The Great Debate: Kinderpack vs. Tula

When my daughter started to outgrow our beloved Beco Gemini before she was a year old, I began scouring the internet for a bigger, better, soft-structured carrier (SSC) to use for her.  At the time, we lived in a third-floor walk-up apartment and her daddy was stationed on a ship that was gone more often than it was home.  Not wearing her was not an option, and I needed something that would last!

If you search any babywearing forum for toddler carriers, you’ll find lots of recommendations for Kinderpack and Tula carriers.  If you are wearing a big kid and you don’t want to have a custom carrier made, a KP or a Tula is what you want.  I love them both, but they fit quite differently!

Straps:

Both manufacturers use 1″-thick foam for the padding on the straps.  Kinderpack straps are wider than Tula straps, at 4.25″/3″ respectively.  I am narrow-shouldered and sometimes find the width of the KP straps a bit much, but they are incredibly comfortable in spite of (or perhaps, due to) the bulk.  Kinderpack straps are tapered to curve around your shoulder (think backpack straps) – they are thickest at the top of the shoulder and narrow about 2 inches before they attach to adjustable webbing and buckles under the arm.  Tula straps also curve nicely around the shoulder, but they lack the same dramatic taper before meeting the webbing (probably because they are so much narrower to begin with).

Strap thickness KP on top, Tula on bottom
Strap thickness
KP on top, Tula on bottom
Strap width & PFAs KP on left, Tula on right
Strap width & PFAs
KP on left, Tula on right

Both Kinderpacks and Tulas come with “Perfect Fit Adjusters” (PFAs) on the shoulder straps, which allow you to cinch the shoulder straps to be shorter if necessary.  Kinderpack straps also come in plus size, which are 4-5″ longer than the standard straps.  Both standard and plus straps have PFAs.  In the past, Kinderpacks have been available with petite straps, but those were discontinued with the advent of PFAs.  As far as I know, all Tulas have the same length straps.

Aside from the width, the biggest difference between the KP and Tula straps is the underarm buckle.  The Kinderpack has a dual-adjustable buckle which can be opened to allow for a hip carry or for the straps to be crossed in a front carry.  You can also adjust the position of the buckle either toward the body or toward the strap of the carrier, so it is easy to adjust whether you are using a front or a back carry.  The Tula has a Ladderloc buckle which does not open.  The buckle is attached to the strap of the carrier, so it is easy to tighten in a front carry.  Since you need to pull the webbing behind you to tighten it, it can be quite difficult in a back carry.

KP underarm buckle
KP underarm buckle
Tula underarm buckle
Tula underarm buckle

Hood:

Both KPs and Tulas come with sleep hoods, but that is pretty much the end of the similarities with respect to the hoods!  The Kinderpack has a hidden hood – it actually folds inside the headrest and forms a pocket in the body panel of the carrier when stored.  It’s not a very big pocket, but works well to hold small items – a disposable diaper, a cell phone, a car key, etc.  It appears quite large, but remember that whatever is put in this pocket will be right against baby’s back.

KP hood pocket
KP hood pocket

Depending on the style of Kinderpack, the hood may be hoodie-style or flat.  Kinderpacks with solid body panels have hoodie hoods, while ones with mesh panels have flat hoods.  The Tula has a removable, adjustable flat hood that attaches to the carrier with two snaps on the inside of the body panel.

KP hoodie hood
KP hoodie hood
KP flat hood
KP flat hood
Tula hood
Tula hood

To keep the hood up while in use, a Kinderpack has buckles while a Tula has a hook:

KP hood buckle
KP hood buckle
Tula hood clip
Tula hood clip

Waistbands:

The waistbands are actually pretty similar on the Tula and Kinderpack.  Both are sturdy foam and are contoured in three sections.  The Kinderpack has a dual-adjustable buckle centered on the waistband, while the Tula has the female end of the buckle fixed at one end of the waistband so that it sits off-center while worn.  The Tula also has a small pocket on the waistband, which can hold a cell phone, car key, or other small items.  I often use it to stash the Tula hood, which we almost never use.

Tula on top, KP on bottom
Tula on top, KP on bottom

The style of the Kinderpack waistband has changed a few times over the years, and I am sure there is some variation in the sizing from style to style, but as far as I know, KP does not vary the size of the waistband with the body size of the carrier, nor does it change based on the strap length.

Up until recently (early 2014), toddler Tulas had larger waistbands than standard Tulas.  That has changed and at the time of this writing, all new Tulas being produced have the standard waistband.  The Tula pictured has the old toddler waistband; unfortunately at this time I do not have a standard Tula or a toddler with the new waistband for comparison.

Kinderpack Sizing:

Kinderpacks come in four sizes – infant, standard, toddler, and preschool.  All KPs have a 2″ headrest that is not included in the measurements given below.

