Category Archives: Mei Tai’s, Podaegi and Onbuhimo reviews

Nova buckled onbu review


Manufacturer – Nova Baby Carriers

Design – Buckled Onbu

Colour – Blue and grey floral design

Size tested – Standard size

Retail price of tested design and size – £52.99

Provided to me by – Nova Baby Carriers

Website – Nova Baby Carriers

Nova buckled onbu available to rent from here


Nova Baby Carriers are a UK based family run business, who have been making baby carriers since 2011 (originally under the name SnugiWraps, which is now their stretchy wrap brand). They currently make buckled carriers, Mei Tai’s and Onbus, which are all fully customisable to your own individual tastes. They sent me one of their very popular buckled Onbus for testing and giveaway (on the Sling Sally Facebook page).


I’ve previously used a wrap strap onbu (see the review here), but this was my first go with a buckled onbu. My first impressions were how neat and small it was, if you want a carrier that will fit in a tiny space this is definitely for you! Onbu’s don’t have waist straps so are worn (on front or back), rucksack style with the child’s legs coming out the side so that the panel goes down their back, under their bottom and curls back up between you and them to form the seat. This makes them ideal for pregnant women as there is no strap over their bump, or just for people who find slings more comfortable without a waistband. Ideally the child’s arms are out over the top of the panel, but Reu is very much an arms in sort of child no matter how many times I coax them out! The shoulder straps have a light amount of padding, very similar in level to the Connecta, and there are tightening systems both where the buckles attach at the base ot the panel, as well as perfect fit adjusters on the straps at the top of the panel. The onbu I received has a lovely floral design, but there are over 1000 different fabrics to choose from, as well as customisable strap colours and hood options.


I found the Nova buckled onbu really easy to use, and personally found the easiest way to get nearly two year old Reu onto my back was to stand him in the carrier in front of me so the seat was already formed, and then superman him onto my back as I would with a wrap, but you could use any normal method. The webbing tightening straps were then easy to reach to tighten to a comfortable level for us. I found the padding level in the straps very comfortable, there’s enough that nothing is digging, but not so much that the straps stick out of their own accord, which I find can make straps difficult to get on and get to conform to your arms.


We went on a long hilly country walk while testing the Nova onbu and it was really comfortable throughout. Despite slippy terrain and going over lots of stiles and hills, the carrier stayed in place and Reu was comfy enough to sleep through most of the walk. We also tested it out on a swing (which Reu very much enjoyed!), and despite all the movement the sling stayed put, holding Reu against me very securely. Through the rest of our testing I continued to be impressed by the ease of use and comfort of this carrier, and it’s very handy how small it packs away when not in use.


I think the Nova buckled onbu is a really good carrier, very well designed, easy to use and comfortable for both adult and child. The compactness is a definite bonus and it would easily fold up into a changing bag or smaller. Nova add new in stock carriers to their website each week, but it’s a lovely option to be able to choose your own fabric and other details so you can have a truly individual carrier at a very reasonable price.



PodMama Boo the Onbuhimo review


Manufacturer – Podmama

Design – Onbuhimo

Colour – Boo – ghosts fabric

Size tested – Toddler size

Retail price of tested design and size – £65

Provided to me by – Podmama

Website – PodMama


I have recently had a onbu (onbuhimo) here for testing from Podmama. Having not used an onbu before I looked up some tutorial videos and learnt that they are a traditional Japanese carrier. There is a main panel and two long shoulder straps, but instead of a waistband there is a loop (or rings on some versions), at each of the bottom corners of the main panel. The child’s legs go out the side of the panel so the bottom section of the panel curls under their bottom and up in front of them and between you and them, forming the seat. When used for front carries the straps can be straight or more usually crossed behind you, and for back carries they tend to be ruck style, and can be finished in whatever way you prefer (my preferred is tibetan). Onbu’s tend to be used with arms out so have shorter panels than other carriers (although as usual Reu insisted on arms in every time I tried to encourage them out!), so are great for busy toddlers who want frequent ups and downs, as well as younger babies with head control. Because there is no waistband, these carriers can be ideal for pregnant women or those who just do not find waist bands comfortable.


