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Ulæste 12-11-06, 23:33   #1
Danca Super mamarazzi
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Denne review har jeg fået lov til at sætte ind her af alletiders slyngefar fra TBW. Tak Til Paulus for det store og imponerende arbejde

A Review of Soft Structured Carriers
By: Paulus Wanandi(
6 December 2005

Of all the baby carriers that I have tried in the past 2.5 years, the one type that both my wife and I have used the most is the soft structured carrier. We have been using this type of carriers to carry our 2.5-year-old practically daily since he was 5 months old, and find them to be an indispensable baby gear. They are quick and easy to use, secure and comfortable to wear long-term, and allow us to carry our son with our hands free.

Soft structured carriers, sometimes also called baby backpacks or soft packs, are modern versions of the traditional Mei Tai Asian baby carriers, which have a rectangular-shaped body and four straps coming off the corners. They are different than the traditional Mei Tai in that they use plastic buckles and straps instead of knots to secure and adjust the carrier, and they generally have additional padding in both the waist and shoulder straps for the wearer?s comfort. They can be used in both front and back carry positions, and are usually recommended for babies once they have good neck strength and upper body control (normally from 4-6 months) up through toddlerhood. Soft structured carriers differ from the more commonly available pack-style carriers like the Baby Björn and Snugli in that they allow the baby to be carried in a more natural, sitting position (similar to how the baby would be positioned when carried in arms) instead of hanging/dangling by the crotch. I also find them much more comfortable for long-term carrying due to a better weight distribution.

This review is based on my and my wife?s personal experience with three brands of carriers - the Ergo, the Sutemi Pack, and the Patapum baby carriers - as well as feedback from other parents who have used them. The Ergo has been around the longest (my best guess was since late 2002 ? an email to the company to confirm this was not answered) and has two main products: the classic Ergo (which has gone through several versions) and the New Generation (NG) Ergo, released earlier this year to replace the classic version. The Sutemi Pack was first sold to the public in May 2003 and has remained largely unchanged in its basic design. The Patapum was the latest of the three to enter the market and has two products: the Baby Patapum (introduced September 2004) and the Toddler Patapum (released June 2005) which is geared towards heavier babies and toddlers (18 months plus). I have used both the classic Ergo and the Sutemi Pack since late 2003, and have tried the NG Ergo, the current version of the Sutemi Pack, the Baby Patapum, and the Toddler Patapum this year. Instead of reviewing each carrier separately, I will compare them side by side based on a number of different factors such as ease of use, comfort, fit, portability, functionality, features, durability, and overall look. This way you can weigh them based on the factors which are more important to you.

Disclaimer: As with all baby carriers, my opinion of these carriers may not be the same as other people, as it is highly dependant on the body size and type, and personal taste and preference of both the wearer and the baby.

Ease of Use

One of the main attractions of soft structured carriers is that they are very easy and quick to put on and adjust, mainly due to the buckles and straps. This makes them ideal for out-and-about use, especially for long travel and hikes, when one usually does not have the luxury of time (or a mirror) to get things adjusted properly, and yet still needs something that is comfortable and can hold the baby securely. I find the classic Ergo and Baby Patapum (which mirrors the classic Ergo in terms of functionality) to be the quickest and easiest two-shouldered carriers to put on for front and back carry. With practice, you should be able to do a front carry in these carriers in less than 20 seconds. A proper back carry will require just a few seconds more.

The NG Ergo takes a little more time to adjust properly in the front carry due to its bulkier shoulder straps (in particular, the chest straps have to be in the right position before putting the carrier on as they are difficult to move once on) and the safety elastics on the buckles. The Sutemi takes more time to put on and adjust (especially in the front) due to the crossing shoulder straps (which also have two additional straps to adjust compared to the Ergo or Patapum). The Toddler Patapum is the trickiest of the five carriers to put on properly due to the additional attachment from the shoulder straps to the waist band (in the other carriers the shoulder straps attach only to the body panel). This additional attachment requires the legs of the baby to be positioned in the exact location within the carrier (see instructions below) to get the maximum comfort benefit out of the carrier, which is no easy task with a squirmy, long-legged toddler like my son. I also find the side-release straps of the Toddler Patapum a bit too short to clip on easily by myself in the front carry.

