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Reviews > Packs > Infant and Child Carriers > Full Sail International Piggyback Rider > Test Report by Jennifer Pope

Piggyback Rider Child Carrier
Test Report
Last Updated: December 7, 2011

Biographical Information Product Information Initial Report - July 18, 2011 Field Report - October 4, 2011 Long Term Report - December 7, 2011 Summary

Piggyback Rider

Biographical Information
Name Jennifer Pope
Age 30
Gender Female
Height 5 ft 7 in (1.7 m)
Weight 145 lb (66 kg)
Email Address
Location Connecticut
Backpacking Background
Intermediate. I've been a car-camper as long as I can remember and started backpacking in Northern California over a decade ago. I'm again taking a break from backpacking to hike and car camp with my two young daughters and my husband. I typically carry my younger (lighter) daughter while we hike, and now that my 3 year old is getting better at walking longer distances, she's spending more time hiking on her own rather than in a backpack carrier. We live on the Connecticut coast and hike around New England.
Kid Tester
Name Lily
Age 3
Gender Female
Height 38 in (97 cm)
Weight 38.7 lb (17.5 kg)
Backpacking Background
Lily loves being outdoors. She enjoys hiking but often gets tired and asks to be carried. She usually spends about half of a given hike in a backpack carrier and half of the hike walking on her own.

Product Information (back to top)
Manufacturer Full Sail International
Manufacturer URL
Year of Manufacture 2011
Color Orange (also available in pink)
Claimed Weight less than 3 lb (1.3 kg)
Actual Weight 2 lb 1 oz (.94 kg)
MSRP $79.99

Initial Report
July 18, 2011

Initial Impressions & Product Description (back to top)

Simply put, the Piggyback rider is made up of two sets of shoulder straps (one for the adult and one for the child) and a standing bar.


The Piggyback Rider is a system for carrying a toddler or small child that is easier and quicker to get in and out of than a traditional backpack carrier. The child stands on a metal bar that sits just below the adult's waist. The bar is connected to shoulder straps on the adult which are tethered (via clips) to shoulder straps on the child (so the child cannot fall off). There is a chest strap on the adult harness but not on the child harness.

We first tried out the carrier in our backyard. I put on the adult harness, and then put the child harness on Lily. I then realized that I could not reach the child-to-adult tether clips once I had put the harness on. So I have to attach the tethers first, and then put the harness on my shoulders. The tricky part initially was getting Lily comfortable standing on the bar and then getting myself from a full squat up to standing with a new 40 lb (18 kg) weight on my back. This was a little tricky for me. It was much easier when I had something to pull myself up on or if daddy was around to pull me up. I think this is partly due to my lack of leg strength but it's also a bit awkward in general. It is certainly do-able on my own though.

My daughter is quite cautious (like me) and was a little scared initially, holding on around my neck with her arms. We walked around the backyard a bit to get her more comfortable and within a few minutes she was showing me how she could balance without hands. In all it probably took her about 3 minutes to get comfortable--no time at all. She started to like it quite a bit.

climbing on to the rider

In our initial testing, the system was pretty comfortable. The shoulders aren't particularly padded. The shoulder padding is more like a regular backpack rather than a backpacking backpack and with my daughter alone at over 38 lb (17 kg), I could have used some additional padding. I do know that my daughter is very tall for her age and thus quite a bit heavier than most other 3 year olds.

So far I really like the idea of this system. My daughter is to the age that she wants to hike by herself (3 year olds want to do everything by themselves!) but she's also still too young to hike any significant distance by herself. Typically when we're hiking we stick to shorter distances (about 3 mi/4.8 km max) and we bring a traditional backpack-style carrier. My daughter gets in and out of this several times along the hike. 3 year olds are also very distractible, so we encourage her to get in the backpack in order to speed up the hike a bit.

The carrier comes in a spacious carry bag. I anticipate storing the carrier in its bag in the trunk of my car so it's convenient to use whenever we find the need.

A couple of small issues or nitpicks that I'm going to be watching out for during the testing phase. The kids' harness does not have a chest strap. I realize (from the information I read on the website) that the child's chest strap was omitted due to concerns for choking but I wonder if the harness will stay on my daughter's shoulders without falling off while she's hiking separately (not riding). It seems easier for her to just leave her harness on while she walking on her own rather than put it back on each time she steps up on the bar. There also isn't a hip belt on the adult harness. The child's weight is supposed to be transferred straight down on the standing bar, but I'm still carrying all of the weight in my shoulders. I'll have to see how that plays out during our hikes.


Field Report
October 4, 2011

Field Conditions
Catskills Mountains (New York): approximately 2 miles (3.2 km), 85 F (30 C), hot, humid, and clear.
Cape Cod beaches (Massachusetts): 1 mile (1.6 km), 85 F (30 C), hot, sunny, sandy.
Sleeping Giant State Park (Connecticut): approximately 2 miles (3.2 km), 70 F (20 C), crisp and clear.
West Rock Park (Connecticut): approximately 3 miles (4.8 km), 60 F (15 C), wet ground and rain imminent.

