Bringing Babywearing Cross Country
When Renee Bøgeskov got in touch about a wrap to take her 4-month-old hiking in, we were intrigued about the practicalities of a hike in a sling. We asked Renee to share her experience of hiking whilst babywearing ...
Even though both my husband and I are experienced in outdoor adventures, planning a trip to the mountains with a 4-month-old baby seemed slightly intimidating. We did, however, feel confident that our baby girl would be happy and content as long as she felt safe, warm and dry. With her used to being wrapped in a baby sling, as well as the fact that a woven wrap seemed as the best, if not only way, to carry a baby at the same time as a backpack, I contacted Oscha for advice on which wrap to choose. Less than 24 hours later, a base size (s.6) Okinami Sal was delivered to my doorstep. After fighting off some small hesitations about dragging expensive Boutique tails through dirt and bonfire smoke, I looked forward to putting this wonderful blend of 49% Sea Island cotton, 10% Cashmere, 31% wool and 10% Tussah silk to the test.
One of the first things I noticed, was that this wool/silk blend had excellent thermoregulatory abilities at the same level as my wool underwear. With a good thick gsm of 309 (approx.), I wouldn’t classify this wrap as airy, but it still seemed to “breathe” and adapt to the environment in a better way than other blends I have at home. The wrap did great as an extra layer of clothing, and I went from hiking in sunny weather to cooler evenings without having to change clothes (both my daughter and I wore a single layer wool underwear). We didn’t experience any real rain, but had some damp weather and dusky rain - I used the wrap as a provisional shelter when nursing or sitting by the bonfire at night. This small amount of moisture seemed to wick of the surface of the wrap, so that it felt a bit moist to the touch, but was dry and warm on the inside when wrapped – thus being perfect for an outdoor environment.
There were several benefits using a wrap during hiking. First, the snug fit achieved by a woven wrap, as compared to a buckled baby carrier, felt very comfortable and secure – and it was possible to do different carries for different situations. There were no sensations of “dangling baby” at any point, she simply felt as an extension of my own body, following my movements – and this helped to maintain my center of gravity when walking on uneven surfaces. That said, hiking with a wrapped baby in rugged terrain, was a bit challenging; especially the obstructed view I experienced when wrapping her on front. This meant that I often had to take the slightly longer route around, rather than over, any obstacles (of course burning more calories means more chocolate for me – so that`s not all negative). Also, I preferred to only use carries with secure leg passes, so I didn’t have to worry about her sliding out of the wrap with all the movements during hiking.
Okinami Sal has an excellent balance between glide and grip – and I didn’t have to adjust my carries despite being rather active. Also, even with this being a cushy wrap, it didn’t feel bulky – and so wrapping actually worked quite well with a backpack. I favoured a front cross carry as this distributed weight evenly on my back, and allowed for diagonal movement in the wrap so it didn’t feel restrictive when carrying a heavy load. But I do have to add that wearing a backpack and a baby at the same time, is hard work – so planning a campsite within a reasonable walking distance through “friendly terrain” is very recommended.
Wrapping It Up:
Using a woven wrap made 'outdooring' with a baby go very smoothly. Okinami Sal served many functions; it was used for wrapping, as a warm blanket for swaddling and shelter for wind, sun and rain. Folding the wrap made a cushy mat that isolated her from the cold ground, so I always had a place to put her down. Most importantly, wrapping allowed me to constantly monitor the baby's temperature and well being - which obviously is very important under changing weather conditions. Also, it eliminated the need for adjusting our activities to her nap times/sleep cycle; when she got tired, she just fell asleep in the wrap. And if the surroundings suddenly seemed too overwhelming, I could comfort her immediately – so she felt safe exploring this wonderful new outdoor world.
We are already thinking of our next outdoor adventure – and one thing is for sure; we're bringing a wrap!