Terra Firma Adventures

Kelty FC3 Child Carrier Review

Kristopher Artz December,2012 5 Comments

My youngest daughter is over three years old now, and we have gotten an awful lot of use from our Kelty FC3 child carrier, so I figured it was time to do a review of it and tell you about the good things and a few minor complaints we have experienced.

When our first daughter was born, this was the Kelty carrier we purchased…the Pathfinder. We got a tremendous amount of use out of it and It was extremely durable. Once she had outgrown it, it went into a plastic bag and into storage awaiting our second daughter’s arrival (nearly 2 years). Before my youngest daughter was born, I took it out and looked it over. It seemed fine except that the nylon straps were beginning to dry rot. I called Kelty and explained the situation,  how much we loved the pack and I asked if they could replace the straps and was willing to pay for the repair. They said yes, send it back and we will quote you a repair price. I sent the carrier in and awaited their response. After about 2 weeks, a package from UPS arrived from Kelty and when I opened it I was completely amazed!

So here we were with a brand new Kelty FC3 child carrier. We were so excited and we for sure put it to good use.

We have used it for everything from cross country skiing and hiking to everyday activities like going to the grocery store or used it as a high chair.

Here are the primary elements and accessories of the Kelty carrier…


  • One of the biggest pros we have found is in places with a lot of people, it is much easier to move around in the crowd with our kids in the backpack than it is trying to have people make way for a stroller. I guess it’s more natural for people to make way for a person than to move aside for a stroller. You just always have to remember when backing up or turning around, that you have about 2′ hanging off of your back. Also, both of our daughter’s seemed to appreciate the view while being up higher. I can’t say for sure but I think being up higher may not make them feel so small. Even though the backpack can weigh a considerable amount when loaded with your child, their diapers, a change of clothes, snacks, a drink, their blanket, a small stuffed animal… you get the idea, it was (and often still is) my preferred method of transporting our kids. It is far easier for me to walk around with them on my back than to navigate the stroller around with a lot of people. Plus there are places you can take them that a stroller is not possible, like hikes or in the snow.
  • The sunshade is a great way to protect your child from the intense sun and easily stores in the storage compartment. It is fairly quick to put on and take off. The only drawback we have noticed (with both children and both packs) is the girls get to a certain age and really fight having it on. Both girls try to rip it off or stick their heads out the sides and then cannot get their heads back under the shade without adult assistance. We have found it really only worked when our girls were very small. Until about 18 months – 2  years old.
  • The storage compartment on the backpack is large enough to hold a few necessities or temporarily store jackets and hats. It’s not too large so that you easily fill it up and added weight becomes an issue.
  • The aluminum frame and auto deploy kickstand really help make it easy to get your child in and out. you don’t have to worry about balancing the pack while trying to get your child into it. We have also used it as an improvised high chair at restaurants, but it is pretty short when you want to push it up along side a table. It’s too short by itself and too high when placed on a chair, but that’s the best way we have found to use it. just keep in mind it can be wobbly.


  • Getting your child’s feet through the leg straps can be difficult, especially as your child gets larger. It often requires another person to help guide their feet through the loops. I think that if they had quick release buckle that you could click once you set your child in, would make it much, much easier.
  • Our first Kelty backpack had a zip off backpack that was toddler sized. It was great! My daughter Emma loved that backpack and wore it everywhere. It was convenient because she could carry her own diapers and snacks. This new one does not have this feature, and we miss it. Fortunately, when we sent our previous Kelty pack in for repair, we did not send the little backpack with it, and Lily uses it to this day.
  • The size of the main storage compartment is pretty small. Although I said above, that a good thing about it being small is you can’t over stuff or pack it and make the entire carrier too heavy, I am almost always wanting it to be larger to store more things.
  • I really wish the pack had a compartment or mesh side pouch that was easily accessible for a water bottle (while the carrier is on). Their is a zippered storage compartment at the bottom of the bag but it’s not easy to get into while the pack is on.
All in all,  this has been one of the best investments in a kid product we have made as parents. It has made almost any activity much easier and more enjoyable. We have used the backpack to do activities we never would have considered possible before like cross country skiing, snowshoeing, or even difficult hikes that small children could not handle nor would you want them to tackle. It makes it more enjoyable to go on hikes because as soon as your child is too tired or even un-interested in hiking, you scoop them up and into the backpack they go. With the very soft padding surrounding them in the cockpit, they can fall asleep and you don’t feel guilty about it at all. Combine all of the fantastic features with Kelty’s warranty and you have a product that you will be able to enjoy for years to come.

Kelty Carrier Action Photos:

Cross Country Skiing- Montecito Lodge, Sequoia

Touring The Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Lily sleeping on the return leg of a hike.

Disclosure: I own this product and purchased it using my own funds ( I did receive a warranty replacement though & I explained above)


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  1. Don Wood May,2014 at

    Thanks for the review, I’m comparing a few used models on craigslist and this was really helpful.

  2. Angel February,2015 at

    Can I ask how you shipped it? I need one shipped but don’t want to pay an arm and a leg.

    • Beth March,2015 at

      Amazon sells Kelty child carriers. The ones marked “Prime” ship for free!

  3. Beth March,2015 at

    We owned the same older Kelty carrier that you originally did. When we dug it out of storage to use with our new baby we also experienced the same strap rot problem. We were ready to fork over about $300 for a new Kelty, but I decided to call them first. They said they’d heard of the straps rotting before and told us to choose any carrier from their new 2015 line and they’d ship it to us at no cost! If that’s not THE BEST customer service, I don’t know what is!

  4. Josh October,2016 at

    Oddly enough, I have these two packs to choose from on Craigslist. Would you recommend the older pack for $50 or the newer one for $75?

    Are you still reading comments on this old post? Helloooo……

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