The Freeloader Review:
Let’s just start out by saying that the Dads that invented the Freeloader are firefighters. So, beyond the big ups we give them for dedicating their lives to such service, we knew that this product was going to be built “firefighter tough”. It did not disappoint.
This Dadsitting reviewer was lucky enough to get the Freeloader review assignment and within seconds after walking in the door and being greeted with my standard ‘runny-hug’, by our two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, I was peppered with “what’s dis Daddy” repeatedly until I opened the box. After helping me unpackage and reveal the Freeloader, there was unfamiliar excitement, a slight pause and then back to “what’s dis Daddy”. She loved it, but had no idea what it was.
“Can we try it Daddy?” And so, we did just that.
The Freeloader comes in three sizes, small, medium and large, and like a backpack needs to be properly adjusted using the shoulder and waist straps to ensure maximum comfort.
- NEW Stirrups for foot support on every carrier!
- Ergonomic waist and shoulder straps to evenly distribute weight to the body’s hips & core
- Open back design helps maximize airflow to keep your back cool & dry
- Easy-to-use, 5-point child safety harness
- We only use lead-free and phthalate-free nylon materials
- Lightweight, strong & portable
- Meets or exceeds all CPSC standards
- Product weight: 5.8 lbs.
- Carrying capacity: 25-80 lbs.
- Minimum Age: 2 ½ years
- Standing height: 33″-50″ tall
We tested the large size in Coral Reef (blue). At first inspection, it’s obvious this is no Ergo Baby with a frame and definitely not your Target special, janky camping pack with a canopy and a kid section designed by a kid-less engineer. This is a substantial piece of equipment. It is VERY well made and delivers against its statement being the world’s first and only carrier made specifically for a toddler. We’d guess that a jump-seat on the fire truck served as some inspiration, given the folding mechanism and the way the carrier tucks nicely into itself when not in use. We actually had a family friend prove it easily holds an adult too, as she jumped onto it at dinner party that may have gone three bottles too many, but I digress and we don’t recommended.
So, putting on and adjusting is easy. We recommend doing this first by yourself with the seat disengaged so you can easily get it fitted properly with the waist straps positioned to distribute your child weight across your hips. Once fitted, if you have help, just have your help flip the seat down and easily strap in your child and slide their feet in the stirrups and be on your way. If you don’t have help, you’ll need to place the device down in a safe place (ground/grass/couch, etc.), deploy the seat and then strap in your munchkin. Next, we recommend kneeling and grabbing both parent (front) straps and swinging the Freeloader and your child to one shoulder as you slide your near arm into its respective strap. This allows you to absorb the child’s weight on your shoulder while you reach around to grab the other side and load up. If you’re not flexible loosen the strap your putting on second to make grabbing it easier and then readjust with a single pull once on.
It’s much easier than it sounds once you get the hang of it, but two people does help.
We took the Freeloader out for a few test trips and my daughter and I collectively loved it. A steep hike down to the beach once painfully experienced via “Daddy Piggy” on the hike back up was a breeze and left so much more time for toddler shenanigans at the beach. A long stroll around the city that used to be accompanied by a completely useless empty stroller for 75% of the trip has been notably improved by a device she just loves; the Freeloader.
For what it is, it’s light-weight, uncumbersome and although you’re aware you’re rocking an ever-growing snack-pack crushing 30-40 lbs. on your back, the distribution of weight across your shoulders and hips makes 3-4 miles somewhat painless. Continuous toddler movement is inevitable and balance is quite manageable thanks to the steel frame and sturdiness of the Freeloader. It has great little waist pockets for Dad’s stuff (keys, phone, wallet, etc.) too and we actually clipped water bottles and snacks (cool Dad trick to use pet treat pouch) to the back and maximized effectiveness.
The editors at Dadsitting agree the most important factor of any product we review is if the kid likes the product. No like, equals no use – period! We have enough closet hogs cluttering our lives and with the kids we’ve tested, the Freeloader is batting a 1000. Short dog walks and 2-hour hikes, the Freeloader is something every Dad wishes he had. We know our OP short, red-laced hiking boot wearing Dads would’ve certainly benefitted from this “built for Dad” piece of equipment back in the day.
Kids love it!
Weight distribution is phenomenal
Great for long walks/hikes
Heavy-duty, but light for what it is (5 lbs or so)
Folds up well for small suitcase footprint (travel)
Stirrups adjust only so far
My daughter is a constant talker and she’s right in my ear 🙂
A solid 5 ice cold IPA’s for the Freeloader. We expect nothing less from a couple of firefighting entrepreneurs.