Close banner

Support Outside Online

Love Outside?

Help fund our award-winning journalism with a contribution today.

Contribute to Outside

What gear should I bring when hiking and camping with a baby?

My wife and I are expecting our first child this summer. We plan to hike and camp with the baby in the southwest. What are some gear concerns I need to think about? How young can we start and do I need to be concerned about altitude and little lungs? Brian Chinle, Arizona


First of all, Congratulations! Both on having your baby and on your plans to take it camping.

When it comes to camping with babies, there's a golden age—a few months after they're born until a few months before they become so mobile that you have to baby proof the entire campground. The size of this sweet spot also depends a lot on your own proficiency as a camper and how comfortable you feel bringing your baby to high altitude.

Consider this, however: Children are born in cities like 7,000-foot-high Santa Fe every day and they have absolutely no issues with altitude. To be on the safe side, doctors generally recommend you wait at least three months to go beyond 8,000 feet to make sure the lungs are properly formed.

Now for the gear: You'll want space. REI just came out with the two-room, four-person Kingdom 4 tent ($299;, which has a "garage" out back for storing extra gear. At 67 inches tall at its highest point, the three-season, two-room tent can be turned into one big family room by zipping open the divider wall. With a door on each end and three mesh windows that have inside zip-up covers you can open it all up for plenty of circulation or close it off to make a cozy cocoon for a sleeping baby.

You'll also want a baby carrier. Kelty is considered the Rolls Royce of baby backpacks. Its popular FC 2 frame carrier ($170, has a padded, contoured waist belt, a five-point adjustable harness that will fit kids up to 50 pounds, a sunshade, a zip-off diaper bag, and a "kickstand" that automatically deploys when you set the pack down.

One last bit of advice from Sam Moulton, Buyer's Guide editor and father of a brand-new baby girl: "Never underestimate how long it's going to take to camp with a kid. Take twice the amount of time and plan to go half as far."

Support Outside Online

Our mission to inspire readers to get outside has never been more critical. In recent years, Outside Online has reported on groundbreaking research linking time in nature to improved mental and physical health, and we’ve kept you informed about the unprecedented threats to America’s public lands. Our rigorous coverage helps spark important debates about wellness and travel and adventure, and it provides readers an accessible gateway to new outdoor passions. Time outside is essential—and we can help you make the most of it. Making a financial contribution to Outside Online only takes a few minutes and will ensure we can continue supplying the trailblazing, informative journalism that readers like you depend on. We hope you’ll support us. Thank you.

Contribute to Outside