For the front carry, (1) first put on and tighten the waist straps with the panel dangling in front of you (like an apron), then (2) sit the baby above the waist band and lift the panel over his back with one hand while holding him against your chest with the other. (3) With one hand holding the baby?s back through the front of the panel, use the other hand to put one shoulder strap on (buckling the shoulder strap to the opposite side if using the Sutemi), then the other. (4) Tighten both shoulder straps so the baby is snug against you (important for long-term comfort). (5) Finally, buckle the chest/horizontal straps on your back if using the Ergo or Patapum or tighten the two crossing straps on your back (Sutemi). I prefer having the Ergo/Patapum chest straps positioned just below my neck for ease of access, so I can clip them on like doing a necklace. When putting on the Toddler Patapum, make sure that in step (1) the baby?s legs go above the waist strap attachments but below the side attachments (i.e. through the triangular gap formed by the body panel, side-release straps, and the shoulder-to-waist-strap attachment). Personally I find it easier to put on the Toddler Patapum with the side-release clips undone, and only buckle them when the baby is in already in the final, correct position.

For the back carry, there are several methods but the one I find easiest to do by myself is the Hip Slide method. To do this, repeat steps (1) and (2) above, but loosely tighten the waist straps (so it can be moved around the waist) and start with the panel of the carrier on your side instead of in front of you (except for the Toddler Patapum, which I find easier to start in front due to the legs manoeuvring exercise mentioned above). Then with one arm (the same arm as the side where the panel is, e.g. right arm if the panel is on your right-hand side) securely holding the baby?s back through the front of panel, slide both the baby and the panel around to your back while slightly bending forward, using your other (left) hand to help slide the waist band along. Little bounces also help this sliding process, while keeping the baby lightly pressed against your body and leaning forward will make sure the baby can?t lean back during the process. Once the baby and carrier panel are centred on your back, put the shoulder straps on one at a time. A final bounce or two will help settle the baby in the proper position before tightening the straps (and clip the chest straps on the Ergo or Patapum). Don?t be discouraged if you don?t get this right the first time ? any back carry requires some practice to get it right. Practice over a bed or sofa first, perhaps with a mirror.

Quickest/easiest to use: classic Ergo & Baby Patapum (tied)


One advantage of soft structured carriers over the more commercially available, two-shouldered carriers found in baby stores is that they are much more comfortable for long-term carrying as they do a good job of distributing the baby?s weight to both the wearer?s shoulders and waist/hip. In addition, they also allow the baby to be carried in a more ergonomically sound, sitting position, in contrast with soft carriers where the baby is practically hanging by the crotch, which puts additional stress on the wearer?s shoulders. Unlike the commercial pack carriers which typically have little use beyond the first year, soft structured carriers can still be used quite comfortably to carry older toddlers.

All the carriers in this review have padding in the shoulder straps and waist band for additional comfort to the wearer. I find the Sutemi shoulder straps most comfortable because they are wide (i.e. allow the weight on the shoulder to be spread across a wider area), have just enough padding (not too bulky), and are worn crossed instead of backpack style, which avoids any potential chafing issue under the arms. The classic Ergo and Patapum have virtually identical shoulder straps with thicker padding than the Sutemi straps but only about half as wide. The NG Ergo straps have thicker and longer padding than the classic Ergo or Patapum (but same width), which should be beneficial to tall people who need to have more padding on the lower part of the straps. However, this extra padding also makes the carrier more bulky (less portable). The NG Ergo straps are also curved to better conform to the shoulders (the others have straight shape), but I did not notice any significant improvement in terms of long-term comfort. Overall I find the Ergo (both classic & NG) and Patapum shoulder straps to be quite similar in comfort.

The waist bands of the Ergo and Patapum are stiffer/more structured and more padded than the Sutemi. This makes them more supportive for long-term carrying (especially in the back carry) because they maintain the baby?s position better (less sagging = less pull on the shoulders). On the flip side, the softer Sutemi waist band makes it more comfortable if you need to use the carrier while sitting down. One of the best improvements Ergo has made in its NG version over the classic is the waist band. It is softer, a bit wider, and sectionalised which makes it less rigid and more comfortable than the classic Ergo and Patapum (which have very similar waist bands).

For long-term carrying, especially for heavier babies and during strenuous hikes, both my wife and I find the Toddler Patapum to be the most comfortable. I attribute this to two factors: (a) the extra waist strap attachments, which allow better distribution of the baby?s weight from the shoulders to the waist/hip area, and (b) the combination of the higher back panel and the side-release straps, which allow the baby to be carried more snugly against you and prevent any lean-back issue.

Most comfortable front carry: Sutemi Pack
Most comfortable back carry: Toddler Patapum for older/heavier babies, NG Ergo for smaller babies


The Patapum and Ergo are one-size-fit-most carriers, while the Sutemi Pack comes in 3 different sizes depending on hip size and height. I?m 6?0? and my wife is 5?5?, and we can share the Ergo and Patapum, but not the Sutemi (she wears a small size; the long straps size fits me better). Most people between 5?4? and 6?2? tall should be able to share the Patapum and Ergo. Outside of this height range, it depends on the person?s build which carrier would fit best.