As with the pod I had tested from PodMama previously (see my review of Nobby the pod here!), I was very impressed with the attention to detail and workmanship on Boo the onbu (Onboo!). Boo was a halloween inspired design with grey cotton straps and  a spooky fun ghost design for the main panel. there was padding to the top and bottom of the panel, as well as some on the sides where the child’s legs are.


Having never used an Onbu before Boo I was very pleasantly surprised with how comfortable it was to use. For back carrying I found it easiest to stand Reu in front of me, get the onbu behind him with the straps ready threaded ruck style with enough slack to get on, and feed one of his legs out each side of the carrier (you could do this with them sitting in a younger child – Reu was 20 months at the time of testing). I them superman tossed him up onto my back as i would do when wrapping, fed my arms through the ruck straps, tightened everything up so he was nice and high and finished the carry (you could tie a double knot but I chose to finish knotless tibetan as I find this more comfortable on my shoulders). The straps and main panel on Boo were made of a very sturdy cotton, which was very supportive, and the straps were lovely and wide so you could spread them where appropriate to spread the weight to where suits you best. While some onbus have rings at the base of the panel, Boo had cotton loops. This were snug fitting, so while it look a little effort to pull through when tightening, the straps wouldn’t slip back through by themselves. They had enough grip that while tightening I didn’t feel the need to secure the straps as they really weren’t pulling through at all (you could however easily secure them between your knees if required).


Once on my back, Reu and I were very comfortable. His weight was very well supported and I found the wide straps and lack of waistband very comfortable. On one of our test trips we took Boo to the zoo (zooboo!), and Reu had a few long carries with naps throughout the day (showing how comfortable he was), in between charging around seeing all the animals. It was really quick and easy to get him up and down, and without the long tails you would have with a wrap. I even found that when Reu was walking, I could leave Boo on my back secured with a loose knot, which was comfortable (maybe even fashionable if you’re interested in fashion?), and therefore easy access for the next up.


We also tested Boo out in a front carry, with the straps crossed behind us, and again found it really comfortable and supportive. I started with Reu standing as I did for the  back carry (again, with a smaller child you could sit or lie them down), and picked him up onto my front before crossing the straps behind me and threading them through the loops. I also tried putting the carrier on first with the straps already threaded loosely, before putting Reu in, so I just needed to tighten up, which I found an easier method.



Overall we very much enjoyed our time with Boo, so much so that I’m currently planning a custom Onbu with the lovely PodMama. Do check out her website for details of her onbu’s, as well as pods and other carriers, and how you can design your own from her lovely variety of fabrics (or your own if you have a wrap or scraps you’re thinking of converting). Boo was really quick and easy to use and very comfortable for both Reu and I.




Podmama Nobby the Podaegi review


Manufacturer – PodMama

Design – Nobby

Retail price of tested design and size – £75

Provided to me by – PodMama

Website – PodMama


I had never tried a Podaegi (Pod) carrier before but had always been curious, so when the lovely PodMama contacted me and asked if I’d like to holiday Nobby for a couple of weeks there was no doubt in my mind. Nobby is a very cheerful Pod with bright purple straps, polka dots and a lovely gnome scene on the bottom hem, and he travels around PodMama’s customers (and me!), so people can try him out.


A Pod is basically a large rectangle of fabric, approximately the width of your back and that reaches roughly from your shoulders to just past your bottom. There are long, wide straps coming from the top two corners, but no waist straps, which is the difference from a Mei Tai. You use the straps to form the seat when carrying your child, as you would when wrapping, so a Pod could be said to be half way between a Mei Tai and using a woven wrap. PodMama gave me a crash course in the difference between an angled strap Pod (most commonly available in the UK), and straight strap Pods like Nobby (she makes both). The angled or straight refers to the way that the straps come out of the main body of the carrier, either straight out to the side (straight), or up and out from the top corner (angled). You can use Pods to do most carries that you can do with a wrap (Nobby is the equivalent of a size 6), and the straight strap Pods can easily do underarm passes, such as with a double hammock carry, meaning you can do more variety or carries with a straight strapped compared to an angled strap Pod.


