When we first announced to the world that my wife was pregnant with our first child, many of my outdoorsy friends chided that it was the end of our hobbies as we knew them. I like spending time outdoors. A lot of time. I suppose that it did at least change our hobbies. Adding the Osprey Poco Plus to my ever growing list of backpacks ensured that I would be able to still enjoy time outdoors with our little dude.
Osprey has been making backpacks in some form or another since 1974. That experience means they have picked up some knowledge here and there along the way. The purpose of the Osprey Poco Plus is first and foremost to carry your precious cargo comfortably. It comes with a kickstand so that you can drop your pack without faceplanting your child. Stirrups keep them stable during the ride. Let’s dive into the pack’s features.
Osprey Poco Plus Specs
Pack Body and Frame
The packing volume of the Poco Plus is 26 liters, so it falls squarely in the day pack range. I wouldn’t be scared if a couple wanted to take a toddler on an overnight though. A larger overnight bag with the camp accoutrements and the Poco Plus with snacks and toddler accessories would work fine with an experienced set of parents doing the packing.
On the bottom of the pack is a metal kickstand or foot that stabilizes during loading and will fold back with an audible click for maneuverability while on trail. It’s indispensable for packing truck side or for snack time during a respite. Dual grab handles on the top of the pack body make shouldering the Poco Plus a breeze from the ground or tailgate.
Older Poco Plus have the AirSpeed suspension pack straps while there’s now a version with my beloved AntiGravity style suspension. I mention a little bit of my love for the AntiGravity suspension in my review of the Aether 70 I did some time ago. Behind the straps and in front of the cargo area is an external hydration bladder sleeve. It fits up to a 1.5L bladder, if you attempt to put more in the sleeve you may experience a wet back or an over-pressured hydration bladder. Not great if your bite valve leaks.
The “cockpit” of the Poco Plus is where your kiddo will spend most of his or her trail time. There’s a chest harness that their arms go through that clips behind the shoulder keeping them snug and secure. Adjustable and/or removable stirrups keep their feet stable during long hikes. A collapsible sun shade is key for open air sunny days, and allows your navigator to catch some Z’s during a hike. We found it also helps with kids that drop their snacks or hats/gloves all of the time.
Speaking of catching some Z’s there’s a removable drool pad and cushion that can be taken out for cleaning. It makes the ride a little more comfortable, but younger children will have their face closer to the drool pad — so expect drool.
I do wish the stirrups were perhaps a little longer, as my kid will occasionally kick me right in the kidneys. However, the straps are removable which when your kiddo gets to be a certain height will be all but a necessity in order to keep them from having their legs be bent during the entire trip.
Colors and Availability
The pack itself is designed for a load rating of 24-49lbs. You wouldn’t want to carry much more than the 49lbs of “dynamic” load as your toddler moves about when you’re hiking. The dry weight of the Poco Plus without any of your precious cargo is a healthy 7.9lbs.
The pack comes in two colors, Black and Blue. My personal recommendation would be to go with blue as it shows less dirt and will be less hot for your tiny adventurer.
The Osprey Poco Plus retails for about $340. I would save an REI/MEC 20% coupon for it if you’re a member. Knocking any amount off of that should help ease the pain. Shop around, because sometimes retailers will be quite a bit lower.
The Poco Plus rides well on my back, with adjustable load lifters and kidney belt just as you would expect from any other load bearing pack. Additionally for the child there are stirrups to put their feet in, as well as the chest harness to keep them in place. The chest harness lacks the range of adjustment that the stirrups have. However, you should pay close attention to the specifications for the pack, if your child is too young or too small, avoid using the pack and consider an alternative carrying apparatus until your child meets the required size. Ignoring those warnings could be very harmful to your child risking strain but also strangulation risk.
Unlike a normal hiking backpack your “load” in the Poco Plus is likely to move. Making sure that the pack is properly fitted to your back and not loose is greatly important. One large shift on the part of your child could cause back or shoulder injury to you.
In general our pack gets used 2-3 times a month and we’ve been using it for about three years now. While the Poco Plus does get dirty on hikes, it can be cleaned with a damp cloth. All but the most persistent of stains will come out this way. All the zippers and pockets remain functional and nothing on the pack has broken yet. We’re about to had our second child about a year ago, so we will be testing the backpack under yet more stress. However, I’m confident in the design that it will continue to take a beating for another few years before it finds a home with another outdoorsy family. I toss the backpack in the truck bed and it rattles around from house to trailhead. To date the pack has more than held up its end of the bargain.
Overall the Poco Plus absolutely does what we need it to. My boy has logged several hundred trail miles with me while mounted in the pack and has done so safely and securely. It has all of the pockets and storage space required to pack for a day trip comfortably while being able to collapse down so as not to take up all of my available space when going from home to the trailhead.
It’s difficult to get items out of the backpack while wearing it, which can be problematic. When your toddler just wants a snack, that’s where the various slash pockets on the sides help with availability. Additionally the rear bellows storage area zipper is abysmal. The pack could use a design overhaul. In ideal conditions it’s hard to operate, let alone when your hiking partner is demanding a snack catcher of Goldfish. A tether or two would go a long way to ensuring your kid doesn’t throw out or lose a snack catcher during a hike, but that’s a cheap add on.
While I don’t have the Deuter or Thule pack to compare against, Osprey did a great job here building a pack that carries your child and does so securely with the features required of an all weather all terrain pack. They’ve taken their vast backpacking experience and were able to seat a child comfortably behind you so that you don’t give up your time outside and get to share it with your little one. For us it’s been a game changer in the outdoor space, and I highly recommend the Osprey Poco Plus to anyone with youngsters.