Some people, particularly those with a short torso or small frame, have reported having fitment issues with both the classic and NG Ergo carriers. They could not get the shoulder straps tight enough even at the smallest setting. This means the baby cannot be carried snugly against them, in effect making long-term carrying uncomfortable. Some of them had a better fit with the Patapum, but it really depends on the person?s build.

Short-waisted people may also have a fit issue with the classic Ergo or Patapum as their waist belts only adjust to around 27?. The NG Ergo waist belt can fit down to a 25? waist so it fits smaller sizes better. Both the Ergo and Patapum can fit up to 45? waist, but an 8? waist extender is available (included with every new Patapum; additional purchase for the Ergo). I would recommend trying out these carriers first if you think you might fall under one of these categories: less than 5?2?, short waist, short torso, or small frame. Fortunately most vendors of these products have quite generous return policy.

With the exception of the Toddler Patapum, the recommended age range and weight limit for these carriers are quite similar. The Sutemi Pack is recommended from 4 months to 40 lbs (18 kg), the Ergo from 3-5 months (front carry) or 5-6 months (back carry) to 60 lbs. (27 kg), and the Baby Patapum from 5 months to 40 lbs. (18-20 kg). In my experience, the strength of the baby?s neck and upper body is a better indication than age as to whether or not a baby is ready for these carriers. If the baby can hold his/her neck up and remain in a sitting position without external support (usually around 4-5 months), he/she is ready for the front carry. With my son, I only found the back carry to be comfortable long-term (i.e. I don?t have to keep leaning forward to make sure he cannot lean back) only when he had enough upper body strength to sit up by himself (normally around 6-9 months; 7.5 months in my son?s case).

The Sutemi and the NG Ergo are better for smaller babies than the classic Ergo or the Patapum due to their deeper seat pockets, which allow the baby to sit more securely inside the carrier and allow for easier nursing (according to my wife, of course). The seating in the NG Ergo is also shaped with darts to allow smaller babies to sit more comfortably without having to spread their legs far apart. The body panel of the NG Ergo is wider than the classic Ergo and Patapum (see Table 1) but about the same height. The wider panel makes the NG Ergo a bit more secure for smaller babies, but also makes the carrier a bit hotter for the baby.

The Toddler Patapum is recommended from 18 months to 62 lbs. (28 kg). Its body panel is significantly taller than the Ergo or Patapum (see Table 1), which makes it great for carrying tall toddlers. By the time my son was 20 months old, the classic Ergo body panel only came up to the middle of his back, which allowed him to lean back easily if he wanted to. This lean-back issue was not as pronounced in the Baby Patapum or the NG Ergo, but the Toddler Patapum completely eliminated it. One potential fit issue with the Toddler Patapum is its relatively narrow body panel width (same as the baby version). For some big toddlers like mine the panel does not cover the entire width of their bottom for a proper sitting position, so their legs dangle down a bit. Personally I don?t see a problem about using the Toddler Patapum for younger babies (>12 months old) as long as they are tall enough to have their arms out of the top of the body panel.

Best fit overall: NG Ergo

Table 1. Comparison of Carrier Specifications
Classic Ergo New Generation Ergo Baby Patapum Toddler Patapum Sutemi Pack (Long Strap, current version) Sutemi Pack (Small, older version)
Body Panel Height 12" (31cm)* 13" (34cm)** 13" (34cm) 16" (41cm) 12" (30cm) 11.5?/29cm
Body Panel Width 13" (33cm) 14.5" (37cm) 13" (33cm) 13" (33cm) 13.75" (35cm) 13" (33cm)
Shoulder strap padding length 12" (31cm) 16.5" (42cm) 13" (33cm) 13" (33cm) 23.5" (60cm) 19? (48cm)
Sitting area depth Depends on baby size 3.5" (9cm) Depends on baby size Depends on baby size 3.5" (9cm) 3.5? (9cm)
Age/weight recommendation 3-5 months (front carry) or 5-6 months (back carry) to 60 lbs (27kg) 3-5 months (front carry) or 5-6 months (back carry) to 60 lbs (27kg) 5 months to 40 lbs. (18-20 kg) 18 months to 62 lbs. (28 kg) 4 months to 40 lbs (18kg) 4 months to 40 lbs (18kg)
* Some people have reported panel height of up to 33-34 cm (13?) on the classic Ergo. The discrepancy could be due to shrinkage during washing or manufacturing difference.
** Since the outer fabric of the NG Ergo is not flush with the inner lining, one could get about 2cm/1? more height out of the NG Ergo body panel by stretching it out.


