At 3 pounds 12 ounces, the Deuter KangaKid is among the lightest framed child carriers with storage on the market. Its long list of features makes it a great for day hikes or overnights, as long as you have a shorter torso.
- 5-point child harness keeps kids in place comfortably
- Pack carries up to 35 pounds with comfort
- 1800 ci of available pack space will hold child’s gear for an ultralight overnight trip or both kid’s and parent’s gear on a day hike
- Side entrance feature makes loading and unloading a child quick and easy for two adults
- Water bottle pockets, lack of an exterior frame, and large volume makes this more “pack-like” than most child carriers on the market.
- More than 10 ounces lighter than the manufacturer’s spec!
What’s Not So Good
- Short torso length not “one-size fits all” as claimed
- No rain cover available and sun cover sold separately
- No self-supporting frame to stand the pack on the ground makes it difficult to load a child with only one adult
- Manufacturer’s weight limit of only 33 pounds
- Uncomfortable at higher weights for those with medium to large torsos
|2007 Deuter KangaKid|
|Internal frame child carrier|
|1800 ci (30 L)|
|Measured weight: carrier only- 3 lbs 11.8 oz (1.70 kg); manufacturer’s specification 4 lbs 6 oz (1.98 kg)|
|“Ballistic Lite”- 210 denier woven nylon version of standard Ballistic fabric (420 denier); “Microrip-Nylon”- 210 denier ripstop nylon with a PU coating|
|Large main storage compartment, smaller front pocket with interior key-ring clip and pockets for organizing small items, front stuff pouch with small zippered pocket, side mesh water bottle pockets, padded 5 point child harness, child carrying area zips closed to compact pack and hide harness system, padded shoulder straps and waist belt, internal aluminum stay system to support child seat and storage area, load lifter straps|
Comfortable Load Carrying Capacity
|35 pounds (15.88 kg) estimated maximum comfortable load an average person can carry all day in this pack|
Carry Load to Pack Weight Ratio
|9.4 (based on a 35 lb load and measured weight of 3.74 lb)|
|Sun roof (not tested): $24.99, 9.0 oz (255 g)|
The Deuter KangaKid is a full-featured child carrier that at first glance appears to be a “normal” day-pack, or at least a normal day-pack with an infant stuck in. This is the allure of this compact pack: no bulky external frames to lug around and as much or more storage capacity than many ultralight packs. While 3 pounds 12 ounces might not necessarily be considered ultralight, the KangaKid is among the lightest framed child carriers with storage on the market and is more than 2 pounds lighter than the lightest external framed carrier, the Sherpani Rumba Superlight.
The KangaKid provides a comfortable enough ride that my son Porter had no problem falling asleep after a long day in the pack.
Any child carrier is defined by its harness system and the KangaKid is average in this area. The harness consists of a padded sling-seat as one of the five points, and then waist and shoulder straps that snap into this sling using quick release buckles make up the other four points. These nylon straps are adjusted using ladder locks found over the child’s thighs when they are seated. While the harness is very secure, the sling seat cannot be adjusted up or down in the pack to accommodate for different size infants or toddlers. The buckles and adjusters are also difficult to get to when a child is in the seat, especially since it is easiest to load the pack while it is on a parent’s back.
The five-point harness system is similar in design to many child carriers on the market. A unique feature is that one side of the seat area opens using Velcro and a quick release buckle to make loading and unloading easier.
Most external frame child carriers are self-standing, making it easy to “drop” the child straight into the harness system. The lack of a self-standing frame makes it easiest to load a child if one parent is wearing the pack while the other secures the child into the harness system. To make this task easier Deuter has added a split side-piece to the 2007 model of the KangaKid. This piece fastens together using Velcro and an adjustable quick release buckle and can be quickly undone to remove the child from the seat, allowing for more convenient side entry and exit.
Once situated in the seat harness, the pack itself can be further adjusted to make a better fit for both the child and the adult. On either side of the child there are adjustable nylon straps that can be tightened to cinch down the seat area. This snugs the child closer to your back and keeps him or her from moving around too much. When our son Porter was smaller we could also partially zip up the sides of the carrier compartment to keep his feet inside the pack and keep him warmer in cooler weather. Deuter doesn’t offer pack stirrups for the KangaKid, so this was our only option to keep his feet in place. As Porter has gotten bigger his feet just dangle down the sides of the pack.
