As a reader of New Innocents, I’m sure you’ve already stumbled upon OutsideOnline.com. If National Geographic is the adventure journal of record, I think of Outside and specifically OutsideOnline.com as its excitable and wander-lusting younger brother or sister.
Inside, there’s a neat column called “Gear Guy” and on June 13th of this year, Joe Jackson wrote some notes based on an interview he put together with Josh Sims, the owner of The Gear Fix in Bend, Oregon.
Anyway, Jen and I looked it over and found it pretty interesting.
The article’s titled “Q: What gear should I buy used?” We linked it for ease of reference.
Among other things, Sims recommends buying both hiking backpacks and anything for kids used. He points out that packs are plentiful on Craigslist and ordinarily hold up far longer than our attention spans. He goes on to argue that based on how quickly kids move onto the next size it makes almost no sense at all to buy any “kid stuff” new.
So long as you take care to verify the condition of all closures and waterproofing; and then put an even closer eye on safety features organic to your kid’s kit, I suppose I agree with Sims. We’re not talking about strollers, bike helmets, cribs, and car seats here…just outdoorsy stuff.
So with that, I want to recommend what Jen and I consider our most sage “parenting purchase” since starting our family almost five years ago.
The Osprey Poco Premium Child Carrier is a carrier for all seasons, moms, dads, and kids under 48.5 pounds. It comes in three product lines: Poco, Poco Plus, and Poco Premium. The Premium is the most “appointed” of the lot but, I think you’d be just as happy with its more economic siblings. You can buy it used, but new versions of ours (the 2012 model) are actually still available for sale at REI Online. You can find it –steeply discounted I might add– by clicking here.
The Good: Its a hiking pack. That might seem tongue-in-cheek, but I promise its not. The Poco Premium has 2,075 cubic inches of storage. Additionally, you might not know this, but most of the other companies who manufacture child carriers are also the same companies who make Advil pain reliever, Ben-Gay and Tiger Balm ointments, and are principles on the board at the American Chiropractic Association.
Okay…that might not be true…but based on the retrofit lawn chair style of most other child carriers Jen and I are convinced the manufacturers are committed to laying waste to your upper, middle, and lower back and cutting off the circulation to your child’s legs.
The Poco series stands in stark contrast. It’s infinitely customizable. Jen, a petite five feet and my 200+ pound six-foot father can shoulder the pack with equal comfort.
I read a review just over four years ago on Tales of a Mountain Mama. Amelia, the site’s lead Mama, wisely suggests that everyone try on child carriers before purchase. She’s right. Child carriers constitute a very personal purchase. Though I absolutely agree, I also want to give Osprey it’s due! They clearly spent some time on the Poco’s design and have improved it over the past couple of years. The new version can be found here.
Jen and I confidently recommend the Poco series to all in the market. It fits and feels like a proper hiking pack and just so happens to be the safest and most tot-friendly child carrier money can buy.
The Bad: The Premium version comes with a detachable daypack. A really handy feature but, the zipper which holds the daypack in place when secured to the carrier is flat out weak. Just can’t handle the task. Securing the daypack in place takes more care and dexterity than I can muster. I’m looking like MacGyver defusing a bomb on the side of the trail every time we foolishly set out to adjust the daypack in some way. Jen and I are really looking forward to Osprey coming out with an improvement.
Also, the placement and size of the pockets on the hip belt need some love. Based on where your child’s feet ultimately settle, they’re essentially useless.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning that the 2012 model does not have a reservoir sleeve for a hydration system. Osprey fixed it, and has one included in their most recent model.
Lastly, the excess hip-belt nylon. Depending on your size –I’m 5’9″ & about 165lbs– you may end up with about three feet of nylon strap hanging down your leg. There’s no convenient place to stow the excess. You’ll end up looping and tying off which if you’re like me, grates at that little part of you which suffers from mild Obsessive Compulsiveness.
The Verdict: Buy! New. Like new. New Model. Late Model. Doesn’t matter. If you hike with any regularity at all…or just get tired of pushing a stroller…you WILL NOT regret the purchase. Enjoy.
Other Review & Links to Purchase: