How to carry supplies with a soft-structured carrier by Vong Hamilton for Hike it Baby

One of the biggest challenges of hiking with a soft-structured carrier (SSC) is the lack of storage space for all the hiking supplies you think you may need. And when you have a kiddo not yet potty-trained, along with the usual supplies like water, snacks, cell phone, First Aid kit and that favorite toy that just couldn’t be left behind, you need to carry extra supplies like diapers, wipes and trash bags for dirty diapers.

Without the extra storage that frame carriers offer, hiking with an SSC calls for a bit of creativity. And humor. You can never feel that you’ve packed “enough” supplies, but you can feel assured knowing that there are some options for you to pack the essentials without hiring a pack mule. Here are some tips from our Hike it Baby community to make your preparation a bit easier.


Alexandra, Salt Lake City Branch – On short-ish hikes, I wear a fanny pack from Matador that always stays in my car. Then I clip a water bottle onto my waistband with a carabiner. On longer hikes I have a fanny pack from Ultimate Direction that can hold two 1-liter bottles of water and a ton of snacks and supplies. On even longer hikes when I can hope my son does at least some hiking, I’ll wear a Camelbak backpack (hoping to upgrade to a Deuter soon). If I have to wear my son, I’ll put the backpack in front of me. If my 8yo is with us, he carries some water and most of our snacks in his Deuter Junior backpack.

How to carry supplies with a soft-structured carrier by Vong Hamilton for Hike it Baby


Lyndsey, Monadnock Branch– I have an ErgoBaby backpack that I used until I switched to framed carriers. It attaches to the straps of a SSC so no extra straps on your shoulders/waist. Only downside is keeping an eye on weights since the backpack counts toward the carrier limit. It also has “normal” straps for using it without a carrier.

Vanessa, Vancouver Branch– I wear a backpack with bladder on my front. It’s heavy but it balances out the weight. At least that’s what I tell myself to feel better.

Melanie, Ringwood & Bergen County Branch – This is me carrying my 2-year-old daughter in a Tula with a backpack diaper bag over it. As long as the straps are long enough, it works! On this day, we did a 5-mile hike and I was carrying all of the essentials, plus lunch for the two of us and my other two kids (4 & 5 years old). I would have used a frame carrier, but I was also 7 months pregnant at the time and the frame carrier didn’t agree with the bump!  

Jordan, Ann Arbor Branch– We’ve done long, hot hikes with this [backpack] setup and it works best for us.

Fanny Packs

Ashley – Fanny pack! Even when I tandem wear, the fanny pack prevails.

Sarah – With a kiddo on my back, I use a MountainSmith lumbar pack worn as a crossbody bag.

Nicole, Orange County Branch – Recently I started using my Toddler Tula and a really big fanny pack/runner’s belt with 2 “cup holders” and a big compartment for snacks, an occasional 3rd water bottle, wallet, cell phone, keys, an extra pull-up or two, an extra shirt for my daughter (since her front gets sweaty from riding in the carrier and she usually likes to get out and walk/play in the middle of our hikes). This method has worked great for multiple hikes now, with mileage up to 6 miles. I’m planning to add some carabiners to the top of the fanny pack so I can attach a small bag or two for more supplies, including use as a stuff sack. I always carry my toddler on my back and fanny pack in front.

How to carry supplies with a soft-structured carrier by Vong Hamilton for Hike it Baby


Running/Biking Belts

Kendra, Harrisburg Branch – I use a biker’s fanny pack. It has holders for my water, cell phone, snacks, etc. this is the one I got and I use it whenever I’m using my SSC. I use an Onya and I strap this around the bottom (waist) strap. I have a toddler so I carry him on my back and then have the fanny positioned on the front.

Jessica, Harpers Ferry Branch – I got a nice waist pack that I can wear under the carrier. It carries snacks/treats, two water bottles, small first aid kit/emergency supplies, diaper/small amounts of wipes, phone, and keys. Plus, I generally have another water bottle I clip on for me and the little fanny pack thing that attaches to my carrier that ends up holding a couple little toys and miscellaneous things. I will say I’m always glad for lunchtime when we hike so my pack can get lighter!

How to carry supplies with a soft-structured carrier by Vong Hamilton for Hike it BabyJessica

Crossbody bags

Katie, Ann Arbor Branch–  I wear a crossbody bag under the carrier. I manage to squeeze a diaper, wipes, small first aid kit, sunscreen, bug spray and snacks in it. I clip our water bottle to the outside. I can’t find a pic but I have this one Dakine Jo Jo Women’s Crossbody Bag – Perfect Size – Fits Tablet – Adjustable Cross Body Shoulder Strap – Interior Zippered Pocket – 10″ x 11″ (Stella)

Becca, Southern Adirondacks Branch – It’s hard to see in the photo, but I also use a crossbody bag. My husband calls it my clown bag because I can fit so much in there (diaper and wipes, Small first aid kit, snacks, sunscreen and bug spray, etc.). I usually clip a water bottle to the chest strap of the carrier so my bag doesn’t get weighed down awkwardly. I just throw it on over the carrier, and it has never bothered my rambunctious toddler.

How to carry supplies with a soft-structured carrier by Vong Hamilton for Hike it BabyBecca Hosley

We would also love to hear your creative tips for hiking with a soft-structured carrier in the comments below.

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Photos courtesy of Maricar Korff, Alexandra Wong, Melanie Lekaj, Jordan Else, Nicole Dominick, Jessica Sekula and Becca Hosely.

One thought on “How to carry supplies when hiking with a soft-structured carrier

    Elissa Story

    I love my cross body back set up! I use an Osprey FlapJill Mini. It’s large enough for a couple diapers, wipes, snacks, water, and my big case of emergency meds for my baby. Great for long day excursions. It’s my favorite because the long, adjustable strap makes it so I can cinch it up under his bum, so I can wear it snugly on my back when I am back carrying. No swinging side bag!


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