March 26, 2006

It's A Stroller. It's A Backpack. It's A Stroller. It's A--

koolstop_stroller_pack.JPGSeems like the bike people have always been at the head of the line when it comes to baby transport. One of the earliest jogging strollers, B.O.B., was developed by cyclists, along with bike trailers for kids, for example.

Well, Kool Stop has been around since 1977, and it seems like another cyclist/inventor-driven outfit. Designs feature a lot of tubular aluminum and not a lot of elaborate custom-cast or custom-machined parts.

One of Kool Stop's most interesting products is the Stroller Pack. The company promises it "quickly converts between a stroller and a backpack," but in reality, it's a stroller you wear on your back. There's a permanent footrest/kickstand for the kid, an optional rain/weather cover, and a canopy, features which can be found on backpack carriers from the likes of Kelty. So the key advantage is the wheelability. And the stowability: the Stroller Pack fits into an airline overhead bin [after you take the kid out and break it down, of course.] Handy for travel that involves a kid but not a car seat.

But ultimately, if feels like whatever early mover advantages the Stroller Pack, the design hasn't evolved enough to keep up with recent competitive designs in its own category. The Phil & Ted's Smart Buggy is not a backpack, but it is a two-wheeled stroller that seems more purpose-built for urban transport. Meanwhile, the Weber GoGo Trekking seems generations ahead of both.

But maybe these other options are too obscure, except to a stroller-headed freak [*cough*], and the Stroller Pack is a plenty viable option. Any word of experience from the backpacking/cycling cohort is welcome.

The Kool Stop Stroller Pack is available in several colors: green, with some purple accents and black trim. [koolstop.com]
It's $189 at Traveling Tikes [travelingtikes.com]

6 Comments

This isn't exactly new or revolutionary - Kelty and InStep/BabyTrend have had stroller/backpacks for at least 4 years, both of which are a lot less clunky looking than the one here (and in the case of InStep, half the price). I can't even imagine walking around with wheels that big on my butt! :)

Is there some other feature or design element I'm missing that makes this one a standout?

I had a very nice conversation with a woman who was using one of those Kelty backpack/stroller things.

Her short answer to my questions was "don't."

She felt it did neither very well.

What Cameron said.

We bought a top-of-the-line MacPac (no wheels, designed and built by a backpacking company) last year, which has been comfortable & secure for child and adults and saw us through a week in Yellowstone. We tried on all the Kelty carriers (including the wheeled one, which was unbelievably uncomfortable as a backpack for the wearer and weirdly uncomfortable for the child as a stroller (suspended straight up & down, even leaning forward a little bit) and some German brand I can't recall before settling on the MacPac.

I think there's probably no way to design a combination stroller/backpack without great discomfort and/or inconvenience in both modes, for all concerned. We're doing just fine with the MacPac and an eminently packable/totable Maclaren Triumph.

I played with a Kool Stop backpack a couple weeks ago, and I have to say, the design is kind of weak. The stroller's handle is just tall enough to wack me in the sensitive spot on the back of my head, if the weeks are muddy, so are your pants and the straps are placed too close together to get a good, comfortable fit on anyone with a frame larger than 5'0" and 92 lbs.

Plus, you can't tell what your kid is up to because they are facing away from you.

I could see it being somewhat handy for kid-no-carseat travel but It wouldn't be very comfortable kid-no-carseat travel.

We just acquired a Deuter Kid Comfort I backpack. The son likes it, the dad likes it, so I like it. We chose it based on looking at a lot of online reviews, never seen it for real before it came to our door. From reading other people's experience, I am glad we chose a simple backpack so we can go with a combo backpack / extra light stroller in the future for traveling, instead of having the backpack-stroller all in one. But which extra light stroller to bring? Yes! more online time spent comparing all the brands and specs... wouhou!

How would these hard-framed backpacks compare to a soft one like the Ergo baby carrier? Has anyone ever tried both? Pros and cons? Thanks...

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