Best Gear for Outdoor Babies

Best Gear for Outdoor Babies

When my first baby was born, I joined the ranks of moms insisting that we needed allthebabygear. As a new parent, it’s completely overwhelming trying to navigate it all, but easy to find some assurance that at least you have the right STUFF.

Five kids later, most of that gear is gone as I realize there are only a handful of items that truly are worth keeping around. This is the list I wish someone had for me 10 years ago of the best gear for outdoor babies.

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1. A great Soft Structured Carrier (SSC)

Honestly, I didn’t rely heavily on this until I had my second baby, but now I have them stashed in all the possible spots I *may* need one, and may lose it just a little if someone removes it from the car, etc. This is number one in our list of best gear for outdoor babies because it saves our sanity every day.

While this is a personal preference, I am LOVING the new Boba X. It works for babies 7-45 pounds without an infant insert, has an adjustable seat and panel body to get the perfect fit and keeps all three of my girls that I wear (aged 10 months, 2 and 4) comfortable. Plus they come in an assortment of gorgeous designs.

We also highly recommend a Kinderpack, available in a variety of sizes for babies, toddlers and preschoolers. Check out why we love it for hiking here.

best gear for babies

2. A framed carrier

You really don’t need this until Baby can sit up on their own between 5-6 months, and I find that I use it the most when they’re between age 1-3. It allows us to hike carrying extra gear, keeps their weight on my hips rather than my shoulders, and provides sun protection.

You can find all our framed carrier reviews here BUT right now I reach for our Deuter Kid Comfort Active SL, made specifically for women (but works for men too, of course!)

best gear for babies

3. A Wilder Nest

Ok, so this one is more of a luxury item, but everyone loves it. It’s durable, gorgeous, and keeps her from rolling off the bed in the camper. We throw it on the ground and let her play on it instead of eating rocks. It was the perfect transition from Rock N Play to Crib.

We have a Baby Nest and a Toddler Nest and I would recommend just going for the bigger one. It’s a place for them to call theirs for traveling, camping and playing and is much-loved in our home! Find them here.

We also recommend Dock a Tot which is also available in a bunch of different options.

Footed rain pants available at Biddle and Bop (and they are awesome for crawlers!)

Best Gear for Outdoor Babies
**Note: In this photo her airways are totally open and she’s happy as could be. Best outdoor napping spot!

4. A Travel Crib

I LOVE the Lotus travel crib. We take it camping to set up in the tent or camper, can easily bring it traveling and use it at home sometimes too. It is light and stores small and is fully ventilated. I also love how you can zip open the side for easy transfers. We have had quite a travel cribs pass through our home, but this one we have kept through them all.

We also recommend a PeaPod for play and baby sleep in tents.

5. A bouncer that stores easily

Yep, those exersaucers are all awesome for keeping baby entertained for a few minutes, but they take up SO much room and are the first thing I boot out (probably way before Baby is actually done with it.) I just can’t handle tripping over it any longer. I just discovered the Summer Infant Pop ‘N Jump and it was the ONLY thing I purchased for Baby #5.

It was $60 well-spent. It folds like a camp chair, lets her jump and bounce, has a sun shade and built-in activities to keep her entertained. AND it adjusts heights. Her siblings *may* jump in it too (like every day) and it has handled a ton of abuse like a champ.

Best Gear for Outdoor Babies

6. A Sun hat

I have tried a zillion sun hats for our kids and this hat from Sunday Afternoons continues to be our favorite hands-down. It works great for in the stroller or on my back, has a quick-release safety strap, and grows with the child.

All my kids wear them and love them. For older babies and kids, we recommend the Play Hat.

7. Boudreaux’s Butt Paste

Every kid gets diaper rash at some point, even when they’re camping/adventuring. Since I really only want to be hauling one thing, this is the one that goes with us. After five kids, it’s the only one I trust! If space isn’t an issue, go with the big tub!

8. Sun Shades

I love these ones from Real Kids Shades because they are a bit softer for little faces, keep out the rays well and have a strap to keep them on. And yes, babies need sunglasses too. I recommend (and keep reminding myself of this!) to put them on Baby as often as possible so they’re just used to wearing them!

Check out all our recommendations for best sunglasses for kids here.

