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Reviews > Packs > Infant and Child Carriers > ergobaby Performance Carrier > Owner Review by Erin Foudy
ergobaby Performance Baby Carrier
Owner Review by Erin Foudy
February 10th, 2012
Picture from http://store.ergobaby.com
I started backpacking while working for the National Park service ten years ago. I have been a backcountry ranger/law enforcement ranger and served on search and rescue crews. I typically take two or more camping trips a month, year round. I appreciate light weight, but am not obsessed by it. I often carry a 30 lb (14 kg) pack and stay out from three to nine days at a time. I also enjoy day trips with only water on my back. I take trips to Colorado and Montana in the summertime and enjoy the outdoors there as well.
Info and Specs:
The ergobaby Performance (hereafter referred to as the ergo or the carrier) is a baby carrier that the company says is, "made for active parents who want to get out with their babies." The website states that this carrier is more breathable and lightweight than the ergobaby Original Carrier, and claims it is 1/3 lighter. The ergo is named for its ergonomically conscience design, It has tapered shoulder straps, an adjustable chest strap, and adjustable padded waist straps to help make hauling my 25 lb (11 kg) baby as comfortable as possible. The carrier is versatile in that it can fit an adult from 5 ft to 6 ft 5 in (1.52 m to 1.95 m). The ergo is comfortable for my baby as well; he is comforted by having nothing between him and I, and the design is such that he may be carried in 3 different carry positions: front, back, and hip carry. While in the front or hip position my baby is supported in the carrier in the exact same position he would be if he were carried in my arms. The company states that this positioning supports baby's hip, pelvis, and spinal development.
The carrier body is made of a green high-performance Ripstop water-repellant outer layer that the company claims is ideal for outdoor activities. It has a large zippered pocket that can hold some small items, and a small zippered pocket that hides the Sleeping Hood. The Sleeping Hood is also constructed of a Ripstop water-repellant fabric with elastic edging that helps to support my baby's head while he sleeps, and also helps to block the sun. The hood comes out of the small pocket like a flap with the top of the hood attaching to the shoulder straps using snaps, and the bottom being stitched into the carrier body. The hood has 5 different snap levels which allows it to adjust in length according to the growth of my baby. The company states this carrier may be used from the time of infancy 7 to 12 lbs (3.2 to 5.5 g) with the infant insert, or from 4-5 months of age to the maximum of 45 lbs (20 k).
Parker Canyon Lake, Coronado National Forest:
Rocky Mountain National Park:
Mt. Lemmon, Coronado National Forest:
I purchased the ergobaby Performance Baby Carrier about a year ago because I wanted a versatile carrier that would work for hiking as well as for times when a stroller would not be convenient. My first experience hiking with the ergo was when my son was 3 months old at Parker Canyon Lake in Coronado National Forest in Southeastern Arizona. During a two night car camping trip we decided to do the short 5 mile (8 km) hike around the lake. The ergo worked wonderfully during the hike, my son was so comfortable he slept almost the entire 2 hours it took to complete. The design of the ergo, much like a backpack, allows for the weight being carried to be distributed comfortably to the hips, taking the stress of the baby's weight away from my back and shoulders. I carried my son on my front as ergo recommends for babies under the age of 6 months. When carrying the baby up front, getting the baby easily into position is no problem and can be done with no assistance from another adult. Wearing the ergo carrier on my front is quite similar to wearing a backpack on my front. I was surprised by how clipping what is normally the sternum clip across my upper back when wearing the ergo on my front still served a purpose. This clip actually made a dramatic difference when wearing the ergo on my front by keeping the shoulder straps securely in place and preventing the straps from gradually sliding further down my shoulders. My one complaint about the ergo and specifically about wearing the ergo on the front of my torso is the inability to cool down in warmer hiking conditions. Having a warm baby strapped tightly to my core on the front of my body prevents airflow or any means of cooling down. Other than the sweaty discomfort from the warm temperature during our hike, both my baby and I were quite content with the ergo on this trip.
