country for over two years and based our route on the outdoor activities we enjoy and where those activities were most accessible. We love to hike, fly-fish, bike, and get on the water. RVing made it possible for us to enjoy those things more often.
We knew that once we became parents we wanted to continue adventuring in our RV. But we also knew that many of those activities wouldn’t be possible to do with a baby. Sure, we can take turns fishing or kayaking while the other person cares for our son. But, hiking was the one activity that was going to be possible to bring our baby along and enjoy as a family. That made a high-quality child carrier backpack one of our number one baby items that we wanted.
We hit the trails with our son almost immediately. His first big hike–other than just short nature trails–was in Zion National Park when he was just eight weeks old. At that point, he was too young and small to be carried in a backpack-style carrier, so we used a front carrier. He would face towards us while hiking and mostly sleep the entire way. But we would often find ourselves looking forward to the day that we could use a backpack carrier instead, allowing us to go further distances without the backache that we’d find ourselves experiencing with the front carrier.
Fast forward to today and he’s a pro baby hiker! He’s hiked with us in more than ten national parks and all over our great state of Colorado. We are so grateful to have found the Kelty Journey PerfectFit Child Carrier and have gotten great use out of it so far. We hope our review can help other adventure parents out there looking for a child carrier for their hikes too.
What is the Kelty Journey PerfectFit Child Carrier?
In simple terms, the Kelty Journey PerfectFit Child Carrier is a backpack that makes it easy to carry a child on your back and shoulders. Think of it as a sophisticated (but much safer) piggy-back ride. The child sits in the “cockpit” and is secured via a 5-point harness. The cockpit attaches to the frame and the shoulder straps of the backpack. The overall effect is that the child is safely secured in the carrier, while the adult wears it like a backpack.
If you want to enjoy hiking, or other outdoor activities with a young one, a child carrier is nearly a necessity. However, there are many options with many different features to consider when choosing the model that’s right for you.
Let’s talk about the key features of the Kelty Journey PerfectFit.
PerfectFit Suspension System
When you have a 35-pound child strapped to your back for a several-hours long hike, it’s imperative that the pack is comfortable to wear. Finding a child carrier that fits you properly is the best way to ensure that comfort.
The Journey PerfectFit suspension system provides a perfect fit for all body types and heights. There are two PerfectFit straps that hang to the side. When pulled, the shoulder straps slowly slide down, automatically adjusting the fit to your torso. The ease of adjustment also makes it very easy to switch the pack between mom and dad throughout the hike. Similarly, the hipbelt, shoulder straps, and load lifters can also be quickly and easily adjusted to dial in a proper and perfect fit.
Lightweight, Sturdy Aluminum Frame
The Kelty Journey PerfectFit is designed to be extremely sturdy. It can support a child that weighs as much as 48.5 pounds, while tipping the scale at just 6.6 pounds itself. This is especially noticeable when you pick it up, as it looks much heavier than it actually feels.
The pack also features an aluminum kickstand which is great for safely loading and unloading a child. With the kickstand engaged, the carrier is much more secure and less prone to falling over.
5-Point Child Harness
Kelty is known for building packs that are both durable and comfortable. More importantly, the company has a reputation for building carriers that provide the utmost safety for your child. The Journey PerfectFit features a 5-point harness and an aluminum roll cage to keep even the most squirmy little ones safe and in proper position on the trail.
The 5-point harness fits over the shoulders, around the waist, and between the legs, and is easy to adjust and secure. The soft padding is comfortable and won’t chafe your child’s skin either, allowing for longer hikes and other excursions.
Wide Seat Design and Foot Stirrups
The Journey features an adjustable seat and foot stirrups that mimic your child’s natural seating position. This allows the child to ride comfortably in the saddle even as they grow. When they are smaller, you can adjust the seat all the way up so they can see the world around them. But as they get bigger, it’s possible to lower the seat down to create more space and more comfort throughout the ride.
The foot stirrups are a crucial feature to point out, as they provide extra support and increased blood circulation. A comfortable, happy child is the best kind of child on the trail!
Removable Drool Pad
You may not initially think of a removable drool pad as a noteworthy feature, however, I assure you that it is. The drool pad is there for a reason—young kids drool a lot!
Whether they are teething or just having a snack, there are plenty of legitimate reasons why a child might be drooling. By incorporating a built-in drool pad, Kelty makes keeping the pack clean and sanitary much easier.
Is the Kelty Child Carrier a Good Option for Parents?
