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Backpacking with a Newborn
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Maia Jordan
(maia) - MLife

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Backpacking with a Newborn on 07/30/2013 19:35:28 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Backpacking with a Newborn

Matthew Black
Re: Backpacking with a Newborn on 07/30/2013 19:56:44 MDT Print View

This is the best article I have seen on BPL. You three are an inspiration and I wish you all the best.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Backpacking with a Newborn on 07/30/2013 20:17:38 MDT Print View

What a delightful read! Thanks for sharing.

But I can't believe you don't have a Rab MeCo shirt for the baby yet. C'mon!

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Backpacking with a Newborn on 07/30/2013 22:03:53 MDT Print View

Hum ... does BPL now stand for Baby Packing Light?


Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Backpacking with a Newborn on 07/30/2013 22:31:38 MDT Print View

Great article. This along with Nick Meynen's earlier "Baby on Board" articles should convince others. As a grandma of 6, I heartily approve!

Actually, the baby will never be more portable than he is right now!

Edited by hikinggranny on 07/30/2013 22:32:36 MDT.

Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
Backpacking with a Newborn on 07/30/2013 23:00:50 MDT Print View

Nick Meynen told me he was writing an article like this one for BPL, in addition to a book about the trip (title unknown), which was supposed to be published in Belgium in April of this year.

I'm looking forward to reading both.

We too took our kids backpacking at very early ages. In fact, our daughter got inadvertantly potty-trained on a backpacking trip when each of us thought the other had packed the diaper bag. She grew up to be a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, so apparently it didn't hurt her in the least. NEVER FORGET -


Daniel Pittman
(pitsy) - M

Locale: Central Texas
Re: Backpacking with a Newborn on 07/30/2013 23:15:05 MDT Print View

My son will be seven months old by Christmas, so I'm angling for a Deuter Kid Comfort baby carrier. Will also need to get him some long pants so his chubby little legs don't get sunburned!

Arapiles .
(Arapiles) - M

Locale: Melbourne
Distance/medical care on 07/31/2013 03:22:47 MDT Print View

I'm pleased that you were only suggesting fairly short trips, for an additional reason you didn't mention - getting your baby to medical care if something goes wrong. A couple of years ago there were some posts from a couple who planned on taking their baby into quite remote areas in Europe. Having had several serious medical emergencies with my kids when they were young I'm aware that things can sometimes go wrong (meningitis, for example, can come on very quickly and a baby with a 41C temperature needs immediate medical care) so I suggested the couple stay a little closer to infrastructure.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Backpacking with a Newborn on 07/31/2013 06:31:48 MDT Print View

The other baby/hiking article

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Backpacking with a Newborn on 07/31/2013 07:31:07 MDT Print View

Having kids doesn't mean being house bound. They come with handles! I could make a case that traveling with your kids will make them smarter. We evolved as wanderers and I think it is part of our development. A short horizon makes for small minds I think. Travel stimulates and rewards curiosity, appreciating nature and cultural diversity too.

We car camped and day hiked when our kids were small and had many wonderful trips. A van with a porta-potty made toddlerhood much easier--- toddlers are famous for giving 10-second warnings.

And of course it is better for the parents too. I like the idea that the best thing you can do for you kids is to take good care of their parents :) Like the old Jansport ad, "Get out, while you can!"

Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
Backpacking with a Newborn on 07/31/2013 09:25:47 MDT Print View

Great artical Danny it brings back great old memories of me hiking with my son when he was a towhead! It was nice to talk to you the other day shopping and if ever need to go on a hike in the openspace just get in touch with me. I usually hike in the late afternoons from 4-6. Off to Emigrant/Hoover for my Big Loop!

Lars Laird Iversen
(larslaird) - M
Congratulations! on 07/31/2013 13:54:02 MDT Print View

Very inspiring!

We´ve also tried our luck with backpacking with baby. And recently with two under two! Not as badass as it sounds though, as we live in Norway and are lucky to have access to cheap, simple and wonderful forest- and mountain huts through DNT, the Norwegian Tourist Association (which is all about "simple outdoors life", not what you think of as tourism). We just managed to squeeze in 5 huts in four trips before she turned 5 months! We were smug and happy!

The firstborn at her first forest cabin!

Our second compromise is to get an outdoors carrier pram, and go hiking along forest roads.

On a forest road, late winter, with the toddler in our Nordic Cab.

We have sometimes brought a tent, so that we can camp outside the hut, use the facilities, solve the "biggest spoon falling of the mat"-problem by having dad and the oldest sleep inside, and let mum and baby have the tent. Why not the other way round? Well, if we share the hut with others (as we are likely to), it is awkward to wake everyone up each time baby wants some food. Which can be quite often.

But we also need to figure out a way to sleep all of us in a (large) tent. The main problem is the toddler, she moves alot at night and wants to stand up.

My experience is that when the baby is still nursing, and mostly immobile, it is much easier to backpack than it is just a few months later. Our toddler is much more of a challenge than the infant! We´re looking for a lightweight cot-solution of some kind. Our best bet so far is LittleLife´s arc II, a minitent that we can pitch in the huge vestibule of our non-lightweight tent.

