In May we bought the Osprey Poco child carrier backpack for our daughter. She just turned eight months and since she was able to sit balanced by herself, we decided it was time to introduce her to hiking. At first, we were a bit worried how she would react when we put her in, but our worries proved unnecessary. The Poco immediately became her favorite way of transportation. We went for Osprey Poco because we already have two backpacks from Osprey at home (the Talon 44 and the Talon 22) and we are super satisfied with them.
The Osprey Poco is available in two models, the basic Poco and the Poco Plus. The Plus model has slightly more storage space, zippered hip belt pockets and two additional side mesh pockets. It also has a more sophisticated hip belt. Nevertheless, we decided to buy the basic model because we anticipated that we’ll anyway take an additional pack with us when we go hiking with our daughter, and thus not need the extra storage space of Poco Plus. I carry our daughter and Laura carries water, food and all other stuff we need. That way the weight gets distributed more evenly between us, which makes our trips more enjoyable.
For the last half of a year we’ve been using the Osprey Poco child carrier pack basically every weekend and below is what we learned about it.
- The Basics
- Folding and Unfolding the Pack
- Child Comfort: Seat, Harness, Sunshade and Rain Cover
- Parent Comfort: Suspension System
- Pocket, Compartments and Handling
The Osprey Poco is a TÜV GS certified child carrier for hiking, backpacking and other outdoor sports. It weighs 3.5 kilograms (7 lbs. 11oz.). Now, if you are used to super lightweight Osprey packs, you might find this pack a bit heavy. Nevertheless, not many competitive products are lighter. Child carriers are in general heavy because they require a very sturdy construction (aluminum cage) for safety reasons and other extra parts such as a kickstand, the baby seat with harness etc.
When I unwrapped the Poco I also immediately noticed that it’s made of more durable materials than any other Osprey pack I have, and has much more padding on shoulder straps, hip belt and back panel. I was happy to see this, because extra padding is indeed a good thing when you are carrying +10 kg and the durable materials increase the lifespan of the child carrier. Since the Osprey Poco child carrier retails for around $300, you probably want to keep it for quite some time or at least be able to resell it. Another thing that stood out was the back panel. It’s very rigid in order to efficiently transfer the weight from the shoulders to the hips but more about this below. During my initial investigation I found all parts sturdy, robust and well designed.
Folding and Unfolding the Pack
So, the Osprey Poco is naturally a quite bulky pack and thus it can be folded so you can easily put it in the trunk of your car or in a closet at home. Folding the pack is super easy. You simply unbuckle the two cage arms on the sides and push them towards the seat. Then you push the backside of the pack towards the back panel and attach it to the back panel with special loops. After that you collapse the kickstand, and you are done.
However, unfolding the pack is not as easy. I’ve always had problems buckling the arms of the cage to the back of the pack. Significant force is required to successfully buckle them, although it got easier with time. I guess the materials stretched a little with regular use. I also figured out that less force is required if you are pushing the arms upwards while assembling the two parts of the buckle. I have to say that this is the biggest shortcoming of the Osprey child carrier, and it really annoyed me in the beginning. Whenever venturing out by car, I was often fiddling with the pack for 10 minutes at the parking lot while my girlfriend had to watch and entertain our daughter.
The folded pack measures 71 centimeters (28 in.) in length and 38 centimeters (15 in.) in width. In depth it measures around 10 centimeters (4 in.), but since it has a curved shape it requires slightly more space. Nevertheless, we never had problems packing it in the trunk of our car. Osprey also sells a Poco carrying case which is probably a good purchase if you are planning to take the child carrier on an airplane.
Child Comfort: Seat, Harness, Sunshade and Rain Cover
In terms of child comfort, the Poco excels and we never noticed that our daughter would be uncomfortable in it. The baby seat is cushioned with foam and adjustable in height. The height is easy to adjust – you simply tighten or release the strap that holds the baby seat on the backside of the cage (see image). The pack also has adjustable foot stirrups, so your child doesn’t get pins and needles in the feet from lack of blood flow. The Poco has a reverse harness, which means that it buckles behind child’s back. I really like this because it makes buckling easier and faster. Furthermore, there is no possibility that our daughter could unbuckle the harness (which she would otherwise definitely try to!). The Poco also has a cushioned drool pad on the front side. Our daughter typically falls asleep with her head on this drool pad (leaning forward) and so far, we haven’t noticed that she would be uncomfortable in any way while taking a nap. The drool pad can be removed and washed.
