Soft structured carriers are similar to mei tais in that they have a body panel, a waist strap, and two shoulder straps. However, soft structured carriers have waist and shoulder straps that are usually heavily padded and use webbing and buckles to tighten and secure the straps, instead of tying knots. Most soft structured carriers are used to position the baby on the wearer’s front or back. While some soft structured carriers can be used with newborns, they really shine when used with heavy infants and toddlers, especially in a back carry. Soft structured carriers are designed to transfer a lot of the baby’s weight to the wearer’s hips, which makes them a wonderful choice for long walks and hiking.
Buckle carriers are similar to soft structured carriers in that they use buckles and webbing to secure and adjust the waist and shoulder straps. Where they differ is in the amount of padding. While soft structured carriers have a wide, padded waist/hip support strap buckle carriers are generally not padded in the waist. They usually do have padding in the shoulders, however some, like the BobaAir, are completely unpadded in the straps. The lack of padding in the waist allows the wearer to place the waist straps anywhere along their torso is comfortable whereas with a soft structured carrier most people will wear the waist strap at the top of their hips.