The infant KP is made to be used with babies from birth-18 months or so.  It has an adjustable base, so you can cinch the seat to fit a small baby without an infant insert.  The body panel measures 9-15″wide x 15″ high.  I don’t currently have an infant KP available and since this post is primarily focused on toddler carriers, that’s all I’ll say about the infant KP today.

The standard KP is such a versatile size; it really lasts a long time!  If you are looking for a “toddler” carrier because your baby is outgrowing the Beco, Ergo or Boba (just to name a few), a standard KP may be just what you need.  The body panel measures 17″w x 16″h and the recommended age range is 8months – 3years.  We got our standard when my daughter was 14 months old and I used it with her until she was nearly 3.  I have been wearing my son in the standard KP since he was about 5 months old, but he was a big baby (>90%ile for height and weight).  He is now 14 months old, about 31″ and 23lbs and the standard KP fits us perfectly.  Note how he is supported from knee to knee without having extra fabric bunching under his seat.  Also notice that the body of the carrier comes up high enough on his back to keep him from leaning, but not so high that his head is buried in the carrier.

Straight view (Sorry for the soft focus!)
Straight view (Sorry for the soft focus!)
Profile
Profile

A toddler KP is quite a bit larger than the standard.  It measures 19″w x 18″h and is not recommended until your toddler is at least 25 lbs and 32″ tall.  I do not have a toddler KP on hand for comparison pictures at the moment, but I tried one at a meeting when my daughter was just 25 lbs and 32″ tall, and it was HUGE on her!  She has always been long and skinny, and it just swallowed her at that time.   A toddler KP will easily last until your average child no longer wants/needs to be worn regularly.

A preschool KP is the largest carrier available without getting a custom made right now.  It is enormous!  The body measures 20″w x 20″h.  The height/weight recommendation is 38″/35lbs.  We purchased our preschool KP just before my daughter turned 3, and she was about 38″ tall and all leg (although she still isn’t 35 lbs).  For the sake of the blog post, I put my 14mo in this carrier this morning, and it absolutely swallowed him.  Here are the pictures for comparison sake:

The top of his head barely sticks out over the headrest!  This carrier is way too big in every respect.
The top of his head barely sticks out over the headrest! This carrier is way too big in every way.
Note all the extra fabric behind his knees! This seat is far too wide for him.
Note all the extra fabric behind his knees! This seat is far too wide for him.
You can really see how much extra fabric is under his seat from this angle!
You can really see how much extra fabric is under his seat from this angle!

Tula Sizing:

Tulas only come in two sizes – standard and toddler, but they also have an infant insert for the standard size and they sell “Free to Grow” leg extenders, which can be used with either size* to widen the base for a kid who is outgrowing a knee-to-knee seat.

*As noted above, Tula has recently changed the waistband on their toddler carrier.  The FTG extenders only fit on the standard and new toddler waists, not on the larger, old-style toddler waist.

The standard Tula is comparable in size to the infant Kinderpack, without the adjustable base.  The body measures  14.5″w x 15.5″ h and is recommended for use from 15lbs.  With the infant insert, the standard Tula should be able to be used from birth, or ~7lbs.  I do not have a standard Tula on hand right now, and again, this post is primarily focusing on toddler carriers, so that’s all the info I have on standard Tulas for the time being.

The toddler Tula is significantly bigger than the standard.  There is a really large gap between the time a child “outgrows” the standard Tula (by outgrows, I mean no longer being fully supported knee-to-knee) and when s/he fits into the toddler size.  This is probably part of the reason Tula came up with the Free to Grow extenders!  The toddler Tula is roughly the same size as the toddler Kinderpack, measuring 19″w x 18″h and is recommended after 25lbs.  We currently use a toddler Tula with my son, but it is actually just a bit too big for him right now:

A bit wide, okay height
A bit wide, okay height
See the fabric bunching under the seat?
See the fabric bunching under the seat?
Not as much bunching as with the preschool KP, but this seat is a bit too wide for him still.
Not as much bunching as with the preschool KP, but this seat is a bit too wide for him still.

Final Comparison:

Just so you can see all three pictures side by side, here they are again:

Standard KP
Standard KP
Toddler Tula
Toddler Tula
Preschool KP
Preschool KP

Both Kinderpack and Tula make fantastic big-kid carriers, and you probably won’t go wrong with either of them.  However, it’s important to remember that SSCs are the most wearer-specific carrier style available, and they really fit every body and every baby differently.  They’re like a good pair of jeans or sneakers – you really need to try several to find what fits you best!  If you’re on the market for a new SSC, join us at a meeting or seek out your own local BWI group and see if they have a few SSCs for you to try.

