For frequent fliers

The Deuter KangaKid ($129; shown at right, for stores) might look like a backpack, but it opens to reveal a harness that buckles around your child and has support straps for his legs. A removable pad inside even lets you change diapers on the fly. Available only in color shown; holds up to 30 pounds (size: 21" x 12" x 9").

For easy stowing

Evenly distribute the weight across your back and shoulders with the padded straps of the BabyBjörn Baby Carrier Air ($100; for stores). The whole thing folds up to the size of a softball, and its mesh material keeps you from getting sweaty. Available in three colors; holds babies from 8 to 25 pounds (size: 11.25" x 10.25" x 3").

For outdoor adventures

Five security straps and an additional waist belt on the Sherpani Rumba Superlight ($166; mean your little tyke will stay snug no matter how steep or rocky the terrain gets. A cover is included to protect your child's face from the sun, wind, and rain. Available in five colors; holds up to 55 pounds (size: 12" x 30" x 12").