Babies and Backpacking: the Intro

There is a magical moment in millions of bathrooms across America every day: somebody pees on a stick, waits for an impossibly long two-minutes, and sees a “+” that will instill instant excitement (and often horror). If you are an outdoor enthusiast, these emotions are often followed by a feeling of loss as you start going through a mental (or physical) calendar, trying to determine how many hiking seasons this dagnab baby is going to interfere with. I’ve been there.

You instantly feel like an outsider while you walk through REI. At home you look upon your gear apologetically, because all it wants is to be useful, but you have no idea how long it will be until you can break it out again.

Your husband acts all supportive, but he is experiencing inner turmoil as he decides whether it would be insensitive to keep planning that summer backpacking trip without you, or if he should instead stand in solidarity with you and box up his gear.

STOP. What if I told you that instead of packing up your gear, you can now start looking into getting MORE gear? Heck, maybe even hit up REI and Sierra Trading Post for that baby registry. Why? Because you two are a couple of bad mamma-jammas who are going to backpack with not only your kids, but your baby.

Baby sandwich.

Bad mamma-jamma

That’s right. Get excited about this idea.

Once I had a kid, I felt like I was no longer “in.” This was largely in part because young outdoorsmen joke that they are allergic to kids, or feign that they are never having kids. It’s understandable, because let’s face it, there aren’t a lot of examples to prove to them that kids don’t have to be a hindrance. I felt like I was supposed to either ignore the fact that I had kids or take a huge step back from adventure.

Last Spring I was sick of sitting on the sidelines while my DINK (double income, no kids) friends got to have all of the fun. I decided that we had to take our kids (three-years and six-months) with us on a quick backpacking trip. I just HAD to know if it was possible. I didn’t think that it would be not only possible, but really exciting.
As with any good trip, everything that could go wrong did go wrong. Sure, there were many, many problems that cropped up, but solving those problems is half the fun of being an experienced backpacker, right? Right? Hello?

Just avoiding hypothermia with some children.

Just avoiding hypothermia with some children.


Because backpacking with kids is wildly underrepresented, I’m going to be writing a series of articles to the Hiking Outcasts (AKA people with kids) with hopes that they find their place on the trails. I’m also writing these articles for the DINKS who are tripling-up on condoms; may your fears subside so that you can have lots of unprotected sex  with wild abandon.


P.S. This summer my little family is going to start section hiking the Colorado Trail, so keep your eye out for that, too!

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Comments 5

  • Alisha : Mar 26th

    Thank you for writing stories like this. My husband and I are trying to have our first and I do have this fear of losing precious time for adventures. I look forward to reading and learning from yours.

    • hannah lewis : Mar 28th

      Oh, I’m so glad to hear it! It definitely doesn’t have to be the end of all of the fun. It’s just *different* fun.

  • Nichole Young : Mar 28th

    Perfect timing for me as well, as hubby and I plan to start trying this fall after I finish my AT thru. Looking forward to more!

    • hannah lewis : Mar 28th

      That is very cool. Who knows, maybe in a couple of years you will be the first family to hike the AT with a baby! Best of luck!

  • Adam : Apr 7th

    Might no be taking my Baby on rainforest trail in Malaysia yet, but she’s been city travel with us since 1 month + ~ and her passport is chop in more than 2 country.

    Well, the deuter carrier is now much heavier as she’s already 2+ … she dislike her stroller since 6 months old.


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