We are fortunate here in the Bay Area to have so many beautiful backpacking spots with short hikes in! I took the opportunity to take the little (then 8 month old) baby backpacking for her second trip when some coworkers planned a trip to Point Reyes National Seashore. There were some key differences between baby backpacking with a mostly immobile 5 month old and a crawling, drooling 8 month old. In this post I’ll share what I learned and some things I wish I had done differently!
Baby Backpacking Logistics
So babies grow pretty fast that first year, who knew?! This was my last trip where I carried pretty much everything for her and I. Although it was a short trip I felt way overloaded (like 46lbs) for what I like to carry as a 5′ person. Future trips will include my husband and or partners in crime to carry some of the load! The other main difference is that she was a crawling, drooling little mess! I tried to mitigate the mess to a certain extent (like putting a poncho down as a play tarp at camp,) but for the most part we embraced the dirt;) Wipes are not just for bottoms when camping, I always gave her a quick head to toe wipe in the evenings because it was too cold for a true water wipe-down outside. The bonus of this new phase is that watching babies explore nature at such an intimate, on the ground perspective is so gratifying:)
I used the same setup for the most part that I had used on our first trip, check it out here. The main difference was in our sleeping arrangements. I had an extra down women’s sleeping bag, and cinched it off in the middle using a stuff sack (stuff the toe of the bag into a stuff sack till you get to the desired length, then cinch the stuff sack tight.) It worked much better than trying to fit her in my bag with me, although she did slip around/out of the bag quite a bit and I left her warm snow suit on as added warmth for when that happened. We both slept better than the previous trip, maybe a combination of lower altitude (less baby gas?) and slightly warmer weather (low 50’s at night.) Check out the list at the bottom for a few pieces of gear I recommend.
One of the big differences with this trip was that we had started giving her solids to supplement her nursing at 6 months. I mainly packed extra of what I was eating (oatmeal for breakfast, soup/noodles for dinner) plus some puff type baby snacks. Bonus, the puffs are all air so they don’t add to your pack weight, just repackage them into a small ziplock to save space. We shared plates, cups etc as well, although it wouldn’t be too much weight/space to pack an extra plate. She sat on my lap for meals and I had great trip mates who all took turns holding her as well:)
Adventures in Baby Backpacking Tips:
- Choose a campsite where you don’t have to worry about your new crawler. Large flat areas etc. It may not be as scenic as other spots but you will be able to relax a bit more!
- Embrace the dirt…but bring wipes! Especially in areas with ticks you want to strip baby down at least once a day to check under clothes and clean.
- Camp near water. Babies are fascinated with water, the ocean, a small creek etc. will keep them entertained for hours. Maybe not a raging river, but you get the idea.
- Bring a lantern. I am used to just having my headlamp, but with the little I liked having a small inflatable lantern for a more mellow/ambient light source in the tent.
- Dog Poop Bags: This is my *Must have* tip for a little one still rocking the diapers. Accidents? Vomit? General toddler gooey-ness? Throw that in a super lightweight doggy bag and deal with it when you get back!
Gear Up For Baby Backpacking!
Check back soon for our comprehensive list of recommended baby backpacking gear, follow us on Facebook to be the first to see it! In the meantime here are a few of my favorite items from this trip:
- I love the Luci inflatable lights, they are lightweight and bright (and babyproof;)
- For both of our backpacking trips we used a therm-a-rest pad cut down to size. It’s lightweight, inexpensive and makes sure that the little one is insulated from the ground.
What’s your favorite baby backpacking gear? Any great backpacking hacks specific to backpacking with a baby? Let us know in the comments!