When Nobby arrived for his holiday (I know I’m anthropomorphising a sling here!), he certainly didn’t let me down in the cheerful sense! He is so bright and cheerful and the cotton is lovely and floppy with lovely strong feeling straps. Our first attempt was a kangaroo front carry. I found it really comfortable with 17 month old Reu, even though I hadn’t spread the straps (spreading them provides more support for you and your child). I was initially concerned about how to use a Pod, but I was pleasantly surprised with how easy it was. During Nobby’s visit we went for several walks together (Reu, Nobby and I), and tried out a few different back carries. We tried a basic ruck tied at waist, a ruck with knotless tibetan finish, and a double hammock with candy cane chest belt. All three carries were very comfortable but the ruck finished knotless tibetan was insanely comfortable. Once I’d got the hang of using Nobby it was really simple, and it was nice to not have a waist band as you would with a Mei Tai. Not having a waist band makes Pods a really good choice for back carrying while pregnant as there is no pressure on your abdomen if you choose a finish on your chest like the tibetan or double hammock. When I tried to double hammock it took me a little while to get my brain around it as I’m used to offsetting my middle marker on a woven wrap for this carry to get equal length tails, but of course you can’t do this with a Pod. As soon as I’d got my head round it and realised I just had to tie at the shoulder (I chose to candy cane my tails to form a chest belt for comfort and aesthetics), all was well, and it made for a very comfortable carry.


Overall we loved having Nobby to stay and really enjoyed the opportunity to try out a Podaegi carrier. I was pleased with how easy it was to pick up how to use it, and with how comfortable the carries were. We were having some rather hot weather while Nobby was here and it was nice to have less fabric wrapped around us on our walks. and with side ventilation. So, if you’re Pod curious, go check out PodMama and the lovely custom carriers she offers (prices start from £45), and consider the options you have with angled or straight straps.


Hoppediz Bondolino review


Manufacturer – Hoppediz

Design – Bondolino

Colour – Black and sand

Retail price of tested design – 99 Euros

Provided to me by – Hoppediz

Website – Hoppediz


Initial thoughts on design, colour and feel

I initially thought the Bondolino would be similar to other soft structured carriers I’ve tried, but when I opened the box I was blown away by all the thought that had gone into the features of this carrier. There are so many features I’ve added an extra section to my normal review format! You can tell that the people at Hoppediz have really tried to make a carrier that will suit any member of the family carrying, as well as be suitable for a really wide age and size range of baby/child (by using the built in adjustments). I must admit I was like a child in a toy shop, and had a good going over all the features straight away, even though Reu was asleep in bed.


The Bondolino is basically a mei tai, but with added benefits. It has a wide velcro waist and tie straps so there are no buckles. The velcro waist is nicely padded and the width is good to spread the weight without any pinch points. The advantage to the velcro fastening waist that I instantly thought of was that it’s very easy to swap between users of different sizes without having to make adjustments, as you would have to with a buckled carrier. The velcro felt completely secure and has a different coloured section to show the minimum overlap required for safety (you can also buy waist belt extenders if required, without these the waist extends to about 110cm/44inches). A friend did point out that the only downside she could see with the velcro would be if you were trying to silently remove it with a sleeping baby, velcro is not known for its stealth qualities. The panel has nice sized seat darts so there’s plenty of room for your baby’s bottom. The shoulder straps are also well padded, but still nice and flexible so you won’t be flailing around behind your back trying to grab that strap that’s decided to stick straight out behind you! I received a black and sand coloured design which would easily suit anyone, and in fact Hoppediz marketing emphasises that this carrier is very suitable for men as well as women. The Bondolino comes in a wide variety of different colours and designs, including a light version for warmer weather and one made with Swarovski elements! And if your little one wants to be like Mummy or Daddy, they make a mini version for dolls too.


