Chicco Smart Support
A REVIEW OF THE CHICCO SMART SUPPORT BACKPACK
This is a review of the Chicco Smart Support Backpack. It is one of the lowest-priced backpack- style child carriers on the market, and retails for $99.99. On paper, this carrier has the vast majority of features we look for in a backpack-style child carrier. It is equipped with a rigid frame, stability stand, built-in sunshade, rain shield, chest strap, storage pocket and harness to secure your child. Was Chicco able to execute the pack in a way that created a pleasurable experience for child and parent alike? Let’s take a look.
PUTTING YOUR CHILD INTO THE CARRIER
For the most part, getting your child into the Chicco Smart Support Backpack is easy. It has a good stability stand that does a sound job of keeping the carrier stable while you put your child into the backpack. The Chicco has a square-framed “cockpit” into which you insert your child into--a style that differs in design from most other carriers. The aluminum frame surrounding your child is covered by padding that can be removed and cleaned. The child’s seat inside the carrier resembles a traditional chair with regard to shape. It can be adjusted to two different heights to suit the appropriate size of your child. Adjusting the height of the seat is more cumbersome than in some of the other carriers, but if you only have one child then you wont have to access it very often. Your child’s shoulder straps connect to a harness that comes up between your child's legs. There is no padding over the strapping that comes in contact with your child--a departure from many of the other baby backpacks. Both the waist straps and the shoulder straps are adjustable, but they are a bit more difficult to adjust because of the rough straps. There is a waist belt that secures your child from lateral movements. Once our children were strapped into the carrier, TotGear felt it did an excellent job at securing them.
GO TAKE A HIKE
Getting the backpack onto your back is more challenging than with some of the competition, because of the lack of a strap that would allow you to grip the backpack as you lift it off the ground. The wearer must grab the frame and guide it onto their back while steadying the pack with their free hand. Once you have it on your back, you may notice that the pack does not have a torso adjustment. Depending on your size, the majority of the weight of the pack may not be transferred to your waist--the best place to carry weight on the human body. The Kelty Mijo, Chicco’s closest competition price wise, also does not have a torso adjustment. The two locations at which the frame comes into contact with the wearer’s body are both at the small of your back and up toward the shoulder blades. The weight of your child in the carrier transfers the weight into the small of your back. That transfer of weight also puts weight onto the shoulder straps. There is a plastic bar that runs across the bottom of the Chicco, connecting the frame. Chicco added padding to help disperse the pressure, which helps--but it is not nearly as comfortable as the higher-end packs. Also lacking is structural support for the remainder of the waistbelt. The shoulder straps are moderate in the level of padding they provide. The adjustment straps for the shoulder straps are rough, and they do not adjust as easily as some of the competition, but it is not a major issue. We were happy to see that Chicco added a chest strap, but it doesn't slide up and down the shoulder straps. Depending on your size, it may sit in an awkward place for you. Some on the TotGear crew felt it was placed too high on the shoulder straps.
SUNSHADE AND RAIN SHIELD
One of the most enjoyable features of this baby backpack is the built-in sunshade and rain shield. All of the other alternatives lack the sunshade that comes standard with this baby backpack. The sunscreen stands straight up when not in use. All you have to do is pull it over the head of your child to provide some shade. We wish it protruded a bit further to give some additional protection, but overall it does a good job of keeping your child out of the sun. The rain shield helps protect your child’s upper torso, but their legs are still exposed to the elements. That being said, the only baby backpack TotGear tested that comes with a full rain shield is $330, over three times more than the Chicco. The rain shield is easy to install and easy to take off.
The Chicco has a small storage compartment, but you can get three diapers, a bottle and some wipes into it without much of an issue. This is a great feature, because it prevents you from having to carry an additional diaper bag. The storage compartment can be zipped shut so you don’t have to worry about losing items. Also, the storage compartment can be removed from the carrier and taken along individually. You can strap it around your waist as you would a fanny pack.
The TotGear crew had mixed opinions about the Chicco Smart Support backpack. Some testers could not get past its limitations specifically the lack of comfort, while others felt that for the money, it was a competent backpack with amenities that no other framed child carrier at this price could provide. Ultimately, if you are looking to use the backpack occasionally and/or for short durations, this may be a great option for you. If you plan on using it r for long periods of time, we recommend investing in a higher-quality baby carrier.