The First Six Months: The Best Baby Outdoor Gear

Whew. Shocking no one, I blinked and Liliana is almost seven months old. How did that happen? You always hear parents talk about time flying but hot damn, they weren’t kidding.

Thankfully, I can’t say that we’re wasting any of our precious moments together. It took some effort, but Will and I managed to get outside fairly frequently, and more often than not, baby girl is with us. She has been abroad; she vacationed in a campervan; she’s been backcountry skiing {touring}; she visited a backcountry hut; she’s been hiking; she’s been trail running. And her repertoire is going to become more extensive in a few weeks when we embark upon our road trip!

Of course, this came with a fair bit of trial and error, especially in the packing department. It took me a minute to figure out the best gear for our baby girl, and this was largely because you just can’t Google what you need. {Seriously, I tried. I asked the internet, “What should I bring for a 4-month-old baby to a backcountry ski hut?” and got a lot of crickets. Or more people telling me to bring a Pack-and-Play. Y’all, who is going to carry that 15-pound behemoth of a “travel crib” into the backcountry for me?!} Near as I can tell, most parents aren’t bringing their kiddo along on those adventures and the ones who do apparently don’t blog about it.

This is where I’m aiming to close the gap. We’ve found a few tried, true, and tested products or methods that have enabled our little family to get outside *almost* as frequently as pre-baby. Sure, things are different but having a baby does not mean have to kiss those beautiful peaks goodbye.

Our Favorite Baby Outdoor Gear

baby outdoor gear

Photo Credit: Wild Acorns Media

Note: Links below may be affiliate links which means I receive a small commission if you purchase anything. As always, I appreciate the support!

Thule Chariot Cross

This was a big purchase for us but we definitely don’t regret it. {And to clarify, we did receive a pro-deal for 50% off.} The Thule Chariot Cross is like the multi-tool of kiddo transportation. The basic buggy package comes standard with walking wheels and a tow-bar so you can pull your kiddo while out cycling. Additionally, we purchased the jogging stroller and ski sled package, which are the two options we’ve used the most.

This thing is a-mazing. As far as running strollers go, I’m sure it’s not quite as good as BOB strollers and the front wheel doesn’t turn the absolute best. But the versatility of being able to flip between sports makes this purchase a no-brainer. Now that she is bigger, Liliana loves sitting in there, watching the world go by, regardless of whether I’m running, walking, cycling, or pulling her on skis. There is a pull-over plastic cover if it’s raining or snowing, and we’ve discovered that you can chuck a Nalgene full of hot water inside the sled {just like when camping} and then pull the plastic cover over to create a cozy warm environment. Liliana has no complaints!

Tip: If your kiddo is under the age of one, spend the extra money on the infant sling. The regular seat is too big for infants whereas she fits in the sling just fine.

baby outdoor gear

Photo Credit: Moxie 82 Inc

Osprey Poco AG Premium Child Carrier

I was beyond baffled when the Osprey Poco Premium hiking backpack showed up at the door on my birthday. Seriously, it’s like the folks at Osprey know me; best birthday gift ever!

There is a lot of debate in the hiking world as to who makes the best kid carrier: Osprey or Deuter. We’ve never tried the Deuter packs so I can’t speak to those, but Will and I are in love with this backpack! {Well, namely me since I mostly carry Liliana while Will schlepps….everything else.} The pack uses Osprey’s award-winning AG suspension system which carries the load so your body doesn’t need to. The waist belt hugs your hips in a manner far different from other packs and while it does taking getting used to, it’s worth it for multi-hour hikes. Plus, there is an included sun shade that pulls out of the back, making it easy to provide Liliana with a shady snooze. The Premium carrier comes with a zip-off smaller backpack and additional storage so I can still carry a few lighter materials, like a sleeping bag and/or sleeping pad.

Added bonus: your baby can easily lay her head forward for a nap while hiking. Trust me on this one; Liliana does it all the time.

Ergo 360 Carrier

It may seem redundant to have two carriers on the list, but stay with me here. Before Liliana could sit upright on her own, the backpack wasn’t an option. In fact, she was only able to begin using the Osprey before she turned six months. Previously, we relied on the Ergo 360 Carrier.

