The first Macpac child carrier we owned, I found in a charity op-shop in Katherine on our first Big Lap of Australia with Maya when she was just 5 weeks old. Although she was tiny,
I had no idea how quickly she was going to grow and we planned to be away for a long time, so added that old ‘Possum’ carrier to our growing pile of baby gear.
Alas, before Maya even road-tested the thing, it took a tumble off the top of the 4WD while off-roading into the Bungle Bungles (one delirious, sleep-deprived Dad forgot to strap it on).
When Maya was about 10 months old we shopped around for another and finally came back to the Macpac ‘Vamoose’.
As a gear reviewer and user, I’ve always appreciated Macpac’s quality, and people who own their gear always seem to have good things to say about them.
Sure, their purchase prices are a little steeper than most, but to me, that’s reassuring because I’d rather pay upfront for quality gear than be stuck somewhere remote when my ‘bargain’ fails me.
What’s so great about the Vamoose?
- Versatile harness sizing: the Vamoose comes in two sizes so we bought the longer back length so that both David and I couldcarry Maya and we could swap her between us.
- This was not only helpful on long bushwalks, but also gave us greater versatility on backpacking trips when there was another pack to carry too. The child seat is also adjustable: it’s a little like a sit-up hammock that can be lowered down as your child grows.
- Super comfortable for me: I have no tolerance for uncomfortable gear so really appreciated the Vamoose’s super-comfy harness and wide hip belt (it really does fit like a proper backpack). We’ve always tackled long, rugged bushwalks, but as Maya got bigger and heavier, the extra padding on the harness was a godsend.
- Super comfortable for Maya: The number one complaint I hear from parents about kid carriers is that their kids don’t like being in them. I remember Maya’s first time in the Vamoose on a walk into Porcupine Gorge in North Queensland. She fussed and winged for about 10 minutes, we made a big smiley game of it (I may also have placated her with a rusk or two), then she settled down, playing with the little mirror that comes with the Vamoose and listening to our mad singing until we reached the river and threw ourselves in. After Porcupine Gorge, she always knew the carrier meant silliness with Mum and Dad and a big adventure. All the rhythmic rocking meant Maya frequently fell fast asleep, head flopped forward on the nicely padded headrest (yeah!!)
- Lots of storage: I really appreciated the big storage compartment under the carrier when we headed to SE Asia when Maya was three. We travelled with just one other pack so were able to carry Maya and most of her gear in the big roomy space under her seat, easily accessed by a single zipper (including the soccer ball Dad picked up in Burma). When flying, we always presented the Vamoose at check-in as our piece of free equipment for children. Every airline we’ve travelled with so far has allowed this but occasionally we’ve had show staff that it’s a child carrier, not just a backpack (fronting up with Maya still in the pack always works). The Vamoose comes with a little zip-off daypack too, which was handy when backpacking (I used it as my carry-on luggage on flights because it fitted my laptop nicely, along with the requisite snacks, wipes and toys).
What’s not so great about the Vamoose?
Additional extras: I bought both the sombrero sunshade and the rain cover and never used either. For starters, I found the sunshade a bit fiddly to put on and really bulky for travel and Maya wasn’t fond of being enclosed by either shelter, which made conditions very humid for her (we do live and travel in the tropics though).
In other climates, I suspect the rain cover would be a necessity and that kids might well snuggle comfortably inside. Instead, Maya preferred the shelter of a big hat and a lather of sunscreen, and when we did get caught in the rain, a folding umbrella over the two of us worked a treat.
Foot stirrups: As Maya got bigger and her legs longer (around three years of age), she was always looking for somewhere to rest her feet (many times we thought about stitching on some stirrups to prevent her legs from dangling when she fell asleep).