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Plenty of Room to Grow: Osprey Poco Plus Review

Osprey’s Poco Plus is the premier baby carrier to help you get outside for more miles, without sacrificing comfort or convenience.
Hiking with the Osprey Poco Plus(Photo/PJ Solomon)
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There are so many options for baby-wearing and child-carrying, and I, for one, was overwhelmed when I first looked into carriers. When I finally found the Osprey carriers, I felt a little more confident that my need to explore outdoor spaces would not be inhibited by my new tiny roommate.

This leading brand in backpacking gear delivers in all the ways I have needed to stay comfortable, protect my child, and have a great time walking through wild places on both day hikes and backpacking trips.

I’ve been using the Osprey Poco Plus for almost 3 years. I’ve taken my now-30-pound daughter on steep day hikes, long backpacking trips to alpine lakes in and around Yosemite National Park, where my partner and I live, and even through the Castro in San Francisco. This pack always delivers for me and has allowed my family to continue to seek adventure outside, even after having a child.

In short: With a sturdy build, rigid frame, and versatile storage options, the Osprey Poco Plus gives the option to explore short distances or deep wells of wilderness. It offers premier technology in adjustability to support a variety of bodies and includes features that make both carrier and kid comfortable and happy.

For these reasons and a few more mentioned below, the Osprey Poco Plus gets the top spot in GearJunkie’s guide to the best baby carriers for hiking.

Osprey Poco Plus

Specs

  • Pack weight 7 lbs., 14.4 oz.
  • Max weight 48 lbs.
  • Adjustable torso length Yes

Pros

  • Comfortable suspension system
  • Integrated sunshade
  • Lots of storage
  • Includes mirror to easily see baby

Cons

  • Expensive
  • A bit big for shorter day hikes
  • If using bottom storage, kickstand has to stay engaged

Osprey Poco Plus Review

Fit and Comfort: Perfect for Tag Teaming

They say it takes a village, and it definitely takes at least two to get anywhere in the backcountry with a squirmy kid. Thankfully, the Poco Plus makes swapping carrying duties easy. The torso and hip belts easily adjust to comfortably fit my partner, myself, and most of our family and friends, ranging from 5’2’’ to 6’1’’.

Adjustments are easy to make in the cockpit as well, by lifting or lowering the seat. With a max weight capacity of 48.5 pounds, this pack can see you through all of your child’s toddler years and likely even multiple kids.

The pack panel offers breathable mesh, and the shoulder straps, while padded and comfortable, are not bulky or inhibiting. The only negative aspect my husband and I both experienced was that the kickstand portion of the frame would rub a little against our butts as we walked. It wasn’t enough to cause pain or change our plans, but just enough to notice. When I checked in with some less-endowed friends who also own or tested this pack, they did not have this issue.

The Osprey Poco Plus with Kickstand
(Photo/PJ Solomon)

Balancing the load is an essential duty of any pack, and in the case of a child carrier, you want to feel as stable and in control as possible for the safety of your most precious cargo. The folks at Osprey get it, so the Poco Plus has a frame that’s solid and keeps the center of gravity low.

On our last trip, hiking out of Mammoth, Calif., my family and I encountered many creeks that required coordination and balance to cross on logs or stepping stones. This pack is built to support the balance of the carrier and feels almost exactly like a regular backpacking pack.

Comfort for the Kid

My little one, Juniper, has been comfortable in the pack from day one. When she was about 6 months old and was sitting up independently, we put her in for the first time, slid each of her chubby arms through the shoulder straps, and clipped the buckles in the back. It was fast and painless, and most importantly, tear-free.

Having used other carriers with different harness systems, I continue to return to the Osprey design because it is easy to adjust and doesn’t require any fidgeting with arms and legs to get a kid sitting and strapped in securely.

The adjustable stirrups help keep her legs from falling asleep and give her a more grounded and safe feeling. She is also able to push on the stirrups to adjust herself in her seat to stay comfortable. She loves getting her feet in them!

Stirrups on the Osprey Poco Plus
Stirrups help kiddos get comfortable and adjust themselves mid-hike; (photo/PJ Solomon)

Features and Storage: Plenty for the Day, Just Enough for an Overnight

This pack is on the higher end of many budgets and for that, it remains one of the most feature-rich packs on the market. It boasts 10 pockets in addition to the main storage compartment. I find there to be plenty of space for all the supplies I need for a kid-centric day hike. I can fit extra clothes, diapers, and diaper supplies, along with layers and snacks for both of us.

There are hip belt pockets, and hydration pockets for water bottles and for bladders. It even includes mesh toy/snack pockets at the level of the cockpit so your little one can reach for what they want while you are busy navigating a creek crossing or a switchback.

One of my favorite features is the mirror, which I use all the time to check in on Juni, especially to see if she’s sleeping — or eating something she shouldn’t be. For long summer days, an integrated sunshade with thick mesh on the sides protects her from getting sunburned from every angle.

Although this pack is big, weighing in at 7 pounds, 14.4 ounces, it is easy to travel with. It has locking hinges and rotating side arms, which allow the frame to fold open or closed.

The first year we had this pack, it required a lot of muscle to get the hinges locked. But once the material was a bit more broken in, it became easy to fold up the frame and put it in the truck.

I still don’t like that you can’t collapse the kickstand if the main storage compartment is full, although it’s only a nuisance if I’m stopping into a busy permit office or market before or after a hike. 

In Conclusion

The Poco Plus is a versatile, do-it-all carrier that can accommodate your child through several growth stages. With loads of storage options, it’s well-suited for the most ambitious hiking families. With its comfortable harness system, sunshade, and stability, it’s also great for picnics and sporting events. If the price is in your budget, the carrier is an excellent choice, and it will last.

There are some scenarios where this carrier could be more than what you need. With its sturdy frame, it doesn’t pack away as small as a frameless cloth carrier, which you may want to consider when space is limited, like on a flight. Frameless carriers are generally lighter, and could be a good option for times when your toddler can hike much of the way, but they may need to be carried for just a little while.

I’ve also hiked with the Osprey Poco LT, which is equally comfortable and offers many of the same features as the Poco Plus. However, it just doesn’t have the storage space for an overnight without completely relying on a hiking partner to carry just about every piece of gear needed to camp. 

If you plan to carry your tot on long day hikes and want the option to take them out on backpacking trips, the Poco Plus will prove to be comfortable, versatile, super easy to use, and long-lasting.

Family camping and adventure parenting; (photo/Chelsey Magness)

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PJ Solomon

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