Thankfully, we received our Ergo as a hand-me-down gift from an old friend so we had it from day one. Liliana took to the carrier immediately, napping in it at home and enjoying walks with Tals from the confines of her Ergo. As she grew older, we began hiking with her in the front carry too. In fact, this is how we toured all of Iceland and France!

As she gets heavier, the front-carry is tougher on my hips so we’ve mostly switched to the Osprey backpack. But, the Ergo was a godsend during particularly cold and wet ski tours. When we skinned the four miles into Maroon Hut, temps were in the single digits and it was puking snow. I was really worried about keeping her warm, so we opted to pop her in the Ergo and face her inwards so that her cheek was mashed against my chest {I left my jacket unzipped.} Not only did my body heat help keep her warm, but turning her inwards protected her face from the elements. We did the same thing while hiking in Iceland and it worked like a charm.

baby outdoor gear

Little Hands Hawaii Sun Protection

Any parent has heard the rule: no sunscreen on your kid prior to six months. Apparently it’s because the amount of chemicals in sunscreen could be slightly dangerous for your baby. That said, I really worried because Liliana was out in the sun a lot. I know they say no sunscreen but for us, skin cancer trumped sunscreen chemicals.

Thankfully, my sister sent me some sunscreen from a local Hawaiian company called Little Hands Hawaii. Since everyone in Hawaii ‘screens up all the time, they shun the generic rule too and apparently a lot of locals use this stuff. It’s made from whole, real ingredients, the majority of which are edible. And it’s good for coral reefs which is obviously near and dear to Hawaiians’ hearts.

Aquaphor

An Instagram follower suggested this to me awhile back and she was right on the money! Even if the sun was behind the clouds, I still wanted to cover Liliana’s face to protect her cheeks from the wind and cold, but I could never find a gaiter small enough to fit her. In the end, I smeared Aquaphor on her cheeks to act as a barrier between her baby-soft skin and the harsh outdoor elements {kinda like diaper cream for her face.}

Dock-A-Tot

The Dock-a-Tot is a controversial sleep item, especially here in the USA. In Europe, it is regularly used but in the USA, it’s not on the approved list for sleep items. However, Will and I couldn’t think of anything else that would work for us in the backcountry so we bought this rather pricey bed.

I’ve heard that a lot of babies become reliant on this contraption but that wasn’t the reason we bought it. We really needed something lightweight that we could take anywhere to use as a bed for Liliana. The Dock-a-Tot is perfect. We took it to Europe and used it in both the campervan and on the kid-friendly bed in our French AirBnB. We popped it in our pulk sled and used it on a couch cushion in the Maroon Hut. We’ve put it on the floor in multiple hotels and in her Pack-and-Play in a closet in our Crested Butte condo. Because it prevents her from rolling around, we had a lightweight-yet-safe sleep place no matter where we went {Note: This is soon to end! As Liliana gets more and more mobile, it’s likely she will be able to climb out of this, so it’s a short-lived solution.}

Tip: We travel with the 125L Big Agnes Stagecoach rolling duffel which is large enough for the Dock-a-tot to fit in the bottom. Easy peasy!

baby outdoor gear

Patagonia Hi-Loft Down Sweater Bunting

We bought this when Liliana was barely out of the womb, and I”ll admit that it is the most expensive bunting one can buy. That said, the Hi-Loft Down Sweater is arguably the warmest out there which made it worth the extra cash.

Added bonus: it’s on clearance at REI right now!

While skinning into the Maroon Hut, temps hovered just over 5 degrees and I was terrified Liliana would get cold. We had four miles into the hut and I’m not exactly the speediest skier. Was she going to be warm enough?!

Thankfully, this bunting is crazy warm and girlfriend was fine! She napped for 90 minutes and woke up for a trailside nursing session {which meant Mom’s boobs came out in sub-freezing temps…oy.} But she was warm even when she wasn’t pressed against me in the Ergo, and I credit this bunting. It’s water-resistant so it doesn’t wet out in moderate snowstorms. Plus, the hood is fleece-lined which means Liliana actually enjoys it pulled up on her head. All the winning.

