Backpacking with a One year old
Ever thought about attempting a backpacking adventure with a toddler? It can seem daunting. To most of us, that’s a very normal feeling, and Rochelle had the same thoughts before attempting her first backpacking trip with her 1 year old.
We sat down for an interview with Rochelle, a wife and first-time mother of Remi, based out of Texas. She talks about her trepidations, logistics, and rich experiences backpacking with her toddler. We caught up with Rochelle as she had just completed her first family backpacking adventure Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose, Texas.
by the numbers…
Formative Adventures: Hi Rochelle, it’s really good to meet you! I love all your pictures and adventures on Instagram. Can you tell me a little about your family?
Rochelle: Good to connect with you too! Sure, my husband and I have one son, Remi who is 13mo old. We love backpacking and general adventures in the outdoors. We also have a dog that we try to take along as much as we can.
FA: Have you always been adventurous?
R: My husband was the adventurer first. He moved from New York to Salt Lake City. I grew up in Salt Lake, but didn’t venture into the mountains rarely at all. I just didn’t grow up that way. We met at 18 and he took me out to go hiking and I immediately fell in love. Never looked back. We really fell in love through these adventures, hiking, snowboarding, camping, rock climbing, you name it. We fell in love with the idea of the outdoors always being a part of our lives.
FA: How do you manage all the gear and logistics? Who carries what?
R: That was my biggest question as I was preparing for our backpacking trip. For us, we have the Osprey Poco and it has a huge compartment where you can really fill up every nook and cranny I packed as much as I could in that, all the baby clothes, our clothes, and some of our food. My husband took everything else, some food, the stove, sleeping pads and tent. But his bag wasn’t really that heavy. Mine was actually heavier because I had Remi and he is about 25 lbs. That’s how we did it. I was even able to pack 3 beers, so I count that as a win. I think a water filter will really help next time.
FA: What did you bring for your toddler for sleeping?
R: I just put him in my sleeping bag and had him in the corner instead of the middle. Overall he did sleep pretty well, definitely not through the night. I think I was up maybe 3 or 4 times. When he’s another year older, he’ll probably need his own sleeping bag, cause he’s kinda all over the place. And I knew it was just for a night. When we’re car camping we have more room to spread out, and we have a dual sleeping bag, which really helps. That’s why we wanted to go for one overnight to see how it would go. Next month we’re headed to Coyote Gulch in Southern Utah and are planning a 2 night backpacking trip. But I didn’t want to go 13 miles and then realize that my son hates backpacking.
FA: How did he do with naps?
R: When we’re car camping, we’ll put him in the tent for naps. But with backpacking, a lot of the times he’ll be in the pack when he takes his nap, which he does a pretty good job. He took his nap on the way to the destination, and was awake once we got there. Then the next day, we finished our trip right before naptime, so he crashed in the car. For a 2 nighter, we’ll probably just do my usual nap routine with him and put him in the tent.
FA: What challenges did you face with Remi while you were backpacking?
R: It was actually pretty straightforward. I think sleeping was the more challenging part. I’d like to make it through the night without waking up…maybe once or twice. So if we can minimize that, that would be great. He’s starting to walk, but still pretty wabbly. On this trip he wanted to hold my hand whenever he walked, which I was happy with since I didn’t want him to venture off on his own too much. Maybe when he’s more mobile, it might be challenging to keep him on the trail or at the campsite.
Also, snacks are always a winner. If my son is getting a little antsy, we’ll give him some cheerios, and he was OK again. Just something about snacks makes kids happy again.
FA: What kind of values to you want to instill in your child by bringing him on adventures with you?
R: First off, backpacking always been a major part of our lives, and I don’t want our adventures to stop just because we have children, I want to bring him along so he can see what we love, and hopefully so he will love it as well. Long term goal: I want to instill in him a love for the outdoors, a respect for mother nature, and be a good steward of the planet. He needs to learn why we need to take care of it.
Secondly, in the immediate term, he’s just so pleasant on our adventures. We get to have this amazing quality time together that is difficult to get during the regular day-to-day. It gives us a moment to step back and be present with one another.
And finally, I’m all about self care. I become a better mother when I take care of myself, and the best way I do that is by being outside, hiking, exploring. I can’t always leave my child, and I really don’t want to. I want him to join me so we can explore together and see that I’m happy and he’s happy too.
FA: Are there any life lessons that you’ve picked up through your adventures that you want to pass on to Remi?
R: We’ve had to learn to be flexible and adjust to the conditions. I remember taking a trip back to SLC and was really cold and snowing. We climbed up a peak that I’ve done several times before, but it was more difficult this time since it was my first time taking Remi and it started snowing on us. But we made it to the top! We showed Remi that we didn’t give up, that we were safe, we knew what the risks were, we had the right equipment and clothing, and we didn’t turn around even though it got hard, we kept going. I think that’s a big lesson I want my son to takeaway, especially when he starts doing his own adventures. It’s gonna get hard there are moments when it’s hard, but there are moments where you see all that hard work pay off. And that it was worth not giving up. And I hope that it translates over to every aspect of his life, that when things get hard for him, he knows not to give up and can push through the barriers to reach his goals. That’s always been a major takeaway for me, on and off the trail.
Rochelle and her family are totally getting after it! Since this interview, they’ve been on numerous other backpacking adventures with Remi through the SouthWest United States. They’ve ventured through many of Utah’s best parks including Canyonlands National Park, Zion National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, Natural Bridges National Monument, and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. They have also backpacked in Horseshoe Bend, AZ and Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument, NM.
Go check out their amazing photos and say hi on Instagram. You can find her at @mamarochi
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