It's a crux. And as a trekking fan and father of two boys (4 and 7 years old now), I know what I'm talking about: Anyone who wants to go to the mountains with small children has at least one serious problem. All-terrain buggies quickly reach their limits in the mountains. The hiking trails are (for good reason) not designed for pushchairs. Of course, the otherwise energetic rascals don't want to run either. At least not for several hours. That's kind of understandable too. Carrying 15 kilograms of a child on your shoulder is not only unwieldy, but also extremely unhealthy in the long run. Apart from the fact that my shouldered junior regularly falls asleep while still lazy. That, too, cannot be what the inventor intended. Which brings us to the topic of this article. Why not develop a back carrier that children can sit in stably for several hours and that also sits comfortably on mum or dad's hips? A brilliant idea and the birth of the Kraxe, child carrier, Kiepe, backpack carrier or whatever you want to call the popular trekking all-rounder. One of the most practical inventions ever for parents who want to get a taste of mountain air with their offspring off the beaten track.
In the following article you will find out which criteria are important when buying a Kraxe and why some extras should not be missing.
A good Kraxe should fulfill three very basic things.
In contrast to ordinary hiking backpacks, with Kraxen not only the piece of luggage but also the "cargo" should fit comfortably. Otherwise, sooner or later, first the child and then the back will go on strike. Or the other way around. In order for the offspring to sit (or sleep) comfortably, it is important that the seat of the Kraxe can be infinitely adjusted to the size of the child without much fiddling (there is a particularly light model from Deuter here). The seat should be neither too narrow nor too wide and lightly padded. Ideally, the future passenger takes a seat before making the purchase. Similar to child seats in the car or on the bike, safety is also the top priority for mobile trekking transport. Nothing works without a belt. As a rule, child carriers are therefore equipped with a padded 4-point belt. It should be as easily accessible as possible and adjusted so that the junior cannot slip his arms out of the belts unnoticed. Foot straps or stirrups for hanging your legs are a nice extra, but not a must.
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A chin pad has proven to be useful for the author's hiking tours with children and backpacks. Fresh air and the constant rocking will sooner or later make the little ones' eyes close. Because mum or dad usually walks slightly bent forward, the head automatically falls forward as soon as the tired neck muscles relax. If there is no soft surface, it is not only uncomfortable, the little ones also rub their chins sore in the long run with the constant up and down. Now an extra pillow is not only impractical, but also heavy. Many manufacturers therefore offer matching padded covers for Kraxen as accessories, so-called chin pads. They are slipped over the upper part of the back and are held in place by an integrated elastic band.
If the junior sits comfortably, the mood is usually passable. And that's half the battle on a longer family tour in the mountains. So that the mood in the whole clan is right until the next hut or the day's destination, the Kraxe and its contents should be as comfortable and comfortable as possible for the wearer. And here one point is very important. The carrying system must be designed in such a way that the main load is distributed over the hip belt over the hips and the iliac crest. Important: Familiarize yourself with the belt system before your first tour or have the principle explained to you by an experienced trekking holidaymaker or a specialist salesperson. Your shoulders and especially your back will thank you. At least as important: a back section that can be adjusted in just a few simple steps (a corresponding model from Salewa is available here). This allows the Kraxe to be easily adjusted to the back length of mum, dad, grandma or grandpa. Speaking of light: Most child carriers have an integrated aluminum frame that provides the necessary stability. This also makes the somewhat tricky and energy-intensive shouldering of the backpack easier.
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Now the shouldered child wants to be entertained and adequately fed even in the mountains. In addition, there is the often changeable weather, which you should also be prepared for. In short: an all-round carefree Kraxe should also offer sufficient storage space for provisions and other useful extras. It starts with a rain cover, which is already included with many backpacks. In some cases, however, rain protection and a sun canopy have to be bought later. Sun protection cream and a small first-aid kit are also part of the basic equipment when trekking and therefore also in the backpack. In addition, there is thin rainwear, a snack box and a sun hat for the rest in the sunny alpine hut. But when packing, remember that every extra gram needs to be carried up the mountain. And by you.
It goes without saying that babies are safer in a pram or sling than in a Kraxe. There is no specific minimum age for the first trekking tour. The rule of thumb is: as soon as the child can reliably hold its head and sit independently and freely, nothing stands in the way of a Kraxen tour. Depending on the development, this can already be the case at the age of seven months. It should also be understandable that a schoolchild can take his own legs in his own hands instead of being chauffeured through the mountains on dad's back. Most manufacturers specify a body weight of 20 to a maximum of 25 kilograms as the upper limit (here's an entry-level model from Montis). After that, the material, but above all the carriers, reach the limit of what can be subjected to resilience. As a rule, children up to the age of 3.5 years can be transported in Kraxen without hesitation.
One last tip that makes mountain tours with children and backpacks even more carefree. A pair of light hiking poles (like this model from Leki) helps the person carrying them, especially on unpaved and steep paths. Even those who would otherwise prefer not to use sticks should at least try it out once with their offspring. Anyway, it can't do any harm.
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