Special features

The bondolino comes with it’s own cinch belt (which doubles up as the chest strap), and the panel has a little loop for the cinch belt to thread through so that it stays in the right place. This allows you to make the panel width narrower so that you can provide knee to knee support for even newborn babies. As your baby grows, you remove the cinch belt so that the carrier continues to fit appropriately. Then, as you baby continues to grow (or you swap from carrying a baby to an older child), the Bondolino has integral seat extenders. When not in use they fold into their own little pockets and then when you need them, you just fold them out and fasten using two buttons each side.

IMG_20150618_102957624_HDR   IMG_20150618_102439393_HDR


The height of the panel can also easily be adjusted, so that you can appropriately carry a wide age range of children. When you need a taller panel you simply use the loops and toggles to fasten the sleep hood higher, forming a panel extension but still leaving you with a half sized sleep hood.


The sleep hood itself it attached by velcro so you can easily adjust it according to your own individual requirements, and Hoppediz even provide little velcro covers to protect the attachments during washing. These can be found in the handy little pocket attached to the side of the panel. This pocket is big enough for keys but wouldn’t fit my phone or purse in.


When you have your baby on your back and they fall asleep, you can sometimes find yourself trying desperately to reach the straps on the sleep hood to pull it up over your baby’s head, but the Bondolino has a solution for this too. Before popping your baby on your back, attach the toggle from the shoulder strap to the loop on the sleep hood. Then when you need the hood up, just pull the other end of the toggle strap (this will be on your shoulder so easy to get to), and it should pull the sleep hood up. I tried this while out on a walk and unfortunately the velcro had stuck so I couldn’t pull it up, but I would simply attach the provided velcro covers in future and this shouldn’t be a problem.


With the chest strap there are four loops on either shoulder strap to attach to, allowing for people of different shapes and sizes to all have a comfortable fit. I also chose to criss cross the strap through two of the loops and I found this to be really comfortable and a good way to spread the weight.


You also get a bag with the Bondolino so you can easily carry it about and keep it clean when not in use. Another nice touch is a special plastic square that helps you to achieve a comfortable cross on your back when you are carrying, especially if you are not familiar with using a mei tai. There is also a very comprehensive manual with lots of clear pictures and instructions.


Front carry thoughts

We’ve been for a few walks using the Bondolino for a front carry and it was really easy to use and very comfortable. I have used mei tais before but they are very simple to learn to use so anyone who hadn’t before could learn very quickly. There was no pulling or digging anywhere, and the padding on the waistband and shoulder straps provided a very comfortable level of support. Reu was obviously very comfortable as he settled very quickly every time we used it.


Back carry thoughts

Again, we went for walks to test out the Bondolino with a back carry. It was very comfortable and well supported with padding in all the right places. The chest strap was easy to use and I found criss crossing it through two of the loops helped to spread the weight even better, and there was enough length left that you could weave it through more if this was more comfortable for you. Reu was once again, very settled and happy to watch the world go by from his vantage point on my back.


Overall thoughts

I am really impressed with the level of thought that’s been put into the Bondolino, and the ways that it can be adapted to suit babies from newborn right up to older toddlers (the weight limit is 20kgs). It was really comfortable and easy to use, both for front and back carries, thanks to the design and well placed padding. This carrier could be a family’s only carrier, suiting parents of varying builds and sizes, as well as differently aged children, by making some quick and easy adjustments. I also like that all the adjustable parts are integral so there’s no risk you’ll leave the house without the seat or panel extenders. Overall, this is a great carrier suitable for a really wide range of uses, and I hope to see more in the UK soon.