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What are some must-haves for new outdoor parents?

My wife and I just found out we will be parents soon! So...what are some of the outdoor essentials we need to have in order to raise a little adventurer?

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.
15 Replies

@REI-EricP Congrats that is so exciting!  When I first found out I was going to have a little one I bought all kinds of things that I never used so it is great you are asking first!  I would say the best thing to be comfortable in any setting outdoors is a good diaper bag.  You need something that can be a sling or a backpack and can also hold a few toy distractions, snacks and water for you and those all essential diapers.  It is amazing seeing all of the things in nature again through the eyes of a little one.  Enjoy!!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

@REI-EricP Congrats!  You definitely need the Osprey Poco Plus Child Carrier.   

Once your little bundle of joy is able to lift their heads its time to go exploring again! Make sure you bring your favorite pair of trekking poles along, little ones get heavy quickly!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

@REI-EricP First off: Congrats! This is wonderful news!

Here are my top five items for outdoor adventure with a little one:

  • Osprey Poco Child Carrier. Super comfortable, has lots of storage (and a removable daypack), and, next to an REI Co-op Camp Roll Table, you can set it on the ground with the kiddo in it and it doubles as a high chair.
  • Hydroflask Wide-Mouth Vacuum Water Bottle. Here's the parenting hack for this awesome water bottle: Prime the Hydroflask with hot water from the tap for 10 minutes or so, empty and refill with hot water from the tap, place pre-made bottle of formula or milk inside the Hydroflask with the hot water. It'll keep the baby bottle warm for hours! You will need a baby bottle that will fit inside the wide mouth Hydroflask, but those aren't too hard to find. This trick saved me so many times when we were out and about and my kids were still bottle feeding!
  • Stasher Reuseable Silicone Half Gallon Bag. Admittedly we didn't have these when my kids were really little so we used ziploc bags, but these are a great and sustainable way to seal up diapers, wipes, and any other stuff you want to separate from the rest of your gear in your backpack or diaper bag. Just empty it out in the trash at the trailhead and wash it when you get home and you'll be ready for the next adventure!
  • REI Co-op Outward Shade Shelter. There is so much outside to occupy your little one; grass, sticks, rocks, leaves, clouds, etc. Something like this will give them the time to explore by helping mitigate sun exposure. We loved our REI Co-op Screen House Shelter for the same reason except for mosquito protection in Alaska.
  • Eno Double Nest Hammock. There is nothing better than rocking your little one to sleep for a nap in a hammock!

This list could be 100 items long and not get to all the great gear available to help you adventure with your kiddo but it's a good start. I'm so happy for you and can't wait for your parenting adventure to begin!


At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

@REI-EricP I second @REI-JohnJ recommendation for some sort of waterproof bag.  You most likely will always have wet kids clothes or diapers to haul around.  I would recommend bringing a spare tee shirt with you when you hike too, it saved me more then once when I was thrown up on or peed on by a little one! 

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

Logged-in to ask the same question. My partner and I are expecting at the end of September. Can't wait to take our little one out camping with us when she's old enough!

Has anyone used one of the rocking camp chairs as a rocker for the baby at home?

We have a small house, so having a fold-up piece of furniture would be helpful!

@REI-EricP and @aggieplanner A good kiddie carrier has already been mentioned - absolutely essential, along with a good, stout hiking staff for the person carrying the kid.  we came to prefer non-adjustable models for absolute dependability.

Lots of love, patience, and understanding come in handy, as well.

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@aggieplanner congratulations on your soon-to-arrive new family member! A few thoughts on using a camp rocker as your primary rocker at home:

  • The quick answer is yes, a camp rocker could work, however it's important to note that they won't be nearly as plush and comfortable as a true rocking chair. In the beginning, you're probably going to be really tired (and your body may be really sore) and you'll likely be looking for a really comfortable place to rock and feed your newborn. In addition, you'll likely want a chair where you can lay your head back - this Helinox model may come up high enough to provide a bit of a head rest, depending on your height.
  • Another potential downside of a camp rocker is that they won't be all that comfortable for 2 people as your kiddo grows, so using it to read books to your toddler as part of a nighttime routine may not be ideal.
  • One upside of using a camp rocker is that you could take it with you if you decide to go camping! 

Ultimately, this will be a very personal decision - a camp rocker may work for some new parents and not at all for others. Let us know if we can answer any additional questions about specific rockers, or other kiddo-outdoor gear as you get closer to September!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

@REI-EricP and @aggieplanner Mom of a now two year old - best tip I can give is to see if you have a hike it baby branch in your area! They know all the good places to get out with your baby and also where to find good used gear locally! Also - if cost is a concern watch the garage sales when they start again. The first time I went to one they had two of the nice backpack carriers in immaculate condition for way cheaper. We're not in a crazy popular hiking city so I'd expect it isn't too much of a fluke that they were there. 

Also, look into soft structured carriers. I have a super short torso so a lot of the backpack / hard frame carriers really don't fit me right. I could use my soft structured carrier pretty much from birth (minimum weight was 7 lbs) and still can use it with my 32lb toddler. 


Welcome to the adventure that's parenting!

@ITlady @hikermor Any suggestions on strollers for hiking?



At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.