Trail Magik Child Carrier Review

Trail Magik Child Carrier Review


Trail Magik Child Carrier - A Child Carrier for Toddlers

The Trail Magik child carrier launched in the summer of 2021. A Californian based family decided to turn their own gear invention into a family business. They originally came up with the “Trail Magik” carrier as a way to backpack with toddlers. As the toddler gets tired on trail, attach the Trail Magik carrier to your pack and give them a ride. A better alternative to carrying them in your arms.

How Does it Work?

The Trail Magik carrier is a lightweight and compact child carrier (weighs 9.8 oz). It packs down to the size of a water bottle. The Trail Magik is designed to hook onto your hiking daypack or backpacking pack. It is not a stand alone carrier.

It’s a truly genius design. A child carrier that outdoor parents have been in need of.

This carrier was initially designed with backpacking in mind, but also works for day hiking.

Quick Info: Price: Discount Code 10% off: Specs:
Trail Magik Child Carrier $95 trailmagikLH 1 years old up to 43 lbs

Toddler and mom backpacking with the Trail Magik carrier

Does Your Daypack Work with a Trail Magik Child Carrier?

Your pack needs waist straps and front upper loaders (load adjusters). The bottom of the Trail Magik will hook where your waist straps and shoulder straps meet. The top of the carrier will attach to your load adjusters.

Trail Magik Child Carrier Laid Out

Toddler and mom backpacking with the Trail Magik carrier

Where the Trail Magik Carrier Attaches

Where the Trail Magik Carrier attaches to daypacks

Daypacks With & Without Load Adjusters

different daypacks -one works with the trail magik and one does not

There are two different daypacks in the photo above. You can see that the green daypack does NOT have load adjusters and therefore would not work with the Trail Magik. The blue daypack does have load adjusters. The blue pack is the daypack we use with our Trail Magik when hiking -the Gregory Citro 36 L.

The more padding and support your pack provides the better it will work with a Trail Magik carrier. I would recommend a 30+ L daypack for use of the Trail Magik.

The Fit of a Trail Magik Child Carrier

There are a few adjustments you can make once you attach the Trail Magik child carrier to your backpack. You have 4 different length settings for the bottom straps and you have sliding adjustments on the straps that attach to your load adjusters. I find that my daypack and backpacking pack require a different fit with the use of my Trail Magik.

When the Trail Magik carrier is attached your child will face in (towards the parent). Ensure their knees are sitting higher than their bum as they sit in the carrier.

Fabric of the Trail Magik Child Carrier

Why I’m giving attention to the fabric of this carrier? Well it’s the reason behind this carrier’s success. It’s what makes the Trail Magik so lightweight, compact but still sturdy enough to carry a toddler.

Its made from Cordura® Fabric, which is known for it’s strength and durability. Commonly Cordura fabric is used on backpacks and camping chairs.

The Trail Magik child carrier is only intended for kids 1 year and older. This carrier offers minimal support. After 1 year of age it can then accomodate kids up to 43 pounds.

Why Do You Need a Trail Magik Child Carrier?

Close up shot of trail magik child carrier

Here are some reasons why you might consider purchasing a Trail Magik child carrier:

  • Your child is getting too big / too old for their structured hiking carrier
  • Your child hikes some of the way, but not all the way and wants to be carried
  • You’re trying to wean your child off the structured hiking carrier
  • You want to be able to take an actual pack hiking or backpacking
  • You want to backpack with toddlers
  • You want to solo backpack with toddlers
  • You want a lightweight, compact carrier to take on day hikes or backpacking as a “just in case”
  • You are trying to carry two kids at once
  • You are backpacking with multiple young kids
  • You need something lightweight and compact for airports, transporting to the beach, the ski hill, etc. Something that can get tucked away and forgotten about.

I will talk more about the uses of the Trail Magik child carrier, but first I want to share how I was introduced to this carrier.

My Introduction to the Trail Magik Child Carrier

Mom and toddler backpacking using a trail magik carrier

Learn more here on different ways you can child carry and backpack. But overall the way you child carry and backpack with young kids has a lot to do with the age of the child.

After my son turned two I really started to notice the weight and difficulty of primarily using my structured hiking carrier to backpack. Especially, if I was going backpacking without my husband or a support person.

Action shot backpacking with the trail magik carrier

The picture above is from the last time I ever used my structured hiking carrier backpacking (my toddler is 2 years and 2 months in this photo). I wanted to find another way. Ideally, I wanted something lighter weight. My hiking carrier alone weighed 8 lbs. That is a lot of unnecessary weight, especially when you consider I was carrying all the gear and then my kid on top of that.

I tried going back to a soft structured carrier on front and my backpacking pack on the back. I found this solution to be okay. Realistically I could manage it for a few miles, but not long miles backpacking. (This solution works best for babies under 1). Learn more here.

