Best Kid’s Backpacking Gear | Outdoor Life

Best Kid’s Backpacking Gear | Outdoor Life


If there is any activity that by some means manages to be both equally type 1 entertaining and style 2 pleasurable at the exact time, it is backpacking with a toddler. One moment, you are hauling 40 kilos (30 pounds of toddler, 10 lbs of equipment) up to a mountain pass, hoping to preserve the curses underneath your breath when the kiddo coos delightedly in your ear about a butterfly. The subsequent, you’re at the ridgeline, seeking at an epic view of snow-capped mountains as considerably as the eye can see, when a wail starts off up powering you mainly because it is windy, and your little a single just was not expecting that. 

Best Kids’ Backpacking Gear: The Items You Need to Keep Your Toddler Happy in the Backcountry
What’s in the author’s pack for backpacking with a toddler.

Following carting our 2 yr old on a fifty percent dozen backpacking visits, we took her on a 30-mile, 4-day trek on Mount Rainier’s Wonderland Path. These visits were being both equally some of the most significant we’ve ever taken, and also the most difficult to pack for—even rivaling the hard work we took to prepare out our gear for our initially thru-hike. There are pretty couple businesses producing good quality equipment for this age team, and in some locations (like diapering) getting a realistic technique requires some trial and error. Here’s what I’ve found works best for backpacking with a toddler.

The Osprey Poco is the best kid carrier for backpacking

This pack is comfortable not only for the mum or dad, with a totally adjustable mesh again panel and a comfortable hip belt and suspension, but also comfortable for your kid—we specially preferred the sunlight shade, which both held UV rays to a minimum and available some safety from gentle rain. 

Rain cover: Osprey Poco Raincover

A chilly, soaked kid makes for a terrible vacation for every person. Unless the forecast was self-confident in bluebird skies, we carried this bulky raincover, which guards the little one’s face and upper physique from wind and rain. 

Slumber System 

We do not, and have never ever, co-slept at property, so I realized before we started out that our toddler’s rest method would have to be wholly different from what we utilized. That getting claimed, several households that co-snooze efficiently at home have observed that that interprets very well to the trail and helps to minimize down on pack body weight. 

Sleeping bag: Morrison Outside Big Mo 20° Down Young ones Sleeping Bag

This sleeping bag is sleep safe and sound, particularly cozy, and lightweight—we things it in the identical sack as we use for our two-particular person quilt. The 20-degree score right here is comparable to grownup sleeping bags.

Sleeping pad: Thermarest RidgeRest SOLite Sleeping Pad

In the backcountry, owning a flat surface for your toddler to snooze on is not just a protected rest observe, it’s also a practical consideration—they will not be ready to keep put on all those inflatables until finally they are considerably more mature. Obtaining a shut foam-cell pad strapped to the exterior of a pack is also useful for on-trail diaper variations. The SOLite has a 2.1 R score, which implies it will insulate your toddler from the cold ground much better than most (if  that they handle to stay on it) shut foam-cell pads. 


Your method to packing outfits for youngsters need to be the very same as for your self: levels, layers, layers. For most backpacking excursions, I pack two base levels, a single insulation layer, and 1 shell layer for my kiddo. If I anticipate it to be amazing, I pack a fleece layer.

A child wearing a yellow rain jacket on a beach
Exploring barefoot in the muddy buddy match during an unseasonable bout of cold temperature on the Olympic Coastline. Laura Lancaster

Base layer: Wee Woolies Merino Base Layer Established 

These foundation layers ended up relaxed for our toddler to put on throughout the working day and doubled as sleepwear when it was bedtime. The 100{ed4a5fd24114d7ae6500c97fa7652b3915c7d898a0860a9d70161be4f9c5b00d} merino design will help maintain the inescapable stink of multi-day journey to a minimal. 

Fleece layer: LL Bean Toddler Fleece Pants and the Uniqlo Toddler Fleece Zipped Jacket

If your child, like mine, runs chilly, it can be handy to have individual trousers and best levels to use in place of, or beneath, their insulation layer. 

Insulation layer: Patagonia Toddler Hi-Loft Down Sweater Bunting

This puffy go well with was lots heat for the alpine and shoulder year disorders we took our little just one into. On times when it was primarily windy or chilly, we could secure her arms and feet inside of the bunting with the fold-above covers. Note that these run exceptionally large—our child has generally been large for her age and she healthy into the 6–12-month-outdated measurement by her 2nd birthday. 

