FULL SAIL INTERNATIONAL PIGGYBACK RIDER CHILD CARRIER
TEST SERIES BY BRETT HAYDIN
INITIAL REPORT - July 18, 2011
FIELD REPORT - October 04, 2011
LONG TERM REPORT - December 06, 2011
bhaydin AT hotmail DOT com
Salida, CO, USA
5' 11" (1.80 m)
200 lb (90.70 kg)
42 in (107 cm)
36 in (91 cm)
I started backpacking in Wisconsin as a youth, being involved in the Boy Scouts programs. As a young adult, I worked at a summer camp leading backpacking, canoeing and mountain biking trips. I now generally take short weekend or day trips in rough, mountainous terrain, although I have extensive experience in the upper Midwest as well. I take one or two longer trips each year, where I typically carry about 40 lb (18 kg). I prefer to be prepared and comfortable, but I have taken lightweight trips as well.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: Full Sail International, LLC
|Image courtesy of manufacturer|
Year of Manufacture: 2011
Manufacturer's Website: thepiggybackrider.com
MSRP: US$ 79.99
Listed Weight: Less than 3 lb (1.4 kg)
Measured Weight: 1 lb 15.5 oz (890 g)
Child Carrier: 1 lb 4.3 oz (580 g)
Child Harness: 4.1 oz (120 g)
Storage Bag: 7.1 oz (200 g)
Color: Black/Gray (also available in pink)
Warranty: Limited lifetime
Other details provided by manufacturer:
- Streamlined unisex design
- One size, fully adjustable
- Supports a child up to 60 lbs (27 kg), 2.5 years+
- Four secure hand holds
- Wide foot bar for stability
- Child safety harness tethers to carrier
- Padded shoulder straps with chest strap
- Convertible multifunction carry bag / mudflap / pouch
The Piggyback Rider by Full Sail International is a child carrier for children starting at about 2 1/2 up until they reach 60 lb (27 kg). It has a minimalist design which I find pretty neat. The photo at the top of this report shows the child carrier portion of the Piggyback Rider. It consists of a padded shoulder harness that wraps around the back of the neck. On the shoulder pads, there are two padded, nylon loops that serve as grips for the rider on both sides. There is a D-ring on either side as well for attaching the child's harness as well.
The child stands on a metal bar that is 17 in (43 cm) long and 1.5 in (3.8 cm) wide that is attached with 1 in (2.5 cm) webbing. The webbing is threaded through a buckle attached to each shoulder strap but is only adjusted on my right side. The weight of my son allows the webbing to slide through the middle of the bar. The image to the left shows the webbing threaded though the bar.
|A close look at the bar|
There is also a sternum strap that is adjustable with a tongue and groove slider that has an integrated whistle in the quick release buckle. On the inside of the shoulder harness is a tag with care instructions and some information about the product.
The child harness is similarly constructed; however the shoulder harness is much less robust. 1 in (2.5 cm) webbing encircles the shoulders and is adjustable with a buckle just like most backpack straps. There is also a piece of webbing with a clip at the end that attaches the child harness to the child carrier via the D-rings I mentioned above. The clips are plastic with a metal cage and swivel around. When attached, I have to say they remind me a little of load lifters on a backpack! The harness back is padded with what feels like neoprene and has "Ride the Bar!" embroidered on it. Cool, huh?
The storage case is a sturdy nylon bag about the size of a small messenger bag; about 19 x 13 in (48 x 33 cm). There is a simple strap to carry on my shoulder. There are also two pieces of webbing that serve to attach the bag to the child carrier. Finally, there are three strips of hook and loop tabs to secure the bag. On one side there is a pocket that has hook and loop closures with another webbing strap in it. This serves to fold the bag tighter and more compact when not used as a mudflap. The image below is an excellent diagram from the manufacturer showing the components.
|Image courtesy of manufacturer|
The Piggyback Rider comes with two hang tags attached to the bag; one is an endorsement from MrDad.com and the other has information about the Piggyback Rider. I also received a water bottle accessory strap, Piggyback Rider sticker and the Piggyback Rider Safety & User Guide, but I am unsure if these are included in a retail purchase. The user guide is available online as well.
