“You take the high road and I’ll take the low road…” We sang a lot of different tunes heading down the trail. It helped take our minds off the weight of our backpacks. Other hikers never thought we were strange. We came with a license to sing – our daughter.
Her inaugural backpacking trip was two months shy of her first birthday. I carried her and her gear on my back; my husband carried everything else. She was thrilled with the campsite, tickled pink with yet another dinner outdoors, ready for bed right on schedule and she slept like a log, having spent previous nights in the tent on car camping trips.
The trip was a resounding success, not because of luck, but because of careful consideration given to the logistics of backpacking with babies.
Tips for Getting Started
- Whether your kids are pulling your hair to make the “pony” go faster or snoozing in a snuggly, be realistic about the distance and degree of difficulty you can handle.
- If you’ve car camped and your child is used to the tent, move on. If not, take a few trial runs (in the backyard or a nearby park campsite) and see what works, what doesn’t and what can be improved. Do you need an extra sleeping pad? Do you need a child’s sleeping bag or can they sleep with you? Try it again and again until you have the kinks worked out.
- Think carefully about what you need to take. If your child is still in diapers, pack sufficient supplies, but as with everything, don’t overpack. Instead, start with a destination within a kilometre or two of the parking lot. If you’ve underestimated amounts, it’s only a short jaunt back down to the car to pick up more.
- When packing, follow a checklist and add the child’s clothes and any special food as well as one or two small books (more down time with little ones) and lightweight toys.