Diaper Bag Checklist: Pack Light for a Small Hike

Do you know what takes up the most time for a family hike? Preparation. Everything leading up to a hike can be a nightmare. And that can start from the moment everyone wakes up, to getting ready, and to even driving.

Ever since we’ve had our newborn baby, we’ve found ways to make our lives a bit more efficient, especially when it comes to the outdoors. One of those ways is for us to pack light for a small hike with our baby.

We figured that to have the best family hiking experience, we’d have to adjust based on our baby’s sleeping patterns and overall wants and needs. We knew that our baby would have to sleep every two to three hours (at 0-9 months old), which tells us that we would have a small ‘window’ for us to hike.

Granted, babies can sleep through a hike, but every baby is different. If our baby doesn’t get a well-rested nap, she’ll be cranky the whole day. According to babycenter.com, 1 to 5-month-olds may be content for more than an hour before they start getting cranky. And as they age, that window of being “content” gets longer.

If you’re similar to us, where you’d like to know what to include in a baby’s diaper bag for a quick hike, then you’ve come to the right place.

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Diaper Bag Checklist for the Trails

We like to create a quick diaper bag checklist the night before our hike. It’s one less thing for us to worry about on the day of our trip. And even though our hikes are short, we still like to be more than prepared. It’s good for our overall mental state of mind.

For us, we usually have 12 items inside our diaper bag. You’re probably thinking that “12 items” doesn’t sound like “packing light”. I’d like to give you a friendly reminder that you’re packing for the whole family and not just for yourself. And more importantly, you’re hiking with a baby, not just you and your significant other anymore!

Here are the following must-have diaper bag essentials for a quick hike:

  1. Diaper Changing Pad– The diaper changing pad is always in our diaper bag, no questions asked. An accident like a diaper blowout can happen whether you go on a small hike or not. And the best thing to do is to have a diaper mat ready to clean up your baby.

    Most of the time, we use the diaper mat when we arrive at our hiking location. Either we change our baby inside our car with the diaper mat, or there are restrooms at the beginning of the hike.

    I recommend getting a diaper mat with extra pockets to fit some extra items, such as wipes, diapers, and diaper cream. This will allow more room inside your diaper bag.
    • Wipes – Great to have for cleaning up the baby.
    • Diapers – Since our diaper mat has two extra pockets inside, we’d also put a couple of disposable diapers inside. The ones we use are Coterie diapers. They’re a bit expensive, but we like the absorption in these diapers. We’ve gone through two boxes of Coterie diapers, and not once has our baby gone through any leaks. If you’re using cloth diapers, then you may want to have a larger bag. Just remember, you’re going on a hike, so you want to pack light as much as possible.
    • Diaper Cream – This would always be included in our diaper mat as well. We noticed that our baby would get rashes if we wouldn’t apply diaper cream consistently. Our go-to product would be Desitin maximum strength which helps prevent diaper rash for our baby Quinn.
  2. Extra Clothes – We usually pack two extra light onesies in our diaper bag. We love Little Sleepies as the material feels amazing, and they last a long time.
  3. Blanket – A lightweight blanket would be great to have as it won’t take a lot of space to put inside a diaper bag. I love having a lightweight blanket, especially in the summer, when we want to protect our baby from the sun.
  4. Baby Bottles in a Cooler – We would usually bring two extra bottles inside a little cooler whenever we hike. One thing to remember (that we learned over trial and error) is that the duration of being outdoors doesn’t start at the beginning of the hike.

    The duration starts once you leave the house. In other words, if you’re going for a short hike that’s about half an hour long, but it takes about 25 minutes to get there, then you’re looking at an overall hour (at minimum) event.

    And for us, we want to ensure that our baby is always well fed; hence we’d bring extra bottles inside a cooler with cold packs so that it doesn’t get spoiled.
  5. Snacks – We’d bring organic teethers for our baby to chew on. However, we only our baby snacks when she’s stationary to avoid choking. The great thing about organic teethers is that they come in small packets to easily fit inside the diaper bag.
  6. Chewable Books – We’d put two chewable books (which are extremely thin) so that our baby can be occupied with them while we’re driving to the hiking destination. We never use the books while we’re on the hike. So you can just take them off your bag and leave them in the car.
  7. Water Bottle – Don’t forget about yourself and your significant other. Stay hydrated, even if the hike is short.
  8. Thermal – We bring a thermal to warm up the milk.
  9. Dog Waste Bags – Dog waste bags are probably one of the best things to have whenever you’re outside with a dirty diaper. They’re so convenient. We’d put all the dirty diapers into the dog waste bags, and the smell wouldn’t bother us throughout the remainder of the hike.
  10. Sanitizers – We always have a handful of sanitizer packets. There’s always a high chance of us using the public restroom at the start of the hike, and we all know that most public restrooms are gross. Therefore, make sure you have a hand sanitizer ready!
  11. Sunhat – Cover your baby up! Sunhats are great as they block most of the sunlight from reaching your baby’s skin.
  12. Burp Cloth – It’s always great to have a burp cloth in handy. You may never know if or when your baby will start spitting out food. And then, you’ll have to slow down your hike or start your hike a little later because you’ll need to clean your baby.

    The great thing about bringing a birth cloth is that you can always fold it so that it fits into a smaller pocket of your diaper bag.

For some context, we could fit all 12 items in a tiny Fjallraven bag. A Fjallraven is not an oversized diaper bag by any means, and I suggest that you don’t have a large bag for hiking. Again, you want to pack as light as possible since you will carry the bag along your hike.

Another great thing about Fjallraven bags is that they’re unisex. The diaper bag actually looks good on me.


Can You Use a Regular Backpack Instead of a Diaper Bag?

You can use a regular backpack instead of a diaper bag for small hikes. I used a normal Nike backpack and was able to fit all the baby essentials.

At What Age Can a Baby Go in a Hiking Carrier?

The recommended age that a baby can go in a hiking carrier is at six months.

What do you do with dirty diapers while Hiking?

Put them in a dog waste bag and wait until you find a trash can. Don’t be that parent that would ruin mother nature.

Where Can You Buy a Diaper Bag?

You can purchase diaper bags from local retailers like Target and Walmart. You can also purchase them online from popular e-commerce sites such as Amazon.com.

Does The Diaper Bag Have to Match the Baby’s Gender?

No. At the end of the day, one of you will wear a diaper bag while the other will wear a baby carrier. Try to get a diaper bag that both of you will like. Chances are, you will switch off roles of carrying a diaper bag and a carrier while hiking with a baby.

Final Thoughts

The diaper bag checklist of items sounds like a lot, but we learned that every one of those items mattered for our small hikes. The good news is that all of the items we’ve listed are light and that they can easily fit inside a diaper bag. The other good news is that you can burn a couple of extra calories while wearing the diaper bag on your family hike.

I'm a professional marketer from Los Angeles, California. More importantly, I'm a brand new father who can't wait to take my beloved partner and daughter on all sorts of hiking trails. My mantra is that work will always be there, but watching your little one grow happens once in a lifetime.

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