The tagline for the Phil and Ted’s Escape carrier is “Freedom for serious adventure” and I have to say that sums it up pretty well.
An all-singing, all-dancing carrier, first impressions are that it’ll be great if you want to climb Mount Everest with your baby.
Designed for parents who want to enjoy the outdoors with their child, Phil & Ted’s say the carrier has everything you’ll need to be able to do that, letting you stay hands-free.
Suitable from 3kg to 18kg (that’s around 6 months to 3 years) the Escape has a baby hood, baby foot stirrups, mirror, removable changemat, space for a water bladder and removable day pack.
And for parents it has dual core waist belt and advanced lumbar support distributes weight evenly.
On the market alongside the Little Life Adventurer and Thule Sapling carrier, it has very similar features to the aforementioned carriers. The Thule Sapling can accommodate children up to the age of five, compared to 3 years with the Escape.
You can also buy a rain cover as an optional extra for the Thule Sapling and it is machine washable.
The Little Life Adventurer is suitable up to the age of four, is machine washable but does not include the change bag, removable back pack, rain hood or mirror.
The three carriers range from around £100 for the Little Life Adventurer, £179 for the Escape, and £260 for the Thule Sapling.
Is it comfy for your little one?
Yes! We use it with Thomas (6-months-old) when he had just turned six months, and I was nervous he would be a bit lost in it.
Admittedly he’s rather on the large size for his age, but I was impressed how well he fitted in it, and how comfortable he was – he doesn’t have a great track record of enjoying being in carriers, and his screaming protests in previous slings and carriers I had tried made me apprehensive.
But to my amazement, he enjoyed every second of our first little trip out, and subsequent ones.
Is it comfortable for you?
Nick found it really comfortable, and was impressed at how it felt. I have to say for me it is something that takes a bit of getting used to.
Maybe I need to play with the adjustments a bit more, but it dug into my lower back, and I found myself trying to lift the bottom of it off my body to support my back – something you obviously shouldn’t need to do.
I noticed I was subconsciously leaning forward as I walked more than usual, as I felt the weight of the carrier and Thomas was pulling me backwards. I’m 5ft 8ins and of normal build, so I did wonder how a shorter, more slight woman would get on with it.
Thomas is 22lbs, so it did cross my mind how I would feel when he gets bigger. I can’t imagine me using it when he is three – that can be Daddy’s job!
Can little ones sleep in it?
The good news is yes, little ones can sleep in it! Well that’s what we certainly found, and this was a first in our carrier experience.
Thomas was so comfortable during our initial trip out in it, he happily nodded off on Daddy’s back, which I never thought would happen.
There is a snug shoulder cradle made of ultra soft fleece, and a moldable headrest which is ideal for your child to snooze on, whilst keeping their neck muscles supported.
A contouring and adjustable harness supports their body on the move and keeps them safe and secure. For me this was a great result, as using the carrier as opposed to our travel system is often dependent on whether Thomas needs a nap – but now that doesn’t need to come into it!
The Ted’s Escape carrier lightweight?
If I’m honest I did find the Escape pretty bulky, but this was the first back carrier of its kind that I’ve used.
It weighs 6.6lbs (3kg) on its own. However, considering what it is designed for, and the amount of features it has, it’s no wonder it feels like this to a first-timer.
I was worried how heavy it would be, but it is in fact pretty lightweight, despite its bulk. It’s designed for a specific purpose – long walks and hiking.
Don’t attempt to take your little one to the shops in this. You’ll knock everything off the shelves every time you turn around! How is it when out and about?
Is the carrier sturdy?
Yes, this carrier is one sturdy bit of kit. It’s well structured and one of the most robust carriers I’ve seen.
It feels incredibly strong when you are using it, unlike some different types of carriers, which can often feel a bit flimsy.
What are the seating options like?
You can only use this for back carrying.
Obviously we will have to adjust the straps as Thomas grows, but there are no alternatives on how he can sit.
Having said that, he was so comfortable in it from the word go, I didn’t even think about this as being an issue.
How is strapping your little one in?
Once you’ve got little one into the carrier, there are a number of buckles to do up, including the harness that comes down over their head – feels a bit like they’re on a rollercoaster!
There is also a buckle that goes around their waist from either side. But after a couple of goes, it is all pretty simple. The Escape has baseloading technology which allows it to freestand whilst you put your baby into it.
This was really helpful, particularly when you’re on your own and meant you weren’t doing that awkward (and a little scary) balancing act, when you’re trying to hold baby and carrier at the same time whilst you load them in.
With the Escape you can secure them into the seat, make all the relevant adjustments and make sure they’re happy and comfortable before lifting them onto your back.
It has twin carry handles to make lifting it easy, and the stand can be popped in and out with one hand which makes setting your baby back down really stable.
Maybe it takes more practice, but I was too nervous to put Thomas on my back from the floor on my own, although Nick managed it no problem.
Having said that, when we were out and about, we found it useful to stand the carrier in the boot of the car to put Thomas in, then put him on our backs from there as he was already at a decent height.
How easy is it to adjust the carrier when wearing it?
The Escape seems to have a considerable amount of straps, buckles and harnesses to adjust when you first use it, and I have to say, it’s not the quickest of tasks to perfect.
But that said, they are simple to do, and I suppose the more areas of adjustment there are, the more comfortable your baby, and you, are.
The only problem was, once we’d made it perfect for both Thomas and my husband Nick, it seemed a pain to have to do it all again for me to carry him – great excuse for me to have an easy ride!