The classic Ergo is the most portable of all the reviewed carriers due to its compact size and the included carrying bag. The Patapum is similarly compact but do not come with a carrying bag. The NG Ergo is bulkier to carry than the classic Ergo or Patapum due to the extra padding on the shoulder straps. It comes in a zippered plastic bag. The Sutemi?s longer, loose straps also make it the most bulky and least portable.

Another advantage of the Ergo and Patapum over the Sutemi in terms of portability is the fact that you can still wear the carrier without the baby in it. You can buckle the waist straps and let the body panel and shoulder straps dangle in front of you without worrying about having straps dragging on the floor or having to carry it in a separate bag. While it may not look too flattering, we have found this to be a godsend when we?re out and about, especially with an up-and-down toddler.

Most portable: the classic Ergo

Functionality and Versatility

The classic Ergo and both Patapum carriers are strictly front and back carriers. The Sutemi and NG Ergo can be also be used in the hip carry. In practice, however, the hip carry in either the Sutemi or NG Ergo is far less comfortable than in a true hip carrier like a pouch or ring sling. This is because a good hip carrier requires a wide shoulder area, which allows the weight to be spread well on one shoulder. The shoulder straps on the Sutemi & NG Ergo are too narrow for this purpose (although the Sutemi?s wider straps are marginally better in this respect), and they have a tendency to ride up to the neck over time due to the structured nature of the carriers.

The NG Ergo is unique among the reviewed carriers in that you can wear the shoulder straps both back pack style and crossed like the Sutemi (see Figures 12 and 13) due to the side-release buckles at the end of the shoulder straps. I find this feature very handy as I do prefer crossing the straps for comfort, especially in the back carry. However, I found crossing the straps on your back (while doing front carries) quite tricky to do on your own since the shoulder strap buckles are small. Also, make sure the chest straps are tightly secured on the shoulder straps before unbuckling the shoulder straps as they can fall off easily otherwise.

Most versatile: NG Ergo

Construction and Durability

All five carriers in this review are very well made from 100% cotton. The Sutemi Pack uses a very soft, brushed bull denim fabric, the Ergo uses cotton canvas on the outside and either cotton twill lining (classic Ergo) or cotton poplin lining padded with cotton batting (NG Ergo), and the Patapum uses canvas on the outside and a soft, brushed twill inside. Personally I prefer the material of the classic Ergo and the Patapum as I find them lightweight and very durable. Even after 2 years of very heavy usage, my classic Ergo - while faded in color ? still looks great inside and outside, without a stitch out of place. The poplin lining material of the NG Ergo does not look as durable as the twill lining of the classic Ergo or the Patapum and also quite a bit warmer due to the padding. I have heard at least one person report the inner seat edges of her NG Ergo looking worn out after just a few months of use. The Sutemi?s material is very soft but also thicker than the classic Ergo or Patapum, making it warmer to wear.

All five carriers use strong, heavy-duty buckles and straps and I have not experienced nor heard of any safety issues with them. The NG Ergo has an elastic safety strap sewn at the end of the waist and shoulder straps to secure the buckles. I personally find them a little bit annoying because they get in my way when I try to buckle the straps quickly. One person also reported wearing out these safety elastics after a few months of heavy use.

Most durable: Baby and Toddler Patapum

Features and Accessories

Each soft structured carrier reviewed comes with a sleeping hood. Both the classic and NG Ergo carriers have a sleeping hood that is permanently attached to the body panel, while the Patapum carriers and Sutemi Pack come with a removable hood. The classic Ergo hood is a flat rectangle made from the same material as the carrier (cotton canvas/twill) and uses Velcro to attach to the chest straps. While it works relatively well, the downsides are the loud Velcro (can awaken a sleeping baby), the relatively stiff fabric, and the lack of finite adjustment. It doesn?t do a good job of holding the baby?s head steady if you are moving around. The NG Ergo hood is made from two layers of cotton poplin (softer than canvas/twill), is shaped like a real hood, and has a row of snap closures on the straps for better adjustment. The shaped hood works well for smaller babies, but unfortunately is too small my toddler son?s head and was not usable. The Sutemi has a removable head cradle made of plain cotton fabric that functions more as an extension of the body panel rather than a real hood. It has to be put on from the ends of the shoulder straps, so it should be added before putting on the carrier. It can be scrunched down to the top of the panel when not in use, but does not match the look of the carrier.

