This past weekend we had went on our first backpacking trip of the season as a family. Our one year old son had come along with us this time so we had a few extra things we needed to keep in mind. We started our season off with the Manistee River Trail, amongst the Manistee National Forest. This trail was the most beautiful trail I had seen yet. There was a ton of beautiful wildlife that we had witnessed. Some wanted, and some even unwanted.
This year we heard enough about the ticks and the bear populations enough to be scared out of our wits before heading out. Tick scares have been prevalent all over the internet so needless to say, before heading out I attempted to make a tick and mosquito spray.
The tick spray that I had made consisted of, distilled water, witch hazel, peppermint oil, lemon oil, Geranium radens, and cedarwood oil. When I used this oil I only applied it to my limbs that were exposed to the elements such as my ankles and then stuck a cotton ball with Geranium Radens oil on it in my shoe laces.
- 1/4 cup Witch Hazel
- 1/4 cup Distilled water
- 10 drops Cedarwood
- 10 drops Geranium Radens
- 5 drops Lemon
- 5 drops Peppermint
Although I would have liked to flag the tick news as false, it wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be. Of course we kept our eyes peeled out every five seconds, on almost every blade of unnecessary grass that we came across, but we only found ticks when we had made our last stop to our site. (Picture above of the uncut, taunting long grass.) Out of the 11 beautiful miles that we hiked within the 24 hour period, we had only found two little ticks. One on my backpack (after I had removed it) and one on the inside of one of our hammock screens. Luckily we found it before we had put our packs on or went to bed. Needless to say, we checked ourselves and each other for ticks before hitting the sleep sacks just to make sure there were no more and either we got lucky, or the tick spray and oils worked.
Packing for an overnighter with baby was a little different than just going by ourselves for the day. We needed to try and keep lightweight while still carrying what we needed for baby. First, our son is only a year old so I am currently still breastfeeding, food wasn’t an issue for us, but at this time were also able to share some of our backpacking foods with him as well. For younger children I do know that there are plenty of packable foods that are organic purees in squeezable containers. I would not suggest however carrying any baby food in glass jars as it will count as extra weight and every ounce counts! The pack we were using was a pack by OSPREY POCO AG. We have found this pack to be very helpful as it does have a sunshade for baby as well when the sun is beating down. There can be other attachments purchased for it such as a rain fly and a water bladder. But the pack alone is amazing.
As you can see, we were packed up very well. With us we carried everything we needed, including diapers, wipes and a bag to put the soiled diapers in as well. Although in the end we did have a collection of diapers, we also had eaten some of our food to account for the extra dirty diaper weight. As some people ask about bringing toys for their little one, we didn’t really find it too necessary as he found playing with sticks, rocks, sand, river water, grass and plastic-ware just as much fun as any toy he has at the house. We did bring him one small car just to keep him occupied but there was so much to look at while hiking that he paid no attention to his toy.
The food that we had packed was made of dehydrated foods that we had purchased from “Harmony House Foods” and “Good-to-Go” foods. They have a wide variety of food with the accommodation of foods for different diets including vegetarian and vegan. Harmony House Foods has a few different boxes that you can purchase that include Gluten Free and Vegan options. Basically they send you different dehydrated foods and you can mix them together to make whatever it is that you want.
We opened our bags and mixed together a few foods such as, potatoes, lentils, peas, carrots and peppers with a few spices and once we got on the trail we just added water and threw it in a tortilla.
Good-to-Go backpacking foods were surprisingly very delicious, especially being a vegan backpacking food. Although pricy, it was just enough food for my fiancé and I to split and be well fed.
When it came time to settle in for the night, I was so happy that we had chosen our tent to sleep in over the hammock. The tent we have here is a 3 person backpacking tent weighing in at 7lbs. The ALPS Mountaineering Aries 3-Person tent is what we had with us. It was quite large in our opinion ( that is for the both of us and a 1 year old ), but it did the job. It is one of the heavier backpacking tents that was on the market, but for the price and its durability, we found it worth it. We especially liked this tent because it has space between both of the “doors” on each side of the tents where you can place your backpacking gear out of any rain with the rain tarp.
Aside from our tents, we carried with us Klymit Insulated Static V Sleeping mats. Surprisingly, these mats were very comfortable. However, they are intended to sleep one person, so in all reality, sharing this mat with my 1 year old son in a hot muggy tent was not the most comfortable, but it could have been much worse.
Everyone has their own backpacking gear preferences but with a little bit of research you will find that there is a gear for almost anything. Remember to pack lightly, and especially to make space for baby and babies things. IF you do plan on taking your little one on an overnighter, just keep in mind the sacrifices you might make to bring a few diapers and wipes. Some parks are okay with you burning your trash, but always do your research first before jumping to conclusions.
If your thinking of hiking the Manistee River Trail yourself, or with a child. I do recommend that you bring some trekking poles as you may find them helpful on some of the steeps that you have to climb. Most of this trail was shaded so we weren’t hiking in the beating sun. It was still hot, but the stops at the streams and creeks really helped cool us off on the way to our site. Remember to keep hydrated and keep baby cool with water as well.
Happy hiking my friends!