Zutano Booties

Kids kick off socks like all the days. I’ve found socks in our driveway, in the backseat of our car, in our bedroom, and at my parents’ house. I worried how I was going to keep Liliana’s feet warm in the backcountry since she is too small for shoes but can’t wear socks without removing them immediately. Turns out, Zutano booties are a great choice!

A friend gifted us our first newborn pair at the hospital immediately after Liliana’s birth and we loved them so much that we bought another pair as she grew. They have two snaps so it’s literally impossible for her to remove them, and they fit over socks so I can put a few layers on her feet. While skiing, I put on a pair of merino wool socks, the booties, and then pull the Patagonia bunting over the top. Cozy cozy!

Summer Infant Pop ‘n Jump Activity Center

Ok, admittedly, we aren’t taking this sucker backpacking any time soon, but it’s been great for parks and mellow days in the sunshine! The Pop ‘n Jump Activity Center was gifted to us by my uncle and it is seriously a crowd favorite.

It’s portable {it comes with a travel bag} but it also has a removable canopy that folds over the top. We keep it off indoors but when we’re outside playing, we use the canopy to keep the sun off Liliana’s head. Plus, it has a removable floor so that she doesn’t have to put her feet in the mulch or the grass or dirt or whatever. Pretty handy.

baby outdoor gear

Snoozing in her Osprey

Medela Battery Pack for Pump In Style

Obviously, this isn’t necessarily for Liliana but it sure has made my life a lot easier!

I use the Medela Pump in Style breast pump at home and it has worked great {It also seems to be a really common choice thanks to insurance providers.} But, when I went to Idaho for a week, I had no idea what to do. I’d be in the backcountry with no electricity, but the manual pumps don’t work on me at all. If I couldn’t figure out how to pump in the woods to maintain my milk supply, I was going to forgo the trip.

Thankfully, I found this battery pack! It takes AA batteries {8 at a time} which last for about a day and a half for me. You plug the battery into the normal plug section and it works almost as well as when you have electricity.

The downside: this is definitely a heavy option for the backcountry. The battery pack itself is small and lightweight but you have to carry your regular pump, which isn’t light or small. Plus, you have to make sure you have enough batteries to get you through your trip. For our six night trip, I packed almost 40 batteries since I was perpetually terrified of running out. Let me tell you: 40 AA batteries weighs a fair bit! But, it worked really well while we were gone and I didn’t notice any dip in my milk supply, so I the extra weight was more than a fair trade off.

Patagonia Micro D Bunting

I’ll admit that we have a bit of a love affair with Patagonia’s baby gear! It is just SO stinking adorable! {Although we do have a fleece bunting by Helly Hansen too, and we love it, but it’s since been discontinued. Womp, womp.}

We love the Micro D Bunting because not only does it act as an extra layer of warmth underneath her Hi-Loft Down Sweater, but it acts as a great spring layer on its own, or even as warm jammies in a chilly backcountry hut. It comes with feeties too, so if it’s really cold outside, I’ll pull those over the Zutano booties for an additional layer of warmth.

And also? It’s adorable. So there is that.

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Sound off! Outdoor mamas: what would you add to the list?

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18 Comments

  • Reply Rachel @ Better LIVIN May 2, 2018 at 9:37 am

    I want a Thule SO BAD but until I go back to work it won’t be an option. I’m bookmarking this post- thanks for sharing your tips!

    • Reply Heather May 2, 2018 at 7:47 pm

      They are pricey but totally worth it!

      • Reply Lindsay May 4, 2018 at 9:33 pm

        Search Craigslist and FB Marketplace. I got an older used one with our first kiddo which works just fine and was MUCH cheaper than a new one.

  • Reply dani May 2, 2018 at 12:04 pm

    I was a big fan of my hand-powered Medela pump as well. It’s lightweight and small and can work anywhere. Depending on your supply, how long you’re away, and what sort of pumping/feeds needs you’re currently at, it may or may not be a good option. But I could definitely throw it in the pack for a long day hiking away from my babe, or take it on a multi-day trip later on when my son was also on solids and didn’t feed a million times a day.

    Also I loved the merino wool swaddles/sleep sacks. We found them great for camping-as well as home.

    • Reply Heather May 2, 2018 at 7:48 pm

      I tried the hand-powered and it unfortunately didn’t work for me at all! Like, it didn’t get a single drop of milk! So weird.