9. A Balance bike + Helmet

Yes, I know most of this gear is for babies way before they can even think about walking, but I always say this is the best toddler investment you can make for active, outdoor kids. I LOVE the WOOM1 bike (or Woom1 Plus for slightly bigger kids). See our review here. For helmets, we recommend the Woom Helmet (new model coming soon) or the Giro Scamp.

Best Gear for Outdoor Babies

10. Iksplor Adventure Blankets for Swaddling + Adventuring

This blanket is fairly new to the outdoor kid scene and is a local brand here in Jackson, WY. Let me be honest with you – I didn’t really think it was going to be all that different than what I already have, but has now become my #1 suggested baby gift.

It’s merino wool so breathes well and is super soft. Plus it has a great stretch so makes an AMAZING swaddle blanket. We keep ours in the car and ready for anything – traveling, picknicing, hanging out by the water, keeping warm when Mama forgot extra layers….you get the idea.

I can also attest to the fact that they wash and dry very well since ours require that WAY more often than I care to admit.

Use code “MTNMAMA20” for 20% off their entire site!

Adventure blankets are great for big kids too!
An amazing swaddle for newborns AND older babies

11. Merino Wool Base Layers

Yes, even babies benefit from base layers! We LOVE merino wool since they help regulate temperature and keep kids cozy. Iksplor has an amazing Adventure Onesie that is slightly thicker than their base layers. ALL my kids wear Iksplor base layers on a daily basis year-round.

Again, use code “MTNMAMA20” for 20% off!

12. Warm Camping Sleep Sack

The best sleeping bags for babies and toddlers is one they can wear. This avoids them becoming uncovered in the middle of the night and getting cold. There are two sleep sacks that are great for camping that we use and really love:

  1. Morrison Outdoors Sleep Sack: I am so impressed with this packable, trail-worthy sleep sack for babies sold on their site and at REI. Comes in 40 degree and 20 degree versions and keeps babies aged 6-24 months cozy warm!
  2. Baby Dee Dee Sleep Nest Travel: This one is light and thin, but does an excellent job at keeping babies warm and comfortable. We love that there are also sleeves that are removable for added warmth. Our babies use this for camping in cool/cold weather and stay very warm, especially when paired with base layers. USE CODE “MTNMAMA” for 10% off one-time-use!
  3. Milk & Honey Outdoor Baby Sleeping Bag: While there are no sleeves on this one, the goose down makes it very warm. We also love that the bottom is cinched so it can be undone to allow kids to walk around still wearing it.

13. Salus Bijoux Life Vest for Infants

If you’re going to be on the water, invest in the Salus Bijoux life vest for infants. It will save hours of crying babies uncomfortable in life jackets that don’t fit well. It’s comfortable for baby and keeps them completely face-up should they end up in the water. For babies 9-25 pounds. Best family purchase we’ve made for water play!

Check out other life jackets we recommend (and why!) here.

Best Gear for Outdoor Babies

14. Thule Chariot Cross

Oh how I love this stroller. It is my #1 stroller and what I use for biking, walking, hiking, skiing and sanity. 🙂 See our full review here (updated in 2019).

Thule Chariot Cross Review

Ok, parents! What’d I miss?!?

Best Gear for Outdoor Babies

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© 2018, 2021 Tales of a Mountain Mama. All rights reserved. Republication, in part or entirety, requires a link back to this original post and permission from the author.


  • Amelia lives with her husband and five young children outside of Jackson, WY in Grand Teton National Park. As a mom, she quickly learned that the secret to sanity was to spend more time outside where tantrums don't see quite so bad. Amelia started TMM in 2012 to help encourage all families (including her own) to get outside, no matter the weather. Due to the necessity of having to keep so many kids warm and happy, she has become an expert in kids' gear and loves being able to share it with others.

8 thoughts on “Best Gear for Outdoor Babies”

  1. Whenever were hiking/camping/road tripping, we put a cloth diaper cover over baby’s disposable diaper…it has saved us from numerous “blow-outs” that would have otherwise been a huge pain to clean up. We usually use two and alternate with reusing them:)

  2. We also have the lotus, but want another option for sleep. There are a few pics of your babes sleeping on pads with slightly elevated sides – what brand have you found most comfortable and easy to transport? Thanks!


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