Why We Didn’t Like the Piggyback Rider + New Improvements

This post may contain affiliate links where we earn from qualifying purchases. As an amazon associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. Find out more in our disclosure.

Update:  It’s been over 9 years since we first tested the Piggyback rider and wrote this review.  Since then we’ve tested dozens of child carriers on our travels all over the world.  If you want to just skip the the chase and know how we feel now, our all time favorite carrier for kids ages 1-4 is this soft sided carrier and our favorite structured carrier (framed hiking backpack style carrier) is this one.

While the initial Piggyback Rider had some design flaws, there are some new accessories that have really improved the product, making it a good investment, and one that we can happily recommend!

What is the Piggyback Rider?

Although we love hiking as a family, hiking is hard for little 2-year-old legs.  The thing is, she’s really getting too big for our backpack carrier, and with another one on the way, we had no plans of always having two kids that we would have to carry – she was going to have to get tough and walk more…then we learned about the Piggyback rider...a different kind of child carrier.

The Piggyback Rider is quickly making its way into the parenting world.  It’s commonly referred to as the next step after your child outgrows a traditional child carrier backpack.  We were thrilled to learn that it’s designed for kids ages 2 1/2 to 7 (or 60 pounds), so should work perfectly with Chloe (2 1/2 and 30 pounds) and Mason (5 and 43 pounds).  We first saw it at the Outdoor Retail Show in January.  It’s basically made up of shoulder straps with a bar hanging down below it for the child to ride on.  For safety, the child wears a harness that clips onto the pack and also holds onto handles on the adults pack.  We were mesmerized by the idea of a standing child carrier!

For us, we were thinking that this would serve the primary purpose of giving our kids a little break when out on longer hikes.  We figure that they should be able to go for a good amount of time on their own so we were not looking for a permanent ride (since that just makes things harder on US).

Note: DO NOT Purchase the Piggyback Rider without the accessories we mention below!!

Do Kids Like The Piggy Back Carrier?

First of all, our kids are crazy about it.  Every time they see that we have it with us, both of them are fighting begging to go for a ride on this standing child carrier.  They also love to be so tall and be able to have a fantastic view of everything.  Also, it does all fit nicely into the storage bag that comes with it which makes it easy to contain and can quickly be thrown into an extra pack.  Learning to get the child strapped onto it takes a little bit of practice, but now, Mason at age 5 can usually do it by himself.  For kids younger than that, it’s a two person job to ensure that they’re properly strapped in.

Piggyback Rider Initial Impressions:

As we started using our Piggyback Rider carrier, piggyback backpack we noticed that not everything was as great as we had imagined it would be.  For starters when wearing the Piggyback child carrier, it’s hard to carry a child for a long time.  The straps are not padded very well and all of the child’s weight rests on your shoulders (as opposed to a regular child carrier that distributes the weight more evenly because of a hip strap).  To know what it’s like to wear a piggyback carrier, imagine essentially having your child stand on your shoulders for hours, because that’s what it feels like.  Because of this, the straps can get uncomfortable and shoulders/back often get sore after wearing it.  Although both of our kids are well under the age and weight limits, we noticed that the child piggyback carrier was much more difficult to wear when Mason was riding on it.  Even though he doesn’t weigh too much more than Chloe, that extra weight on the standing kid carrier and his height always made it more difficult to balance.

Note: DO NOT Purchase the Piggyback Rider without the accessories we mention below!!

Downsides Of The Piggyback Rider

Another drawback of the piggyback baby carrier is that there isn’t a way to really carry other things while wearing this (NOTE: This is with the base model – keep reading below for accessories to solve this).  Pretty much whenever we go anywhere, we take at a minimum snacks and water.  Although the storage case folds up to be carried on the bar, the size and structure of it make it pretty awkward with things inside of it.  However, this is no longer a problem if there is someone else with you to carry those “extra” things.  It can also be difficult because although the child isn’t walking their legs don’t get a major rest since they have to stand the whole time on the bar.  This mostly comes into play on longer hikes when our 2-year-old is so tired that she really needs to rest and it requires her to stand.  However, on shorter distances with the kids piggy back, the need to stand is quickly forgotten by the excitement that they get a ‘free ride’.

Essential Accessories For The Piggyback Rider

In the 9 years since we first tested the Piggy Back Rider, some major improvements have been made. While the base model of the piggy back rider are still the same, there are some add on accessories that make this a great piggyback carrier.

