It seems to be that the Ergo Baby Carrier has a love/hate relationship with users. I am not sure how much that is the case though. So often a person who does not like the Ergo later finds that they actually do, they just were wearing it a tiny bit off. The Ergo is not a hard carrier at all, it is very simple. Sometimes people actually try to make it harder than it is, not by under tightening it but by over tightening it. If you tighten the waist belt too much, before putting baby in, it is sometimes hard to get baby down fully into the seat. If baby is not fully in the seat, it actually still works and is still comfortable, it just seems that the carrier body is much shorter than it actually is. That is the biggest complaint, that it has a small body. Yes, the Ergo's body is short compared to other buckled carriers but with the seat darts added it makes the seat deeper and that compensates some. If you have a tall toddler that likes to do deep back arches I would worry but otherwise I wouldn't. I carried my son in it until he was close to 3 and he was a big boy.
The Ergo has changed through the years but basically the materials have stayed very similar. The fabric is on the heavier side. This makes it quite supportive and sturdy. It is a workhorse of carriers that I machine wash. The passed few years though they had added 2 new versions that aren't just differentiated by regular or organic materials. The ERGObaby SPORT Carrier and the Ergo Baby Performance Carrier are supposed to be lighter weight, more suited to hotter temperatures and outside activities.
I have watched the Sport, since it came out, since we live in the South. The black looked nice but I worried about such a dark color in the sun. Eventually they came out with the blue but it didn't look that great in pictures. The Performance has color options I like better but I was not too keen on the "mesh" portions. When a great deal came up on the blue Sport though, I took it. Since a lot of people ask for more than just the differences in features I figured I'd compare the Ergo to the Ergo Sport.
Upon arrival I realised that the color is so much better in person. Then I noticed the difference in the waistbands. I am not sure I like the small hump in the middle of the sport. In person it almost makes it look miniature. Once trying it on I was certain I didn't like it. I feel like it accentuates any extra fluff you may have around your middle. Though, truthfully, I haven't met a carrier that didn't. I just feel this one is a little worse. In use the waistband is not any less supportive of the baby than the standard. This waistband does not bend at all in use so it is definitely supportive. The waistband is actually supposed to be better for larger people. The structured portion is longer and the extra webbing after that is longer, I have a lot more to work with on the sport. I just wish they had made it longer while keeping the shape closer to the standard. Maybe they could have made it lighter by having cutouts or ventilation spaces instead?
Oh, once you touch it, nice! It is so soft. It is soft because it is a different fabric. It is a seemingly thinner fabric. Thinner does not mean less sturdy but I do worry about it. However it has lots of extra stitching (and it looks nice) at all the critical points and then some. The only thing I will have to worry about is the fabric and, though thinner, it seems to be a nice solid weave. This may make it less breathable, especially since it is a cotton polyester blend not 100% cotton. Less breathable may counter some of the advantages of a lighter fabric when it comes to how cool it is. However it does certainly weigh less. The lining, and everything that touches baby, is a soft 100% cotton though.
The thinner fabric does effect use. Mainly the use is effected in the shoulder straps. Being thinner it holds it shape less which results in the shoulder straps twisting easier at the top. This is effected more by the fact that there is more space from the top of the carrier to the padding in the shoulder straps. I mainly notice this when putting it on. This has not been an issue because I quickly notice that the hood snaps are not there and then just flip the strap over to the correct position. What I am noticing more is where the chest clip attaches. The fabric supports the straps less. This means that the fabric indents more when the chest clip is pulling on the shoulder straps. This results in the sliding buckle being closer to the edge and therefore possibly being able to feel it.
As you can see, it looks like the shoulder padding is longer. Actually, when measured, the difference is at most an inch or so. The padding does not start as high in the shoulder strap so instead of being longer it is really just moved further down to make the padded area of the shoulder strap extend further. I wish that instead it was longer. I know that being longer might effect how cool it is but it would definitely help with the straps twisting, even with the thinner fabric. I do think the cloth portion of the shoulder strap being longer will effect use for a petite person.
The last major difference is the way the shoulder straps attach to the middle of the body. In the traditional Ergo the webbing attaches to the sides on the body. In the Sport the webbing actually attaches to the center of the body. I can guess as to why this is but I really don't have a clue. Originally I thought it was because of the thinner fabric they had to do it to help keep it from ripping a seam. Then I thought about the fact that this allows the body to not be held against baby so tight so maybe it helps with airflow. Whatever the case is I still find it supportive. The webbing though rides up in my case. This does not bother baby or myself. But aesthetically I am not sure it is as flattering to the wearer.
The hood and the body are pretty much the same size and shape. The Ergo Sport has a ventilation slit right below the pocket which should help with at least the baby's temperature. The hood attaches to the shoulder straps with the same snap design. However it attaches to the body using snaps inside the pocket of the Sport. This makes it removable on the Sport which I really like because my kids don't use it. I do fear it getting lost though. I guess Ergo did too since they sell a replacement. It needs to be taken off and reattached to new snaps to adjust the hood height though. I never found the adjustment straps on the traditional Ergo to be all that easy either so this is certainly not a deal breaker.
The biggest difference in weight and bulk is coming from the pocket. On the traditional Ergo there is a large zippered pocket on the front with a smaller pocket on that to put the hood in. The zippered pocket is large, I can fit a wristlet wallet, keys, cell phone and diaper in there. Some of the patterned Ergos like the Heartrose seen in these pictures, as well as the embroidered ones, do not have this pocket. I think that alone makes the carrier less bulky. The Sport has only a velcro closure pocket that is just big enough to fit the hood. If the hood is stored in there you have no pocket. This pocket is small and might fit some tissues, keys and cell phone. I actually prefer no zippered pocket. My children have never complained when I have things in the zippered pocket so it must not be uncomfortable. It looks uncomfortable though, everything in that pocket is right behind their back. When I wear the carrier in a back carry I also have to reach around to get my wallet or cell phone out of that pocket. Instead I prefer to buy the Ergo Front Pouch. The front pouch is velcro so easily attaches to the webbing for a back carry or to attachment points in the waistband for a front carry. Plus it can attach to the webbing of many other buckled carriers or the waist of a mei tai. It isn't as big but still can fit a diaper, a baggy of wipes, cell phone, keys, etc but is so much more easily accessible. Plus it comes with a detachable strap so you can grab it and use it with your ring sling, wrap or without baby along so you don't have to unpack it.
In the end I don't feel like The Ergo Sport is anything like the traditional Ergo. The body size that I like, because my kids ride arms out, is there along with the seat darts. But the fabric and waistband are different. I am a bigger fan of the traditional Ergo (and I am a BIG fan of the traditional Ergo, despite the other dozen brands I've tried I come back to the Ergo). The Sport, in my opinion, is a great carrier for dads. It will be nice to have something less hot in the SC summers though. Despite the cons I will be using this one this summer but don't think it will be my daily, year long carrier.