It is time to make amends (again)! Zumbucca is one of those brands we have been planning to write an article about for more than a year – I first encountered these carriers last June at a babywearing festival in Brno and again in autumn in Ostrava during the International Babywearing Week – and as you can see, we actually tested the carriers in winter (meanwhile, you already know the story – my gall bladder-hospital-surgery-Christmas – that is all history by now and luckily it did not interfere much with our testing – and yes, again, post-processing of the photos was the main thing that kept this review deep in our archive for so long 😀 ).
I think I maybe mention it every time I write a review about an adjustable carrier and want to compare – Zumbuccas are great and we happily recommend it to beginner babywearers. Actually, there is even some kind of “Zumbucca fever” in our local babywearing group and this brand is becoming more and more common in Ostrava during the recent months.
What does “Zumbucca” mean? Zu stands for Zuzka Bakičová, i.e. “Mrs. Zumbucca, M for ergonomic position of the legs of the wearie, bucca means “cheek” or “face” in Latin (according to their website, the full Zumbucca name mean “Zuzka babywears face to face”). Zuzka, who sews the carriers herself, makes sure that every carrier is original – meaning she makes a second carrier out of the same wrap only under the condition that she can you the wrap in a different manner, to show a different part of the pattern, than in the first carrier. The other original thing about Zumbucca is that you can choose between a soft and a hard waist belt.
The tester box we received consisted of the classical, basic size Zumbucca carrier (sometimes also called “Standard”) with the soft waist belt, Zumbucca XXL carrier with the hard waist belt, an onbuhimo and a doll carrier called Zumbuccka (however, I did not convince the little model to try it even once so I could not write a review of it this time).
Maybe I will be brutally honest to say right in the beginning – the most interesting thing about Zumbucca (and also a great marketing strategy in my opinion) is that every carrier is original and you will never see the same one anywhere. BUT – there are many more reasons to buy it than just this – from the high quality of buckles and straps that match the colour of the carrier and precise sewing to an original bag made out of the same wrap as the carrier.
It is interesting (and honestly a bit strange) that many wearers from our local group thought that the adjusting of the Zumbucca carriers was too complicated while I personally do not find anything non-standard or complicated about it. The back panel is adjusted by straps vertically (straps with my favourite plastic loops, yay!) and by cords horizontally (not my favourite, but whatever), the front buckle of the shoulder straps is tightened backwards (a wonderful little detail one appreciates mainly when wearing on the back), it is possible to wear the shoulder straps crossed (and there are bidirectional buckles on them! hallelujah!), the chest buckle is not detachable (not excited about it, but not surprised). Probably the reason why someone would say that the adjusting is complicated is that because the straps did not slide easily in the buckles but in my point of view this is more of an advantage in your own carrier – the straps just hold where they should and do not tend to slide through the buckles unintentionally. The only thing I kind of lacked on the smaller version of the carrier was some kind of adjusting of the back panel behind the wearie’s neck for the purpose of wearing of very small babies. On the other hand, one of the details I really appreciated is that the hood is detachable while it is possible to hide it in a pocket behind the wearie’s neck.
The position of the wearie (at least my own wearie) in Zumbucca is close to perfection – as you can see also in our pictures, the back panel embraces Emilka perfectly, both in case of the smaller and bigger carrier. One of the factors why Zumbucca is so great in this aspect is, in my opinion, the correctly chosen place where the shoulder straps are attached to the back panel. Again, have a look at our photos – this place is just above Emilka’s knees so the main tension of the shoulder straps goes around the wearie’s bottom and her back can easily bend into the desirable “C” shape (if this place is higher then the tension pulls the middle of the wearie’s back and s/he sits in the carrier with her/his back almost straight – which is something I must reproach when talking about many otherwise great carriers).
The shoulder straps are padded just enough for my taste – not too little, not too much. It is possible to pull the chest buckle low enough so that wearing with the shoulder straps straight was comfortable even for me who otherwise crosses them at any occasion (eleven thumbs up out of ten for the bidirectional buckles!), although, as I already mentioned, I would be a tiny bit happier if the chest buckle was detachable and did not hinder while wearing the shoulder straps crossed.
The soft and the hard waist belt differ quite substantially – I will comment on this later on.
