Q & A about Backpacking with an Infant
How old was your baby when you did the first backpacking trip?
We took our daughter on her first backpacking trip when she was almost three months old. We started with car camping when she was three weeks old and did a lot of easy day hikes and road tripping. She was already comfortable and familiar with sleeping in a tent and being in the carrier for a few hours in a row by the time we went on our first backpacking trip.
How do you carry your baby?
We use the front Ergo carrier. Our baby really enjoys being close to the body and sleeps very well while being carried. My husband carries her on all hikes now as he is more sure footed than I am. We often joke that our daughter will find her daddy’s smell comforting in the future as she is carried for hours so close to his chest. I recommend investing in quick drying layers for your baby if you plan to carry her close to your body on hot summer days or uphill. We are planning to carry her in the front as long as we can. Once she will be carried in the backpack we will need to figure out more things and adjust.
How much extra weight do you carry and how do you distribute the weight?
Since we carry our daughter in the front carrier we were able to pack our backpacks as we regularly do. The only change is that my husband carries the baby and I carry baby items. Baby items are more bulky than heavy. I don't know the exact weight of our backpacks as we often pack at the trailhead and don't have a scale with us. I will need to do it at home and update you on this question.
How is you baby sleeping?
She sleeps between us on a sleeping pad. We did upgrade to a three person tent because we wanted more space. We used one of our down puffies as a sleeping bag up until 6 months. Now we use her down suit as her sleeping bag. Also we bring her favorite swaddle and her baby blanket. You could use one of your warm layers of clothing instead of a baby blanket if you wanted to go lighter. If it’s cold we bring warm fleece layers for her and bundle her up in our down jackets for sleep.
What do you do with the dirty diapers?
If it’s a short hike or just an overnighter we carry dirty diapers out in a dry bag. But when we go on multi day hikes we use gDiapers with biodegradable liners. You can bury dirty liners in the ground or throw them in the pit toilets. We bring two or three outer shells as they might be hard to dry out if the weather is rainy or cold. These diapers are a little more expensive but they will save you from carrying extra weight. For diaper changes on the trail we use KidCo pop-up tent if the weather is not good or there are bugs.
How do you feed your baby if your baby is on formula?
We use Playtex bottles with disposable bottle liners and we rinse out and boil the bottle nipples to sterilise them. We also bring a little thermos and fill it up with hot water to make warm bottles. It saves us time when we need to make a bottle in the middle of the night. We use Platypus GravityWorks Filtration System to purify our water, and we also use SteriPen if we feel that the water is not very clean.
How do you get things done when at the camp?
Most of the time we take turns watching our baby. We also have a small KidCo pop-up baby tent that we used a lot before she started crawling. It is a nice safe space for her where she is protected from the bugs, sun, and wind. Of course, if you are planning to spend most of the time by your tent you will not need this little tent. We like to wander around and explore so we found it very useful because we could lay our daughter down for naps anywhere.
Does your baby enjoy backpacking?
She loves it because she is always close to us and gets a lot of attention. She also sleeps well when being carried and enjoys being in the tent. I’d say that she sleeps better when we are outdoors than when we are at home. Our baby girl also loves looking around and interacting with nature.
What if there is an emergency situation?
We carry with us InReach Explorer from Garmin. This satellite communicator allows us to send a signal for a rescue but it also allows us to text and receive texts. Not every emergency requires a helicopter rescue, and being able to message family and friends and ask for some help is a great feature. We never had an emergency situation that required use of this device so far but it sure gives us a peace of mind to have it with us. Also, we bring a small medical kit with a thermometer, baby Tylenol and Benadryl.
What is the longest hike you’ve done with your baby?
The longest hike we’ve done so far was four nights and five days. It was a loop hike that we did in Glacier National Park.
Furthest distance you’ve been from a trailhead with your baby?
I’d say that the furthest distance from a trailhead is about 15-20 miles. So if we suddenly needed to get out for some reason but it wasn’t a helicopter worthy rescue we could just push ourselves and hike out. It would be a long day but it’s possible.