With my wife and I expecting our firstborn in November, I’m starting to worry about a lot of things, like sleep training, college tuition, and whether I’m ever going to be able to leave the house and get into the hills with my new child. Luckily, I’m surrounded by other dads at Outside and in my circle of friends who I’ve been able to ask for advice, particularly about playing outside. Here’s the gear they recommend that should make things easier.
Ergobaby Carrier ($160)
Chris Keyes: Outside’s Editor, Father of Two (Soon to Be Three)
“This is way better than the BabyBjörn, which is a back killer,” Keyes says. “You can put a kid in there from day one and go hiking with them facing you in the front. And as they grow, the kid can switch to your back. It feels like you’re carrying a light backpack, and I found it more comfortable than, say, a Kelty kid carrier with a frame. I was bringing this thing along until my son was about five. Some days he just couldn’t go the distance on a hike, so I’d throw him in there—it was like a comfy piggyback ride. We were both happy.”
Thule Chariot Cheetah XT Bike Trailer ($600) with Cross-Country Skiing and Hiking Kit ($300)
Eric Porter: Professional Mountain Biker, Father of Two
“Looking back, that time when they’re an infant is actually pretty easy,” Porter says. “They take two or three naps a day, and you can use that time to get exercise.” Porter and his wife threw down the full $900 on a new Chariot because they liked how it could be used as a running stroller, bike trailer, or ski sled. They also invested in the infant sling insert, which fits a one-month-old. In summer, Porter rode with the trailer on both paved and mellow dirt roads, and during winter he took the sled on laid-back ski tours no steeper than 15 degrees. The kids liked the ride down, and he liked the exercise he got on the way up. “When I would go ski touring by myself, it felt like I took the batting weights off,” Porter says.
Patagonia Hi-Loft Down Sweater Bunting ($150)
Jakob Schiller: Outside's Online Director of Gear, Father of Two
“Worrying is one of your jobs as a parent. That never stops, but there are ways to ease your fears. When playing outside in winter, I was always thankful my kids had this down suit,” says Schiller. “Yes, $150 is a ton of money to spend on a little baby, but this full-body, mountaineering-esque protector gave me peace of mind that my kids wouldn’t freeze whenever I skinned up the local ski hill with one of them on my back or just went for a walk around the block on a chilly morning. And here’s the trick: Buy the thing big so you can get at least two seasons out of it. And buy a gender-neutral color so when your second kid comes along, they can use it, too.”
BOB Revolution Stroller ($460)
Sam Moulton: Outside's Content Marketing Director, Father of Three
“I ran with a BOB stroller when my kids were under a year old by just putting a BOB-compatible car seat right in that thing,” Moulton says. Keyes agrees that a good stroller is a huge help: “I logged a ton of hours with a BOB and trained for an ultra with it. It’s also the ultimate sleep machine.”
Grey Wolf Camping Trailer ($15,000)
Ryan Allred: Whitewater and Fly-Fishing Guide, Father of Three
Allred, a whitewater and fly-fishing guide in southern Oregon and northern California, is used to camping outside, thanks to his guiding businesses. But sleeping in a tent with babies can be hard, so he invested in a 19-foot Grey Wolf trailer when the third of his three kids came along. “I acknowledge that I will catch a lot of grief from the most core outdoors people for that,” he says. Allred also knows $15K is a huge, out-of-reach investment for most (including me), but he went for it because the trailer allowed him and his family to be comfortable during the heat of summer and in fall and spring, when the temperature dropped toward freezing. Tip: If you don’t want to spend $15,000 but still want a trailer, check out the much more affordable Hiker Trailer, which starts around $5,000.