Littlelife products are designed by ‘lifeventure’. A company with 20 years’ experience in the outdoor technical gear market, it says the new 1.7kg Ranger Carrier is the lightest fully-framed back carrier available that conforms to British Safety Standards.
What’s in the box?
Any additional extras?
- Sunshade – £19.99
- Raincover – £30
- Storage pouch – £10
Can it be used straight out of the box?
Yes, the Ranger was ready to use as soon as we had the straps in the right position, and for that we needed a test run indoors with our baby.
Someone unused to larger capacity rucksacks could feel daunted by the number of adjustable elements, so you may need to play around with the straps and see what works best. A lot of it is common sense though and I found it easier to sort out with my 12-month-old in position.
Is the Ranger comfortable for your little one?
Yes, the seating position was comfortable for toddler Catherine and baby Hannah and works like a hammock with legs dangling straight down. I’ve tried carriers with a more conventional seat and found my children’s bent knees stuck awkwardly into my back so the Littlelife was a real improvement.
Was it comfortable for you?
Yes, the base of the carrier is very narrow and I felt as though I was carrying a normal rucksack – it was easy to forget there was anyone in the back.
Is it a secure carrier?
It is, once Hannah was in place she was held tightly towards my body, which gave excellent stability even in rough terrain. I couldn’t see her very well when I turned my head but the added security was worth it, as she did not send me off-balance even when she leaned to one side.
What is the age range of the Ranger?
The Ranger’s maximum child weight is 20kg so if you bought this early you’d get around three years’ use. It’s suitable from 6 months, and three-year-old Catherine, who is 96cm tall and weighs 15kg, was thrilled to have a carry all the way up the hill so she could save her energy for hide and seek at the top.
Tell us about the X-buckle.
The Ranger’s new X-buckle harness is designed so that parents can adjust and open the straps to the side to lift out a sleeping child. It’s a clever idea but I struggled to fasten the carrier’s blue central strap to the front of my baby until a more experienced parent recommended I slacken the side straps first. Clearer diagrams in the instructions would have helped me understand this for myself.
The instruction booklet has comprehensive directions on what order to fasten and tighten the straps and the prose is straightforward. But I found the black, grey and white photos difficult to decipher because the arrows labelling the straps were too thin to see clearly. Not enough of the straps were marked in the photo either. I would have liked a more comprehensively-labelled photo or diagram to offer reassurance I was fastening my baby in correctly.
Does the carrier have any recline positions?
No it doesn’t, but even after nearly five hours (with a long break for lunch!) Hannah was smiling and she easily fell asleep leaning her head forward onto the cushioned face pad. Thankfully this is removable and washable for all drool scenarios.
On the downside there’s no kick-out leg to turn the carrier into a makeshift seat in the field and the Ranger does not stand up unsupported – you have to place one foot in the anchor-hold at the bottom to prevent your child toppling over.
What about storage?
There are two small zip pockets on each side of the padded hip belt that fitted my purse, keys and phone, but I found them tricky to access because the bottom of the shoulder straps lay across each one and squashed the contents.
Littlelife sells a 6-litre accessory pouch separately (for £9.99) but realistically I’d say that’s an essential unless you were always with another adult willing to carry wipes, spare nappies and all the other stuff babies require.
Does it protect you little one in the rain?
Yes, but the raincover is an optional extra costing £29.99. It packs small when not in use but without the accessory pouch we stashed it in another rucksack. The oval-tubed frame cleverly maintains shape but was fiddly to feed through the material and not something I’d want to do in a sudden downpour. The child has to be in the carrier before the raincover goes on so we needed to find a dry spot to get ready.
Once assembled, Hannah’s visibility was great and she stayed happy and 100% dry even after an hour of torrential rain. The top is angled backwards so the wearer does not get dripped on and the entire cover is tightened snugly with an elasticated cord. I was really impressed that even the worst British weather did not prevent us from heading outside.
How is it to store?
Compared to many back carriers the Ranger is relatively compact to store – but it’s more likely to live on top of my wardrobe, not in it, because it doesn’t fold down flat.
Is it value for money?
Yes, at £69.99 the carrier is cheaper than many on the market and although there’s limited storage it’s a very robust, durable option.
This would suit outdoorsy types who like to explore the countryside but don’t want to hike up mountains. You’ll need a friend to carry all the baby gubbins, so you and your little one can chat about nature while your other half carries the packed lunch, changing bag contents, spare clothes, picnic blanket and so on.
Culture-vulture parents would also appreciate the pared-down, urban look. The Ranger did not look out of place when we strolled through an art gallery and Hannah loved her elevated vantage point.