This Summer we were excited to be given the opportunity to trial the Freeloader Child Carrier and give our opinion on it.
The Freeloader Child Carrier is specifically designed to support carrying children aged 2 1/2 and upwards on your back. The maximum carrying weight is 80 pounds/36kg. However, our six year old is only 20kg so I would estimate it could last you for quite a while!
When ordering the carrier we needed to take some measurements of my back so that we could choose the right size for me. The Freeloader comes in three different sizes and all the straps are adjustable so it can be worn by most adults.
The Freeloader Child Carrier comes in a choice of three colours: blue, yellow and black. To be honest the blue and yellow versions only have a small amount of colour on them and are still predominantly black, but they all look great. The Freeloader waist band has handy pockets for keys, wallet and phone, and the whole outer material can be removed for washing away the inevitable dirt caused by sticky foods and ice cream (as we found out walking around Wales!)
When I first opened the package I was surprised by how compact the Freeloader Child Carrier was. On trying it on it is super light to wear (when your child isn’t on it) and the child’s seat folds up when it’s not being used so it doesn’t stick out annoyingly and cause you to bump things accidentally.
The Freeloader feels very sturdy: the material cover, straps and fixings are of an excellent quality. The harness that secures your child into the carrier fastens across the middle of their back so little fingers can’t open the straps. The seat itself is padded and seems to be very comfortable. The positioning of the seat means that you child if around the minimum age of 2 1/2 they will probably not sit higher than your head, which is good when going through doorways. I am sure this changes with older/taller children though.
For the wearer, the padded shoulder straps and waist straps allow you to spread the weight evenly across your back and waist and enabled me to carry my child for much longer than I first thought.
The carrier is the size of a standard day pack and fits snugly on your back. There is a rigid section at the base that sits into the small of your back and helps to support your spine.
After arranging the straps to fit me – which was very easy using the instructions provided – we then tried our daughter on it who is just over 2 1/2 years old. She instantly liked it and once the straps had been adjusted again to secure her properly, we were off for our first trial walk. As per the instructions it is advisable to take it steady the first time as the straps for both you and your little one may need adjusting a few times to get them absolutely right. I would advise you to have a practice before you venture out for a long walk or day out.
Given that the Freeloader Child Carrier weighs very little, the length of time you can carry your child on it is only really limited by how long you can physically hold the weight of your child. Our little girl isn’t particularly heavy for her age but not surprisingly after a while it is quite tough going carrying her on your back. However, after trying it out a number of time and tweaking the adjustments on the backpack, it is much easier to carry her for longer.
We love how easy it is to lift her on and off the seat whilst out and about. She can even jump on and off herself if another adult supervises her and does the clips (this is even easier if you can stoop down near a bench). It means you can take regular breaks from carrying and your little one and they can have a run around, explore or walk for a while.
We found that the Freeloader was perfect for using on holidays and on days out. But it’s ease of use means we have ended up using it for everyday things too. For example when popping into the supermarket it’s useful to have both hands free for carrying shopping or keeping hold of our other two kids! We have found it great for walking up to school to pick the boys up as it’s much easier than pushing her in a pram uphill. Other parents commented on how comfortable our child looked on it and enquired as to where they could purchase one. We have enjoyed testing it out by visiting a number of National Trust properties. It’s so handy to be able to explore the houses without having to take the pram (just watch out for little hands reaching for things like ornaments and pictures though!).
We used it loads on our Eurocamp holiday in Normandy when we walked miles along the beaches of the D-Day landings and round the war cemeteries. We also took it on a short break to Whitby where it was great for carrying our daughter safely up and down the cliff paths and round the town centre. Most recently we took it with us when we spent a week in a farm cottage in Wales. It was quite honestly a relief to have it to use when we were exploring Caernarfon Castle because you really need to keep a close eye on little ones with all the steep stair cases and arrow slits they can fit through.
The Freeloader Child Carrier really has been a fantastic asset for our trips. Our daughter loved being allowed to hop on and off around the campsites, beaches, towns, castles and farm. It was also handy to be able to swap her with the middle child for a bit when he got tired of walking.
We can also foresee many other benefits of travelling with a Freeloader over another type of child carrier. When we took a city break to Rome last October we didn’t have the Freeloader and used another brand large rucksack-type of carrier with our daughter for most of the week. Whilst still a fairly comfortable and lightweight option we found that we did have a number of issues with the awkward size of it. Larger carriers obviously take up a large amount of room in your car, or the taxi to the airport.
Larger carriers can be a nightmare on busy public transport, even if you take them off your back and hold your child instead, the carrier is still in the way. Larger child carriers have to be checked in if travelling by air. Even though we did hand luggage only to Rome, we had to wait around for the baby carrier to come off the plane separately. Our Freeloader would have easily fitted into a suitcase without taking up too much room or adding too much extra weight. The Freeloader would have helped us to avoid all of these issues, I wish we’d had it then!
I suppose the most important question, as well as safety, is is it comfortable for your child? On one of our very first uses of the Freeloader Child Carrier our daughter fell asleep with her head resting against my back, for me that was an indicator that she is truly comfortable and happy in it and it allows me to relax. She seems to love it – whenever I ask my daughter if she wants to go in the pram or carrier she always chooses the carrier. Our middle child, who is 4 1/2 also loves the carrier too and jumps at any opportunity he is given to go on it.
Over all, we have found the freeloader to be an excellent carrier with its light weight and compact design. The only real downside that I can see with using it (and this is not the fault of the carrier) is that like all other carriers/harnesses it does require the wearer to be physically able to carry their child’s weight. However, I was surprised how long I was able to wear the Freeloader for before needing a break. I was also surprised by how much my son and daughter like it and we would definitely recommend this to others looking for a carrier for older children. It stays in the boot of our car permanently now so it’s always with us wherever we go and is definitely one of our holiday essentials.
NB: Ian & Emma received the Freeloader Child Carrier in order to review but all views and opinions are their own.
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