A tent within a tent

We have gained some experience of different types of equipment. First, the carriers: The moby wrap looks great! We started off with BabyBjorn, but moved away from it reasonably quickly. The baby hangs in it, rather than sits in it, which limits the amount of time it is comfortable to sit in, baby gets tired, and also it isn´t a good position for the baby over time. We have a carrier called AngelPack, but more famous brands are Ergo, or Manduca. These, or similar carriers get the knees higher than the babys bum, and that is much better for the carried as well as the carrier.

Proud mother with an AngelPack carrier

Same wife with duly UV-covered baby on Chapmans Peak, South Africa.

For the toddler, we really like a carrier called "Concerti", which is great for slightly bigger babies and toddlers to carry on your back. Much lighter and a better carry than the large and heavy frame-carriers!

Me with sleeping toddler in the Concerti.

For rain protection, check out the german brand Mamalila´s carrying jacket, it´s been great! Not full standard WPB jacket, but 20 000 is good enough as we don´t go into crazy weather anyway.Waterproof carrying jacket. It can be adjusted for carrying both front and back.

Last week, we tried our luck on a two-night trip. No more than 3 miles off the forest roads, but we tried double carrying for the first time. A success!

Getting serious! Double carrying! It worked, but no longer than 4.5 km.

Hard work, but worth it! For instance for moments like this:
Flowers and kids. Not bad!

Danny Milks
(dannymilks) - MLife

Locale: Sierras
re: Backpacking with a Newborn on 07/31/2013 22:32:12 MDT Print View

Matthew - Wow, thank you for the compliment!

Doug - I've contacted Rab to see if we can be the first to test their line MeCo Infant Performance Baselayers.

Mary - You're absolutely right that the backpacking with a baby gets harder. Our son is now 18 pounds and growing fast - he was much more portable when he was 8 weeks old!

Mary / Bob / Ken - Nick Neynen's article was a great inspiration for us, and positive proof that it's never too early. There have been many great articles published in BPL, including Jeremy Pendry's and Ryan Jordan's accounts of backpacking with kids.

Daniel - I hope you get the baby carrier and can get outside on a new style of adventures.

Arapiles - Good point! While we stated that everybody should be healthy before considering such an activity, you're correct that things can still go wrong in the woods. I guess we're advocating for frontcountry backpacking trips, as opposed backcountry wilderness.

Jay - It was good running in to you and catching up. Have a great solo hike in Emigrant!

Lars - Wow! Great stories and photos. We traveled around Norway in May/June of 2011, mostly backcountry skiing. We fell in love with the wilderness and abundance of simple huts in the mountains. Often they were nothing more than a one-room kitchen and a couple of bunk beds. But that is perfect, and I wish we had that here. Thanks for sharing.

Desert Dweller

Locale: Wild Wild West
Backpacking with a newborn on 08/01/2013 06:37:38 MDT Print View

You three are just darling! Nice to see you continuing to enjoy your backpacking. 31 years ago, my husband and newborn daughter and I did the same and you will find the more you do it the more tolerant and adaptable the child will become. Both of us were Forest Service employees so we lived in the forest and our daughter went everywhere with babysitters! We only had the Snugli (c) brand and home made carriers, but they out grow those before you know it! That changing picture on the sit pad is precious! Best wishes to your little family.

Wim Depondt
(wim_depondt) - F - MLife

Locale: The low countries
this article needs updating! on 08/01/2013 11:36:12 MDT Print View

Danny, superb article - article like these ought to be posted more frequently (said by a white collar employee having to return every day from his desk job).
But I would advice you to update your article regulary: I suppose the weight of item 'baby Brock' will need frequent updating in your gear list :-)

edit: typo

Edited by wim_depondt on 08/01/2013 23:22:55 MDT.

John Coyle

Locale: NorCal
Backpacking with a Newborn on 08/01/2013 23:54:18 MDT Print View

Very good Danny and Kristin, familiar territory for me being from Sacramento, possibly The Ohlone Wilderness and Point Reyes. In any case, glad to see you instilling the love of nature in your son. More power to you.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - M

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Congratulations! on 08/02/2013 00:04:22 MDT Print View

Lars, is that a Hudson Bay point blanket in the second picture?

Lars Laird Iversen
(larslaird) - M
Hudson Bay blanket on 08/02/2013 02:36:44 MDT Print View

Justin: Yes it is! Probably a rare thing here on BPL. It was a gift from my (british) cousin and his (canadian) wife.

edit: spelling.

Edited by larslaird on 08/02/2013 02:51:38 MDT.

Danny Milks
(dannymilks) - MLife

Locale: Sierras
re: Backpacking with a Newborn on 08/02/2013 10:23:49 MDT Print View

Wim - Very true. Brock is the only variable that adds weight to my 'base weight' each time we go out. And worse is, if there is not trash bin, then we have to carry out his diapers too, which means he adds weight during the trip too. But it is of course worth it.

John - Spot on! Sky Camp at Point Reyes, and Boyd Camp along the Ohlone Wildnerness Trail, starting at Del Valle.

Ike Jutkowitz
(Ike) - M

Locale: Central Michigan
re: Backpacking with a newborn on 08/06/2013 12:09:34 MDT Print View

Taking my girls camping as babies was probably the thing that made me feel like a real parent during that challenging stage. Sharing your passion with a new life, and seeing them respond in wonder is an incredibly powerful motivator. That they still want to come with me (now age 5 and 7) is awesome.

Thanks for a great article