  • Reply Amber May 2, 2018 at 3:29 pm

    This is fantastic. Im do in october with our first and am hoping to be back in CO shortly after that. I was the baby in a backpack aleays and cant wait to expose our little one to that lifestyle. I knew there was a stroller that converted like that but because we are so urban right now everyone looks at me like I’m crazy. Thoroughly enjoy your blog, keep it up!!!

    • Reply Heather May 2, 2018 at 7:49 pm

      Congrats on your upcoming little one! You’ll love the Thule.

  • Reply Erin May 2, 2018 at 3:40 pm

    How old was Liliana when you started jogging with her in the chariot?? We have the chariot + infant sling, but I wasn’t sure how soon I could try the jogging with it. Our little one is 10 weeks and so far we have only used the strolling wheels. In terms of other gear, I love my ergo baby. Omni 360. We have the osprey pack, but our little has a ways to go before she can fit into it. So all of our hikes have been done with the ergo. As a bonus it’s great for keeping her contained on our sailboat as well.

    • Reply Heather May 2, 2018 at 7:50 pm

      I think I started lightly jogging with her in January, so around 4 months? Sounds like you did the same with the Ergo as us!

  • Reply Kate May 4, 2018 at 5:07 pm

    Thank you for this! I’m due in October and am so glad to have your recommendations because seriously, there is nothing out there about being in the backcountry with a baby. Keep posts like these coming!

  • Reply Deborah Regen May 9, 2018 at 7:19 am

    I have never seen such a cherub-like face on a baby. What a cutie! I’m not a parent, but in this post you are surely demonstrating to other new moms (and dads) that you don’t have to give up outdoor fun and exercise just because you have an infant. Sort of harkens back to the Native American women who swaddled their babies and carried them around on their backs tied to their bodies.

  • Reply Meredith May 10, 2018 at 8:16 am

    I live in Crested Butte and have been to the Maroon Hut, and find any and all other baby posts to be totally irrelevant to me! We are due this fall and you have no idea (ok maybe you do) how extremely helpful this has been! I had previously checked out some of that gear (definitely the Osprey and Patagonia because we’re gear dorks) which makes me feel like all your suggestions must also be gold. There’s no room for synthetic winter gear in this region for baby winters. Thanks for sharing and I look forward to future wisdom!

    • Reply Heather May 15, 2018 at 9:29 am

      The DockaTot has seriously been a godsend for us because you can take it anywhere when you need a safe sleeping space for your kiddo. We’re on day #2 of our road trip now and she is currently napping in the bathtub of our hotel room IN the DockaTot so that my husband and I can get some work done in the room 🙂 The thing is priceless and I’ll be so sad when she grows out of it!

  • Reply Meredith May 15, 2018 at 9:41 am

    That’s awesome advice! How old is she, or how long do you think she will be able to use it? We plan on camping a lot in the spring and summer but ours will be 6+ months by then, I want to make sure we get to use it enough. I love your posts and advice and will continue to follow for more tips!

    • Reply Heather May 21, 2018 at 8:25 pm

      She is 7.5 months right now and she still uses it although it is getting a bit small. We haven’t looked into it, but they make a Dockatot Deluxe that is much bigger, so that may be worth checking out. Since we’ve camped with her the past nine nights, we’ve realized she sleeps really well in that in the tent–way better than co-sleeping! But, we experienced a few nights with temps in the 20s where we weren’t comfortable with her sleeping solo (due to the cold) so we co-slept with her in the middle in our double sleeping bag/pad combo. Also worked really well if you aren’t comfortable shelling out the money for the DaT.

  • Reply Mary May 20, 2018 at 5:23 am

    Hi! What size Patagonia Hi-Loft Down Sweater Bunting did you find fit baby best for the first 6 months? I’m conflicted on sizing since some reviews say that it runs HUGE. Thanks!

    • Reply Heather May 21, 2018 at 8:19 pm

      It does run HUGE! We originally bought a 3-6 month thinking that since she was born in October, that would be perfect, but it was gigantic. She ended up wearing a 0-3 month size and it fit her pretty much through April (and she is slightly taller than average.) Hope that helps!

  • Reply Mary May 22, 2018 at 6:07 am

    Thanks!!

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