The Osprey Poco also has an integrated sunshade with UPF 50+ rating. The sunshade is stored in the zippered pocket at the top of the pack. It’s very easy to deploy it. You simply open the pocket, pull it out upwards and then slide the rigid flaps of the sunshade into the appropriate sleeves on the front sides of the pack. The sunshade provides very good coverage but is made of mesh fabric on the sides so that your child can still see out and enjoy the view. The pack also comes with a rain cover. The rain cover packs into its own pocket and we typically store it in the main compartment as the pack has no special pocket for it. Deploying the rain cover is also easy and fast. You simply put it over the child carrier (sunshade must be deployed) and secure it to the hip belt (with special loops), kickstand (with Velcro) and around the pack with a buckle.
Parent Comfort: Suspension System
The most important thing in terms of comfort for the carrier of the backpack is, without a doubt, the suspension system. This goes for every backpack. So, what is a suspension system? The suspension system is what connects the pack to the wearer or more precisely the back panel, hip belt, frame (optionally) and harness. If you want to learn more about this, do check out my Guide to Hiking Backpacks.
The Osprey Poco is equipped with the brand’s AirSpeed adjustable suspension system. The suspension system has a sturdy aluminum frame which ensures that the pack is not “folding” and that the weight gets transferred efficiently from the shoulders to the hips via the hip belt. This is important as carrying +15 kg on the shoulders alone is a nightmare, but bearable (no pun intended) when some of the weight gets distributed on the hips instead. The Poco’s AirSpeed suspension system also has a suspended mesh back panel which increases the ventilation and prevents a sweaty back. The hip belt and the shoulder straps are sufficiently padded for carrying a child.
Now, the suspension system is adjustable and when I started adjusting it, I was very surprised over the fact that I had to extend it to the fullest for a perfect fit as I’m “only” 180 cm tall with a normal torso length. So, if you are taller than me, I do highly recommend that you try the backpack before you buy it – it might be too small. The interesting thing is that Osprey packs are typically available in two sizes, but the Poco is only available in one size. If you don’t know how to adjust the suspension system to the right height, do also check out my article How to fit a backpack where I explain this.
All in all, I’m satisfied with the suspension system and so far, I haven’t encountered any discomfort. The back panel provides good ventilation, and the weight gets nicely transferred to the hips.
Pockets, Compartments and Handling
The Osprey Poco has a zippered main compartment, small zippered pocket for valuables, two side mesh pockets, two mesh hip belt pockets and a front stash pocket. The zippered main compartment is located at the bottom of the pack and has a capacity of 20 liters. However, the usability of this compartment is slightly limited because the sunshade collapses into it. So, if you are planning to put bulky items such as a sleeping bag into this compartment, you might have to first deploy the sunshade. The small zippered pocket for valuables is very small and only suitable for a wallet and pair of keys. In the side mesh pockets we typically carry a water bottle for our daughter and some toys. However, the toys can also be attached to the loops around the drool pad. The hip belt pockets are small, but perfect for storing power bars and the front stash pockets is great for storing wet and sweaty clothes. The Poco is also equipped with an external sleeve for water reservoir. This sleeve is placed behind the back panel. The problem is that the opening is very small and thus I had no luck inserting my 3l hydration reservoir in it.
The Osprey Poco is equipped with two handles. One is on the top of the suspension system and the other one is on the front of the pack. These two handles are very convenient because they enable you to lift the pack easily and safely. The kickstand is also reliable and makes a click sound when you deploy it, so you know it safe to put the pack down.
The Osprey Poco is a very comfortable child carrier for both the child and the carrier. I was impressed over the well-designed baby seat, foot stirrups, drool pad and harness. The reverse harness is especially interesting because it allows you to buckle the child with ease. Accessories such as sunshade and rain cover are also easy to deploy. I’m also very satisfied with the suspension system as it makes carrying a (heavy) child much more bearable by efficiently transferring the weight from the shoulders to the hips. Nevertheless, the Osprey Poco also has shortcomings. I’m a bit annoyed by the cage arms when unfolding the pack because it’s still kind of hard to buckle them, although it got a bit easier with time as the materials stretched. It is also not optimal that the sunshade collapses in the main compartment as it’s hard to pack unless you deploy the sunshade beforehand. Nevertheless, these are minor things. All in all, I’m very satisfied with the purchase.
If you have any questions about this product, drop me a line in the comments below.
We field tested this product. The rating shows its overall performance.About Rating
- Good suspension system
- Child comfort: seat, drool pad, harness foot stirrups etc.
- Quality and features (sunshade, rain cover etc.)
- Ventilated back panel
- Hard to unfold
- Sunshade collapses in the main compartment and makes packing difficult
- Water reservoir sleeve has a very small opening