What’s your favorite SSC?

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35 thoughts on “The Great Debate: Kinderpack vs. Tula

  1. Thanks for the great comparison! We are currently living in Moscow and there is no way to try my daughter in either carrier. By the looks of it Kinderpack seem a little more structured. My daughter is big – 28 lbs and 33-34″ at 16 months. Can you weigh in on how easy it is for kids to get their arms out of each carrier? We currently use an Ergo and Julia sometimes enjoys riding with her arms waving in the breeze.

    • My son has an easy time getting his arms out of the standard KP and the toddler Tula, but had a harder time getting them out of the toddler KP. When he rides arms out in the Tula, I do find it more uncomfortable than the KP, but that may just be due to how it fits me.

      The Kinderpack has a three-piece body, whereas the Tula has seat darts. Both are quite structured and sturdy, but the KP provides a deeper seat. I have found this makes the KP last a bit longer than the Tula, as it is still comfortable to wear a kid who is no longer knee-to-knee in the carrier. I wore my daughter in the standard KP until she was big enough for the preschool one, yet it was uncomfortable to wear my son in a standard Tula even though he is still a little small for the toddler.

      Hope that helps you!

      • Thanks for the reply – this is super helpful! I’m thinking I may just have to order both and see which one is the better fit for both of us. I do like the sound of the toddler KP though. Perhaps if she is really “drowning” in it I could boost her bottom with a folded blanket temporarily? I re-read your original post too, and noted that your preschool KP has the comfort mesh on it. Did you find it made the carrier more comfy for summer use? Does it impact the durability? Julia is not a fan of heat, so the breathability seems like a big plus. That said, pictures of comfort mesh in action made the carrier look a little slack.

        Thanks again for the reply!

  2. Excellent. Can you do a front carry on a Kinderpack or Tula? I have back issues – looking for a change from front-carrying Ergo and Beco. Thanks!

    • You can front carry in either carrier. Neither are designed to cross the straps in the back, though you can do it with the KP. The straps are contoured like backpack straps, so they don’t lay quite right when crossed. The Tula straps don’t unbuckle, so they cannot be crossed. Hope that helps!

  3. We hike with a 4 & 6 y/o they are 40 & 35 lbs, respectively. Will the preschool KP work for them? From reading the descriptions it sounds like the best fit. We currently use ergos but I’m looking for something that fits better. Tia

    • I am sorry for taking so long to respond! It depends on how tall they are as to how comfortable you all are , but a preschool KP will certainly hold them. My daughter is nearly 4, 32 lbs and 40″ tall and she fits well in the preschool size. She isn’t quite knee to knee, but has plenty of support and can ride arms in or out.

    • Tula and Kinderpack both retail for around $169. Standard Tulas are $149 and infant Kinderpacks are $179. KP also offers plus straps for $5 more. Tula makes wrap conversions as well, which are significantly more expensive than their canvas counterparts. You can check our their retail pricing at kindercarry.com and tulababycarriers.com 🙂

  4. I bought my preschool Kinderpack when my daughter was still a bit small for it. I slid the buckles off and reversed them, I aproned the waist of the Kinderpack to shorten the body.

    • My daughter will be 3 very soon and she’s tall and thin and I’m looking into these for our next carrier. Would you recommend the kp preschool carrier?

      • The preschool KP is very large. My daughter is also tall and thin and was just tall enough for it when she was about 3. She is 4 now, 41″ and 35lbs and still fits wonderfully in it. The toddler KP may also be a good option for you, especially if you (the wearer) are on the petite side. I am not particularly petite, but find the preschool Kinderpack to be too big for me even though it fits my daughter wonderfully. If you have the ability to try both carriers on, I would definitely do it.

      • I actually don’t have the ability to try on that’s why I’m unable to make a decision. There are no toddlers in std available on the site in a pattern I like and I am down to one wrap so I’d kind of like to purchase on ASAP. I’m also not on the petite size I am a size 12 5’6″

      • You should be fine with the preschool KP then. Of course fit is always subjective, but I would expect that it should work well for you, or will in the very near future. Melissa recommends the preschool carriers for children at least 35lbs/38″, so if your daughter meets those (I find height more important than weight in general), you should be good.

  5. My son is 11 mos old, weighs 30 lbs and he is 34 inches long. He is def outgrowing our ergo (which I love). It seems to me that the kinderpack and tula are my only options for SSCs to fit him. But he prefers arms out, and based on your pictures, it looks as if arms out will be difficult. Any suggestions? I do belong to a BWI group locally, just looking for more info. Thanks.

