Front baby carriers are not exactly the classic “outdoor kit” that I would usually read about, but it is part of the basic arsenal of an outdoors father family. Since our daughter was born, our Ergobaby performance has been on more hikes, hill walks, multiday backpacking and camping trips than some people see their whole lives. I’ve spent hours upon hours sweating buckets wearing this carrier with my daughter in it, providing her with shelter, comfort and the best place on the planet for a good sleep. Even now (she is nearly 16months) it is a must-take on any activity that might clash with nap time – it is just the best way to ensure a good nap for our girl. It is also great for regular daily use. We love this thing.
Ergobaby is an American company that started in 2002, making only soft frame baby carriers. I’m a big fan of single product companies as it usually means that they really specialize in what they do. When we looked into getting a baby carrier from infancy, Ergobaby was one of the leading companies on our list and their Performance range is what tipped the scale.
The Ergobaby Performance range used to consist of only one carrier that came in 3 colours, but they now offer a new version that is more ventilated. The idea behind the Ergobaby Performance is that it is slightly more “constructed” than most front carriers, allowing for better support and protection for the baby while you are being active (I even managed to have a light run with it!).
The carrier is very padded for longer carrying time with a nice “fat” hip strap and well padded shoulder straps that have a sternum/back strap to keep them from slipping off. The version we picked has a robust external fabric and a polyester mesh lining that is really easy to clean – just put in the washing machine on delicate and let air dry.
To carry very small babies (newborns), there is a separate infant insert that can be bought (we did) and that gives the baby some good support to be held in the carrier comfortably. Our daughter was tiny (2.7kg (not even 6 lbs) of long skinny girl), so the insert was very important to be able to carry her safely well into the second half of her first year.
Other features are a sewn-in front pocket at the very front (back-to-back with the baby) and has a zipper and side opening, great for key, a snack and a wallet. Also the Ergobaby Performance comes with a sun cover the connects to the top of the straps. The sun cover is a life saver in keeping a dark environment to allow a child to sleep better and it helps in reducing over stimulated kids that really, really enjoy the outdoors. My wife thinks the other side of the sun cover is water resistant, despite my pointing out that most fabric is. The point is that you can also use the cover to protect your baby from light rain and the debate about the technicalities continues.
There two additional extras (besides the infant insert) that can be added: a rain cover (a real one) that fits specifically with the existing straps and an additional front/waist pack that clips into place. We haven’t got those but it is in planning for the next child….
The carrier can be used in 3 positions: front, side and back. We tried the side one unsuccessfully (the carrier is too bulky for that) and we tried the backpack version a few times, but neither we nor our daughter enjoyed it.
- Weight: 640g (1.4lb)
- Baby Weight Range: 3.2kg/7lb (With Infant Insert) – 20kg/45lb
- Shoulder Strap Length Range: 61cm-112cm (24”-44”)
- Waist belt Circumference Range: 74cm-140cm (29”-55”)
The first thing we did with the carrier was use it to get our daughter home, on day 2 of her life; since then the Ergobaby has been an integral part of our lives, used as a front carrier for almost all outings until our girl was about 10 months.
We’ve used it for strolls in the park, I calmed many hours of colic-induced crying by walking the streets of London in a freezing winter, hiking and it is still used when day time naps are broken from any one of the many reasons babies wake from sleep.
Outdoors trips done with the Ergobaby Performance:
Day hikes in: Surrey Hills, various woods in the North of London, the Seven Sisters, Epping Forest and more
Two international trips
Hundreds and hours of walking in London and more
We still take the carrier with us everywhere in case a nap isn’t achieved anywhere else or the stimulation is too much and a bit of a slow down is needed.
I find that using the Ergobaby when hiking is really comfortable and carrying both a baby in the front and a full backpack actually increases the balance of hauling gear. Because the straps are wide and soft I had no problem carrying a full overnight camping gear (about 20kg/44lbs) and had no chaffing.
- Comfortable to wear
- Stable and safe for the baby (from birth)
- Easy to pack away when not used
- Machine washable
- Robust fabrics
- In hot temperature it is very hot to wear and warm for the baby
- Can be very limiting for inquisitive kids – the field of sight is limited
The Ergobaby Performance is a great bit of kit if you want to take your baby outdoors while still being able to do your regular activity. It is stable, safe and comfortable both for the parent and the baby, easy to pack and robust enough for active parents. Even with a 16 month old we pack it on long days out to offer a good nap for a cranky baby and some comfort for when it is all too much. I wouldn’t recommend it for hot countries as it can become very warm in hot weather.