PePe Porter is a relatively new player on the Czech carrier field. PePe stands for Petra Pejsarová from Nová Ves near Mělník, Central Bohemia – and that is basically all the information I can give you about history of this brand. Again, relying on the “small Czech babywearing world” and its existence on Facebook only, therefore the absence of a proper website and lack of any easily retrievable information about PePe as a company. I actually had to dig up who PePe is and that her business is legal with a proper license number very deep in the order form you fill when ordering the carrier. Yeah, you can live and prosper like that too, but it does not look reliable nor professional in my point of view.
The tested carrier is fully adjustable, from 3-4 months to 3 years according to the manufacturer. I must admit that the first sight of the carrier left me in a bit of a shock – there is virtually EVERYTHING on it. Like REALLY anything you can think of. It is evident that Mrs. PePe is a very experienced babywearer and that she tried and tied many carriers – and she wanted to use all the “best” features in her own carrier. How to describe it while not being mean – there is a popular Czech story for children about a kitty and a pup who wanted to make the best cake in the world by putting all the best things to eat in it. You might guess, it ended up badly and the mean, envious big dog who stole their cake had a stomachache after eating it. So, I will be the mean big dog here because there may be all the best things on the PePe carrier, but combined it is simply too much.
According to what I found in the order form you can basically build your own unique carrier – you can choose the type of the back panel adjusting, width of the waist belt, length of the shoulder straps padding, shape of the hood and even of the ears on the hood; you can also fill in the age, height and weight of your baby. This is a big step up compared with other manufacturers that offer custom made carriers. You can tell without any hesitation that PePe is trying to meet all the wishes of all the customers with the main wish she desperately wants to make come true being the carrier “from the very beginning until the very end”. I see this carrier being recommended as the one in which even a 4-years-old would fit, even talking about adjustable model. Yes, it is huge (the manufacturer needs 4 meters of the whole width of the wrap to make it!) and yes, it requires a lot of adjusting tools and thingies to adjust it for a 3-months-old. Although these thingies all have their function, I cannot help but think that there are too many of them.
What did I find on the tested carrier?
- three levels of the adjusting of the width of the back panel:
- level 1: on the inner side of the waist belt. The whole back pannel is folded and fastended by plastic studs – all thumbs up here, anything is better than the combination of Velcro and a woven wrap. In the first moment I was afraid if these little plastic studs (the same ones that are used in the moderns cloth diapers for examples) would hold up – but to my surprise they did.
- level 2: cords that narrow the back panel in its lower part (the bow-knots under Emilka’s knees) – I understand that these cords are here to narrow the back panel as much as possible for the purpose of wearing even small babies, but these wrap-cords are too thick, too big and too ugly in my opinion.
- level 3: straps and buckles approximately in the half of the height of the back panel – I understand that this is here to narrow the back panel for the smallest wearies, too (but again, nothing really aesthetic in my opinion).
- I can also add the cords that narrow the back panel behind the wearie’s neck and help fixating her/his head.
- adjusting of the height of the back panel by hidden straps – this solution is very elegant and very functional (clap, clap). To be honest I was quite surprised that this is the only type of vertical adjusting this carrier posseses, given the number of adjusting levels in the horizontal direction.
- two pairs of buckles for shoulder straps:
- the lower pair for wearing of small babies (similar as in Kavka Multi-age or Fidella Fusion) – okay, this is something every carrier recommended for carrying babies smaller than 68-74 cm should have – BUT (I am sorry, but I have another BUT) their placement is something that really bothered me. You can find them right under the knees of the wearie and they keep hanging there without any purpose for the most of your babywearing years. They are there, they hinder and look ugly, no other function. Yup, agaaaain, their position way too high on the back panel is the result of the carrier being intended for wearing small babies while being enormous and suitable for 4-year-olds, too. Therefore, the lower pair of the buckles cannot be anywhere close to the waist belt otherwise the poor 3-months-old would get lost inside the back panel (in the above mentioned Kavka and Fidella these buckles are hidden under the knees or the bum of the wearie).
- the upper pair on the sides of the back panel – applauding here, they are bidirectional! 😀
- shoulder straps that are very generously padded and the waist belt that is pleasantly wide, with my favourite type of the waist belt buckle, i.e. with the security button. PePe is quite unique in this aspect – the padding is not made of foam rubber, but of the special memory foam. A very good idea, but must admit that I did not feel much difference compared to “usual” carriers. Anyway I must praise PePe for the width of the shoulder straps and the waist belt (however the leght of the padding could be a bit shorter – but it is possible to order it in shorter version as I already mentioned above).
- detachable hood with ears – I was quite bothered by the big black tag on it but this is my congenital aversion to tags speaking (I would rip them out of every thing!)
- straps in the wrap’s colourway – there is certainly a lot to choose from if you have a look into the order form! But – the black buckles… I understand (I am a very understanding creature, aren’t I? 😀 ) that these black buckles are quite affordable and probably posses certain security properties and qualities that the coloured ones do not. I suppose that PePe would use the coloured buckles, too, if it was feasible in any way; anyway, my main problem is that there is simply too much buckles. Count in the black security elastic bands (is it not possible to get them in the matching colour, too?) and the visual disharmony just hits you in the eyes.
I certainly cannot complain about my comfort or the position of the wearie; I am quite sure that PePe would be supportive enough even for much bigger wearies than Emilka. However, I think that PePe set herself the bar a little too high with this fully adjustable carrier – if you want to make a carrier (nearly) from birth to (nearly) primary school the result cannot be different than a compromise of a compromise. Here, the compromise is mainly aesthetic and mainly in the lower height/weight/age category (while the problem with the most fully adjustable carriers “from the beginning until the end” being the opposite – it fits quite well with the smaller wearies but are usually too small for preschoolers). My question is – how many of these thingies, gadgets and widgets that can be lost, torn, ripped off etc. are really usable for a longer time than just a few months in the beginning of your babywearing years? And in the contrast, why such a thick and wide waist belt and so generously padded shoulder straps when wearing a 5kg baby?
The more carriers I try, the more I am convinced that the single-size, non-adjustable (or just minimally adjustable) carriers are the best – and that the wider the size range is and more complicated the adjusting of the carrier is, the worse the outcome is. In my opinion, if you are determined to make adjustable carriers (of course, this is the current trend, so what can the poor carrier manufacturers do), it is better to find another path – for example the one that Kavka or Rischino chose, i.e. one basic fully adjustable model usable even with very small babies from approximately 2 months of age without making any compromise but not very comfortable and/or too small for a big toddler AND the toddler-super-upgrade model with a different, truly toddler-worthy construction (i.e. huge back panel, wider/longer/harder waist belt and absence of the gadgets necessary for adjusting of the carrier for a squish).
All summed up and highlighted: PePe is a good, comfortable and HUGE carrier in which you can find EVERYTHING. Not really everything you wish for right at the moment because the baby grows and in different stages you would wish for different features of the carrier. If PePe leaved the desire of “satisfying everyone in everything in every age” I would not hesitate to say that it is one of the most interesting (toddler) carriers on the Czech and Slovak babywearing market.
My thanks for the opportunity to test the carrier go to the Facebook group Moderní nosičky!