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Review: The ERGO Performance Carrier for hiking

It’s no secret how much I love my Ergobaby carrier. In fact the post BJORN vs Ergo remains one of our most popular. So when Ergobaby gave me the chance to review their new Performance Carrier along with some assorted ‘accessories’, I was much obliged.

In general the Ergo baby carrier is great for every day wear, walking around the block, cruising around a farmer’s market, or the county fair. But how does it perform once you leave the pavement and start to gain elevation?

Here’s why the Ergo design (any of their carriers, old or new) works great for hiking:

1. Padded hip strap.
Like a backpack, the hip strap allows you to carry the weight on your hips, not your shoulders. Whether it is a babe on your front side or a pack on your back, saving your shoulders from that unnatural strain is essential.

2. Babies legs don’t dangle.
I’m not trying to get in on the whole is-baby-leg-dangling-bad-for-babies-joints discussion, I’m simply referring to the fact that hiking up hill with dangling baby legs does not work so well. In fact it’s down right annoying.

3. No sagging.
As baby gets heavier I’ve found that my wrap style carriers start to loosen, sag, and move as I’m hiking. The Ergo always stays put.

4. Grows with your child.
With the infant insert (which I review later in the post) you can use this carrier from day 1 to 3+ years old and it can be worn on the front or on the back.

The only place where the Ergo design falls short when it comes to hiking is that because it’s designed so babies legs don’t dangle that means that when baby is on the front he/she can’t turn around and see out. At five months old my 3rd child has recently vocalized her desire that should she be awake, she would much rather be looking out on the world.

Still, not looking forward is merly a temporary set back for my unusually high-maintenance baby. Soon she will be able to ride on my back, and (fingers crossed) all will be right with the world once again.

The Ergo is still hands-down the best thing I’ve found for hiking with babies, or for those times when you don’t want to throw on a large backpack to lug your toddler down the trail.

And now there’s a few more things to love about hiking with the Ergo, which is actually the whole point of this post. So let’s get on with it.

PERFORMANCE CARRIER

First and foremost, the new Performance Carrier must have been made with outsidemoms in mind. This version is lighter weight, more breathable, sleeker, and comfier. It has a soft yet durable exterior and a breathable mesh interior for “ultimate outdoor performance”.

I love this new carrier. I love it more than the original. If you plan to hike with baby, or spend time outside, get this version. It’s less bulky, especially the shoulder straps, the fabric is amazing, it really does breathe, and it’s just so…comfortable! I would recommend it in a heartbeat.

My only piece of advise here: if you hike in the summer months, don’t get black. It gets hot.

PERFORMANCE INSERT

To go along with the Performance Carrier, Ergo also sent me the Performance Insert. All their inserts are made to support growing babies ranging from newborns (7-12 pounds) through 4-5 months. You snap it around the baby, adjust as needed and place it inside the carrier. (look at this pic of how cozy my sister’s baby looks in her insert).

The Performance Insert specifically is made of the same fabric as the Performance Carrier, so it’s breathable. It’s also less bulky than the original and keeps baby cooler. Again, if you are going to hike in the summer, don’t get black.

The insert works great, usually. I have two concerns when it comes to hiking with a baby in the insert.

1. The insert supported my baby just fine while on a leisurely stroll, but because the insert holds her head away from my chest just a little, when I hike with any sort of vigor, her head flops forward and just doesn’t look that comfortable (but maybe it is).

2. The insert makes the front pouch bulky, so when hiking it’s hard to see your feet over the carrier.

BACKPACK

Because storage space is definetly a limitation for day trips in the Ergo carrier they have a few ‘attachments’ that help add a little space.

When the baby is on your front this Backpack is worn like any other backpack. Sometimes I use the Ergo brand, sometimes I don’t. But when the baby is on your back this Ergo pack hooks to the straps of the carrier and hangs on your front. Since my baby is still on the front I have not tried this method, however I think it’s pretty genius. They also have this version of the backpack.

PERFORMANCE CARGO POUCH

The Ergobaby Performance Cargo Pouch attaches to side buckles and/or the waist belt. It has a roomy main compartment with smaller pockets for stowing some trail items. I can easily fit diapers, wipes, keys, snacks and a phone/camera with room to spare. I use this pouch a lot for small hikes with the kids. It’s VERY handy.

Did I mention I love this new Ergo?

I love it.

9 Comments so far

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  1. Lauren

    Great review, Lindsey! I, too, love the Ergo Sport (although, I have to admit as far as Ergos go, I have only had the sport). All that aside, I must add that in addition to all the above mentioned benefits, I have been able to get out on trail successful with 2 infants strapped on. I know they aren’t necessarily designed for that, but it is totally do-able and I don’t know that any other carrier can boast such capability. I wonder if perhaps ergo may consider designing a twin carrier down the road, to eliminate the overlapping of straps on the hips. But hey, wearing two works just fine :)

  2. Great review! I love our Ergo Performance Carrier too. It was the first piece of gear I bought while I was pregnant and I love how rugged and durable it is, it’s carrier that isn’t too sissy for the trails. I’ll have to get the pouch.

  3. Sarah

    I love my Ergo Performance! I only had two negative issues with it when S was a newborn – the same problem with her head flopping forward/not very good head support, even with the insert, and it was very hot with the insert in the summer (I also have black). Now that it is a little cooler, and she has better head control at 3 months, I use it without the insert (though she still sits on the cushion part) and it is absolutely wonderful! This is the only backpack style carrier I have tried and it meets my needs perfectly. It is also the only carrier my husband likes to use (we also have a Moby and a sling) so that is an added bonus!

  4. Helena

    I recently bought a Performance carrier for my 5 month old as well. He doesn’t like for me to carry him but doesn’t mind it with Dad, but I think this is due to our size differences. Dad is more comfortable right now. The only thing I dislike about this carrier is the swoop in the front of the hip strap. It gets annoying and tireing after a while.

  5. Hiking with such a small baby is difficult, as during hiking it is difficult to carry yourself and with a baby . It is really a great job!

  6. Travis

    I have an ancient first-generation Ergo that I use a lot for hiking with my little one. I pair it with a waist pack for our snacks and gear that the baby kind “sits on.” I find that the older Ergo is OK, but not nearly as supportive as it should be or could be for baby or parent. Have you ever compared the newer Ergo to some of the other soft structured carriers like the Beco or the Boba? I’d love to find a comparative review of similar carrier types to help me decide what I need to replace my old carrier.

    • Travis – I also had a first generation Ergo with my second child, I think the new one is more comfortable, not sure about it being more supportive… I’ve never tried a Beco or a Boba but I know people who love those too. I do know that REI sells the Performance Ergo now so if you live near an REI, and your are a member you can try it out and return it pretty easy if you don’t like it. I really do like the new Ergo!

  7. C Tickle

    Great post! I have the original ergo carrier and it has been a great carrier. I have been looking at the Ergo performance for the upcoming summer months. Your pictures are great! Thanks!

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