Nov 28, 2017
2017 has been an excellent year for those who'd like to use a buckle carrier from birth! The Izmi carrier, Ergobaby Adapt, Ergobaby Omni, Mamaruga Zensling, Isara carrier and now the Tula Free to Grow! Tula have always been a popular brand; those that love them, LOVE them!! But there are many similarities between the newest Tula and the Isara carrier, so if you like the look of both, how do you choose?!
Both body panels are fully adjustable, by width and by height. The differences are in the methods of adjusting; the base of the Isara panel wraps right over the waistband, and has Velcro to secure it in place. The Tula on the other hand has three poppers, and is attached to webbing sewn inside the waistband. This makes the Isara slightly more versatile when it comes to choosing the width of your carrier, as there are more options of positioning - an infinite amount as opposed to three. In reality this is very unlikely to make a huge amount of different to your usage, but it might be something worth noting. Some may find the Isara Velcro quite fiddly - it can be hard to adjust the width as the Velcro keeps catching, however this can be worked out fairly quickly.
There are some very slight differences in sizing; the Tula body panel on the smallest setting comes up noticeably narrower IF you go by the widths given by Isara, I initially measured the Isara panel as being able to go narrower than 26cm, however it would be wise to observe Isara's instructions. They do after all state clearly in their instructions that it should not be used before 4 weeks/8.8lbs. The Tula FTG on the other hand is given with instructions to use from birth or 7lbs. In reality however there's a chance you may still find it slightly too big for your brand new baby. The trick is to go for as best a pelvic tuck as you can manage (instructions for which can be found here.)
Body Panel heights are quite similar, although the Tula goes down shorter, again meaning you might have better luck with it from birth. Both adjust height in the same way, using the adjusters at the top of the body panel/bottom of the shoulder strap. Both are designed in such a way that when they are pulled snug it will fold up the top part panel flat so you will still have a straight line at the top, as opposed to bunched up material. For a visual demonstration click here and go to 3 mins 30 secs in the video.
Waistbands, Shoulder Straps and Buckles
The shoulder straps differ slightly in their shape - the Isara straps are totally straight, whereas the Tula straps are slightly curved. This is probably to reflect the difference in how you do them up, the Isara has the option of both crossed and rucksack, whereas the Tula has just rucksack, This is very much a case of personal preference - for every person I've met who said they prefer the ease and feel of crossed straps, I met another who say they find it uncomfortable and prefer rucksack straps! If you do prefer rucksack straps, the curve on the Tula straps can make them more comfortable than using straight straps in a rucksack position, so those folk may wish to go for the Tula.
The padded section on the Tula straps is longer; also, you will see in the first picture above that the Isara has dual adjusters, which can be helpful if you struggle to pull the overall adjuster backwards when tightening. The Tula overall adjuster involves pulling the strap forward, rather than backwards (assuming you are using the carrier on your front at this point)..
The buckles are remarkably similar, down to the safety elastic on the waist band, and the elastic at the end of the straps - there so you can wind and tie up any trailing straps.
Both carriers come with hoods, which fasten on the inside of the carrier using poppers. The Isara hood poppers on fairly low down, presumably to make it usable in the shortest body panel position. This may well make it harder to use when on the tallest setting, as not much hood comes up above the top of the carrier - as seen in the picture.
And both come with legs out padding!
As with any sling or carrier, the best way to decide what is right for you and your child is to see if you can try them, at a sling library or through a carrying consultant. I am a huge fan of both these carriers, and know they are going to be huge hits in our local library!