Camping with a baby may seem like a daunting task. Infants cannot hike and toddlers will want to rest or nap. The right gear is essential for a successful camping trip. Babies and toddlers require a few extra considerations, but the added expense is well worth it. Every mom sleeps better knowing baby is safely tucked in by her side.
A baby carrier is a must for overnight camping and hiking with little ones. Purchase a carrier that is designed to be used for hiking. Babies and toddlers are very portable, but they get heavy after a while, especially if they are sleeping. Kelty and Dueter make awesome child carriers. These carrier systems are designed for parent’s comfort and baby safety. Baby carriers designed for camping can hold from 40 to 48 pounds; total weight of kid and gear.
I found that the easiest way to sleep with a baby or toddler when on the trail is to just snuggle them into the sleeping bag with you. If this is not your cup of tea, or if you need more room, try one of these options:
The Sweetie Pie Sleeping Bag Extender or Doubler. The extender is great for pregnant or nursing moms as it adds extra room without turning the bag into a double bag. The Doubler turns a mummy bag into a double bag suitable for two adults to sleep in. Sweetie Pie products work with mummy sleeping bags manufactured prior to 2009. Due to changes in the zippers on new sleeping bags, Sweetie Pie products will not work. They plan on discontinuing the product once current inventory is sold out.
The Wedgie Bag Expander by Big Agnes Wedge adds an additional seven inches of girth to a sleeping bag. It zips into place. There are several different sizes depending on the type of zipper your sleeping bag uses. Big men like these extenders too.
Diapers and Such
The most difficult part of camping with baby is the diaper issue. Responsible campers leave no trace; all trash is carried out of the camping area and off the trails. What to do with the diapers? I would suggest using cloth diapers with a disposable liner, like the ones from Green Mountain. The liner will keep solid wastes from soaking into the cloth. The solid waste can be emptied into a hole and buried at least 200 feet from the trail, just like adult human waste. Then put the cloth diaper into a zipper style plastic bag, and put the liner into a sealed garbage bag. Use a stuff sack such as the waterproof Event Sil Ultra-Duty Dry Sack by Granite Gear. The bags are almost indestructible, easy to carry, and compress well.
While I would not recommend taking an infant along the entire Appalachian Trail, bringing baby camping with you makes the experience more enjoyable as long as you have the right gear. Hiking is relatively painless with a good carrier. Mom, Dad, and baby can sleep well with bag extenders. Everyone appreciates less mess and smell with the proper management of soiled diapers. I’d love to hear about your baby camping experiences. Drop me a line or leave a comment below.
Kelty Child Carriers
Dueter Family Packs
Functional Designs: Sweetie Pie Sleeping Bag Extenders
Big Agnes: Wedgie Bag Expander
Green Mountain Diaper Liners
Granite Gear Dry Sacks