    • There are a few other bigger SSCs on the market, but very few have a wider seat with a lower back. If you can make it to a BWI meeting, most libraries have a few different types of SSCs for you to try. I highly recommend you get in contact with them! Onya Baby carriers (onyababy.com) may be something you want to look at; I don’t have any personal experience with them but I have heard good things. Bloo Kangaroo (Kanga) carriers are another option you may like. Her carriers have a tall headrest, but lowers sides so that baby can more easier get his arms out. Again, I don’t personally have experience with them, but I have heard good things. Apparently Kangas wear differently than a lot of other SSCs and I hear that people who prefer wrapping really like Kangas when they need an SSC.

      • I do belong to a BWI group and I have attended their meetings. Unfortunately, they don’t have many SSC options for me to try, for a larger child. I will look into the carriers that you suggested. Thanks a lot for your input!

  6. Thank you for your very thoughtful and well-written review! It has really helped me with the decision making process.

  7. My son is 3 years old and 13kg and loves being carried. He has outgrown the Manduca and I am currently tossing between Kinderpack and Tula. He doesn’t like being carried at the back so it is front carrying only. What would be more comfortable? Sadly there is no shop here to try them out! Can you cross the straps at the back with both carrier?

    • Neither carrier is designed to be worn with the straps crossed, and it is impossible to cross them in the Tula. The KP straps can be crossed, but they are curved for a back carry and don’t lay nicely when crossed. Worn as designed, I personally found the Tula a bit more comfortable in a front carry, but everyone is different. I know that doesn’t offer you much help, I’m sorry! If it’s any encouragement, you should be able to sell either carry for about what you paid, so if you choose one and decide it doesn’t work, you hopefully won’t be out much money.

  8. Thanks for your great article! I LOVED my Ergo, but we were starting to get comments about how my little guy “looks like he’s gonna fall out of that thing”, so I knew it was time to look for a bigger carrier. I then bought a Tula toddler sized carrier and really wanted to love it, but I didn’t even like it. The back panel on the toddler Tula didn’t even reach my son’s armpits. Also the lack of structure of the Tula made him feel so floppy on my back, he would lean every which way and my back was killing me. After returning the Tula, I stumbled upon your article and am excited to get my new Kinderpack Preschool! It looks like a more structured design (similar to the Ergo) and I have my fingers crossed that this will be just the one that we have been looking for, and will be able to extend our babywearing for a little longer 🙂

  9. Thanks for the comparison! I’m definitely leaning toward the KP…I’m just trying to decide size. My guy is 26lbs & 33in. I know he would be more comfortable with arms out (standard size) but I’m thinking in the long run the bigger size would be better (toddler size). So hard to decide & I don’t have anywhere around here to try them on!

    • My guy is about the same size now. I haven’t put him in a toddler KP, but I definitely prefer our toddler carrier over my standard KP now. Mine has a long torso and short legs though, and I am very uncomfortable when he rides arms out, so you may have totally different results! I wore my daughter in our standard KP until she was 3 and about 37″ tall, so I wouldn’t worry too much about longevity with the standard 🙂

  10. I was under the impression you could only back carry and have them face you in a front carry for the tula? Are you saying they can face outward as well? What about the KP…is that the same deal? I have a 1 year old who is 23 lbs and 28″ tall so and I can’t seem to decide if I should get a toddler tula or maybe a standard KP. Any advice?

    • Neither Tula or KP are meant to do a forward facing front carry. You can hip carry in a KP if you want, but it’s awkward.

      As for which carrier, it’s really just a matter of personal preference. If you have a local BWI chapter or another baby wearing group with a lending library, I highly recommend visit with them and trying a couple options! SSCs are like jeans, the fit is so specific depending on your body and baby.

  11. My daughter is 15 months old and weighs 27lbs. We are going on a National Park Vacation in August and I need a SSC for my daughter. She seems to be in between a standard and toddler weigh limits so I’m not sure which one will fit here. I’m also looking for something that is lighter and more breathable since we will be hiking Arches National Park. Any recommendations?

    • The toddler carriers are very large! If she isn’t over the minimum height/weight recommendations for the toddler sizes, I would definitely recommend the standard. Summer babywearing is hot no matter what, but the ones with the mesh panels do help keep baby a bit cooler.

  12. I’ve heard a lot about tula canvas that is not suitable for hot weather. In your opinion, which one is more breathable between tula canvas and kp full panel?

  13. I know this is 2 years old, but it often comes up when I search questions about Tula or KP. According to the Tula website, it appears that the straps on the Standard are longer than the Toddler.

    It also might be helpful to add the actual length of the straps to the blog?

    From the Tula Website:

    “The padded part of strap, when not expanded, is 20″ and 23″ when expanded. The webbing attached to the strap is additional 29″ long. The toddler’s strap is 18″ and 21″ when expended. The webbing attached to the strap is also additional 29″ long.”

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