Product reviews/12/22/2023

Hiking with children - testing the THULE SAPLING child carrier

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The Thule Sapling is a child carrier backpack that is ideal for medium to long hikes. It is equipped with an ErgoRide seat for maximum comfort. The Swedish brand has transferred the concept of hiking backpacks to backpacks for carrying children. This makes it ideal for outdoor-loving parents.

Technical features of the Thule Sapling

  • Color: Agave/Black
  • Made from 70D Nylon bluesign® approved (all materials are PFC and PVC free)
  • ErgoRide leg support for more comfort
  • Carrying capacity: 22 kg
  • Maximum weight of the child: 18 kg
  • Weight: 3.2 kg
  • Dimensions: 35 x 31 x 73 cm
  • Fully removable and machine washable seat
  • To the manufacturer
The Thule Sapling can be set up.
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Test mode

I used the backpack with my daughter when she was between 7 and 9 months old and weighed around 7.5 to 9 kg. At this age the overall time for hiking is naturally limited. This is why the hikes did not take longer than half a day, were not too steep and without snowfall.

Giacomo has tested the child carrier extensively.
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Thule Sapling field test - Concept

"Comfort on every adventure": ergonomic support for the child, easy cleaning, capacity and accessibility of the pockets are the main features of this carrier.

What makes the Thule Sapling perfect for outdoor enthusiasts is the translation of the concept of a trekking backpack to a child carrier backpack. The result is an ideal companion for our children in the great outdoors without sacrificing personal comfort.


The Sapling is ideal for medium hikes with children.
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First impression

I was immediately excited when I unpacked the Thule Sapling backpack. Although I couldn't wait to try it, I had to wait a few months until my little girl was big enough to fit in it.

"Active life, simplified" is what it says on Thule’s website and I couldn't agree more about that. The Thule Sapling has everything a child carrier backpack needs to make hiking easier, more comfortable and more enjoyable for both, parent and child.

Enthusiasm from father and daughter.
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When choosing a carrier, parents naturally prioritize the comfort of the child. Of course, the child's well-being also includes the success of the outing (and the protection of the parents' psychophysical state!).

Thanks to the Ergoride seat, which is equipped with mesh elements, the child has a wide, ventilated, comfortable and ergonomic support on the back and in the seat, which guarantees the correct position of the pelvis below the knee line.

The child is not sitting awkwardly or being constricted, they can move freely but still preserving their safety. It also sits in an elevated position that offers excellent views.

All parts of the seat are adjustable to the child's size, the shoulder and hip straps are stable and easy to use. The various parts are removable and can be machine washed.

This is a very important feature. This offers the possibility to preserve the hygiene of the backpack without wasting much time.

There is additional storage space under the child.
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Design and construction of the Thule Sapling

It's probably not one of the most important aspects when it comes to hiking backpacks, but the big plus of the Thule Sapling is certainly the aesthetics: a simple, clean design with a limited but nice choice of colours.

The quality of the materials making up the backpack is another relevant point: the backpack is made of 70D nylon, which is very resistant and lightweight. It is Bluesign® certified, a sustainability standard that guarantees the highest level of consumer safety, especially with regard to the chemical composition of the fabrics.

The backpack can stand up by its own when carrying the baby. This is an essential feature when hiking alone.

The stretcher can also stand safely on the floor with the child.
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The shoulder straps and hip belt are solid and well padded, thick enough to make the carrier comfortable and stable. Adjustment is quick and easy, which is an advantage if you want to switch from one parent to the other during a hike. There is also a chest strap that makes carrying even more stable, especially on more difficult terrain.

The backrest is comfortable, additionally padded in the upper section and made of breathable mesh material.

The height of the shoulder straps can also be adjusted using a Velcro system, allowing them to be optimally adapted to the parent’s back.

The backrest is made of breathable material.
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At the back is the seat for the child and underneath a very spacious bag (22 l) with side and front zips. These side compartments are accessible during the hike. There are integrated pockets in the hip belt with practical zips for small items, so your mobile phone is always to hand.

Left: Front zipper. Right: Side access to the Thule SaplingZip pocket for access to the 22-liter compartment.
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Weight and capacity

The Thule Sapling is certainly not one of the lightest backpacks on the market. 3.2 kg plus the weight of the child is a considerable load to carry on our shoulders.

Another small drawback of this backpack is its size, which is anything but compact. However, with all the advantages already mentioned, above all the stability and comfort, as well as the load capacity of the backpack (22 kg), you can turn a blind eye.

Finally, the backpack is equipped with a detachable sunshade with 50 UPF, which is essential to protect the child from UV rays.
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Recommended for...

Even though the main user of this backpack is our child, we must not forget that we, the parents, still have the task of carrying them in it.

I think it's important to emphasize that the pros of this children backpack lies in the fact that it is nothing more and nothing less than a standard good hiking backpack.

This backpack fulfills its task very well, it is well-equipped, safe and comfortable. Considering the size and weight, as well as the significantly higher price than the competitors, I would only recommend it to those who actually do a lot of medium to long hikes with their children. For short hikes it is even too much.

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