Sometimes little legs just can’t keep up with big travel itineraries. Traveling families with small children know that at some point, their kids will simply be unable to continue to keep up on days with lots of walking. Enter The Freeloader. It’s a light, sleek child carrier that ensures your little one will be able to take a breather while your day won’t be cut short. Erick Jansen and Nathan Jones of Austin Texas have been designing, building and testing this helpful new product that is sure to be celebrated by active parents everywhere. Not only is it functional and comfortable (for both parent and child), but its good looks seem to bring admirers regularly as Jansen and Jones find every time they bring it along for family outings. Erick agreed to answer some of my questions about what is soon to be the must-have item for parents of tired tots.
1) What took The Freeloader from idea to reality?
After several years traveling throughout the world and U.S., I realized we needed something that would allow me to carry my daughter and extend the amount of time we could spend outdoor on these adventures.
2) Did you two make the final design by yourself, or did you bring in an expert team to put it together?
We initially made all the designs ourselves. I went through several sewing machines and reams of fabric and nylon webbing as well as metal frames that we made and tested extensively on our own. Nathan and I used his kids as test pilots as well for some time, so safety was always our top priority. From there we went to a manufacturer and had samples made which made my sewing abilities look pretty silly, but functional. The frame portion of the hinged seat was tested by an outside testing lab to verify the weight capacities and we have contacted the ASTM, CPSC and all other bodies concerning child carriers and their safety certifications.
3) How do you secure the child with the straps? Is it a two-person job to strap them in?
It can be done by one or two people. Much like other frame carriers on the market, you can load your child into the Freeloader while off your back and then position the pack on your back just like the current frame carriers.
4) How long do children usually ride on the carrier?
It really depends on the child and the outing. I’ve had my daughter in it for well over an hour and as little as a few minutes. We’re not advocating keeping children from exercising their bodies, we simply wanted to create something that would allow the whole family to continue on through the day regardless if a child got tired. It’s a great feeling whether you use the carrier or not to know that you have that ability without pushing a stroller around or carrying one of the bulkier carriers.
5) Is it easy to clean?
The cover is removable and can be thrown in the washer.
6) Where do you carry the weight of the child? Through your shoulders? On your back or core?
The Freeloader is designed around current hiking backpacks on the market designed to carry heavy loads up to 100 lbs for 8 hours a day. The weight is distributed across the waist belt and shoulder straps. It is ideal to keep loads as close to the body and higher up on the back to create a comfortable load for the wearer.
7) Do you have any advice for fellow inventors?
8) The Freeloader is being made locally in Austin, Texas. Was that decision made out of convenience, support for the local economy or another reason?
We believe in supporting our community and those that have supported us. It also allows for greater flexibility in regard to quality control and production changes.
9) What are your plans for the future? Where would you like to see The Freeloader go?
We would like it to go everywhere, literally. We want it to be as commonplace as loading the diaper bag and snack bag into the vehicle. It is so incredibly portable and lightweight that regardless if one uses it, it is a safety net for not if your little one gets tired, but rather when.
See the Freeloader in action below! Then head over to their Indigogo page to make sure you get one of the first off the production line.