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March 2022 Issue
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Tramping mum Cara McDonald

Cara McDonald believes her tramping trips have been enriched by the arrival of her baby Skye and to make the most of quiet huts and trails, they often head away on midweek missions together.

“It can be a slog with a heavy pack on the back, plus a baby in the front pack, but it’s always worth it,” McDonald says. Here’s what she packs.

Front pack

The Ergobaby 360 is comfortable while carrying my Berghaus pack on my back. Skye loves facing forward and enjoys grabbing at the orange DOC triangles as we move through the forest.


A Macpac Latitude 700 XP in summer, or my Nemo Canon -40 for winter. Skye has a Mountain Buggy Sleeping Bag with a Merino Kids Go Go Bag for extra warmth. With baby on board, I aim to spend nights in huts so leave the camping gear at home.


Icebreaker base layers and t-shirt, Ridgeline shorts. I wear my Macpac Halo Hooded Down Jacket on every trip. It’s almost 10 years old and has accompanied me on adventures across all seven continents; it’s absolutely bombproof. I just treated myself to a new pair of Meindl Island Pro Ladies boots. We dress Skye in a onesie and depending on conditions will have a Columbia Snuggly Bunny Bunting and/or a Puddlejumpers Extreme Thermo Splashsuit with waterproof booties overtop. We could not manage without Sea to Summit stuff sacks.

Baby paraphernalia

Reusable nappies for overnighters, disposables for multiday trips. Rinse and reusable silicone bib. I always pack a small book and often ask others at the hut to read Skye a bedtime story. We take a Swanndri Baby Play Mat which gives us somewhere dry to sit and breastfeed/play while out on the trail.


We always carry our Garmin InReach PLB. When Skye and I are off on midweek missions we turn on the tracking function so Dad can follow our progress from home. First Aid kit, headlamp, Swiss Army knife, spare shoelaces, earplugs and an extra dehydrated meal.


I’m a scroggin fanatic, so always have a bag brimming with treats at the top of the pack. I put Skye’s food into Kai Carriers, a Kiwi brand of reusable pouches that can be filled with homemade snacks and meals. Pack space is at a premium, so I often use Back Country or Radix meals.


Controversial, I know. But, for us, the ‘tramping umbrella’ has revolutionised hitting the hills with a baby. Hedgehog makes a carbon fibre frame brolly that is built to withstand 100km/h winds. Keeping baby dry (and happy) is worth the eye-rolling and sarcastic comments from other trampers.