Another hiking adventure with the ergo was during my family's annual summer trip to Colorado. During a two night car camping trip in Rocky Mountain National Park we got to explore a few shorter hikes in and around the National Park thanks to the use of the ergo carrier. During this trip my son was about seven months old which meant that he was now old enough to carry him using the ergo on my back. The first day we did a 6 mile (10 km) hike early in the morning attempting to beat the crowds. This was my first experience carrying my son on my back with the ergo. In carrying him this way I required assistance from another adult to get him safely into position, the ergo website claims that you can do this on your own. Perhaps with more practice I may one day feel confident enough to try this, but so far, as of the writing of this review, I still do not feel safe placing my son in the ergo or taking him out of the ergo on my back by myself. During the hike my son seemed to be much more engaged and interested in the experience of hiking then he ever had been before. I attribute this to having a much better vantage point being carried on my back versus my front where he was forced to basically look at my chest or neck the whole time. Comfort wise, wearing the ergo on my back was very similar to wearing a backpack, having all the same comfort features of most back packs to properly distribute the weight between my hips and shoulders. I believe my son was very comfortable too as he dozed off about half way through the hike. Another great feature of the ergo is an attached hood that can be snapped in place over the my baby's head when he sleeps. The hood serves to support my baby's head and shade him from the sun. When not in use the hood conveniently tucks into a zippered pocket. I was very happy to have the hood feature once my baby fell asleep as the sun was beginning to come over the mountains and the hood did seem to help stabilize his head as I hiked.
The following day we did a couple very short hikes around Rocky Mountain National Park. These hikes were heavily traveled but offered some fantastic views. Due to the amount of traffic on these hikes I felt more comfortable having my son in the ergo on my front. In this position, I felt much closer to my baby as I could see his face and could put my arms around him. However, one disadvantage that I quickly noticed with wearing my son up front on a trail with tricky footing was that I had a hard time actually getting a clear view of the trail. Now that my son had grown, his head and body were in a position that prevented me from having a view of what was in front of me. This made traveling much slower than normal. In general the ergo gave me versatility and comfort while hiking with my son in different environments.
One of the fantastic advantages of living in Tucson is having Mt. Lemmon. During warmer days Mt. Lemmon, just a fun hours drive away, provides a beautiful and much needed escape from the sometimes oppressive heat of the Sonoran Desert. My family and I try to take advantage of this spot as much as possible. The ergo comes in quite handy when we decide to make the drive up to visit the pine forest of Mt. Lemmon. Many of the trails in this area are not the most well maintained; often you encounter rocky terrain, downed trees blocking the trail, or trails that are poorly marked. When dealing with trails that provide obstacles such as this I have been very pleased with the ergo. Now that my son is a year old, I only wear him on my back. I don't believe I would feel confident hiking with him if my only option were to wear him on my front. The versatility of the ergo is great, if I wanted to I could still carry him on my front but for visibility reasons listed above, that is not the most ideal way for us to travel. While hiking Mt. Lemmon I have had to actually crawl under downed trees blocking the trail with my son on my back (see attached picture), I believe this would be a much more difficult endeavor if we had the typical bulky baby carrier backpack. I am very happy with how trim the ergo is, at times when hiking you have to squeeze through tight spaces. With the baby being directly against me, with just the ergo carrier wrapped around the outside of my son's body it gives me a better feel for where he is in relation to my own body. I also appreciate that it has a zippered pocket, perfect for storing small toys, snacks, and a pacifier. If going on a long hike though this pocket would not be sufficient to carry all the items a baby would require over a significant amount of time. Items that a parent never leaves the house without, such as diapers, wipes, a change of clothes, food, and so on, would need to be carried somewhere else. To be fair though the ergo is not necessarily intended to be a hiking carrier, though as stated above this version of the ergo is geared towards a more active parent. As a hiking carrier the ergo is not perfect in that it cannot store all that my baby would require on a long outing, but for my family that likes a light weight, versatile, and trim carrier it is a great buy.
I have no regrets in my choice to purchase the ergobaby Performance Baby Carrier. I was looking for a light weight, versatile, and reliable carrier and I got just that. Is this carrier perfect for every hiking situation? No. However, for parents who like to hike while keeping their baby close, I don't think you could find a better carrier. I have to mention that in this review I have only mentioned this carrier for hiking, however, it is fantastic for so much more. It allows me to take my son to the grocery store, on short walks with the dogs, anywhere that I want with no hassle. In addition, when my son was an infant I put him in the ergo while at home which allowed me to keep him close as I did normal household chores. As my son has grown, the ergo has adapted to meet our needs wonderfully. We have used the ergo for almost a year now extensively and in many different environments. I can honestly say it looks just as good today as it did when we first received it. I am very impressed with its performance and durability, I would definitely recommend this product to parents who love the outdoors and hiking.
1. Not good for extended hiking trips.
2. Can be uncomfortable in warm weather.
3. Low visibility with larger baby while in front position.
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