The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Backpacking with Babies Part 2: Gear List by Joe Linehan for Hike it Baby

In our first part of this series, we discussed the backpacking basics with a baby on board. In Part 2, we will be getting knee-deep in gear.

To the devoted backpackers, their gear list is the key to their heart. Simply asking avid outdoorsmen to see such a list is not something you do on the first date. That being said, by this point in our journey, I feel like we’ve gotten to know each other enough that I am ready to show you ours.

If you have never backpacked before, fear not! We’re recommending that you just go for a single night on your first outing. You can get away with almost anything in that timeframe. Now we’re not telling you to pack a pair of Levis and a Tommy Bahama T-shirt and call it a day, but we’re saying that John Muir was able to carry a cast iron stove as he traversed the Great Western Divide at over 10,000 feet, so you don’t have to feel “prepared” before heading out on the trails.

Keep It Organized

If you don’t keep a checklist of all your gear for your trip, you should! Otherwise, there is a very good chance you’ll end up unpacking and repacking your backpack the morning of a trip, just to double check that you remembered to pack an extra pacifier or the baby Motrin.

For all you Type A planners, lighterpack.com is a great resource when creating a gear list for an upcoming adventure with your little human. With LighterPack, you are able to list and categorize your gear and include its weight and a website link to the item.

Now let’s dive into gear!

Overnight Backpacking with a Baby Gear List

Detailed List

Here are the two gear lists we maintain for our family trips on LighterPack. Each section is broken down by category, location of items in our pack, a link to the gear item if possible and its weight.

  1. Dad’s gear
  2. Mama and Squeaks’ gear

General List

Below is a general list to help you prepare for your trip! You won’t find any brands here so feel free to add your own style!

1. Packs

Dad: 70L Pack with waterproof liner

Mama/Squeaks: hard-frame carrier

2. Go-Suits

Dad: hat, sunglasses, Buff, l/s shirt, pants, underwear, sock liners, socks, trail runners

Mama: hat, sunglasses, l/s shirt, pants, underwear, sock liners, socks, trail runners

Squeaks: hat, sunglasses, l/s shirt, pants, socks, soft-soled shoes

3. Extra Clothes

Dad: stuff sack, extra socks, extra sock liners, extra underwear, base layer top/bottom, insulated top layer, beanie, gloves, rain jacket, camp shoes

Mama: stuff sack, extra socks, extra sock liners, extra underwear, base layer top/bottom, insulated top, beanie, gloves, rain jacket, camp shoes

Squeaks: stuff sack, extra socks, fleece PJs, fleece bunting, base layer top/bottom, insulated top, beanie, booties, rain suit

4. Sleep/Shelter

Tent, Dad’s quilt, Mama/Squeaks’ quilt, Dad’s sleeping pad, Mama/Squeak’s double sleeping pad

5. Cook System

Stuff sack, fuel, stove, pot, pot stabilizer, lighter, small kitchen towel, spork x2, baby spoon, cup x2, small bowl

6. Food

Bear canister, 8 lbs of food for two days (3 lbs for adults, 2 lbs for Squeaks)

7. Water

Stuff sack, filter, adapter, clean/dirty 1L bladders, 3 1L water bottles w/ sport tops, backup treatment, extra cap

8. Toiletries

Ziploc bag, toothbrushes, toothpaste, foot cream, eye care, flossers, sunscreen, lip balm, hand sanitizer

9. Electronics

Stuff sack, battery bank, smart phone, satcom device, cords, wall adapter, headlamp x2

10. First Aid

Ziploc, small quick guide, baby meds (Motrin in small container with syringe, Benadryl for emergencies only, adult meds, like Motrin, Tylenol, Benadryl, DayQuil and NyQuil), Leukotape strips, various Bandaids, small tube of Neosporin, gauze pads, gauze roll, Steristrips, alcohol swabs, tincture of Benzoin, Q Tip, Ace Bandage wrap, bug repellent, bug net x 2, stroller-fitted bug net

11. Emergency

Ziploc, dryer lint, storm matches, extra lighter, paracord, extra AAA batteries, Geartie, multi-tool 

12. Diaper Kit

Dry bag, gallon zip, quart zip, 10 diapers, 30 dehydrated wipes, changing pad, odor-proof bag, gallon zip w/ baking soda for Squeak’s dirties, quart zip w/ baking soda for grown-up dirties.

13. Other Items

Squeak’s lovey, 2 pacifiers with leash, book for night time, teething toy, tether to hold teething toy, retractable mirror for hard-frame pack, pack towel

The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Backpacking with Babies Part 2: Gear List by Joe Linehan for Hike it Baby

5 Game Changers

Below are five of our absolute favorite baby-specific backpacking gear items we would never leave home without!

Sunday Afternoons Kids’ Play Hat – We tried multiple hats for Squeaks before we found this one. We love this hat for its full coverage brim with soft veil back which allows him to rest comfortably in his carrier. We love how adjustable it is, both around the head and under the chin. It also comes in many fun designs and colors!

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3 MtnGlo This tent is absolutely worth every penny. It’s very light but durable, easy to set up, and has plenty of room for a family of three. The MtnGlo lights are just bright enough to see what you’re doing in the middle of the night whether it’s finding the door zipper when nature calls or changing a diaper after a blowout (I never wish this upon any of you).  Read more on 4-person backpacking tents to help you decide what options are good for your family.

LilleBaby Retractable Mirror – This mirror allows you to check in on your little one while continuing to hike using a retractable cord and a carabiner,which you can fasten to your shoulder strap

Lil’ Sidekick Tether – This is a great way to solve your baby’s fascination with gravity. The tether hooks any toy, cup or bottle onto your carrier, no matter the size. Our Lil’ Sidekick’s job was to hold Squeak’s coveted “Drago” lovie that my son is slightly obsessed with and cannot sleep without. Needless to say, this was not a task for the faint of heart. The tether passed with flying colors.

Leukotape – This one isn’t baby-specific, but if you haven’t heard of Leukotape, it’s time to jump on the bandwagon. There is a reason this stuff is in every thru hiker’s med kit. It was the reason I remained blister-free on the John Muir Trail and sections of the Pacific Crest Trail. You can buy this miracle tape off of Amazon for just $10. It comes in a gigantic roll you can partition for your hikes by wrapping it around a hiking pole, lighter or placing it on the backing paper of labeling stickers.

If you were entertaining the idea of a backpacking trip with your baby in the future, we hope you found this information helpful! Feel free to ask any questions about our gear list or share your thoughts in the comments below. 

Read more:

Photos by Joe Linehan and Laura Castro.

The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Backpacking with Babies Part 2: Gear List by Joe Linehan for Hike it Baby

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