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Bjorn Air/Classic vs. Synergy/Active vs. Comfort vs. Ergo
on July 9, 2010
I'm a bit compulsive so we own quite a few carriers. For the purposes of this review, I'll skip slings, and stick to backpack style shoulder strap carriers. Specifically the Bjorn line and the Ergo.
Ergo: The most comfortable of the bunch! While it can get a little toasty for both you and baby on warm days, both wife and I felt that we could wear it just about forever. Unlike most backpack carriers, the Ergo has a waist belt on which most of the baby's weight rests. Those of you who've used a hiking backpack know exactly how much this helps. For those who don't, there's a padded band that sits just above your hips. When worn correctly most of the baby's weight is distributed across your hips greatly reducing the stress/load on your shoulders and back. Unfortunately for us, our little monkey recently decided that she must face out, and the Ergo only allows them to face in. So it's been sitting in unused in the closet for several weeks.
Bjorn Air/Classic: Smallest, lightest and easiest to use. We have the "Air" model, and the special fabric actually does work to keep you and your baby cool. It's my preferred carrier for quick jaunts and hot days. But the wife and nanny will wear it only if they have to. It is by far the least comfortable carrier we own. The shoulder straps are unpadded and relatively thin so they really dig into your shoulders. I find it merely a bit annoying, but the wife says she can't wear it for more than 5 or 10 minutes before it really starts to hurt.
Bjorn Synergy/Active: Basically the Air/Classic but with wider, padded shoulder straps and a lumbar support piece. While a little more comfortable than the Air/Classic, it is still a far cry from the comfort of the Ergo. While the lumbar support is okay, the fundamental problem remains: all the weight is still placed on the shoulders.
Bjorn Comfort: The newest Bjorn, and by far the most comfortable. It has very wide and nicely padded straps, and like the Ergo, the Comfort has a padded waist band! While it isn't quite as comfortable as the Ergo, it comes close. I have used it for multi-hour walks with no back or shoulder discomfort. And unlike the Ergo, baby can face in or out.
A couple minor complaints. First it is quite bulky. Given the way its constructed, its actually much bulkier than even the Ergo, so it's not the easiest thing to stuff in a bag/under the stroller. Second is that as of yet you cannot buy additional bibs. One bib is included, but given how much we use the thing it's nice to have a second (note the Bjorn bibs currently sold are NOT COMPATIBLE with the Comfort). Plus while it doesn't seem as warm as the Ergo, you and baby will be plenty sweaty on hot days.
All these carriers seem very well made, and with the sole exception of the Air, I feel will last a long, long time (while so far so good, I have some reservations about the long run durability of the fabric shoulder straps of the Air). Currently we mostly use the Comfort, but I still bust out the Air on hot days or for short jaunts and all in all we are quite happy with the carrier situation. But we still have hope that one day our little one will deign to face in so we can bust out the Ergo again.
Pros: Most comfortable
Cons: Baby can only face in. A little warm on hot days.
Pros: Easiest to get baby into/out of. Air is fabulous for hot days. Smallest and lightest (great for packing).
Cons: Least comfortable. Some concern about durability of Air fabric.
Pros: More comfortable than Air/Classic
Cons: Still no waist strap!
Pros: Comfort (almost as good as the Ergo)
Cons: A little warm on hot days. Can't purchase replacement/extra bibs. Bulkiest of all four carriers.