First off, make sure that you buy THIS HIP BELT ATTACHMENT! Our biggest issue with the original Piggyback carrier is that there is no way to carry your child other than having all the weight on your shoulders. This Hip Belt solves that problem.

Second, get this hydration backpack for your child that can also double as their Piggyback Harness. I love this concept because it’s a backpack that kids are already going to use while hiking, so they don’t need to be constantly putting on their piggyback harness or taking it off. This child hydration backpack allows you to carry both water, snacks, and a few hiking essentials while still using the Piggyback rider.

Check out all our top hydration pack recommendations.

Overall, we think that the Piggyback Rider is an awesome idea, and if you purchase the accessories that we recommend, it’s a fantastic product (just don’t buy it without getting those accessories as well).

Piggyback Rider did provide us with a free carrier to review, and the opinions we shared are based on our own experiences and have not been influenced by any compensation.  Other people may have differing opinions in their Piggyback Rider reviews, but these are our honest opinions.

This post was originally published in May 2012, but has been updated for content and accuracy.

About Jessica Averett

Hi, I’m Jessica, a mom of 5 kids and married to my favorite adventure partner. I love to bike, ski, camp and hike. We've visited over 40 countries with our kids, but are equally happy on the road as we are exploring our home state of Utah.

10 thoughts on “Why We Didn’t Like the Piggyback Rider + New Improvements”

  1. Good job! Can I just copy and paste on my own blog and save having to write my own review? I agree 100%. My husband finds it hard too when my son slumps over on the bar and pulls on his neck. (the result of being tired and wanting to actually rest)

    We have found thought that it’s a great emergency back-up system to have with you. We go out on walks that we aren’t certain our son can do, knowing we have something along if he can’t. The hope and goal is always that our son will walk. When that doesn’t happen though, it’s nice to have the rider along.

    • Would it be possible if you can share your insights on the so called “UPDATED” version which according to their website, “uses a more ROBUST FOAM on the carrying straps”. Thank you.

      • We probably won’t be doing another review of this pack. However, you can check out talesofamountainmama.com for a review of it. My concern is that even though it has better padding, still having all of the weight on your shoulders would still be pretty uncomfortable. I think a hip strap would help a lot though!

  2. Just bring a wrap! 🙂 There’s a bit of a learning curve to it, but really a simple wrap is easy to stuff in a pocket and can easily carry a kid at least the weight of a preschooler (and probably your older one too, but I don’t have a kid that big to test with). It’s way more comfy for the parent, even if the kid falls asleep. And you can wear one of those big fanny packs (lumbar packs) underneath the kid, plenty of space for snacks/diapers/etc… I often use a woven cotton wrap for my 1.5 yr old, but we just have a simple one we sewed from nylon to whip out for my 3 yr old when he needs a rest. It takes up virtually zero space and weight, and we’ve used it on months-long expeditions. Really, I think this is a case where taking a little time to learn the skill of wrapping pays off for years in ease of outdoor adventures (especially since you have a new little one coming as well).

  3. This so far is the most UNBIASED and OPINIONATED review blog for the PIGGYBACK RIDER Standing Child Carrier despite receiving the item for free from Full Sail International, LLC.

  4. Exactly, it is a neat idea but it will probably be left behind on your next trip …

    The kids want to get off their feet and there is too much weight on your shoulders to carry for too long. A very reason I don’t carry my 7 yr old daughter on my shoulders for too long – I couldn’t imagine this being any different except for the position of the child.

    For me, this product will stay in the store.

  5. We recently bought one directly from the manufacturer’s website. As one of the comments in amazon stated, “it’s not an anti-gravity device”. You will most definitely feel the full weight of the child on your shoulders. We bought the NOMIS Basic Model which they said uses the more ROBUST FOAM. Tested the product immediately with my 35 lbs. son by walking 8 blocks (one way) to the nearest convenient store just to buy a loaf of bread & even used the 45+ stairs in both going up & going down from the apartment building. He was on it the whole time & only went down the rider when we were home.

    IMHO, the product will need some time to get used to & it will also give you a good workout. My son had fun while he was on the rider since he can now see the same things as you do. The only problem when he starts shifting his weight since he was moving a lot while on riding the bar which was due to his excitement on the things that he sees. My shoulder was also tad sore after using this product.

  6. The Piggyback Rider has been updated many times since 2012 and we have added more padding and new chest strap and there is now a HIP BELT to distribute the weight. As a small family business, we appreciate all the comments.

    Check out our viral videos online, we have surpassed 100 million views!


Leave a Comment

one × 6 =

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.