The best hood by far is the Patapum detachable hood. It is made of soft cotton mesh (so very lightweight and breathable/cool) and is very easy to put on without help (attaches to the top of the body panel using 3 snaps and clips easily to the chest straps). Best of all, you can adjust it very precisely along the length of the hood straps using the toggle/drawstring-type feature (unlike the NG Ergo hood where the range of adjustment is limited by the placement of the snaps). I found the Patapum hood very effective at holding my toddler son?s sleeping head in place and preventing it from slipping out the side (see Figure 14). The Patapum hood can also be used as an extension to the body panel for taller babies.

The Sutemi Pack, classic Ergo, and NG Ergo all have a pocket on the outside of the body panel. The Sutemi pocket has an elastic opening on top and is the roomiest of the three. There is also a cell phone pocket on one of the Sutemi shoulder strap. The classic Ergo pocket also has an elastic opening at the top and is used to primarily to store the hood, but can hold a few additional small items as well. The NG Ergo has two pockets ? a good-sized one with side zippered access and a small, open-top pocket to hold the sleeping hood. I like the side zippered pocket but find the hood pocket too small and do not hold the hood in very well.

The Ergo and Patapum come with a variety of matching accessories, from waist pouch to diaper bag. My favorite accessories are the Patapum waist pouch and the Ergo Back Pack. The Patapum waist pouch can be used with any of the soft structured carrier or by itself (using the shoulder strap or belt loop). It has several roomy zippered pockets (ideal to carry the Patapum detachable hood) and even a detachable key holder.

The Ergo Back Pack can also be used with any of the reviewed carrier (snaps around the shoulder straps of the carrier) or by itself. Figure 15 shows the Ergo Back Pack being used on the Toddler Patapum. It is big enough as a diaper bag replacement for a day trip and has a nice zippered front compartment that can be easily accessed from the side. I also find the bottle holder very useful.

Best Features: Patapum mesh hood
Best Accessories: Patapum waist pouch & NG Ergo backpack

Overall Look

All carriers in this review are mainstream-looking and should appeal to a wide range of both women and men. The NG Ergo has the most variety of colours and lining options (both printed and plain). The Patapum has the most streamlined look which should appeal to men. Some women do not find the wide, crossing Sutemi straps on their front very flattering when doing the back carry.


Table 2. Comparison of Carrier Features
Classic Ergo New Generation Ergo Baby Patapum Toddler Patapum Sutemi Pack
Ease of Use - Front Carry ***** ****1/2 ***** ***1/2 ***1/2
Ease of Use - Back Carry ***** ****1/2 ***** ***1/2 ***1/2
Ease of Use - Hip Carry N/A *** N/A N/A ***1/2
Ease of Use - Beginners ***** ****1/2 ***** *** ***1/2
Comfort - Front Carry ***1/2 **** ***1/2 ***1/2 *****
Comfort - Back Carry ****1/2 ***** ****1/2 ***** ***
Comfort - Hip Carry N/A **1/2 N/A N/A ***
Comfort - Cold climate ****1/2 ***** **** **** *****
Comfort - Warm climate **** ***1/2 ***** ***** ***
Fit - Average size wearer ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
Fit - Small size wearer *** **** ***1/2 ***1/2 ****
Fit - Tall size wearer **** ***** **** **** *****
Fit ? smaller babies **** ***** **** *** *****
Fit - taller/heavier babies *** **** ***1/2 ****1/2 ***1/2
Portability ***** **** ****1/2 ****1/2 ***
Functionality/Versatility *** ***** *** *** ****
Construction/Durability ****1/2 *** ***** ***** ****
Features *** **** **** **** ***
Accessories **** ***** **** **** N/A
Overall Look - Men **** **** ***** ***** ****1/2
Overall Look - Women **** ***** **** **** ***1/2
Affordability **** *** ***** ****1/2 ****

Table 2 shows a summary of how the carriers compare to each other in terms of features and functionalities. For beginners to baby carriers, I recommend the Baby Patapum, the classic Ergo, or the NG Ergo (depending on the budget and look preferred) due to their ease of use. The Patapum is great for warm weather carrying and is the best value for money overall. The Sutemi Pack is the best front carrier, and the Toddler Patapum is the most comfortable for carrying taller and heavier kids. The New Generation Ergo should fit the widest range of wearer and babies and is the most feature rich, but also the most expensive.

In the end, the choice of the right carrier for you and your baby is a highly personal one. You really cannot go wrong with any of the reviewed soft structured carriers once you get a good fit. They are all very well-made, durable carriers that will allow you to carry your baby and toddler comfortably and securely, while at the same time freeing your hands to go about your daily routine. More importantly, they will help you give your baby the closeness and sense of security he/she cherishes and deserves.
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