I’m a sucker for a new piece of gear BUT there’s just something about an old piece of gear that is full of memories and completely reliable no matter how much use and abuse it goes through.

Since we hike and write trail guides I put my gear through fair amount of abuse on a regular basis, especially last summer we hit the trails hard and hiked 100 consecutive days.

It was during those long excursions on the trails with my kids that I discovered 4 pieces of gear that I used every day.

I consider these items to be “essential”—and I recommend them to all of my fellow hiker Mamas.

1. A Thule Chariot

I bought our Chariot when I was 7 months pregnant with our first baby.

Since then we’ve pushed this thing on city streets and sidewalks but most importantly down old logging roads, alpine trails and through dense pine forests.

This piece of gear isn’t perfect…our handle is wobbly, the rain flap has a piece of ripped velcro and the glue that attaches the nylon cover to the metal frame has long sense stopped sticking (and been replaced with duct tape).

I’m also not psyched about the poor customer service we get from Thule…when we purchased our Chariot they hadn’t sold the company to Thule and had great customer service.

Our Chariot does have some deficiencies but really we have abused the hell out of this thing for 3.5 years.

Essential Gear for the Outdoor Mom

What really sold me on a Chariot in the first place was knowing that with one piece of gear plus a few attachments we could take this stroller from the trails and easily convert it into a bicycle trailer or attach the ski attachment to tow our kids while we cross-country ski or snowshoe. I love how the little skis snap on and off.

The price of a Chariot is enough to cause one to break into a cold sweat.

They aren’t cheap.

But every penny is worth it, as long as your Chariot doesn’t sit in the garage collecting dust.

2. Ergo Performance Carrier

Our Ergo was once again something that I spent a lot of time researching while I was pregnant with my oldest.

What sold me was that this carrier is comfortable, lightweight, packable and safe.

We’ve used our Ergo every day for the past 3.5 years.

From walking a colicky baby around the block in the middle of the night when we lived in the Mojave desert to climbing well past 12,000 feet and everything in between.

Essential Gear for the Outdoor Mom

Lately there’s been a lot of buzz about Onya baby carriers and Boba carriers.

I can’t say if either one of those brands makes a kick ass product because I’ve only ever used the Ergo Performance carrier.

It’s durable and has withstood hundreds of miles on the trails for two different children, works for both a front carried new baby and a big, back carried toddler, and honestly if you’ve found a pretty darn good product why shop around?

My only complaint…it can be hot in the summer.

But, that’s a good reminder to take breaks, let the baby out to play or eat or slip an ice pack in the front pocket for built in air-conditioning.

Plus I think all carriers have this problem to a certain extent.

Like the Chariot, an Ergo isn’t cheap, but I feel like we’ve gotten our money’s worth and this thing could probably last through another 8 kids (but I’m not willing to test that theory out).

3. Ribz Front Pack

My husband has been a huge fan of his Ribz front pack for several years.

But it took me a little longer to catch on.

After our second baby was born I was faced with the dilemma of how to carry a baby and sometimes a toddler and the rest of our gear (snacks, water, first-aid kit, rain gear etc).

On a whim I borrowed my husbands Ribz and fell in love.

Essential Gear for the Outdoor Mom

With everything conveniently and comfortably around my torso I can easily reach for a sippy cup or a snack or that can of bear spray… If I’m carrying one child on my back and another on my front or just a baby on my front I can just unzip the Ribz and let it hang loose.

The Ribz eliminates the need for me to carry an additional daypack most of the time and allows me to carry what really matters–my babies.

My only complaint is that I wish the pockets were just a tad bit bigger…but overall this product is a solution to my daypack/kid carrying woes.

4. Buff

We go from strollers, carriers and packs to something as silly as buff?

Yes, yes and yes.

Essential Gear for the Outdoor Mom

I’m a huge Buff fan because it’s such a versatile little piece of cloth!

From keeping my hair back to wiping runny noses, tears, and even little bottoms this thing is a lifesaver.

I’ve also used it as a makeshift pillow to prop up a kiddos neck when they sleeping awkwardly in a backpack carrier, strain water before purifying it, keep the sun off a little one’s face, and dry wet feet after letting them dangle in a high mountain lake.

There are so many uses for a Buff. I

hope to find them all.

So outdoor Mom’s out there do you agree or disagree with this list? What would you add? What would you omit? It’s your turn to let us know what you think. Leave a comment below.

If you think this post can help another outdoor Mama get her kiddos on the trails be sure to pass it on!



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