The Pixels and Pointers crew will soon turn a page and add a 4th to the brood. Over the past few months, we've been head down in nursery prep, home projects, and preparing for the addition of a new family member. That's right, we're full term and ready to get rocking with sharing the outdoors with team member #4. And we couldn't be more excited.
And we've been blessed with a wealth of advise and guidance -- most which is super valuable and appreciated. And it's often followed by how life will never be the same and to get ready to be tired, etc. And we'd be naïve to say that we won't need a caffeine IV drip and we'll be taking shifts for sleeping, but that's what we signed up for. And wow, what a blessing to have a child come into our lives that will be so much a part of every aspect of our world that we need 20cc's of caffeine on the hour, every hour. Sign us up, we're ready.
And while there is a host of things that we realize we don't know, have no clue about, and will only be prepared once we experience it, there are a number of things in life that we have done in advance. In fact, we get excited about the outdoor adventure aspect of our lives and that we'll get to share that with another human. And there is no telling how she'll respond, yes, it's a little girl, our fingers are crossed.
Our Hypothesis: Must Have's for Hiking with an Infant
And while I can read blogs, watch YouTube videos, and spend hours in REI and Good Wolf Gear (our local gear outfitter), nothing will be as valuable as actually getting on the trail. However, we'll have to wait a little bit for that day to come. As I sit here writing now, we're roughly a week away from the big day. But for now, I thought it would be interesting to predict what I think we might need and why -- and follow-up at a later date with the essentials that actually fit the P&P gear line-up.
Hypothesis for Gear and Preparedness
So let's start with a few areas that are ever apparent across all guides, the core essential groupings that are important to consider when hiking with an infant and children.
The Carrier: Baby carrier, backpack, and the works. Transport is important.
Apparel: Warmth, sun protection, rain, changes of clothes, etc.
Packing Essentials: The stuff that we need to make it happen, think of this as everything that goes in the complimentary backpack that's not the above items.
Trails and Where to Go: Determining where would be best to start small and work our way back to normal.
1 | The Carrier: Tula, Baby Bjorn, or Ergobaby
The good news here is that somehow we've acquired all three of the carriers through hand-me-downs, gifts, and purchase. We plan to test thoroughly and report back, but early signs seem like they will all have their benefits.
Early Observations of Baby Carriers
Our early hypothesis has been formed in the most scientific way possible, that is, carrying around the dogs large teddy bear around in the living room, Addison was not entertained.
We suspect that they will have their place, but the initial read on each is that the Tula will be best for around town and the Baby Bjorn + Ergobaby will be best on the trail, especially with the accessories that the Ergobaby has to offer. The mesh aspect of the Ergobaby seems like it might be best for warmer hiking excursions.
Tula Explore: More substantial with some extra umph around the waist. Seems like this one will be better for winter activities. It feels more substantial and support appears to be greater with this one.
Baby Bjorn Carrier Free: Lighter and less intrusive feeling. Feels like it would be good for movement, but might be tricky with the support aspect of the carrier. Depending on size of the child, this seems like it's has the best 'sport mode' of the carriers.
Ergobaby Omni 360: Similar to the BB, mesh for breathability, and comes with accessories (e.g., rain cover, fleece winter cover, etc.). Between the accessories and the lightweight mesh, the appearance would suggest that it has some versatility.
If I had to predict, I might say that the Ergobaby will get the most use, but time will tell. Stand by.
2 | Apparel: The Stuff for the Infant
This one could probably get a number of blog posts dedicate to strictly this topic. For now, we'll limit it to a few call-outs and leave it for follow-up.
The net-net, be prepared for all of them. We'll revisit this topic -- but at the moment we are no where near experienced to provide a hypothesis. But we'll get there.
3 | Packing Essentials
The gear for an infant or child is a mixed bag across the board. However, there is actually come common themes as you look at content from all reaches around the globe. And the first commandment of outdoor adventures with infants is 'thou shalt not pack too much stuff.' That makes sense. But tell that to a gear junkie. We'll do our best.
There are a few items that came front and center for 'must-have's'... going clockwise below or in order if you're on mobile:
Diaper Sacks: Dual purpose use .. for the dog and diapers. Most of the research called out the importance of ties for sealing the smell. Makes perfect sense to me.
Towels: You can never have enough towels. We found that the PackTowel is small, portable, and absorbent, but time will tell on usage.
Packing Cubes: Make it easy on yourself -- put clothes together, put diapers and wipes together; label and pack in your backpack
Changing Pad: Don't put the baby on the ground. Check. While obvious, in this day and age, I guess it needs to be said. After all the owners manual to your car points out not drinking the battery content, so there is that.
Secure Strap for Pacifier / Toys: Prevent things from falling on the ground. Also makes sense. It's no different than the camera strap to my wrist or the cable on the Garmin. Got it.
4 | Knowing Where to Go
The themes were consistently stated around community and knowing where to go with children. Essentially, the best guidance shared came in two forms:
There is no need to summit Kilimanjaro on the first hike back on the trails, start small and get repetition and routine under your belt
Build a support network for new adventures, seek out others that are hiking with infants, children, and family members
And know that it's going to take extra time to get through trails, plan for it and don't forget to take in each of the experiences
We're no strangers to mapping and finding trails, in fact, there are a number of prior blog posts that outline trail seeking. And specifically I suspect there will be importance needed on topology in this next chapter. As we start to aggregate our best hits, we'll start to share the trails that we believe fit the bill.
Hiking by yourself is never easy. Hiking with your spouse sometimes tests the fortitude of your relationship. Hiking with an infant will either bring Team Pixels and Pointer closer together or push the envelope on patience. We're an amazing team, if I don't say so myself, so I am sure that it's going to be like any other activity. When it's 'go time,' our strengths will shine, we'll be in the zone, and everything will come together.
But for now, our hypothesis is the Ergobaby Omni 360 plus the accessories will become the mainstay, the 5 key components will hold true, we'll use the trails we have mapped with low topo change, and we'll need to account for the 'other' stuff like wipes, diapers, hats, pacifiers, toys, and so on. There is a lot to learn going forward and we'll share some of the successes, pitfalls, and failures. All in the name of learning.
Happy hiking and get outside!