Thursday, January 19, 2012

Our plans and gear review for Pregnant Backpacking

Today its rainy and cold in Copenhagen, but only another 10 days and we fly out to NY for a week and then onwards to Central America until April! We will return to NY at my 37 weeks mark and are planning a home birth in NY. Its a very exciting and happy time here these days and we are spending lots of time planning our moves and gear. 

As I found out with my pregnancy with Saule, pregnant backpacking and camping can be fantastic fun and doesn't have to be uncomfortable. We camped and hiked with her right up until the day of her birth. This time it will be Pollo carrying Saule, and we will split our gear. 

Our plans are roughly that we fly into Liberia, Costa Rica and will head north towards Ometepe, Nicaragua where we will camp and hike around the volcano's we loved last time. After that we will head to Granada and then Managua to catch the bus and then river boat from Rama, and then East to explore Bluefields and the Corn Islands. Beyond that we are unsure where we will end up- but its likely most of the trip we be spent in our tent. 

As I am unable to find camping and backpacking gear reviews for pregnant women, and almost none for families, I am including here our gear list and a review. The right stuff, and ability NOT to over pack really makes a huge difference. Its allot of trial and error- figuring out the balance for what you really need vrs. weight. 

Gear List

 My pack (Osprey Atmos 50)  which served me very well on my last pregnant trip as well as on my India trip. It has 2800 cu in which is more than enough space for this kind of adventure, yet its hardly any bulkier than a day pack. Packed full its still comfortable without the hip strap due to its shape, for long distances at full term pregnancy. It fits my basics and then some inside, and the tent straps the outside with ease. 

Pollo will be caring our new Sherpani Rumba child carrier and backpack in one. It has 2800 cu in of storage space, the same as my pack, but it also has space to carry Saule, who is 3.5 years now and weighs 17kgs (37lbs).  This is probably going to end up being a heavy load when fully packed (the pack its self is 7.8lbs) , but she wont ride all the time. It has a detachable day pack where we will keep our passports, snacks, and other immediate needs, and the rest of the pack can go on top of a bus or in the cargo of the flight if needed. We will make sure to review this pack after the trip.

Our tent this time won't be my super light 2 man like last time, we are moving up to our Kelty Teton 4 person  (since we really are more like 4 people now...). This is the tent we took to Maine and N.H. last summer and we were generally pleased with it. Its light weight for its size (7lbs 8oz), and is a really good sturdy design with plenty of room inside. On the downside I was disappointed to find the fly does not extend fully to the ground on all sides, and for the reason I would not recommend this tent in case of rain. Lucky we are going in the "dry" season this time, and that does allow additional ventilation inside. 

We are packing a bare bones collection of stuff - we wont be bringing a stove, as the fruits and vegetables are so nice raw and the weather is so hot, we never feel like cooking anyway. We will be bringing 3 sets of lightweight plastic camp utensils, a Swiss army knife, and Tupperwares which we found worked great for both eating out of and saving leftovers (since Saule eats lots of small meals and snacks).

On our last trip I found that a full size pillow was absolutely necessary. Actually I ended up buying 2! On the sleeping pad with a pillow under my head and another for my legs I was able to sleep normally (or as normally as any pregnant women does!). This trip I plan on again bringing my sleeping pad (a thermarest inflatable pad) plus 2 smaller pillows that are less bulky to carry, but still puffy enough to get the job done. I'll bungee them to the outside of my pack in a plastic bag in case of rain. For me this is one of those items that is 100% worth the added hastle. To wake up feeling rested is the only way for me to enjoy the rest of the day and normal pillows really made that happen. 

We will have lots of other traditional backpacking bits and bobs split between our 2 packs. A basic first aid kit with a young child slant on it- we will be bringing liquid Tylenol, Umcka, bee sting remedy, and band aids. Hand sanitizer will also be there. 

Other non-traditional kid packing list items include 2 pairs of arm floats so Saule can join us in the water, and a small inflatable raft for her that has a window in it for when we go snorkeling. We plan to tow her around above the reefs so she can "peek down and see Nemo"- she isn't ready yet to put her face down in the water with a mask. She will also be using this as a sleeping pad if needed. 

Other than a few select toys (one small doll, a set of travel markers and a coloring book) the only other child oriented thing we are bringing is our Nook Color.  Pollo has installed an android operating system on it and we are able to have all kinds of kids books, applications (homeschool related), and games, which we plan to let her use on long bus rides. It also has wifi and lots of adult functions too- like maps, guidebooks we were able to download for free, and our own books. Pollo was able to find a key board and case that makes the Nook really user friendly and the whole thing (Nook, keyboard, and cover) weighs in at 1.8lbs- which isn't much when you consider all the guide books we can leave behind!