I have to admit that I knew almost nothing about Isara before this particular testing. I knew that it existed, that it is ˈthat Romanian brandˈ(hmm, hmm); but, I have never encountered a carrier or a wrap from this manufacturer around here anywhere. Yet it is not a newbie on the babywearing market – the brand was founded as early as 2012 (yeah, by a babywearing mother and a babywearing consultant, Monica Olariu) – which is truly ˈearlyˈin the babywearing world. And honestly, do you know of a really well-established, global and high-quality Romanian brand of, ehm, anything? Perhaps, besides Dacia, the car manufacturer (quality of which I am really not able to judge, being a non-motorist; however, it is not a real star-jumper as I have heard) – I am not aware of any. I approached the carrier as I would the Dacia – with caution and low expectations.
Funfact – The manufacturer does not explain the name of ˈIsaraˈanywhere on its website; moreover, it is always written in capitals, that is ˈISARAˈ, which inspired me to search through the lists of abbreviations. The AcronymFinder.com was not very helpful – I assume that ISARA does not mean “International Symposium on Autonomous Robots and Agents”, nor that it stands for the French Rhone-Alpes Higher Institute of Agriculture. Therefore, I dug deeper and found the meaning of Isara as a female name – yeah, I was finally more successful. The name of Isara (or also Ishtar, which could sound a bit more familiar) originates from the NearEast – in Hittite language, the meaning is ˈtreatˈor ˈbinding promiseˈ, whilst in Hurrian and Semite myths, Isara is the goddess of love or medicine. I was quite satisfied by this (although, the Akkadian-Assyrian-Babylonian Ishtar was, allegedly, the goddess of love, fertility, and… ehm… war…😀).
Let’s face it – we still consider the Balkans (in spite of its many countries being part of the EU) a bit exotic – not really exotic in that ˈHawaiian-exoticˈsense. However, there is some merit to the Isara brand. Firstly, the quality of the website (including perfect English!) goes significantly beyond any well-established Central or Western European manufacturer. Secondly, if you dig slightly, you may find out that Isara has won numerous European and international design awards. Now, that sounds better than just ˈthat Romanian brandˈ, doesn’t it?
And, I have to say it now, Isara surprised and pleased me. It was not that kind of ˈlife-changingˈrevolution as in the case of super-exotic transatlantic Indajani from the far Mexico; however, it is an unambiguously well-sewn carrier made of high-quality materials at first glance (of course, it does not have to fit everybody).
I already got used to the fact that every manufacturer tends to exaggerate when it comes to the minimum and maximum recommended size/height/weight of the wearie – Isara quite boldly suggests the Toddler version to be used since 8-9 months of age, but at the same time since 8-9 kg – Emilka herself reached this weight when she was about 1 year old – hence you can see how misleading it can be to use age or weight as a guide when choosing a carrier. If I had to choose, I would like to know the recommended height of the baby (ideally in combination with weight as well). But whatever, I can accept the minimum limit; big babies could fit in the carrier even when they are 8-9 months old. The group Nosíme děti (i.e. We wear our babies) recommends the carrier since 10 months of age, which is kind of cautious information, but if an ˈaverageˈ10-months-old baby is meant by that, then be it. Emilka was about 74 cm tall at the time of our testing (and she still is), and there was still some space to shorten the back panel horizontally while I did not need to shorten it verticallyat allbecause it fit Emilka just fine without any shortening. Because of thatI refuse to believe the megalomaniac manufacturer’s claim that the carrier will do just fine until 4-5 years of age, respectively 20 kg. The recommendation of the group Nosíme děti (i.e. We wear our babies) adjusts the upper limit to 2,5 years of age, which is far closer to reality considering the reviews from wearers with older wearies (you can find these in the Review Album of the group Nosíme děti, i.e. We wear our babies).
As for the adjusting of the carrier – nothing new under the sun, but still simple and functional. There is a Velcro for adjusting the width of the back panel, similarly as in MoniLu UNI or the older versions of adjustable Lenka carriers. The shortening strap for the back panel surprisingly does not shorten only the panel itself, but the most frontal part of the shoulder strap as well, which is little unusually padded in that part (i.e. the part attached to the back panel). Of course, this kind of system saves using of an additional strap with the result being a bit more aesthetic. However, according to my opinion, there are two flaws. Firstly, if you want to loosen the carrier for the purpose of nursing (and as far as my knowledge goes, most of us loosen that frontal strap), you loosen the back panel together with the shoulder straps. Secondly, I see a limitation in having a bigger wearie on your back – by shortening the straps you shorten the back panel as well.
On the contrary, I applaud the manufacturer for having DETACHABLE chest buckle!!! Hallelujah!!! It does not have to bother you when you cross the shoulder straps – do you know why? Because you can easily detach it! It is quite unbelievable that similar amenity reached the Balkans, but even babywearing Ferraris like Madame GooGoo or MoniLu do not have it! However, I find quite illogical (or maybe logical? derived from a logic I do not understand) that the chest buckle is attached to an elastic band, which makes it impossible to fasten enough (at least for my taste) – if I were the manufacturer, I would simply eliminate the elastic band, although I understand the praiseworthy intention to make operating the buckle easier (sometimes, this action being tough and breakneck).
As for the comfort for me as the wearer – I simply like this kind of waist bands, their shape and toughness, which is why I was very satisfied in this regard. The width and the padding of the shoulder straps are somewhere between Tula and Manduca carriers (probably closer to Manduca); these two being the carriers which fit me perfectly, therefore I had no problem with Isara as well. Only after a longer wearing (Emilka is now 9 kg) with non-crossed shoulder straps, my back begged for a break. After crossing the shoulder straps, the comfort was diametrically increased. The position of the wearie was perfectly fine, in my opinion.
Then, why not? I would gladly recommend this carrier to anyone who likes tough waist bands and Isara design as well (this particular being the golden middle – does not charm nor offend). Contrary to other carriers on our market, this one has one indisputable advantage – it is somewhat cheaper than, for example, the above-mentioned Tula.
The Isara Winter Cover came to me in a packet (very decent-size packet) together with the carrier. Personally, I quite strongly favour the “all in one” babywearing clothes (I simply have the feeling that cold wind can come in through the bottom and the sides of the cover); nevertheless, we gladly tried on the cover. First impression – it is giant. I mean, like ENORMOUS. Perhaps even a 10-years-old wearie-basketball player could be covered by that! When you touch it, particularly the ˈfurˈ on the inner side, it feels very pleasant, and the whole cover is very warm. On our first try, I was a bit struggling with attaching the cover to the carrier correctly. When I finally managed, I could not help thinking that there is simply too much of everything everywhere… At the same time, it is simply too large (although it can be fastened on the sides as well as behind the wearie’s neck and at the bottom) and a person of my height and figure just looks like a crazy giant sack.
A brief reflection to close – these covers aim at one single goal – when you buy it, you avoid the necessity to buy an expensive babywearing jacket. Honestly, when I found out the price of the cover, all my desires to buy one left me. Being a babywearing parent longing for a cover, I would either search elsewhere or saved a little more money and buy a proper babywearing jacket.
By the way, when you want to have a hood on the cover, you have to buy it extra, which adds a whole new dimension (not in the positive sense) to the price of this babywearing arsenal.
I hereby thank the group Nosíme děti (i.e. We wear our babies) for the opportunity to test the carrier and the cover as well!