Field Report
There's a lot I like and don't like about the Piggyback Rider. It's super simple to use. It just sort of makes sense and I don't have to re-read instructions or spend a lot of time figuring things out. Although after submitting my Initial Report, the folks that makes the Piggyback Rider contacted me to let me know that I was wearing the step on bar (where the kid stands) a bit lower than intended. The bar should be just below my belt (see the pictures in this section of my report).

It's all wrapped up in a small package. This is one of the bigger sellers for me. My only other option for a child carrier would be a full-sized backpack carrier. This is much, much smaller. It's small enough that I can keep it in my car all the time, just in case. It's great to have a back-up option. Also, it's not a total waste if I don't end up needing to use it. On the Sleeping Giant hike above I carried the Piggyback Rider with me but Lily didn't end up needing to ride during the hike. But instead of it being annoying that I was wearing a bulky backpack carrier that went unused, I was just carrying a small lightweight bag.

Unfortunately, it's not all that comfortable though. My daughter is large for her age (typically in the 95th percentile) and I'm carrying all of her weight on my shoulders. Some of the weight even seems to distribute down onto my chest where the chest strap presses against me (it's not too tight). The shoulder straps are not very padded. It's more like the padding found on a regular backpack. And there's not a hip belt. Of course adding any of these things would take away from its small size, which is a major benefit for me.

My daughter loves using the Piggyback Rider. She wears her harness during the whole hike. She gets excited about wearing it. She likes riding on the bar. The harness does fall of her shoulders when she's hiking. It's not a huge issue, just a minor annoyance.

I originally didn't realize that the bag that carries the Piggyback Rider can be attached to the harness and used to carry supplies during a hike. It's quite helpful. There's plenty of space for my water bottle and camera with lots of extra space for more items if I needed the space. Although, when I have the mud flap/carry bag attached to the Rider Lily's feet don't have as much space on the bar. They get stuck on the bag. Connecting the bag only to one side of the Rider seems to solve this problem though.

Side ViewUsing the mud flap

Long Term Report
December 7, 2011

Field Conditions
Wintergreen Lake, West Rock Park (Connecticut): approximately 3 miles (4.8 km), 55 F (13 C), overcast.
Sleeping Giant State Park (Connecticut): 3 miles (4.8 km), 55 F (13 C), sunny, brisk, sun fading fast.

Field Report
During this portion of the test we attempted our longest, most strenuous hike ever without a full-sized backpack carrier for Lily. At 3 1/2, 3 miles (4.8 km) was strenuous for her. Our typical hike is just a bit shorter but this hike was to a summit with a pretty steep incline (by Connecticut standards anyway). At 3 1/2, my daughter is also very distractible; she likes to collect things and she likes to poke things with sticks. This slowed down our pace quite a bit. Near the beginning of the hike we had to convince her to "ride the bar" just so we'd have a chance of finishing the hike. Typically she doesn't want to--she's not tired yet and is independent. But she did agree to ride briefly and we hiked fast. She's also squirmy at this age. While she was riding she was singing and dancing around on the bar. This made carrying her a bit more difficult. She still seemed quite stable riding, and she's very timid, so I know if she was dancing, she felt secure. But still the bar made her weight shift all over the place.

About 2 minutes into our descent, my daughter claimed that she was tired and couldn't walk any more. I flashed back to before having the Piggyback Rider and imagined carrying my daughter in my arms 1.5 miles (2.4 km) back to the car. I was grateful to have it. I couldn't carry her the whole way down but I do think I carried her at least a full mile (1.6 km) on that hike. By far the greatest distance I've carried her on it thus far in our testing.

Yes, it hurts my shoulders when I wear it. Yes, my daughter likes to bounce around and try to throw off my balance. Yes, I hunch my shoulders over when I wear it, even when I try not to. BUT, I really think it's the best solution I've seen out there. When my daughter's not riding the bar, it's like I'm carrying nothing. The Piggyback Rider itself feels weightless. When packed up, it takes up minimal space. I leave it in my car all the time and I can easily pull it out if I think I might need it.


We made it to the top!

Summary (back to top)

The Piggyback Rider is small, lightweight and easy to use. It's not comfortable to carry my daughter for long distances. Even so, it is convenient to have as an option when my daughter needs a break on a hike and much, much easier that just carrying her. It's the best solution I've found for kids that are too big for a backpack carrier and too small to hike long distances.

Thank you to Full Sail International and for allowing me to test this item.

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Reviews > Packs > Infant and Child Carriers > Full Sail International Piggyback Rider > Test Report by Jennifer Pope

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