Backpacking With Baby. Yes You Can!

In Camping, News, On the Trail, Safety, Things to do, Tips, Travel

Photo: Baby in a backpack. By Andrew Walsh.

Being the parent of a pre-toddler and an outdoorsman I’m already planning our first trip with the new addition. Here’s a cool article I stumbled across in USA Today about backpacking with baby. Pretty cool!

USATODAY.com: “My husband, Stephen, and I stopped to chat with them. It was our fourth Yosemite trip of the year, and we had become accustomed to questions, comments and astonished stares from nearly everyone we met. Few people have seen a toddler in the back country — let alone a woman carrying a loaded backpack, plus her child strapped to the front.

But, judging from the number of people who ask us how to do it, many people are curious. Here’s a primer on ‘Backpacking with Baby,’ or BWB as I call it.

With or without a baby, backpacking isn’t necessarily difficult. But it requires more preparation and gear than camping, which usually means pitching a tent in a car-friendly campsite, cooking s’mores in a fire pit, and doing day hikes. Compared to the rigors of backpacking, campers enjoy relative luxuries such as outhouses, potable water and picnic tables.

By contrast, backpackers strap everything onto packs, then hike away from the trailhead to set up camp in the wilderness. They filter water from streams. They eat trail mix, turkey jerky or easy-to-prepare food — dehydrated soup, instant oatmeal and other meals cooked on lightweight stoves. They sit on logs, write in diaries, play cards, read paperbacks or simply savor the silence, stars and scenery.

My husband introduced me to backpacking in eight years ago with a trip to California’s Lost Coast, the rugged, remote stretch of mountains and beaches about 250 miles northwest of San Francisco. We woke at dawn and had a remote beach to ourselves — no other people in sight, only sea lion pups and shorebirds. We vowed to go backpacking at least once a month (except in the winter).

We took a hiatus after the birth of our son, Levi, in 2005. But when the Sierra snow started melting in early 2006, Levi was 10 months old, and we reached for our packs.

Our first BWB trip was a snowbound overnight excursion near a glacier in the eastern Sierra, where Levi learned to crawl on the soft floor of our tent. Levi — perfect child in every way, except for abysmal sleeping habits — slept through the night for the first time.

As any desperate, bleary-eyed new parent would have, we decided to resume our backpacking schedule — if only to sleep soundly once a month!

In the following year, we honed BWB to a science. In the garage is a checklist of items not to leave behind (though we often forget to look at it). We have tent set-up and teardown routines, and favorite foods for dinner, lunch and breakfast.”

Photo by Andrew Walsh via Flickr.

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