Tent tramping with a baby can sometimes be easier than hut tramping with a baby – main reason? Simply the fact you don’t need to worry about whether or not your baby will wake someone else up or not! The main downside is the fact that on top of carrying a baby or toddler and all their things, you’ll also need to carry the tent!  But waking up with just your little family, on top of a peak in the middle of nowhere is a pretty amazing experience!

The Tangiora family tenting on Alex Knob. Photo/Hami Tangiora

Here are some tips to help you take the plunge to try tent tramping with a baby or toddler.

Invest in a good tramping mattress.

Even if you’ve never been one for tramping mattresses, now is the time. Not only will your sleep be more comfortable, but the temperature difference is crazy too! And with a little one, keeping them warm in their sleep is important, as even in the height of summer, there can be quite a lot of cold radiating up from the ground.

A good mattress is worth its weight in gold. Photo/Sonia Barrish


Make sure your tent is big enough.

When still a baby, if you’re used to co-sleeping, baby can share a sleeping bag, and a single sleeping mat with you – but as they get bigger you may find yourself slipping off the mattress more & more! So from about 12 months old, you’ll probably need to count your child as an extra adult space-wise, and make sure your tent is big enough too.

Co-sleeping cuddles. Photo/Sonia Barrish collection

We now use a double mattress for our 2 year old and me, and then hubby gets his own single mattress. The 2 year old normally then sleeps between me & hubby in case the tent sides get cold or wet, but when she was younger, more delicate, and didn’t toss in her sleep, she slept on the edge side, as I didn’t trust my husband wouldn’t squash her!

If you’re not camping near a hut, you may also need to make sure your tent is large enough to entertain a toddler on late evenings in heavy rain!


Consider your weight.

Yes, you need to take a big tent, and sleeping matresses, and what seems like so much weight for just the baby, but there is definitely still space for weight-saving.

Don’t cut out the essentials like a PLB or spare clothes, but do look where you can lighten your load, as the tent & child combined will already be adding more than enough! Maybe only take enough toothpaste for the trip, instead of an entire tube. Will a small lightweight tent plus a bivvy bag weigh less than one big tent? You don’t want to get caught short, but you also don’t want to be carrying unnecessary items – like that rock your toddler picks up & tries to ask you to carry to the hut!

Toddlers and tents do mix! Brixton Tangiora enjoying the Kelly Range. Photo/Hami Tangiora


Watch the weather.

As much as I try live by the quote: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing choices” – that’s not always responsible. And when tent tramping, you’ve gotta be even more careful than when hut tramping – especially when you’re in charge of a little person!

Tent time when its raining outside. Photo/Sonia Barrish collection

  • What’s the likelihood of getting caught in a massive downpour, and then needing to set up a soaking tent?
  • How quickly can you set up the tent while supervising a baby at the same time?
  • Have you got enough food that doesn’t need cooking if you’re camping far from a hut when it buckets down and blows hard, and you can’t safely cook in the vestibule?
  • Will it be warm enough? You don’t have a fire to keep you warm in a tent unlike in a hut.

Although one of the warmest nights of our lives was one time when it was frosty, and our tent literally became an igloo, caked in about 2-4mm of ice all over! But I’d still be very wary of sleeping in a tent with a baby in winter. Especially if it’s while tramping.

But if the weather is great, and you’re all sorted gear-wise, camping while tramping is amazing. Plus, it sometimes means you can cover more ground on longer hikes. Sometimes in summer we cook up dinner at the hut, and then continue on for another couple hours on the long summer evenings. It also means you’ve had a rest, and your early meal, so it can be easier for your toddler to keep on walking too.

FMC thanks Sonia Barrish for contributing this resource.  Sonia makes and sells a range of home-made ointments, rubs and products such as insect repellent which are non-toxic and baby friendly.  

This resource is part of FMC’s Outdoor Community campaign, celebrating and encouraging Family Tramping. Check out the other articles on Family Tramping here on Wilderlife. If you’ve got stories, tips or encouragement that you’re willing to share, please get in touch.