We have used our Kelty Child Carrier all summer long on hikes of several miles to walks around the neighborhood. It has been excellent for enjoying time together as a family and our son absolutely loves it. It’s been a much better experience compared to the front carrier and has made our outdoor time more enjoyable.
The Kelty Child Carrier has solved the challenges that come with bringing our son along on hikes. It’s lightweight and comfortable to wear, but also safe and cozy for him too. While it felt a bit intimidating at first with all the different straps and features, it was good to know that their purpose is to ensure the comfort and safety of both baby and parent. The extra storage was a nice bonus too, allowing us to carry the many baby items, as well as water, sunscreen, bear spray, and so on.
Overall, we are so happy that Kelty designed a product that is a great solution for our outdoorsy family and will likely last us for years to come. Our plan is that we can continue using the child carrier with our son for the next couple summers, and then be able to use it with any future children we have as well. It’s apparent from the moment you start using the carrier that it’s well built and very durable. Everything from the stitching and seams to the straps and zippers feel very high quality. It gives us that extra peace of mind on the trail that our son is secure, comfortable, and safe.
How Does the Kelty Child Carrier Compare to the Competition?
Kelty is one of the most trusted brands in the industry. You can’t go wrong with a Kelty child carrier. That said, there are other terrific options available, many of which have features that this model does not have. Some of the features offered by competing child carriers (including Kelty’s) are sunshades, rain covers, hydration pack compatibility, removable child seats, and more storage. However, those added features do result in a more expensive carrier that is usually heavier too.
The Journey PerfectFit is Kelty’s entry-level and most economical child carrier. At the time of this writing, it retails for $219.99. Backpack manufactures Dueter, Osprey and Thule each offer their own child carriers and are the most well-known direct competitors to Kelty.
The Deuter Kid Comfort Active Child Carrier has comparable specifications and gets great reviews on multiple e-commerce sites, however it is a bit more expensive than the Kelty. This model retails for $275.
Osprey is a market leader and makes several highly rated child carriers as well. The Poco LT is the most comparable model to the Journey PerfectFit, but it is roughly $40 more expensive.
Thule also makes a really popular and highly regarded child carrier called the Sapling. While it is an excellent product, it is significantly more expensive with a price tag of $329.95.
Should You Buy the Kelty Child Carrier?
We have been thoroughly impressed with the design and quality of the Kelty Journey PerfectFit. There is no doubt that we will be able to enjoy using this pack for years to come. We really appreciate how adjustable it is and that it is so comfortable to wear.
That said, we also believe that it’s a great backpack for the right person or family, but not necessarily for everyone. There is one major feature that is missing which ends up limiting the amount of time or the conditions in which this pack can be used. Kelty doesn’t ship this model with a sunshade (one can be bought separately), which is a major drawback in our opinion.
Fortunately, we can usually get our son to wear a hat during our hikes, but there are certainly times when he refuses. As we all know, protecting your child from the sun is extremely important and not having a sun shade makes it more difficult to use this carrier when shade is not available.
Because of this omission, we believe that most RVers looking for a quality child carrier will be happier with the Kelty Journey PerfectFit Signature. This pack is nearly identical to the model we tested, with a few bonus features. It not only has a built-in sunshade, but comes with additional grab handles, extra back, hip and shoulder padding, and offers more pockets for storage – all while maintaining the same low weight. While the PerfectFit Signature is slightly more expensive ($260), we think those additional features are worth the extra cost.
Regardless of your choice, both the Journey PerfectFit and PerfectFit Signature are wonderful child carriers. They make hiking with small children so much more enjoyable and should be on the wish list of any active RVer who has young children.
Specifications and Details
As mentioned, the frame is made of aluminum, which makes the carrier nice and light, which is incredibly important when hiking. The material of the carrier’s body is a polyester-nylon blend, which means it is water-resistant yet washable. The padded back is mesh, which allows for increased breathability.
The volume of the Journey PerfectFit is 17 liters and the weight is 6 pounds 6 ounces. It is 28 inches x 15.5 inches x 22 inches and can fit a torso range of 5.5 – 21 inches. The maximum weight load, which includes the child, gear and the pack itself, is 48.5 pounds.
For safety purposes, the child sitting in the carrier should be at least 16 pounds and not weigh more than 40 pounds. The Kelty Journey PerfectFit Child Carrier has two exterior pockets, is not hydration compatible, and does not include a sunshade.
The Kelty Journey PerfectFit Child Carrier is available at CampingWorld.com.