You can adjust the torso length of the carrier’s ‘body-tech’ harness system to fit your own body, and the Escape’s dual core waist belt and advanced lumbar support distributes the child’s weight evenly.
Sounds a bit technical to me, but all this is designed to keep you both comfortable on long hikes and outdoor adventures.
So a bit of a faff, but something we got quicker at each time we’ve used it and on our third attempt, it took no time at all to swap from him to me.
Tell us about the sun visor and rain hood cover
The Escape has a sun hood and rain shield to protect your little one – this is a brilliant idea and not one I’ve seen on many carriers, but it does only cover their head and shoulders; their legs will still get wet.
Initially I didn’t think we’d use it, as why would we be out hiking in the rain, but I had to eat my words on just our third trip out – not even a hike, just a stroll along Plymouth’s waterfront, when we were caught in a shower.
The hood did keep Thomas’ head dry – once we’d got it over him. That was the problem, the hood is so tightly packed away in one of the carrier’s many pockets, I struggled to get it out and up particularly quickly.
It uses rods which fix into the back of the carrier and then has thin elastic straps which hook onto the front to keep it over your baby’s head. But it did only keep his head dry, the rest of him got wet.
This wasn’t a problem for us as such, as it was January and he was wearing a waterproof snowsuit, but could be more of an issue if the heavens opened during warmer weather and your child is wearing less.
Is it easy to clean?
This carrier is not machine washable, but is made of wipe clean and waterproof fabrics, so was reasonably easy to clean.
These are combined with padded, ventilated, breathable mesh panels designed to keep you cool whilst carrying.
We’ve only tried this carrier in the winter, but so far so good. Not sure how cool you’d stay climbing the steep coastal path in the height of summer.
Tell us about the Phil and Ted’s Escape carrier extras
The Escape’s features include foot stirrups to maximise your child’s circulation, and although these were adjustable, even at the shortest length they dangled too low for Thomas’ feet. Great feature for older children though.
There is a change mat stored within one of the many pockets, which is a welcome addition, and you can also buy a water bladder to fit into the carrier if you didn’t fancy just carrying a water bottle. The bladder isn’t included.
There is also a mirror tucked away in a pocket for you to check your child. Although we found using our phone, taking selfies was much more fun!
What about storage?
There are many pockets dotted around the carrier, which is great for all your bits and pieces, especially useful if you’re using it on your own.
Additionally a roomy day pack can be zipped off and used by someone else, which is perfect if you wanted to share the load and carry that bit more on your day out.
How does it compare to other carriers you have used?
This is the first back carrier I have used. Until now I have only put Thomas in a Boba sling when he was smaller, and a Baby Bjorn Original.
This has opened up a totally new world for us, and one that we are keen to embrace!
Using the Escape was the first time we had carried Thomas on our backs, and he seemed to love it mainly because he could see everything. We have only used it when the two of us have been there, so it has been easy for us to check he is okay.
I wonder how much I’d be using the mirror or taking selfies if I was on my own. Up until now using front carriers, I’ve not had to worry about that.
But the Escape feels so much more robust, strong and sturdy than the Baby Bjorn and slings – although I would expect that as it is designed for older babies and children.
What do you think of the design?
We loved the design, it is stylish and the grey and red colour is perfect for both parents to happily wear, and the same with all children.
I know friends of mine when buying carriers always want the pretty patterns, but have to rein themselves in knowing their husbands wouldn’t be seen dead wearing most of them. With the Escape you don’t have that problem!
Would you recommend this carrier to someone with a child of a particular age?
I’d definitely recommend parents of 6-month-old babies try this carrier out – in the hope they can get the maximum use out of it before their children become too heavy!
Or maybe I just need to go to the gym and build up my strength?
It’s certainly worth using as soon as your child is big enough – they’re comfortable in it and can see so much more than in an inward facing front carrier.
If someone had a 3-year-old for example, I think the child would still be lovely and comfy in the Escape. And the parents would get a good work-out from carrying them!
Is it compact and easy to store?
Not really, Phil&Ted’s do say it folds away ‘super flat’ and is designed not to take up space, but I can’t really agree with this.
Yes it does fold flatter, but because of the nature of the carrier and its metal stand, it is still very bulky and takes up a fair bit of space in our under-stairs cupboard. Its dimensions are L76cm x W32cm x H15cm when it’s folded.
I really liked this carrier; it’s well designed and has everything you need for an adventure out and about.
It was more comfortable for my husband to use than me, but Thomas loved it.
Considering how bulky it is to look at and to store, it is surprisingly lightweight when you’re using it, and distributes weight well. I can see us using this on our days out for a long time – or until Thomas gets too heavy!
I loved how comfortable Thomas appeared to be in the Escape, and although I’m not about to climb a mountain with him on my back, it was great for an afternoon in the outdoors.
Loading him into the carrier whilst it’s set down was brilliant, as there was no need to struggle with adjustments whilst he’s already on your back. I also loved the number of pockets there were – enough for you to not have to carry your nappy bag too. This is a carrier that will last you a long time, designed to carry children from 16lb to 40lb (7.3kg to 18kg), roughly up to the age of four.
However, It does take quite a while to make all the adjustments to make both you and your baby comfortable when you first use this carrier.
And if like us, you want to swap throughout the day, you have to quickly readjust each time. We also managed to pull off the chest strap by pulling it too hard, which was rather fiddly to get back on.
This carrier is bulky, when you’re both using it and storing it. Use it in the outdoors though, and it’s great. However It costs £179, so you would have to make good use of it to justify spending that.