Disclosure statement: I received no compensation of any type for completing this review.
People. Gather round. Are you interested in learning about a soft-structured carrier that combines wonderful quality with amazing value? Of course you are! Listen up.
Easy Feel Products is a company based in Gurgaon, India, that is new to making carriers, but has been in the baby products industry for about two years now, with cloth diapers. They have entered the carrier market with a lineup of soft structured carriers in both standard and toddler sizes, as well as ring slings. Easy Feel sent me a Standard size Full Buckle Ergonomic Wrap Converted Soft Structured Carrier to review.
Upon opening the package, I was struck by the high quality of the materials as well as the simple-to-use construction. In many carriers that are marketed as "affordable," I am disappointed by lower-quality materials. This is definitely not the case with Easy Feel! The waistband, shoulder strap, and legs out padding is thick, and the handwoven Ikat wrap fabric that covers the entire carrier is soft, vibrant, and beautiful. I was so pleased to discover that this "budget" carrier is a full wrap conversion! The function of the carrier is very simple as well, with a few thoughtful and useful convenience features. It allows for two wearing positions: on front or on back, facing in toward the wearer's body, and the shoulder straps adjust in one direction. For the average consumer, this simplicity makes the Easy Feel an easy-to-use carrier to use from about 4-6 months on up!
The wonderful features of the Easy Feel are worth exploring in more detail. Let's review the safety, comfort and function, materials, and value.
Easy Feel puts safety first. The soft structured carriers have passed testing and are certified compliant with ASTM F2236-14 safety standards, and there are some identifiable extra safety features that are standard on these carriers. The clip on the waist belt has an extra elastic band around it to help prevent falls should it become unfastened unexpectedly. All weight-bearing seams and sections of the carrier are reinforced with multiple lines of stitching, as well as "X-box" stitching to hold pieces securely in place.
Comfort and Function
For me, these traits go hand in hand. I tried this carrier with my very tall 2.5 year old in a front carry around the house, a petite 15 month old in a back carry for a 2 mile walk, and a petite 18 month old in both a front and back carry, and was quite pleased with its performance on all accounts. Remember that buckle carriers are kind of like jeans, meaning that each person has a favorite buckle carrier, because they all fit a bit differently. For more on that topic, see this post.
The padding in the waist belt and shoulder straps is thick, more so than just about any other soft structured carrier I've tried (and I've tried many)! The curved shoulder straps were one of my favorite parts about the Easy Feel. They were incredibly comfortable in both a back or front carry, The word "marshmallow" comes to mind, for that is how puffy and springy they were!
The density and thickness of the foam waist belt were very comfortable for me as well. One problem with some SSC waist belts is that they can "buckle" over time, meaning the baby's weight causes the top of the belt to fold a bit. I feel very confident that this will not be an issue with Easy Feel due to the density and thickness of the foam. The high structure of this waist belt also allowed me to wear the carrier a little higher in a back carry, which was a comfort factor for me. I have a previous back injury and continuing hip pain which renders many SSC's that sit at the top of the hips quite uncomfortable for me. This was not a problem for me with Easy Feel!
The adjustability of the Easy Feel allows it to fit people of many different body sizes and shapes. The shoulder straps expand from about 20 inches to about 39 inches, and the waist belt expands from about 25.5 inches to about 51 inches.
There were a few other important features that impacted comfort for me and my wearees. The panel had darts that were carefully designed to allow for a nice seat - not too deep, and not too shallow. I was pleased to find that the Easy Feel has Perfect (or Personal) Fit Adjuster Straps that allow the the shoulder straps to shorten for petite wearers, or bring smaller babies in a bit closer for a more comfortable ride for all. There is puffy "legs out" padding that was marshmallowy (there's that word again!) under my wearee's knees, but still compressed down so as to not affect baby's leg positioning or freedom of movement. The padded section of the shoulder strap extends quite far which helped me avoid the dreaded "underarm rub" problem that can make some SSC's less comfortable. The long Perfect Fit Adjuster Straps still allows the strap to shorten enough to compensate for any anticipated "too-big" fit problems with long padded section.
Easy Feel carriers have some key design features that are typical for many higher quality soft structured carriers. The webbing on the shoulder straps is adjustable in one direction (pulling towards the back when the carrier is worn in a front carry), and the straps are "fixed" on sliders that do not detach. The chest clip slides up and down to allow for maximum adjustability for a variety of wearer body types. There are elastics on the ends of all webbing that allowed me to roll extra webbing up and out of the way to keep it tidy. And there are a few nice convenience features, including a small internal pouch inside the panel that allows a fixed hood to be tucked away, and a small pocket on the waistband, located at the hip which means it is accessible in a front or back carry. This pocket is large enough to stash an ID card and some cash, but was not large enough for a phone or diaper.
Materials and Labor
The owner of Easy Feel, Shikha Nitansh Garg, told me that the handwoven wrap conversion carriers are made from cotton sourced in India and woven by South Indian weavers. There is a team of four tailors and her mother has designed the carriers. She reports that Easy Feel follows Fair Labor practices.
This particular carrier is made with Ikat fabric which was dyed using a resistive dyeing technique. It is advisable to wash this carrier before using it as it may have about 5-10% color bleed in the initial washes. Easy Feel offers carriers made from both vibrantly colored cotton prints and handwoven material. The carrier I had in hand was a full wrap conversion, meaning that the soft and beautiful Ikat fabric covers the entire carrier - panel, waistband, and shoulder straps.
One of the things that Easy Feel prides itself on is offering a high quality carrier at a value price. Depending on currency exchanges, retail on the Easy Feel website runs at around $71 (US) for a cotton print standard size, $83 (US) for a cotton print toddler size, $75 (US) for a full conversion handwoven Ikat standard size, and $87 (US) for a full conversion handwoven Ikat standard size. Shipping to the United States is around $22 (US) for standard (non-expedited) shipping. While every consumer may determine what his or her budget for a carrier might be, the pricing of Easy Feel is extraordinarily competitive, and they have not sacrificed quality in their endeavor to make this carrier accessible!
In summary, the Easy Feel soft structured carrier is definitely worth checking out if you are in the market for an affordable, high quality, and beautiful soft structured carrier from a family-owned business with fair labor practices.
Beth. The babywearing lady.
copyright 2016 Beth Secrist
All photos used under the Creative Commons license through Flickr. Photography by: littletuesday12