Multiple adjustments and straps keep Porter secure to my back while leaving plenty of room for storage directly behind him. Like a traditional pack, this puts the densest, heaviest gear (in this case Porter) nearest my back.
The KangaKid does have an available sun cover, which I didn’t test, but offers no option for a rain cover. In situations where sun or rain may be an issue we just carry a lightweight umbrella for protection.
The available sunroof provides shade but no protection against the rain.
The use of internal stays instead of an external frame has some benefits and some drawbacks. The main benefit is that the pack is much lighter than an external frame pack of a similar volume. It also means the pack can be stowed more easily in a car or closet. The downside of not having an external frame is that you can’t put the pack directly on the ground to load or unload the child, or to take a break. When we put Porter on the ground in the pack we have to keep a hand on him. When he was smaller and didn’t move around as much we could also prop him up against a tree without a lot of worry.
It is possible to lower the pack to the ground with a child in it, but I’ve learned to do it when Mom isn’t watching because the balance point of the loaded pack isn’t quite perfect to pull this off smoothly (the harness is secure, though, and ensures that the child won’t fall out). The whole pack, including Porter, tends to lean back past vertical making it look and feel moderately unstable. Getting the loaded pack back on by yourself is possible but is easier done with a second pair of hands for help.
The KangaKid lacks an external frame. When putting Porter on the ground in the pack we always have to make sure to keep a hand on him or to prop him up between two stable objects.
Load carrying is limited by the suspension design of the KangaKid. Whereas an external frame pack from Kelty or Sherpani can carry 50 pounds or more, Deuter’s recommended weight limit of 33 pounds for the KangaKid is pretty accurate. Our son has weighed close to 30 pounds since he was 9 months old. (Doug Johnson of this website has nicknamed him “Sumo.”) This has meant either limiting what we can carry or exceeding the comfortable maximum load of around 35 pounds. With clothes, diapers, wipes, changes of clothes, food, etc. we regularly get closer to the 40 pound mark. While the frame and suspension components of the KangaKid are plenty sturdy enough to handle the weight, the problem is in the torso fit which makes loads over 35 pound uncomfortable for many pack users.
Deuter claims a one-size-fits-all pack size for the KangaKid but the sizing is truthfully for short-torsos only (such as smaller moms). I typically use a medium pack size, but can fit into a large if needed and my wife’s torso is about two inches shorter than mine- a definite medium. For both of us the torso length of this pack is too short. This makes it difficult to balance the weight properly between our hips and our shoulders. If we put the weight on our hips, we have to loosen up the shoulder straps to the point where the pack becomes unstable (though the pack does have load-lifter straps to help with this). If we tighten up the shoulder straps to where they are comfortable the waist belt slides up to our belly buttons and off of our hips. When Porter was lighter, which wasn’t long for him, this wasn’t such a big deal, but now that we are forced to carry heavier weight it gets downright uncomfortable and shortens the distance we can hike without stopping and readjusting. The shoulder straps and waist belt themselves though were quite comfortable but could not be properly used because of the short torso design.
The back panel of the KangaKid is Deuter’s “AirContact” system. It consists of crossed aluminum stays and a plastic frame sheet. Overall, the torso length was too short to be truly comfortable for medium to long torsos.
At $129.00, the Deuter KangaKid is less expensive than most child carriers on the market. It is durable and has plenty of room to carry everything a child needs for an overnight trip or everything we all need for an extended day hike. The seat harness system is simple though the adjustments can be difficult when a child is seated. It would be nice if the sling were adjustable. We like the fact that it is compact and very rarely miss having an external frame. Offering a low price and good features, the KangaKid is a great value - especially for those with shorter torsos.
The KangaKid is one of only a few internal frame child carriers on the market, and at 3 pounds 12 ounces is among the lightest. The child compartment zips up to compact the pack if a child is not seated in it, and when open one side has a "quick release" to make loading and unloading the child easier.
Recommendations for Improvement
I offer the following recommendations for improving this pack:
1. Offer different size packs or make the torso length adjustable for taller users.
2. Offer more accessories. A rain-fly would add versatility and stirrups would be a great addition.