Tramping with a toddler

With our second summer as a family well under way, it was time to get back into more serious tramping.

There was just a one problem, a small, rather mobile, but otherwise not very coordinated 12kg lump, to package away safely.

Up until now we had been using baby carriers. These are perfect for, well, babies.  You carry them on your front, and can support their head.  But then, as they get bigger, it starts becoming a bit of a strain on your neck and shoulders. Some of the baby carriers have the option of carrying the infant on your back, but in practice this really doesn’t work, mainly because their had flops about like a tea towel on a clothesline, when they fall asleep.

Front baby carrier.  Bit more challenging for serious tramping.  You can't see your feet, usually need one hand to support the infant if sleeping, or to keep baby hands from pulling out eyes.  Also not very comfortable once weight exceeds 10kg.

Front baby carrier. Bit more challenging for serious tramping. You can’t see your feet, usually need one hand to support the infant if sleeping, or to keep baby hands from pulling out mummy eyes. Also not very comfortable once weight exceeds 10kg.

Some baby carriers can also be worn on back, but not so good when infant falls asleep.

Some baby carriers can also be worn on back, but not so good when infant falls asleep.

It was time to investigate a more serious child carrier, one that would see us through, until junior was able to climb those mountains himself.

Living in Norway, means we have the luxury of limited choice, which usually makes buying decisions easy.  Our options were:

  • Bergens – the Norwegian brand.  This carrier is quite large, and comes with a frame/kick-stand, it was the only one that does so.  It feels like a heavy tramping pack.  Baby sits relatively low, so lower center of gravity, and more difficult for baby to pull at your hair and ears.  Adjustable for height.   Middle price range at 2000 NOK.
  • Little Life – Very comfy and practical.  Has small extras like fablet-szied pockets on the hip belt, heaps of storage, and a mirror for checking up on the little guy in the back.  It is, however, small.  I couldn’t see it being usable past the 18-moth – two year mark.  Baby also sits quite high, with head height the same as yours, meaning not only will he play peek-a-boo and cover up your eyes, but he also has no head protection, should you fall on your back.  Price: a high-end 2500 NOK.
  • Macpac brand – Trusty NZ brand.  Matches our tramping packs.  Has never let us down.  Baby sits quite high, same as US branded carriers.  No head support.  Only available in one store in all of Norway, in Oslo.  Not available for us to try out. Price: 3000 NOK.

We opted for the Norewegian brand.  This is after all the country of babies and mountains.  Those Norwegians have to know what they are doing when it came to making carriers.  Plus, it’s a bit bigger, so we won’t be casting it aside after six months, and together with storage, can take up to 35kg – just in case we wanted to go on that epic 10-day mountain traverse.

We tried it out up Veten, Åsane’s highest mountain, and conveniently located behind IKEA, meaning we could finish our tramp, and stop in at IKEA to buy our new bed (finally), and some tasty Swedish food.

The climb was reasonably steep, and quite challenging in places.  Not recommended for beginners, or people fussy about keeping shoes clean.  However, the carrier was up for the job.  The baby was well secured, meaning you could bend down to tie your shoelace, or arch off to the side to scoot around a rock, without needing to worry about him falling out.

Appreciating the scenery and sleeping

Appreciating the scenery and sleeping

Snoozey

Snoozey

Nearly at the top.  Taking a mini-rest to sing 'the hills are alive with the sound of music'

Nearly at the top. Taking a mini-rest to sing ‘the hills are alive with the sound of music’

Once at the summit, we could take the pack off and set it in place.  The frame and kick stand suddenly came in handy.

Making use of the kickstand.  These could also be useful for tramping packs without babies.

Making use of the kickstand. These could also be useful for tramping packs without babies.

 

On the summit.  Veten, Åsane.

On the summit. Veten, Åsane.

Reached the summit. Time for lunch.

After a lunch, and toddling about a bit on the summit, it was time for the journey back down.  Although steep and difficult in places, we managed fine. With the baby thoroughly secured and protected, both hands were free, and meant we (and when I say we, I mean Brian) could even scoot down on our bottom in the more tricky parts, without needing to worry about his head meeting a rock.

And then, we could continue on straight into IKEA for some Swedish cookies.

So, with our first tramp of the season completed we’re off to a good start.

The only downside is that there is no such thing as an easy day walk any more.  Even a three hour walk, will feel like a five-day carry-your-tent-sleeping bag-food-and-water tramp.

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One Response to Tramping with a toddler

  1. Tim Renouf says:

    Time for a new post.

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