Why I Ordered the Trail Magik Child Carrier

backpacking families in a meadow

In September of 2021 I found and ordered a Trail Magik child carrier (I purchased this product, it was not sent to me). Here is what intrigued me:

  • it hooking directly to my backpacking pack - no double waist or shoulder straps that a soft carrier + pack create
  • automatically cut 8 lbs from my backpacking load
  • compact, doesn’t take up precious pack room on trips
  • allowed me to take a full-size backpacking pack and help me better protect my gear as well as execute mom and toddler solo backpacking trips
  • carrier made getting my toddler up and down while backpacking a breeze vs. a soft structured AND structured hiking carrier
  • My husband and I could easily switch off carrying our toddler on backpacking trips (but I have yet to utilize this benefit, I always want to be the one child carrying).
  • And what I would come to love was the bonding it created for me and my toddler

Fast forward and I have done 177 backpacking miles with my Trail Magik child carrier.

I have put this carrier to the ultimate test and I have come to truly love this carrier!

Below I will discuss what I have learned after 177 miles of backpacking + additional miles for day hiking with my Trail Magik carrier.

Comfort of the Trail Magik Child Carrier

The Trail Magik carrier is not going to be your most comfortable child carrier. But a solution that is convenient, compact, lightweight and meant for toddlers is likely not going to be the most comfortable.

If you are looking for a way to day hike comfortably with your toddler or older child you might want to consider using a soft structured carrier on your back.

Ultimately, the Trail Magik child carrier will put more pressure on your shoulders than traditional child carriers by nature of the lightweight and simple design.

Start Small & Build Up Overtime

Hiking while child-carrying (on your back) with a structured hiking carrier or soft structured carrier isn’t necessarily going to translate to the use of a Trail Magik child carrier. It is a very different child-carrying experience. I highly recommend building up overtime. Start with small hikes or backpacking trips with your Trail Magik child carrier. I did not follow this advice and it was unnecessarily hard.

Backpacking with the Trail Magik in Nevada

My very first use of the Trail Magik carrier was on a 10 mile backpacking trip (pictured above). I would not recommend this. I was pretty miserable on that backpacking trip. It was very different from what I was used to. But I did learn some valuable lessons.

No less than 2 weeks later I used the Trail Magik carrier again on a 22 mile mom and kid backpacking trip. But I made some adjustments that made a big difference on that second trip.

Backpacking with the Trail Magik and Gregory Deva backpacking pack

The Pack You Use with The Trail Magik Matters

The pack you use with the Trail Magik child carrier is a BIG DEAL. Do not underestimate this.

On my first backpacking trip I was using a basic REI backpacking pack (the purple backpack in the first photo above). A great pack, but it did not have great support or cushion. On the next trip I used my My Gregory Deva 70 (greenish pack in the second photo above) and I could NOT believe the difference it made. My My Gregory Deva 70 supported the Trail Magik so much better. It eleviated a lot of pressure and pain from my shoulders.

That 22 mile trip felt much easier than my initial 10 mile backpacking trip just because of the pack difference.

I would never recommend using an ultra-light backpacking pack with a Trail Magik child carrier.

Toddler’s Comfort

Some toddlers or kids may not like facing in or may not like the Trail Magik carrier in general. This is something you will likely have to test out. With anything new with young kids I always recommend an acclimation period. But realistically not every toddler will like this carrier, especially those kids who have fought child carriers in the past. Although their dislike of the carrier could potentially serve as a great motivator for hiking.

Close up shot of trail magik child carrier

My toddler LOVES the Trail Magik child carrier, but does get tired of it at times and it is a great hiking motivator. We retired his structured hiking carrier the summer of his 3rd birthay and pretty much only use the Trail Magik carrier now.

Trail Tips

Take plenty of breaks out on the trails. If you are dying from the weight of the carrier and pack, then stop. Take it off. Reset. See if your kid will take a turn hiking.

I would highly recommend using poles while using a Trail Magik child carrier since you are unable to see your feet.

Pro Tip: While hiking you can also take said trekking pole and place it horizontally underneath your child’s bum, then lift up. You will temporarily take the weight off your shoulders and give your shoulders a break.

I have found that the first mile to mile and a half of child-carrying with the Trail Magik to be the most painful. I don’t know if it’s more physical or mental. But I once I get through that initial phase I have an easier time mustering through child-carrying with the Trail Magik.

The Trail Magik is NOT a Great Solution for Every Family

I want to mention that everyone has different bodies, injuries, needs, sensitivities, etc. And truthfully the Trail Magik child carrier is not going to be a great solution for everyone. Please listen to your body as you use this carrier. There are lots of families who have simply said that this solution doesn’t work for them and that’s okay. This is a highly individual piece of gear and you will likely need to try it out to know for sure if it will work well for you and your family. I can’t advocate enough for listening to your own body.

Backpacking with the Trail Magik Child Carrier

Backpacking in colder temps with the trail magik carrier

Backpacking is what the Trail Magik child carrier was originally intended for. Most of my info regarding backpacking and the Trail Magik child carrier was listed above in the comfort section. But here are a few additional points to consider when backpacking with a Trail Magik child carrier.

