Kelty backpack stroller combo: The best piece of children’s travel gear

I knew I wanted it before I was even pregnant. I saw it in an outdoor sporting goods catalog and thought it the best invention ever. Years later when I had my daughter and we started traveling with her, I was determined to buy it but couldn’t find it; it was discontinued. I was devastated and kicked myself for not buying it years before when I first came across it.

What are you talking about, Francesca? That would be the Kelty convertible backpack/stroller; it is a child-carrying backpack that doubles as a stroller. Sounds cool, doesn’t it? When we began shopping for a child-carrier backpack for our upcoming Italy trip, I said to my husband, “It’s too bad Kelty doesn’t make that backpack stroller combo thingy anymore.” Naturally, he had no idea what I was talking about, and when I further explained, he was intrigued. Then, he embarked on a mission – he was intent on finding a Kelty convertible backpack/stroller somewhere in the world that we could buy. Luckily, a family here in Chicago had just listed theirs to sell on Craigslist. We saw the listing quickly enough and we bought it without even thinking twice. We have used it a few times since and I can’t help but ask, why did Kelty ever stop making it? I can’t even count how many people stopped us at the Chicago Travel and Adventure show a couple of weeks ago, as Lucia was being carted around the exhibition hall, to ask about it. Other show-goers and even some of the travel professionals there were amazed at its design and convenience, and even more so that they’d never seen or heard of it before.

The Kelty convertible backpack/stroller truly is the ideal piece of gear for the traveling or active family. It easily converts from backpack to stroller and back again. Lucia seems to be comfortable in it; she hasn’t complained in the few times we’ve used it. The only drawback is that, for a backpack, there is not much storage space. There is a pocket below the child’s seat area that can hold a few items, but when worn as a backpack, those items go unprotected. Someone can easily walk up from behind and remove (steal) what is in that pocket, so it’s best not to put anything of value in there.

I can see the backpack/stroller really coming in handy while we’re in Italy. Mark can carry Lucia in the backpack as we traverse the uneven streets of the hill towns. We can push Lucia through the airports and still gate-check it as we would a traditional stroller. I also love that it is almost the same height as conventional high chairs, which, I’ve learned, are not always available in restaurants in Italy. We won’t have to worry about Lucia squirming or falling out of an adult chair while dining out.

So what is the point of my writing about a product that is no longer in production? Well, for one, to alert the world of its awesomeness; and, two, to beg Kelty to begin making it again. I’ll volunteer to be the official spokesperson.

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13 Responses to Kelty backpack stroller combo: The best piece of children’s travel gear

  1. Debbie March 22, 2012 at 11:34 am #

    I agree I had one for my now ten year old son when he was a baby. It was a dream to have for going to the zoo or on hikes, or even to the mall where you can stroll the baby whenever you want to. Why, does anyone know, did it get discontinued?

  2. Bilquis February 22, 2013 at 5:43 am #

    I also agree with you about being the best piece of travel gear – , ten years ago I bought something similar ( made by Instep) but my son was at the time nearly 2. So I didn’t use it but couldn’t bear to part with because it was just a brill piece of kit. So when I had my surprise baby recently out it came…it’s been brilliant for travelling especially on trains & airplanes… And the number of people who stop and stare wanting to know where they can buy one from i’ve lost count.

    • Francesca February 28, 2013 at 4:32 pm #

      I’m expecting and one thing I’m most excited about for the new baby is getting to use the Kelty backpack/stroller again! How crazy is that? 🙂

  3. Shree May 2, 2014 at 7:00 am #

    I have the instep one as well, and the zippered storage compartment is secure when it’s used as a backpack. I love the fact that my son (baby Houdini) cannot get out of it. He’s comfortable, it’s convenient, and everyone asks about it. It doesn’t seem like instep are making them any more either. I wonder why.

  4. Tamsen March 19, 2015 at 11:29 am #

    I love love mine!!!! I agree with you best item I had for my baby!!

  5. Andrew October 26, 2015 at 1:38 pm #

    Extreme brownie point on this purchase! Like many of you, I found this in research, scoured craigslist, and got it up and running – I did have to restring some elastic for the wheel cover, but it’s still solid and robust enough for our 14 mo old. We love it and are getting ready to take it overseas, with connections in Toronto as well as Istanbul. Also very curious why it was discontinued.

  6. Christine M (Mebane NC) February 3, 2016 at 10:38 pm #

    Best thing I used while we took our son traveling, to the mall, or for a walk. Wish I could find it again for a great baby gift for my sister in law. Would to see them again!!!

    • Cola July 27, 2016 at 7:28 pm # you know where can I buy it?

      • Francesca July 28, 2016 at 11:06 am #

        Unfortunately, Kelty stopped making it. I’d suggest checking your local Craigslist or ebay for a private seller. That’s how I found mine.

  7. John December 22, 2016 at 9:56 am #

    When my wife and I were stationed in South Korea we took our 13 month old with us. We had the Kelty carrier and a much larger standard stroller with us. In the 12 months we were over there I don’t think we used the standard stroller more than five times. The Kelty carrier allowed us to navigate the narrow streets and markets of Seoul as well as climb to the summit of a dormant volcano. I can’t imagine why Kelty discontinued this product, but count me in as a proponent of it.

  8. Lisa Edwards February 4, 2017 at 1:42 am #

    Well, it’s true. I bought a stroller for my 9 months old daughter. I was usually taking her for walking. Really, it is more helpful for baby hiking. Thanks for your wonderful article…..

  9. Baylee March 31, 2017 at 5:07 pm #

    Is this light weight or heavy?

    • Francesca March 31, 2017 at 7:57 pm #

      The pack itself weights approximately 9 pounds.

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