Toddler Travel With The Deuter Kanga Kid
We've spent 19 days in the last month traveling and away from home for both work and the holidays. We logged 8 flights over 5 of those days, spent time in San Francisco, Washington DC, and Massachusetts, and touched the ground in 9 states. In the interest of reducing weight and bulk in our luggage, we decided to leave our Kid Comfort III and jogging stroller at home for both major trips.
Instead, we brought our Deuter Kanga Kid and a small travel stroller we borrowed from friends. Previously, my wife and I had both used the Kanga Kid for errands around town, trips to the farmer's market, and short hikes, but this was our first extended travel use with the pack.
Traveling with a toddler can be a constant challenge of balancing naps, sleep, and playtime with our own plans. After testing the Kanga Kid in a variety of situations over a few weeks, we have the following comments to make.
Pros: The pack is well padded and has enough rigidity to provide adequate structure and carrying comfort. It has a slim profile and makes navigating crowds and stores a pleasure. Several pockets help to organize and allow access to the essentials. The pack makes a good travel diaper bag for carrying food, extra clothes and diapers. We also appreciated the ability to convert the pack to a child carrier when necessary. When not needed as a child carrier, the Kanga is a functional daypack.
Our niggles: The streamlined child compartment and lack of rigid pack structure can make it difficult to hold the pack upright and insert a struggling toddler at the same time, however, the ability to open one side does help. Because he sits lower in this pack than in the Kid Comfort packs, Cedar tends to lean to one side to see where we are going; the subsequent imbalance can make carrying less comfortable. A lack of head support disturbs Cedar’s sleep in this pack, which can be a big problem, since traveling already puts a dent in naptime and bedtime.
My last issue is not unique to this pack- there is no torso adjustability for this pack. I am 6' 2" (188cm) with a 20" (50cm) torso and large shoulders. To allow the hip belt to sit properly on my hips, I must extend the shoulder straps nearly to the end, which results in poor fit in the shoulders and a sternum strap that rides higher than I would like. Although I am tall, my torso size is not unusually large and it would be nice to have a pack that would properly fit a greater range of torso sizes or have the adjustability to do so.
Bottom Line: Just like with my personal climbing and hiking gear, choosing the right piece of gear for a trip and understanding its strengths and limitations is crucial. The gear that works with children is a moving target, as each child is unique and is constantly developing and changing. There will always be tradeoffs with any piece of gear and this one works well for what it is intended.
The Kanga Kid seems best suited for short hikes or trips around town with an alert child, or with a child who is transitioning to walking a lot on their own and needs the occasional break. It works well for urban and air travel as a diaper bag, and for containing little ones in busy airports, stores and city streets. Where its utility breaks down for us is on long day trips or outings for several hours that overlap naptime, when we need to incorporate naps on the go. For these days, we have been bringing a stroller to use as our mobile napping unit.
—Jesse Cunningham (Family Ambassador)
Need a multifunctional daypack for next trip?
- Learn all about the Kanga Kid at Deuter.com
- Pick one up from REI
- Grab one from Backcountry.com
- Buy one at Summit Hut