Disclaimer: Thule sent me a Sapling Elite Child Carrier at no charge to me in exchange for posting an honest review on the product. All opinions are my own.
About a year ago, I had the privilege of reviewing the Thule Urban Glide single jogging stroller. I think my review pretty much summed up how much I love this stroller. One year and one new baby later, I still love it. it’s gotten a ton of use but you really wouldn’t know it by how durable it is. Most of it still looks brand new. So when Thule asked if I’d be interested in reviewing their new Sapling Elite Child Carrier, I seriously could not say yes fast enough.
I love hiking and being outdoors. Granted we don’t exactly have a ton of hilly terrain to conquer out here but there’s still lots of opportunity to get out and enjoy nature. Since having kids, we really haven’t been able to do much exploring because there’s always been at least one child who needs to be carried at some point and taking a stroller, even the sturdiest of strollers, is not ideal in my opinion. I really think Thule has outdone themselves with this carrier. It is quite possibly what will open up our summer adventures for us and give us a chance to experience being outside as a family, exploring the world around us.
So let’s dig into what this awesome carrier is all about (features as per their website):
Features of the Thule Sapling Elite:
- Fully adjustable back panel and hipbelt provide a perfect fit and comfortable carry and make the transition between parents quick and easy
- Mesh pockets, hydration reservoir sleeve, a removable backpack and a large zippered compartment store water, diapers, clothes, rain gear, and other essentials
- Viewing mirror to monitor your child
- Hydration sleeve that stores up to a 3L reservoir
- Deployable sunshade
- Dual access loading allows you to load your child from the top or side of the carrier
- Plush, height adjustable, ergonomic seat efficiently distributes the child’s weight by providing inner thigh support
- Breathable back panel provides padding and support at critical contact points, allowing air to circulate around your back, keeping you cool
- Load stabilizer straps allow on-the-go adjustments to the backpack’s center of gravity by pulling the child closer to the parent for a more comfortable carry
- Cordura® fabric that is resistant to tears, scuffs and abrasions.
- Hipbelt pockets with plenty of room for snacks, keys, phones etc
- Ease of use. For how seemingly bulky the pack is, it’s surprisingly lightweight and easy to load the Little Lady in and out of. Once you do the initial adjustments to fit your child, it literally takes the same amount of time to load them in the Sapling as it does to strap them into a stroller. It’s ridiculously easy.
- Lightweight. As I just mentioned, this pack is very light. Granted, I haven’t taken it out with more than my child and a few basic extra’s so I do realize that once you have things like water, snacks, jackets and other necessities in it, it will weigh it down. However, it’s nice to know that I won’t be breaking my back carrying my child in a pack that weighs 50lbs out of the box. The Total weight of the empty pack is 3.6kg. Not a typo. It’s light.
- Durability. The fabric is really high quality. I’m not at all concerned about zippers breaking or fabric tearing if it gets snagged on a branch or nail or something else in our travels. I fully expect this pack to last until all our kids have outgrown it and still look good.
- Comfort. I was so surprised by how comfortable it was to carry the Little Lady around in it. It’s got the perfect amount of padding to ensure it’s not digging in anywhere or rubbing or chafing. Nothing worse than embarking on a day hike and coming home rubbed raw from your pack. I experienced zero discomfort in my back, neck or shoulders. Something to keep in mind is that you really need to make sure you have all the straps adjusted to fit you properly. Even the most comfortable carrier can cause problems if it’s not properly adjusted so make sure you take those 5 minutes to do that before you set out for the day.
- The backpack. What a perfect feature! It gives me the option of
dumping extra cargoletting my older kids carry a backpack and when they get tired of it (and we all know they will…), I can simply re-attach it to the back of the carrier.
- Storage galore!! I don’t know that there’s anything that wouldn’t fit in this carrier. There is so much storage and it’s all easily accessible without having to constantly take it off. The two large pockets in the hip straps alone hold a fountain of items. This means that I have easy access to anything that might be needed (snacks, keys, phone, first aid) and it keeps my hands free from carrying extra stuff that won’t fit or that I don’t want to have to take the pack off a hundred times to access (not that my kids every need anything that often….).
- Really, the only con I found with this product is the kick stand is very stiff. I found it hard to extend it all the way out to steady the pack when putting it down/loading my girl in it. It really just takes some getting used to and perhaps it will loosen up a bit over time. You just need to put a bit of force into it and it’s fine. It took a bit to get used to it because I was afraid I was going to break it. Not that I’ve ever used excessive force and broken anything before…
- The baby can easily reach my hair and pull the living crap out of it, all while laughing her little evil laugh at me. That one may not be entirely the fault of the carrier though…
Honestly, that’s it for cons. I really tried to come up with something because I want these reviews to always be weighted evenly but there really isn’t anything I didn’t like about the carrier. It’s solid.
The Thule Sapling Elite Carrier retails for $359.99 CAD and the Sapling Carrier for $319.99 CAD