I was pretty surprised at how light the Piggyback Rider is. The manufacturer states it is under 3 lb (1.4 kg) but I found it to be just under 2 lb (0.9 kg). The construction is top notch from what I can tell and I like the whistle that is integrated. I was also surprised that there is no sternum strap on the child harness. I imagine there is a reason, but I wonder if my son can wriggle out if he tries.
I admit that I am skeptical about the mudflap/pouch. I need to play around with it more but I hope that I can use it to store some small, but necessary items while hiking such as snacks, and maybe rain gear.
TRYING IT OUT
Child Tester: Liam, age 2 and 25 lb (11.3 kg)
|A test ride on the trail|
My son is a hiker. I suppose he takes after his dad that way, but he is always wandering around in the woods exploring and doesn't last long in a traditional child carrier before he wants to explore on his own. I fully embrace his enthusiasm, but lament the need to carry around a bulky child carrier when it is hardly used. A 3 mi (5 km) hike was no exception when testing out the Piggyback Rider. The picture to the right shows Liam and me on the Ptarmigan Lake Trail in the San Isabel National Forest in Colorado. He lasted about 15 minutes at a time in the Piggyback, but hiked about 3/4 of the way up (he slept the whole way down).
Getting a 2 year old in the Piggyback Rider was a little more challenging than I thought. I think for the first few trips it will definitely take practice (as the manufacturer states too). However, once aboard, Liam was all smiles. I found that the carrier is well balanced and even when Liam shifts his weight I don't find it awkward at all. The adjustable straps move freely and didn't slip when I used it.
So far I think I am going to like the Piggyback Rider. It is lightweight, Liam seems to like it and it makes it easy to carry my little guy. I also like that I can get Liam on and off without having to remove the child carrier. I have no true complaints so far but am interested to see how I will put some of the other features to use.
This concludes my Initial report. Please check back in another 2 months to see how well we are enjoying this unique item. I would also like to thank Full Sail International for their generosity as well as the folks at BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to be a part of this test series.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
Since receiving the Piggyback Rider, I have had the opportunity to use the child carrier on 4 day hikes with my family as well as during a 5 day trip to a trade show in Salt Lake City. My day hikes have all been in the central mountains of Colorado. These included day hikes to Waterdog Lakes at just under 11,500 ft (3,500 m), along the Colorado Trail in Chaffee County and along the Rainbow Trail. All of the hikes were less than 4 mi (6.4 km) along rocky terrain in subalpine forests. The weather was normally between 75 and 90 F (24 and 32 C) with clear skies and the occasional drizzle.
While attending a trade show, I was frankly too busy to take my son around. While my wife took the Piggyback Rider along with her, I was only able to use the carrier about 5 times while out there. However, the Piggyback Rider is ready at all times for dog walks, local trips to the park and the occassional festival here in town.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
The Piggyback Rider has really performed quite well over the past two months. While it took some time to get used to the weight distribution, I feel like this is a comfortable way to carry Liam around. The padding around the shoulder and collar are more than adequate for me. While he isn't even pushing 30 lb (14 kg) it is much easier to put him in "on the bar" than to carry him on my hip. My son does like to hike on his own, so I rarely have him on my back for more than 10 minutes at a time. After that, he usually sees something new to explore, poke and prod. It drives my wife nuts that we have so many diversions; however, my philosophy for hiking with young kids is to make it fun for them. If they are having fun, I am too!
|Hiking up to Waterdog Lakes|
The straps have been really easy to adjust so far. While there aren't many reasons to adjust the straps other than when I switch with my wife, it still is worth pointing out. Liam seems really stable on the bar. A couple of times, my wife has helped turn the bar right-side up (grip tape up) since I couldn't tell it was upside down.
Liam doesn't mind the harness either. He doesn't like to wear it when he isn't on the Piggyback Rider however. It is a little difficult to find a place to stash the harness other than the carrying case. It doesn't make sense to put the whole carrier away either since Liam can go from hiking to wanting a ride in a flash. The harness is still a little tricky to clip in when I'm with my son alone. Up until a few weeks ago he would let me fumble around, reaching back over my shoulder for the clip. Now that his language skills are developing more, he knows that he can be a big help!
