Designed as an ultra-light compact travel carrier, the Tula Lite isn't really designed to compete with Tula's other carrier offerings but instead complement them. Offering Tula lovers a light-weight option perfect for hot days and travelling specifically. It's ultra slimmed down design doesn't offer the same level of support, flexibility of use and fit of the Tula Explore and Tula Free-to-Grow... but what it does do is fit into a tiny self contained bag, weighs almost nothing and has a frankly enormous pocket. All of which makes it perfect for travel and summer days out.
You can see how it works and hear my full thoughts here in my video review or read on below for my key facts and considerations on this carrier:
What is the Tula Lite made from? How does it feel?
Made from a 100% Nylon outer patterned fabric combined with a 100% polyester mesh lining fabric, the Tula lite does indeed feel very very light. It is not the world's softest carrier and it does feel a bit snythetic but none of it feels overly harsh. Against bare shoulders it didn't chaffe and nor did it make me overly sweaty. Making it a great option for really hot days.
What ages and stages is it suitable for?
It is weight tested from 5.4kg (12lb) to 13.6kg (30lb) and I would say realistically it would work from roughly 3-4 months through to around 18 months. Maybe a little more or a little less depending on whether your baby is tracking the lower or higher percentiles respectively. Neither the width nor the height of this carrier adjust, which is why compared to other more adjustable carriers (such as the Tula Explore or the Tula Free-to-Grow) it doesn't fit as early or last as long! I believe this was a conscious choice by Tula to keep this carrier really compact, lightweight and simple - as obviously adjustment systems would add bulk and weight. So this is a carrier that will work from when baby can sit in the panel without being over-extended. As the panel is very soft and squishy this can be as early as 3 months for babies with longer legs, and more like 4 or 5 months for smaller little ones. It will then continue fitting until the point where babies legs are much longer and the panel can no longer support to at least mid thigh - typically around 18 months. Because it is designed for babies who are 4 months plus, this carrier doesn't feature any head or neck support as at this point most babies can support their own head. There is a removable hood, however, that can be helpful as a headrest if baby falls asleep in the carrier.
What carrying positions does it offer?
The Tula Lite offers 2 carrying positions - front facing inwards, and a back carry. Both work very well and with just 2 buckles total to do up and 1 point of tightening for each side this is definitely a very simple and intuitive carrier to use. When carrying on the front the straps pull forwards, which is a very easy motion to do. When wearing on the back they pull backwards, which I did find a bit of a challenge but again not too hard once I got used to the angle and direction of pull.
What it doesn't offer is a hip carry or the front facing outward position.
How does it fit for the adult?
To keep this carrier compact, it features almost no padding. The waistband is wide, curved and only very lightly padded. It is, however, surprisingly supportive because it is really flexible and moulds around your body to get a really good fit. The padded section isn't overly long which means it will tighten to fit a petite waist. The webbing, however, is very very long which means the waistband can comfortably and easily accommodate plus-sized parents too. A convenient elastic loop at the end of the webbing allows you to tidy the excess away and avoid having long dangly bits.
Where fit becomes more complicated however, is when we look at the shoulder straps. The straps are completely unpadded and relatively narrow. They feature a long section of mesh and nylon strap before moving into adjustable webbing. This section is so long that many very petite parents will find that they simply can't get the straps tight enough. You can see in the video and pictures above that I have the straps almost at their tightest, and I am not by any means petite. At 170cm (5ft 7) and a UK size 12 or 14 there are many parents both male and female who are smaller than me and would need to get the straps significantly tighter. There is, however, absolutely oodles of webbing... so if you are a plus sized parent you can rest assured there is plenty of space.
Being unpadded, this carrier does mould nicely to fit over different shaped backs. And the narrow shoulder straps work well with narrow shoulders, and sloping shoulders. But the lack of padding can mean it can get a bit diggy on some parents depending on individual fit. As such this wouldn't necessarily be my first choice for a full time carrier, but for travel and summer I would happily sacrifice a litle bit of comfort for being cooler and less encumbered.
It is worth noting that the straps only do up in the rucksack or H configuration. It is not possible to cross the straps across the wearer's back. If you are someone who finds cross straps more comfortable, or someone who finds doing the strap up at the back hard with rucksack style straps then likely you'll struggle with this carrier. And would be better off with another lightweight carrier instead.
What is special about this carrier?
The real unique selling point of this carrier is the frankly enormous pocket at the front. The carrier features two zipped compartments. One hidden inside the waistband which allows you to store the whole carrier neatly inside, allowing you to easily wear the carrier as a hip bag or over the shoulder bag when not in use. And a second separate compartment accessed via a zip on the outside, at the front. While the carrier is stored it does take up most of the space inside this pocket but there is still easily space for phone and keys and maybe a small purse or certainly a bank card and a bit of cash.
However, when the carrier is in use/ or at least not folded away - this pocket is really capacious. Loads of space for snacks or for a nappy and change of clothes for baby. You probably won't get a change mat in there but you will get a good few things in there, certainly anything you need on hand immediately while travelling.
How does the Tula Lite compare with other options on the market?
The Boba Air is really very very similar to the Tula, but almost half the price!! Made from a very similar nylon material, it too offers rucksack straps only and the same 2 carrying positions. The shoulder straps are more adjustable and tend to fit petite parents better than the Tula Lite. The Boba Air also folds up even smaller and easily fits into a bag but doesn't have the big front pocket space nor is designed to be worn empty as a hip bag.
The KahuBaby Sunshine offers a lot more flexibility than either the Tula Lite or the Boba Air. It offers 4 carrying positions, including both a hip carry and a forwards facing position. It offers the parent the choice of either rucksack or crossed straps and the width of the panel is adjustable meaning this carrier works for both younger and older babies too. Generally working well from around 8 weeks through to 2 years of age. Additionally, the sunshine material is just as thin and breathable as the material used for the Tula Lite and the Boba X but feels a lot softer and a lot less "syntheticky" to the touch. Plus it is UPF50+ rated which means it blocks 99% of the sun's UVA and UVB rays, making it truly an exceptional summer and lightweight travel carrier. My full review of the KahuBaby can be found here.
Another carrier to consider is the Mini Monkey Mini Sling. This is actually quite a different style carrier to the Tula Lite, Boba Air and KahuBaby Sunshine, but as a pure lightweight travel carrier it is hard to beat. It is honestly one of the smallest, lightest, most compact carriers going. And at just £37.50 it has one of the tiniest price tags too. You can read my full review of this carrier here.
Price tag and is it worth it?
At £79.90 the Tula Lite is significantly cheaper than other Tula carriers, but considering that this isn't really designed as a full time, year round birth to toddler carrier like their other offerings it's not necessarily as good a deal as it might seem. It is significantly more expensive than the Boba Air which costs just £40!! and only a little cheaper than the KahuBaby Sunshine which costs £110 and offers a whole lot more flexibility, comfort and longevity and actually is designed to be a year round birth to toddler carrier.
So is it worth it? Well that depends entirely on how much you are going to use it and how much you need a lightweight travel carrier. If you live somewhere very warm, or travel A LOT (several times a year) then it may well be worth it. Although honestly, my vote would still be with either the Kahu Baby Sunshine for the additional flexibility or the Boba Air for the fact it is really very very similar but £40 cheaper. If, however, you live in the UK and only go away once or twice a year it really might make better sense not to buy any of these but to hire one instead. For £10 for 2 weeks or £20 for 1 month you can hire one of these, or better still a Kahu Sunshine for the whole time you'd be away and save the environment and your bank balance the stress of actually buying something you only need for a short period of time.