Choosing a Child Carrier: Deuter and LittleLife compared

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A baby carrier is an essential piece of equipment for hiking with small children. Getting the right fit and features for your family will make a huge difference to how far you can go, and to morale for both parent and child.

A soft front carrier can be excellent for younger babies on gentle terrain, but for bigger children and for steeper or rougher slopes, I would highly recommend a good framed back carrier. My personal experience of using a front carrier on a mountain is that it can impact your balance in a way that is dangerous on the descent, and I would now always choose a back carrier for bigger hills.

Here is a comparative review of the two back carriers that we own, a LittleLife Freedom S4 and a Deuter Kid Comfort Active SL. I’ve also written a separate post with a very detailed review of the LittleLife Freedom S4 if that would be helpful to you.

First, a summary of the key features. Scroll down for the more detailed review.

LittleLife Freedom S4Deuter Kid Comfort Active SL
Max Load20kg22kg child plus 2kg baggage
Storage Capacity21 litres12 litres
Height Range for the Adult5’2 to 6’4Overall height range not given. Suitable for torso lengths 14″-18″.
Sunshade?IntegratedCan be purchased separately
Rain Cover?Can be purchased separatelyCan be purchased separately (requires you to also purchase sunshade)
Other features-Stirrups
-Large adjustable headrest
-Side pockets
Cost (RRP)£199.99 RRP
View on Amazon
£220.00 RRP
View on Amazon

What is the fit like? Are the carriers comfortable?

The key difference between these carriers is that the Deuter Kid Comfort Active SL is specifically designed for women, with a shorter torso length, shaped hip belt and shoulder straps closer together. I am 5’5″ and I use one of the middle settings for torso length, so this is definitely a good carrier to consider if you are petite. It certainly feels smaller than the other pack, and it interferes a bit less with the back of my head which is nice.

Littlelife Freedom S4 and Deuter Kid Comfort Active SL baby carriers

The LittleLife carrier suits a bigger range of torso lengths, which is helpful if you are sharing the carrier with someone shorter or taller. I am about a foot shorter than my husband (5’5″ and 6’6″ respectively), and this carrier fits us both well.

Both carriers have quick-adjust systems for back length. I find the LittleLife adjustment system slightly easier to use.

Getting a good fit on the hip belt is important for optimal weight distribution. The Deuter hip belt is thicker and more padded. This does not necessarily mean it will be more comfortable for everyone, it is a personal preference. I find both hip belts comfortable….at least for the first couple of hours!

Child carrier hip belts: LittleLife (left) and Deuter (right)

Are the child carriers stable?

The carriers use quite different systems for stability when on the ground. The LittleLife carrier has a flat base with a foot anchor point which you can use to help keep it stable when putting a child in. It does stay upright without your foot in it but it is a little wobbly. The Deuter has a flick out metal bar, which makes it extremely stable on the ground. It can be a bit tricky to pull it back in yourself once you are walking, but it is doable.

Obviously one should not be leaving a child unattended in the carrier, but I really appreciate the stability of the Deuter when a child is napping during a rest stop and you want to sit them next to you for a few minutes.

The Child’s Perspective!

It is important that a carrier is comfortable for the child, as well as for the parent! My children ask to go up into both these carriers, even just for fun at home, so I take that as a good sign that they are comfortable to ride in.


Both carriers use a five point harness, thought the buckles are in slightly different places. It can be fiddly fitting the buckles at the bottom, so I appreciate the bright colours on the Deuter. I find the LittleLife slightly quicker to fit, because it has two buckles in a more accessible location to the sides.

Seat Height and Other Features

The seat height is easily adjustable in both carriers to cater for older and younger children. We sometimes swap the child in the carrier whilst we are out on a walk, and have no problems making a quick change to the seat position.

Both carriers come with stirrups which are useful for keeping children’s hips in an ergonomic position. The LittleLife also has a mirror attachment to help you to see the child.

Back Carrier Storage

The LittleLife is the clear winner for storage capacity. It has two hipbelt pockets (Deuter has one), two side pockets for water bottles (Deuter: none), a small upper pocket (Deuter: larger stretchy mesh pocket) and a good sized zipped storage compartment. The foot anchor does slightly impinge on this storage compartment, especially for hard items.

The Deuter storage compartment is smaller and held closed by a clip rather than zips. This makes it very easy to access, but I wouldn’t store small or precious things in it. It’s great for holding waterproofs, water bottles and snacks.

Child Carrier Storage compartments

With both carriers, if you are the only adult on a walk you will need to think carefully about what items to prioritise as you may not be able to take everything you would like to.

Final Thoughts

These are both great carriers and I enjoy using both of them. If possible, I would highly recommend trying carriers on in a shop, as a good fit is hugely important when you are carrying large amounts of weight.

The LittleLife Freedom S4 is very flexible for a big range of heights. It also has good storage capacity.

I think the Deuter Kid Comfort Active SL is a brilliant choice for women wanting a comfortable fit, particularly if you are more petite. I personally find this carrier slightly more comfortable over long distances, particularly the weight distribution on my hips. However, it has limited storage, and it may not be practical if you want to share the load with a partner who is significantly taller.

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