The smaller tester carrier is recommended for children from 4-6 weeks to 3 years (3,5 kg – 20 kg) by the manufacturer. This was the one with the soft waist belt which was quite logical – thanks to it being soft it was possible to adjust the carrier even for really small babies. As far as the maximum recommended size (or age) goes, I am not that happy about it as about the minimum. To compare – Zumbucca’s back panel measures 43 cm horizontally (in the place of attachment to the waist belt) and 44 cm vertically when adjusted to its maximum, while it is 41/44 cm in Lenka 4ever and 46/42 cm in Kavka Multi-Age. We usually recommend the two latter carriers up to approximately 2,5 years of age – a really tiny 3-years-old could probably fit into the “standard” size of Zumbucca (but not a “standard” size of a 3-years-old). Anyway, Emilka who measured around 80 cm in her almost-2 years still had plenty of room to grow.
And how about the soft waist belt? Well, a soft waist belt, sigh… I cannot really compare it to any other carrier – it is sewn through similarly to for example non-adjustable Be Lenka carriers but it is substantially softer (more like in the Be Lenka 4ever carrier). Whoever read any of my carrier reviews probably already knows – I am not fond of soft waist belts and my unaffection is getting worse with my child getting heavier. Understandably, it is an individual matter, but I personally would go for the hard waist belt in Zumbucca.
Zumbucca XXL (“Toddler”)
Yup, this it the carrier “IT” for me – all the positive points mentioned above plus the great, slightly shaped hard waist belt, designed truly for toddlers! This is a carrier I can imagine having at home permanently – therefore, I am really sorry that we had such a short time for the testing.
The back panel is huge – it is adjusted in the same manner as the “standard” carrier and my estimate is that it would not fit a child smaller than 80 cm/younger than one year. It can be adjusted to the maximum 48 cm horizontally and 50 cm vertically which would, in my opinion, fit most 3-years-olds while my rather small child would fit in the XXL version much longer (during the testing, she was nearer the lower recommended size).
Concerning the XXL version, I honestly have nothing to reproach. Even wearing on the back is perfect and the wearie is positioned very high! Unfortunately, I was able to test only the bigger version on my back – to explain, during the time of the testing it was still quite early after my surgery and it was very unpleasant and painful for me to wear a carrier on my back with a waist belt right over my scars while wearing in front was already quite OK by then – so I tested a friend’s XXL carrier later on (after personally talking her into having a Zumbucca made 😀 ); however, I cannot say how the soft waist belt would do when worn on the back.
Zumbucca onbuhimo (“Zonbucca”)
Yes, finally a truly toddler-size onbu! Is it even necessary to write that onbuhimo is a carrier for toddlers…? Well, some manufacturers should be reminded in my opinion – but Zumbucca does not need anything like that. The maximum width of the back panel is the generous 48 cm, the shoulder straps are padded adequately and are very comfortable (as comfortable as an onbuhimo can be – which is not for long distances, let’s be honest, but it is due to the lack of the waist belt). Moreover, the shoulder straps can be shortened quite substantially so you can position the wearie way up high so that s/he sees over your shoulder freely! And again, this is not a standard feature of all the onbuhimos I have tried so far. Bravo, Zumbucca!
Similarly to the XXL carrier I have nothing to reproach (only the vertical regulation of the back panel is a kind of pointless in my opinion; I am used to “regulate” it by positioning the baby – but, whatever, the straps do not hinder or bother me too much, so I am quite okay with this, I guess).
As the babywearing retirement approaches I am beginning to think about having my onbuhimo made – I hawk around my wraps, thinking which one I will have murdered. And Zumbucca is a clear runner-up in this “murder-to-be” audition of mine so far. 😉 I think that this speaks for everything.
Just before the end I need to stop by a tiny detail that has been bothering me since the moment I saw a Zumbucca for the first time in my life. The tag. A big, unnoticeable tag right in the middle of the back panel. On an otherwise “clean”, elegant carrier, moreover with matching shoulder straps… A boom, her comes the TAG! If only it was on one of the sides of the back panel… 🙁
Tag or no tag, Zumbucca is just great. When anyone comes to us in our regional group with the question what brand we would recommend to have a wrap conversion made, Zumbucca always comes up among the first tips. The possibility to choose between the soft and the hard waist belt, possibility to cross the shoulder straps with bidirectional buckles, several sizes suitable both for little babies and preschoolers (yes, there is even a Zumbucca 3XL!) and above all – the quality and originality, that is something not many manufacturer can offer!