My wife is crazy! It’s what I thought all the week before going to try for the first time camping with our twins. Only one-year old, logistic is already at full speed in the comfort of our home. I saw this experience at a punishing four days expedition in the wild with toddlers not able to see all dangers around. At the end, I was wrong.
The idea behind bringing these two mini folks in nature is to prepare them for our future adventures. As mountain lovers my wife and me, having kids was kind of a risk for us. We surely wanted to raise these sleep black holes, but at the same time, we didn’t want to fully stop our passion. Putting them in a tent for several nights was the natural next step after having carried them in a shoulders’ destructor baby carriers for a day. This time, these awful but super practical backpacks were not in use to carry all camping gear. We chose to go “easy” and opted for a commercial campsite (located in Parque Inglés, near Talca, in Chile) where our car can be parked very close to easy deployed our basecamp.
Several options were considered for our tent. At first, we wanted to go directly for a super light 4 people tent, in order to use it in the future for a possible thru hike with number 1 & number 2. But, after having seen them destroying all their books with methodology, 20 denier fabrics scared me and we bought instead an MSR Elixir 4, with almost 4,5 kg on the scale. It was a while I didn’t use a tent so heavy. Idea was to boost tent durability and because they will certainly be older when thru hiking, we’ll use a double tents configuration in that case.
Using intensely my MSR Access 2 tent, living in the Elixir 4 is discovering what luxurious space means. This gear is huge, I was lost, as well my sleeping pad, which normally filled the floor quickly, here was just so small. And having privileged robustness over mass was the best choice, number 1 taking pleasure to jump on the fabric and to test his nails on walls.
Their set up for sleeping was a combination of Patagonia Hi-Loft Down Sweater Bounting, the heaviest one, a possible extra layer with one of our sleeping bag or down jacket, a foam mattress 1m² we use at home in their playroom and under all of that, two Therm-A-Rest Z Lite Sol mattress for boosting the total R-value. Our experience told us that 1m² per baby mays seem a lot but it’s perfect because of their night travels, Floor insulation is key, we didn’t put the Z mattress the first night, and they looked complaining about the cold. We used them the second night and it was a huge improvement for our kiddos. But we were temperature limited. After the second night, outside temperature was below expectations and we felt we have reached a point that it is not safe anymore to continue. Next time we go in this range of cold (below 5° inside the tent), we might need to boost the down suit with a half-length sleeping bag (better versatility than a kid size sleeping bag).
Another huge topic was hygiene and having a clean water source next to our spot was key to keep everything under control. We did have a bidon of clean water for the bottles but not having to prepare (filtering and cleaning) water was a huge benefit, as available time was a rare resource. The takeover of our trip is to clean asap, to be always prepared for the next crisis, like in our case, rain. We succeed to keep things clean and to wash lightly but sufficiently our twins before bedtime. By the way, we didn’t change the routine before night-time compared to the urban one. It was just done in a different way, but our kiddos got it quickly. Also, a powerful stove was a great resource to boil water super quickly in the morning. A thermal bottle helped also to get some flexibility.
So, what did go wrong? Mornings. It was simply insane. Because they were more exhausted of their days in the outdoors, they went to bed earlier, and so, got up earlier as well and before us. We knew we had only 20 minutes between moments they were awakes and the time we must feed them. That was very short but manageable. The most difficult part was after their morning bottles: they needed to exercise but it was too cold outside to let them moving freely, and too boring inside the tent to help them keeping their cool. It was a lot of distractions to provide while taking at the same time our breakfast and putting a last touch of day organisation.
The main takeover is that it was super fun and I am glad they liked it. Logistic is key and preparing a maximum beforehand is a great tool. Some improvement might be done for our equipment, but we have already a working solution. The best part of this experience is when we got home. The daily high pace routine looks very chilly, after having survived quite well such an intense experience.