Library: Weekday (Wednesday)
Type: Soft Structured Carrier
Color: Aqua Chevrons
Retail Price: $149-189
In general, the Tula has similar features to most Soft Structure Carriers (SSC): Waist and shoulder padding, chest strap and sleeping hood, but what makes this carrier different is it’s wider seat, padding at the leg openings and shoulder strap extendability. While I have not seen this in person or tested it out the Tula sells something called the Free To Grow that converts the standard sized carrier to toddler. (It basically makes the seat wider.) They also have their own infant insert, sold separately. (Ed: we don't currently have either the Free to Grow or the infant insert, but are putting them on our Carrier Wishlist!)
For reference I am 5’2 and I tested the carrier out with my 11 month old daughter (Natalie) who is in the 25 lb range for weight.
The waist padding is thicker and feels longer to me. This made it slightly uncomfortable for my short person. I need to buckle it on a little lower or else she came really close to my face. I have had some shoulder pain with the other SSCs which I have not had with the Tula. The shoulder padding is similar; I don't notice it being too big or small, although their site states that they have extra shoulder padding.
The straps do not buckle, so no hip carry and there is only one strap adjustment, at the top by the strap i.e. you can only pull one way. The chest clip and waist also only have one strap adjustment but I think the chest strap is a little more centered than other brands.
The Tula features a Shoulder Strap adjustment. This would allow you to make the strap longer or shorter depending on your needs. At the top of the carrier you can make the straps longer or shorter with a small pull tab. I have seen feature work for some and not for others, so it will depend on your personal comfort. Changing the strap length makes the chest strap need to be adjusted, I think there needs to be a longer track for the chest strap to move on to make it more comfortable.
I prefer front carries with the Tula. While the waist padding took a little getting used to, I loved the wider seat and leg padding for Natalie. The back carry proved to be a little challenging for me. While I am on the slender side I was surprised I had to tighten the carrier all the way with the back carry and it still wasn’t as tight as I would have liked it. I also have troubled getting her seated all the way down on my back so sometimes there is an "air pocket" if you will when she is in a back carry. I was unable to bounce her in so she was seated all the way into the carrier. The chest strap, for me, also had to be moved when changing front to back which is not something I generally have to do with other brands, not a huge deal but just something to note.
The carrier overall is wider and does provide much better knee to knee support. It has a small waist pocket that would actually hold a cell phone and padding at the leg openings. The hood I am not impressed with. It uses two metal snaps and a plastic clip on the shoulder strap, and it could be larger.
Overall I do like the Tula for its wide body and padded leg openings. I prefer the front carry in it, due to all the issues for the back carry adjustments. The waist padding isn't the best for my shorty self but isn't a deal breaker.