Shell layer: Tuffo Muddy Buddy

Like plenty of outdoorsy family members, we now experienced this in our closet, and it worked perfectly to block both equally rain and wind. Its free construction in good shape all the layers we could want underneath while continue to letting her a lot of mobility to perform and discover. 

As our kiddo grew older, and begun to want—and then demand—to feed herself, we figured out the tough way that we experienced to pack a independent shirt for her to eat in. Following the initially night, this shirt would be saved with the relaxation of our food items in a bear dangle or Ursack. 


This is by considerably the greatest problem of mountaineering with an toddler or toddler. There are basically two alternatives here—pack disposables, and be well prepared to have out all of your child’s squander, or pack cloth diapers, and commit to a normal laundry regime (and all of the paraphernalia that arrives with that). Both of these possibilities are quite awful, so I ended up likely with a hybrid approach, applying a cloth diaper with a reusable circumstance and a compostable liner—like the GroVia Biosoaker—we would then improve the diaper liner frequently (each pair of several hours) to decrease the volume of cleanup we would have to deal with at camp (from time to time we would dispense with the cloth completely and just using the liner, or two liners). We would then dispose of the diaper liners in backcountry toilets any time we ran throughout them. Just one important notice below is that it is important to use only compostable (not just biodegradable or flushable) liners and to check with the proper land manager to ensure that disposing of these products in backcountry outhouses will not disrupt their waste disposal process. It is also not a superior follow to system to bury the liners (even home compostable diapers, this sort of as gDiaper applied to manufacture), due to the fact animals attracted to the salts in human urine may well dig them up. 

Though we did not do this, some family members have also had success preserving fat in their packs by drying out wet wipes and then rehydrating them prior to use. Don’t forget that these should be packed out as soon as used, not buried or disposed of in an outhouse like rest room paper. 

Foods and Drink

Though we take in breakfast, lunch, and supper at dwelling, on the trail, we had been content to enable lunch dissolve into an endless parade of snacking. I would ordinarily carry treats that I knew she favored in my hip belt pockets, and we stored her water in the facet or back again pocket of the pack that was keeping the rest of our gear for quick access. We employed the identical drinking water bottle on the path as we did at household (for ease and comfort and familiarity), and while we started out by carrying powdered milk, we observed that our daughter was happier (and far more hydrated) just drinking drinking water though on the trail. 

Because toddlers can oscillate wildly involving barely touching their meals and consuming three grownup-sized servings in just one sitting down, it’s critical to bring a lot more food than you consider you need to have and have a reserve jar of peanut butter in case your child (like ours) ends up bogarting your share of meal. 


It’s really hard to tension the extent to which young ones truly really don’t want toys to play with on backpacking trips—the natural world is so stimulating to them that each individual rock or bug or leaf will hold their focus for hours. That said, we constantly brought a person stuffed animal and a single guide, as our daughter observed the acquainted routines of bedtime comforting at the conclude of the working day.

A child reading a map
Turns out maps are great on-trail toys for toddlers. Adam Tycaster

Overall health and Hygiene

The PARAKITO roll on protects your child from mosquitoes

In addition to packing a toothbrush for our daughter, we also additional in a several additional essentials to our to start with aid package right after conversing to our pediatrician: a rectal thermometer, chewable children’s Tylenol, and tweezers for the odd splinter. We also switched out some of the things we previously experienced in our pack for little one-friendly variations: 

Bug repellant: PARA’KITO Mosquito Repellent Roll-on

We live in a somewhat bug-absolutely free element of the state, with very handful of fears about long-phrase ailments like Lyme or West Nile, so our go-to mosquito repellent is centered on purely natural oils. We’ve identified that this functions nicely to keep the odd bug at bay at camp, but that it is not effective towards the most critical swarms observed in the southeast. 

Sunscreen: Newborn Bum Mineral SPF 50

On especially sunny times, we would pair little one-harmless sunscreen with a hooded sunshirt to lessen the quantity of pores and skin that we necessary to protect. 

Final Ideas

Working with the earlier mentioned goods, we had been in a position to preserve the fat and bulk of the supplemental gear we brought for our toddler down to a bare minimum amount, but the truth is that to continue to keep our pack weights within reason, we also experienced to do a full shakedown of our present gear to see what bodyweight price savings we could discover. Backpacking with a toddler, which typically requires carrying claimed toddler, works best with shorter distances (we discovered our most popular maximum distance was 7 miles) and a preexisting ultralight equipment setup. 


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Genie Mathena

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