Frankly, my biggest struggle has been convincing my son to stop hiking and go for a ride on the bar! As a two year old, he can go from hiking to hungry to exhausted quickly. Once exhausted it's up to daddy to carry the tired sack of potatoes down the mountain! The picture to the left shows how we hike together with the Piggyback Rider waiting to be used. I have to remind myself that this product is the kind of equipment you love to have if you need it, and honestly I love that I don't need it a lot. It brings me great joy to know that Liam is enjoying the outdoors so much!
The Piggyback Rider has been a great addition to our child camping and hiking equipment. Liam has outgrown the other child carriers we have owned and frankly doesn't enjoy being in the enclosed carriers anymore. The Piggyback Rider gives him the freedom to independently explore the outdoors with the security of knowing he can "ride the bar" when he gets tired.
Things I love:
- Easy to use
- Easy not to use
- Comfortable to carry a two year old
Things I don't:
I would like to take the opportunity to thank Full Sail International for their generosity as well as the folks at BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to be a part of this test series. This concludes my field report. Please check back in two months to see how Liam and I are getting along with the Piggyback Rider after more hikes!
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
Since my field report, I have only taken Liam out on two more day hikes in the woods. Both of these hikes were along the Colorado Trail in the San Isabel National Forest in Colorado. The weather on the first hike was sunny and about 60 F (16 C). We hiked about 3 mi (4.8 km) with Liam hiking at least 1 mi (1.6 km) and the rest in the Piggyback Rider. My second hike was a little colder, with some (not a lot) of snow on the trail. This hike was 4 mi (6.4 km) in 40 F (4 C) with overcast weather.
However, I have used the Piggyback rider about 2 times per week while walking the dog with Liam and my 11 year old daughter. We generally walk for about 30 minutes to give them exercise, often before we have eaten dinner ourselves. Why is that important? Well, a hungry 2 year old can be challenging so on some days he was not always cooperative. The image below is taken in downtown Salida, near my home with Liam and me taking our dogs for a walk.
|Walking the dogs with the Piggyback Rider|
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
My impressions for the most part have not changed since my field report. In my opinion, the Piggyback Rider offers enough of a reprieve for both me and my son from the rigors of hiking. What I can say is that as he has continued to grow, I have noticed more strain on my shoulders and back. I have never gotten to the point of asking Liam to "take a break" from riding the bar, but it would be somewhat nice to transfer the load to my hips at some point in time.
As the weather has gotten colder and wetter, I have noticed Liam's dirty shoes leave footprints on my back. I'm not sure there is a solution to that. I have been able to put the bag to better use over the past two months. Much of that is due to my daughter or wife being willing to dig in the bag for things I put in there.
My son really looks forward to hiking with dad, especially at first. We almost always start out our hikes with him on the Piggyback Rider. After 10-15 minutes, Liam's patience wanes and he wants to get down and explore. It has become a sort of up-and-down dance with him. What I do like is that I have gotten much more proficient at getting him on and off without any help from mom.
I like that Liam can't get out of the carrier on his own. When he wants to get down and I am not fast enough for him, his wiggling and jiggling can throw my balance off a bit, but I have never felt like I was going to fall down with him in the carrier. I also like that the carrier can be stashed away quickly and easily. Especially when I am in town, I find that the odd looks from passers-by are much less when I put the Piggyback Rider away when Liam is walking around.
I actually like the Piggyback Rider the more that I use it. Because of the winter settling in, I am not sure I will use it as frequently, but this is certainly something I plan to keep easily accessible for hiking, summer festivals and dog walks.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5
Copyright 2011. All rights reserved.
Things I like:
- My son likes to ride on it
- Easy to take my son on and off.
- Easy storage
Things I don't:
- It would be nice to transfer the load to my hips, especially as Liam gets older
I would like to thank Full Sail International for their generosity as well as the folks at BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to be a part of this test series. It has been a real pleasure!
Read more reviews of Full Sail International gear
Read more gear reviews by Brett Haydin