The Osprey Poco AG is a well executed kid carrier for day hiking and perhaps backpacking. It carries the kid exceptionally securely and comfortably, but has serious limitations for women or the long torso’d.
For detail shots of the pack, and my initial thoughts when we bought it, see here.
All photos by M.
We’ve used the hell out of the Poco AG in the past six months. As hikers and backpackers before anything, a good kid carrying backpack is essential, and since Little Bear hit six months and could hold himself upright well enough to ride in a pack the Poco has been our most used backpack.
The strength of the Poco is without question the child harness, and the pack structure which accommodates and protects it. The seat is wide, padded just enough, and the harness is secure. The height adjustment is quick and intuitive. The padded drool pad, removable for washing, serves as a great pillow for the inevitable and frequent trail naps. The framing which holds the kid compartment open is robust, enough that it provides a not inconsiderable amount of armoring if the adult slips on a sidehill. (Deuter carriers are notably deficient in this regard, which is a largely academic issue for folks who don’t hike off trail.) The kickstand, deployed in the top photo, is convenient and can be extended or retracted by the wearer, with the pack worn.
The integral, retractable sun shade is another excellent and often used feature. We’ve yet to convince LB to wear a hat for more than one minute, and hoods are an imperfect solution, so this has been used frequently. It also, as shown, works well for head support while napping. The lack of a full length sleeves for the shade to go into when not is use has been a consistent annoyance. Without this nothing separates it from stuff in the lower cargo pocket, and when that pocket is close to full snagging is almost inevitable.
The aftermarket rain cover, which cinches around the sun shade, isn’t something we’ve used often. It is effective, and fairly easy to put on, but could be just a hair longer to better cover LB’s feet.
Overall there’s not much Osprey could do better to keep a kid secure and happy in the Poco.
The adult side of the Poco, by contrast, has a few systemic issues, which may or may not be likely addressed in the near future. The first is frame height. The Poco comes in one size, and while it adjusts easily to fit shorter torso lengths, as can be seen above at 21″ I am right at the top end of sizing, and only just get shoulder lift. By the time most infants are big enough to ride in a pack the kid-pack combined weight will be close to 20 pounds, and our current LB+pack weight of 29 is I would guess about average in terms of the useable window. Osprey rates the Poco to nearly 50 pounds, and therefore ought to build it to carry that load, which in its squirms and lurches to grab the passing scenery feels a lot heavier than the same amount of gear tightly compressed.
With 30 pounds I could see rating the Poco for a 21″ torso. At 50, I can’t see it being rated for anything more than 18″. It’d be ideal if Osprey made two sizes, though presumably on a low margin, low numbers item that is financially unattractive. It’s worth repeating (from the February post) that given the complexity of the design, 250 dollars for the Poco is a bargain.
I’ve been impressed by the Poco’s hipbelt. The stripped down version of the AG suspension functions like a full-wrap belt, with only a tiny amount of stretch which after a few hours requires periodic recinching. The problem is in the stiff foam wings which provide tension and structure for the mesh which contacts the user. As a normal, skinny-ish male with little hip curve the foam wings don’t touch me at all, as intended. M on the other hand is a woman with around average hip curve, and the wings provide a nasty and unfixable pressure point on the bottom edge. Every woman who I’ve spoken with about the Poco AG reports a similar issue, while almost all men like the belt just fine.
Overall, a kid carrier needs to be built with a virtually expedition grade suspension, and while the frame of the Poco is super stiff, the harness comes up short. Greater frame height, and more adaptable belt, and cusher shoulder straps are all needed.
Lastly, I’d love to see Osprey seriously tackle the problem of how to build a kid carrier with serious, backpackable cargo capacity. 2500 cubic inches would do nicely. My sandwich rig with the Seek Outside Revolution gets the job done, but if the suspension were beefed up the Poco could easily carry the load itself, with some wing pockets, and slightly expanded back pocketing as well. A niche product for sure, but one can dream. If anything over the past six months we’ve learned that getting prepped for a backpacking trip with infant is harder than the trip itself; Osprey would do the world a favor by making the packing part a bit simpler.