Tiki-Mechulka is certainly not the most well-known or common carrier brand in the Czech Republic. Moreover, the ergonomic carriers are only in minority among the Tiki’s sortiment which comprises mainly of fabric swings for babies called ˈhackaˈ (which you can actually find in Tiki’s logo), babywearing and nursing clothes, clothes for children, purses, hip bags or backpacks. All of these items are sewn by two mums on maternity leave from southern Bohemia, Táňa Štechová and Alžběta Manukjanová.
You can buy the non-adjustable carriers in M and L sizes – we had the opportunity to test the M-size which is recommended for children from 1 to 2 years of age. You can also find an adjustable carrier in Tiki’s portfolio and something that really caught my eye – a ˈpocket carrierˈ, i.e. a ˈrealˈ carrier with a waist belt that is space-saving and can be packed into a tiny, purse-portable packet. So it is not only an onbuhimo, as I have recently written in the article about Rebela! However, I am not really sure how successful this kind of carrier could be… the used material – polyester 3D net fabric – is not something that one would wish for in a carrier, in my opinion (speaking in diplomatic tongues 😉 ).
Funfact – why ˈTiki-Mechulkaˈ? I did not find anything about the real meaning of ˈTikiˈ connected to the carriers or hackas (Tiki is a Maoran equivalent of Adam, the first man – maybe it comes from that?), but there is a quite interesting story behind ˈMechulkaˈ. ˈMechˈ means moss in Czech – quoting the manufacturer’s website, “the babies lie in their hackas as on a soft moss pillow”, but the main reason why Mechulka is Mechulka is that its spiritual mother Táňa is originally a bryologist – a botanist that focuses on moss. 🙂
Let’s go back to the carrier itself – it is not a total wrap conversion as the waist belt and the shoulder straps are sewn from ˈregularˈ canvas-like fabric; however, this fabric matches the wrap just perfectly! The wrap is a durable Yaro Geodesic Contra Navy Aqua-Green; you can hardly imagine a better choice for a conversion. The contra-twill is super-dense and despite this particular tester carrier being rather old and used a lot, it still looks good. The wrap is intact, good as new, only the fabric on the waist belt and the shoulder straps is a little bit faded here and there. Months of intensive testing have shown that the used materials and the sewing is of great quality – no gaping, no threads sticking out, the straps are not wrinkled and the waist belt holds its shape. Great!
Adjusting of the carrier is simple and functional (the only thing I am not sure about is the function of the snap hook on one of the shoulder straps and the loop on the identical place of the other shoulder strap – but I must admit I did not study it into detail). The waist belt could be put into the category of ˈhardˈ ones, but it is a bit atypical – it consists of three separate ˈplatesˈ (similarly as in the KiBi carrier, for example). I appreciate and applaud to the presence of the bidirectional buckle, i.e. it is in the middle of your back and does not even have an opportunity to press anywhere in your hips – in fact, this is something you can find in just a few carriers. However, I would be happier if the buckle was somehow lockable or secured; well, maybe it’s only my mind spoiled with so many different carriers I have tried speaking – but I must say that I was a little bit nervous about the buckle while wearing this one.
Although I normally prefer hard waist belts, in Tiki, there is too much fabric around the plates that form the waist belt and it tends to bend in its upper part quite substantially. This became quite obvious after an hour of wearing – the waist belt became very uncomfortable for me and my back was sore.
The shoulder straps are not padded much – first, I was afraid that the padding would not be enough, but actually it was – my shoulders were just fine. Concerning the shoulder straps, here you can clearly see that they know what bidirectional buckles are in Tiki! Bravo! I also love the details like the elastic bands on the tips of the padded part of the straps or the fact that the frontal buckle is directed backwards (I have already explained why it is so great in the article about the wonderful Mexican carrier Indajani). Moreover, it is possible to shorten the shoulder straps quite substantially and therefore to position the child in the carrier quite high when wearing on your back. I would just shift the padding to the back a bit – it starts too much in front, which makes the frontal buckle a bit useless. I would also appreciate if the back buckle was detachable (as always) and if it was possible to shift it a little bit lower, too.
As far as the position of the wearie goes, I have nothing to reproach – the legs are in the ˈMˈ position, the back has the ˈCˈ shape, as desired in ergonomic carriers. Concerning the recommended age of the wearie, I am not very happy (again) – Emilka measures about 75-80 cm in her 18 months and the back panel was just enough for her, mainly in the horizontal direction. OK, let’s not be ergo-nazis, you can carry your child even in a bit too small carrier in which the fabric of the back panel is not exactly ˈfrom knee to kneeˈ, but in my opinion, the M-size Tiki would be small for an average 2-years-old.
Now let’s talk about the looks of the carrier – I must say that it has been a long time since I came across a tester carrier that I would like so much! This colour (peacock green, is it…?) is one of my favourite and the Yaro wrap the carrier is made of, pleases my eyes very much, too. Usually, I am not a huge Yaro fan – the main reason is probably the notoriousness of their patterns (you can read more about it in the article about the purple La Vita wrap); however, Geodesic is the one exception I could imagine having in my stack. The only thing I do not like aesthetics-wise is the seam on the hood (which is not detachable, no surprise) – it is on its ˈwrongˈ side, but the wrong side is front facing when not placed on the head of the wearie. The seam does not look good at all, unless the hood is rolled up (but it does not want to hold rolled up very much, even though we tried a lot with my husband).
But the cherry on the cake! The wonderful hip bag! It is quite large, with multiple inner and outer pockets, with a great wide ˈwaist beltˈthat spreads the weight of the cargo evenly on your hips. This is something I want among my babywearing gear so badly…!
Dear Santa…? 😀
In the end, there is something I need to be a bit of an annoying nagger about. Quite recently, in the article about my own babywearing Adom jacket, I was wondering why the brand is not really popular, despite their products being of great quality – in my opinion, one of the explanations could be the quality of the web presentation. Hereby, I want to apologize to Adom for criticizing their photos so harshly – at least they look as they were taken by a proper camera and are not too fuzzy. However, Tiki brings the non-quality of the product photography to a whole new level – fuzzy pictures taken probably by a cellphone (a cellphone with a bad camera), models without any styling, make-up or even combed hair, wearing sweatpants; some of the carriers being even maladjusted. Some of the photos are just bad at the first sight – the models have closed eyes or they cringe. The choice of the photo-locations, that is a whole other thing – somewhere in the backyard on dry grass with a water barrel in the background, inside with the ordinary ˈhome messˈ around… This is not the way you want to present yourself, Tiki! I know that not every small-time business can afford a professional photographer (or at least a decent camera of their own), but I suppose at least someone from the wider family has at least a compact camera for this purpose. And to be honest, I am still much more glad to see a carrier on a mannequin or just laid on the floor than something like this ˈfolk artˈ.
Bottom line – a very good looking and well sewn carrier. In my opinion, the best thing about it is how high you can position the child when wearing on your back; however, the waist belt was not comfortable for me. But, all in all, Tiki is a lot of bang for a buck! The prize of the wrap conversion carrier (although it is not completely sewn from a wrap) is truly affordable, at least in the Czech Republic. And don’t forget about the wonderful hip bag, oh my!