Hiking with the REI Piggyback Backpack & Carrier

Maggie sleeping at Cummins FallsI’m not seeing our model, but it’s basically the same as this one, and at the moment I’m not attempting to sell you something, or review the product, just tell the tale of last Saturday.

Me, Baby M, and ITMama headed out on Saturday to Cummins Falls State Park to test out our hiking ability, get some air, and prepare for a spot of hiking this month.

We figured the whole trip and hiking would be about 5-7 hours, and we could judge our physical readiness, Baby M’s temper, and play with the backpack.

We made our first mistake by not testing the backpack out beforehand on a smaller, shorter walk. In hindsight, this seems like an obvious first step. It didn’t matter too much, it just meant we had to learn a little more about how to manage baby while walking over treacherous landscape. Not something I wanted to do, but not something that hurt us.

The hike was significantly more difficult than expected, with areas of the trail you had to hold on, lean back, or just slide 12 feet. The stream crossings and algae-covered rocks lead to more footing issues, but through it all we managed to do the whole thing and get to near the base of the waterfall.

Maggie and ITMama on a rock at Cummins FallsWe didn’t quite go that far, as by this point M was tired, I was beat, and we still had a hell of a walk back up. Also there was the issue of having to wade even deeper into the water, and neither of us having waterproof gear for our phones.

After turning around, we stopped for Maggie’s second feeding of the hike. At this point she was very annoyed, perhaps this was our second fail because we didn’t really bring anything soft for her to lay on and the area was a rocky stream.

The backpack opened up and airing out at Cummins FallsShe became quite insistent as we ascended the mountain that she did not want this. I assumed I was going to have hearing loss by the time we reached the car, but I think I survived.

All in all with our first 6-7ish hour trip, and the first high-riding backpack usage, I think I have the following advice to offer to potentially hiking parents:

  • Test your gear out first on your block
  • Take baby in and out of gear as it tends to change
  • Bring something to put baby down on that’s padded
  • Pack some bags for dirty diapers
  • Bring plenty of powdered formula, or boobs, traveling makes a baby hungry
  • Try out turning and leaning with a weight in the backpack, your front-back is generally balanced but side to side can throw you and the baby
  • Bring snacks – you may not think you’ll be hungry, but you’re using a lot more energy hauling your munchkin around.

That and perhaps bring earplugs – a screaming infant behind your head when you can’t stop is kind of a pain.