Family hiking with the Piggyback Rider
Being a dad is the coolest thing ever. You get to teach your kids about bugs and cooking and building things and art and hiking and so much more. While our youngest is still in the toddler stage and not about to voluntarily hike on his own, our oldest, Oliver, is quite the trailblazer… 80% of the time. For those other 20% of times, he’s such a dud. The Piggyback Rider came to our rescue though and how now hiking with a tired kid or Mr. Attitude is no longer a problem.
Piggyback Rider sent us one to try out, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. We just rocked some awesome trails on our #2TDgoparks2016 epic road trip and used our fun new apparatus a whole bunch.
What is a Piggyback Rider? Why couldn’t we just carry the little dude on our shoulders if he got tired? Patience, Iago, soon you’ll have the answers.
Why a Piggyback Rider?
If you’ve not gone a long walk or hike with a bigger kid, you may not be able to relate to the sudden need to carry them, or worse, the need to do a shoulder ride for a long distance. More than a few times we’ve been far down a trail and had Oliver give up on his feet as a method of transportation. We’ve also had times where he just wasn’t in the mood to participate in a family travel activity, such as hiking.
It’s for those moments that you need something to help transport that big kid. Seriously, besides on-the-trail injuries, there’s not much worse when hiking than a tempertantrum or limp-noodle kid. So, introducing the Piggyback Rider into our family travel equipment was incredible.
One of the things that made the Piggyback Rider more useful for us than a larger hiking pack is the ability for the passenger to get in and out of it. Hiking packs, like our Kelty Kids pack, are a very useful tool, but have you ever tried to lift a big kid in or out of it? Have you ever tried to buckle them in? Have you tried to get into a standing position with that much weight sitting far away from your core muscles? Omagoodness, it’s tough, but that’s where the Piggyback Rider is easy.
Funny story: when we were staying at the Wuksachi Lodge in Sequoia National Park we got snowed on hardcore. One night for dinner we needed to walk over to the Peaks Restaurant in the main lodge building to pick up our food… but we weren’t prepared for snow so didn’t have boots. We used the Piggyback Rider to transport Mr. Oliver to the lodge and keep him warm and dry. Perfect solution to the lack of snow attire.
How does the Piggyback Rider work?
There are two main parts to the Piggyback Rider: the adult pack and the kid harness. The adult wears the pack like a backpack and lets the metal support bar hang down. The kid puts on the smaller pack that has carabiners/clips on it. While the adult is seated or kneeling, the kid steps onto the metal bar, gets clipped in and gets comfortable. The adult stands up and walks off. Boom. Done.
Tip: We practiced using the Piggyback Rider at home before we went on our big trip so that we would feel confident jumping in and out of it on the trails. We found that it worked best for loading up the passenger if the adult is kneeling on one knee and lunges out of the load position. It’s easy any way you do it, but that worked best for us.
Tip 2: take time in advance to adjust the straps and levels of the Piggyback Rider. The metal support bar moves up and down, so getting it to the right height before heading out will help distribute the passenger’s weight evenly and allow you the best support when on the trail.
Besides the basic Piggyback Rider apparatus, ours also came with water packs so both the kiddo and the parent can stay hydrated. It’s a rather brilliant design and the whole thing is really easy to use, including when you’re on the trail and your passenger needs to jump off to potty or something.
Tip: put ice in the water pouch to ensure that your water supply stays nice and cold for as long as possible.
Warning: giving a kid their own water pouch is great to keep them safe and hydrated on the trail, but this also means that they’ll continually be drinking… which translates to continually peeing. Just something to think about or be aware of.
To check out the actual video from Piggyback Rider and see how they recommend using it, click here.
Is it actually worthwhile?
Are you kidding? OMG yes. We got our Piggyback Rider right before we left for a grand tour of National Parks, which meant tons of walking and hiking. We used it in Sequoia, Kings Canyon, Yosemite and Redwoods National Parks. True, we could’ve made Oliver walk for all of these times, but to keep happy attitudes, we brought the Piggyback Rider everywhere as an option and it made the experience much better.
There were times that we wore the harness packs but didn’t end up carrying the little dude, but it was great to know that it was available if needed.
Tip: it’s always better to be prepared with extra equipment or a back up plan than to be stuck two miles up the mountain carrying 45 pounds of real in your arms. I know my arms and back aren’t strong enough to sustain carrying a kid for such long distances as we go.
We loved being able to hike with both kids in packs when we took them to Glacier National Park last summer, but as they grow they don’t fit into the packs the same way as the last time they rode… or they just outgrow them. The Piggyback Rider is good for kids up to 60 lbs, so we’ll get more use out of it before Oliver gets to be too big… and then it’s Elliott’s turn. We completely approve of the Piggyback Rider and confirm that it’s useful, comfortable and easy to use.
If you’re interested in checking them out further or want to get one, click here. If you have questions about the Piggyback Rider or any of our hiking adventures, email us or leave a comment below.