The pack you use makes a big difference. You may need to consider getting a different backpacking pack. My best advice is going to a local outdoor retailer with your Trail Magik carrier and trying packs on. (You will surely get some weird looks from the sales associates.)

The wonderful thing about the Trail Magik child carrier is it frees up space for backpacking and allows you to use an actual backpacking pack. But remember not to use all the backpacking space it provides and/or frees up.

My biggest piece of advice for backpacking families is to cut down on pack weight as much as possible. Cut the excess out.

Read some of my tips for cutting down on weight when backpacking here.

If you are planning to backpack and child-carry, consider upgrading gear if possible, renting if there are lighter weight options AND cutting out the extra. You can learn more about how I cut down on weight when backpacking solo with my toddler.

How far have I child carried with the Trail Magik Carrier?

Action shot backpacking with the trail magik carrier

The furthest I have child carried while backpacking with the Trail Magik in one day was 9 miles. (My toddler was 30 lbs at the time of this trip and my pack weighed around 35 lbs). See a trip recap here.

Do I literally mean I carried my toddler in the Trail Magik carrier for 9 miles? YES! 9 miles of tummy to tummy contact with my toddler. Overall we did 11 miles in one day. My toddler hiked 2 miles and I carried him for rest. Is this the most pleasant experience? No. It is a suffer fest. It was hard mentally and physically. And there was a lot of prep prior to this trip. Prep for me. Prep for my toddler.

Prior to this trip I had completed 110 backpacking miles with the Trail Magik and my toddler (from Oct. 2021 - August 2022). Now not all of those 110 miles were miles that I actually carried my toddler in the Trail Magik. He hiked some of those miles. But more than half of those miles were child-carrying miles in the Trail Magik. Per trip my toddler hikes between 1 - 2 miles (3 if we are lucky).

It is important for people to know the kind of physical, emotional and mental preparation that goes into these kinds of adventures.

Day Hiking with the Trail Magik Child Carrier

day hiking with the trail magik carrier

Again, circling back to the pack conversation. You need a supportive daypack if you plan to day hike with the Trail Magik child carrier. I would not recommend using a daypack less than 30 L with the Trail Magik carrier. The Gregory Citro 36 L is a pretty cush daypack. But even still I would prefer my comfortable backpacking pack.

Initially, I wasn’t as keen on using our Trail Magik child carrier for day hiking. (My kid had just turned 2 when we got our Trail Magik.)

If I was hiking a trail that I would primarily be child-carrying then I wanted my structured hiking carrier. But if it was a shorter trail then I would hide the Trail Magik carrier in my daypack as a “just in case” and then see how far my toddler would hike.

But that all changed when my kid was about to turn 3. I found that my structured hiking carrier started to become really uncomfortable with my toddler’s increased size and weight. At that point I actually found my Trail Magik carrier + daypack to be more comfortable.

backpacking families in a meadow

I will say too, that recently I forgot by Trail Magik child carrier on a 4 mile round trip hike with my toddler and we just happened to be hiking at nap time. Naturally, my toddler was tired and wanted to be carried. I carried him in my arms for 1.5 miles. I thought it can’t be that bad. I mean I have backpacked with him much farther than a couple miles. How hard can carrying a toddler in your arms really be? Well it was miserable. I was miserable. It didn’t help that he was sleeping in my arms and couldn’t be carried on my shoulders. But in those moments I gained even more appreciation for my Trail Magik child carrier. I feel it is such an essential piece of gear for outdoor parents with toddlers.

Other Uses for the Trail Magik Child Carrier

trail magik carrier in disneyland

Some families have used their Trail Magik child carrier as a way to double carry (carry a child on the front and a child on the back). I can’t speak to this solution as I have never double carried. Check out my friends @heyerikanorton, @haileyoutside, and @brightonpeachy. They can speak to how the Trail Magik works for double carrying.

I have come to love using the Trail Magik child carrier for traveling whether in the airport, transporting to the beach and even Disneyland (pictured above). I still prefer to use my hiking daypack when using the Trail Magik traveling.

The Trail Magik carrier is a very underrated travel child carrier. It is small, lightweight and convenient. You can use in a bind, but also store away in a purse and be forgotten.

Bottom Line

What makes the Trail Magik child carrier so revolutionary is its design to connect to an already existing backpack. It simplifies child-carrying while also carrying gear whether that be for hiking, backpacking, beach transporting, getting through the airport or even carrying a second child etc.

It’s convenient, lightweight, compact and sturdy.

day hiking with the trail magik carrier

I think for most families the Trail Magik child carrier works best as a carrier that is used intermittently when your toddler needs a break from hiking, traveling or backpacking.

For experienced backpacking families the Trail Magik child carrier serves as a tool to:

  • Execute solo parent backpacking trips
  • Take longer backpacking trips since you aren’t completely reliant on how far your toddler can currently walk. You can still aid them.
  • More easily take multiple young kids backpacking as a family