It was even better than I thought it would be!
The baby loved being outdoors, climbing about on rocks and pointing and the dozens of horses, sheep and cows that are scattered across Dartmoor. She slept great and we loved the walking and our wild swim on the last day.
I’d wanted to go hiking and wild camping with the baby since I was pregnant but Covid and a very short weather window in the UK stumped our plans. At last though we were able to make it happen at 11 months old.
The hardest part without a doubt was the logistics of getting everything ready. So I hope this guide with all my top tips and a packing list for wild camping with a baby will help make your family hiking adventure that bit easier!
Hiking and wild camping with a baby…..buggy vs carrier
If hiking and staying in guesthouses or huts then carrying the baby and your gear is not a problem. If throwing in camping as well though it gets a bit tricker. Not only do you need to carry all your own camping gear but on top of that you have all the babies (clothes, sleeping bag, nappies, etc) plus water and food).
We did the Dartmoor Granite and Gears Trail (you can read all about our route here) and had 4 days worth of food with us and 2 days worth of water as there was a lack of re-supply options. So carrying everything on our back just wasn’t an option.
For this reason, we opted for an off-road buggy. Choosing an Out’n’about Nipper Sport (gifted to us) which was really fantastic and served its purpose perfectly. This was the setup we used:
The downside of using a buggy is that it limits your routes massively. While it can be carried up and over things and lugged over large boulders and obstacles, doing this too much will stop being fun pretty quickly. So when looking for multi-day accessible routes suitable for buggy hiking, search for cycle-friendly routes. Or just opt for the first half of the Ridgeway or the South Downs Way (you can read my guide to hiking the South Downs Way here) which are accessible trails.
For a baby hiking carrier, we use the Osprey Poco which is great as it has additional storage. For the rest of our bits, we used an Osprey Kestrel 68L rucksack (which we attached to the back of the buggy using these bungees).
What does the baby sleep on and in
The baby had her own inflatable roll mat in between us which worked really well. When we went camping with her as a newborn she slept in a Moses basket by our heads (which was great as we could get away with a 2 man rather than a 3 man tent!). She’s too big for that now and was perfectly happy on the roll mat.
Another option is to use a travel ‘tent cot’ like this one although you’d need to account for the extra space and to measure that it will fit in your tent!
We put the baby in 3 layers which works well as you can remove a layer if it’s too hot or add if it’s too cold…..
First: a base layer – a sleepsuit is ideal that covers the feet and hands. If you do have a merino wool one it’s the best for staying dry and regulating temperatures
Second: an all-in-one fleece (ours was part of this 2-part set which we bought off eBay. Perfect as you’ll also need an all-in-one waterproof in case it rains and to let them crawl and play about in the dew without worrying about them getting wet). This fleece was perfect as it didn’t have a hood attachedso was more practical for sleeping.
Third: a sleep-bag. We used a regular Jojo Maman Bebe sleeping bag which she sleeps in at home. This isn’t ideal as it’s cotton and not very effective for its weight and size so we also took a wool blanket which she needed for the colder night. A more effective option if you are planning to do lots of camping is to get what is called ‘Infant bunting’ (who comes up with these names?!). Here are some examples:
- The North Face
- Patagonia (the technical features on this one is great!! Pus love that it’s recycled down…)
The setup we used was fine and she was warm enough until about 3/4am when she’d stir because she was getting cold. I’d then just scoop her up for a snuggle with me to warm her up.
Mostly just think about what you are wearing and then mirror the baby to that. Although rememberer you will be hotter if you’ve just been walking or moving about pitching the tent!
What to pack for wild camping with a baby?
Sleeping & clothing
- MSR Elixr tent (amazing tent! Lightweight and roomy – fits 3 adult sleep mats comfortably wth 2 decent porches)
- 3 x Therm-a-rest
- 2 x Mountain Equipment down sleeping bag
- Hiking clothes (1 outfit for the whole trip – I wear hiking socks, 3/4 Lululemon leggins, quick dry t-shirt and a fleece)
- Hiking boots or shoes
- Waterproof jacket (and trousers if really rainy weather is predicted)
- Puffer jacket
- Evening/sleep clothes (1 outfit to last the whole trip – I wear a long-sleeve thermal top and leggings)
- Beanie (if in chilly temperatures)
- Osprey dry bags (keeps everything waterproofed and you can also just attach these directly to the buggy)
- Maps and Silva Compass
- Nalgene water bottles
- Headtorch: Petzl Head Torch
- Swiss Army Penknife
- Phone and Anker Power Bank (1 fully charged power bank easily lasts me 5 days of using my phone for photos and updates)
- Toiletries: toothbrush, toothpaste and mooncup
- Sunglasses and sun cream
- First Aid Kit + midge/insect repellent
- Repair list (for the buggy wheels and roll mats)
- Shawl – great for a picnic blanket, extra layer, making shade and a towel for wild swimming
- Jetboil & lighter
- Gas canister
- Food supplies
- Spare clothes (materials like merino wool are the best as they are quick-dry and good for regulating temperatures)
- Nappies, biodegradable wet wipes and biodegradable nappy bags (I use Kit&Kin as they are eco-friendly….use the code SQUASH20 for 20% off)…..all nappies and wipes need to be carried out with you, even if they are biodegradable they must NOT be left in the hills. For poo just dig a hole as you would if you were going to the toilet (away from water and 6inch deep) and then cover it back up.
- Onsie fleece and waterproof
- Waterproof shoes
- Warm hat
- Sun protection – a decent UV hat and sun cream
- Lots of food and snack (pouches are easy and mean you don’t need to take a spoon)
- Kahu Baby Sling (we debated taking a sling but were really glad we did – the baby was just sometimes happier in the sling and the path too bumpy for her to be comfy in the buggy. The Kahu is great because it’s so small and simple so packs down small)
You don’t need toys….your camping gear will be exciting enough! Also the tent became like a mini softplay when the roll mats were up and the sleeping bags out. Lots of fun!
Top tips for multiday hiking and wild camping with a baby
- It was much more comfortable picking a spot that had some extra play space around the tent so the baby could roam and we didn’t need to worry about her falling down a hill or into water
- Your baby overheating is going to be more of a worry at night than them being cold. Feel the back of their neck to test their temperature. If they are sweaty and hot then de-layer them
- If you are concerned about co-sleeping then something like this travel cot could be a safer option for you to look into. This is especially important for you to think about if you have a young baby under the age of 1 so they are safe in the tent
- We found our walking progress was entirely determined by the mood of the baby. There were loads of stops for food and nappy changes, plus sometimes because she was restless and wanted to play about. Do yourself a big favor and plan to take it slow and easy. Have a plan B and no expectations. If you only cover a teeny distance then it’s better to do that and enjoy the experience than trying to cover a miserable long-distance
- Walking during the afternoon nap worked great for us as we could have a bit of walking time in peace and without stops
- Of course, every baby is different but ours slept great in the tent and this is something I’ve heard from lots of parents. Another great thing with hiking and camping is it means we went to bed really early too so we actually got more sleep than we would at home….so don’t let worries about the nighttime put you off!
I hope you’ve found this guide helpful if you are braving a wild camp with a baby in tow! I’m very happy to answer questions – just use the comments box below. If you want to support this blog you can say thanks by buying me a coffee! I use the money to pay for hosting and domain fees to keep the site running.
**GRAB A COPY OF MY BOOK!** My published book, Three Stripes South is all about my life-changing adventure, hiking the length of Israel. It was the journey that inspired me to launch Love Her Wild, the UK’s largest women’s adventure community.