Riley Reid's first words included "Alaska," "glacier" and "airplane." Riley is the two-year-old daughter of Rich and Gloria Reid of Ojai, California, who are both avid campers (Rich is a professional wilderness photographer).
And while parenthood is notorious for crimping life-as-you-know-it, the Reids found ways to integrate their new reality with the one they were used to. At four months Riley camped in Sequoia National Park. At seven months she ventured into the eastern Sierra on Rich's back. And at 18 months she spent three weeks in Alaska.
"An incredible bonding takes place when we travel with Riley," says Rich. "We're together all the time." When skeptics chided them for taking their tot to the chilly Sierra in the fall, the Reids countered with a host of smiling-baby photos. "OK, so sometimes there was snot freezing on her face," admits Rich. "But she was laughing the whole time."
You don't need to be an outdoor veteran to take your young off the grid. With patience and the proper strategy, you too can childproof the backcountry.
Keep it routine
The Reids pack along ultra-pasteurized Horizon Organic Single Serve Milk ($2), which doesn't need refrigeration, and they get baby back to the tent for naps at her usual time. Bathwater gets warmed in a solar shower and transferred to a dish tub or cooler; then it's into a heated car to towel off.
Create a diversion
Sometimes even gorgeous scenery can't assuage a cranky kid. So Reid carries a small library of Riley's favorite DVDs and keeps a laptop charged at all times. "It has saved the day more than once."
To avoid screaming-infant syndrome, bring teething tablets and toys on flights and give the little one a bottle or sippy cup for when the captain noses skyward. "They can't clear their ears on their own," says Reid. "But give them something that requires them to swallow hard and they get it done." The FAA permits milk and formula on flights.
Gear up: The portable tot
With these essential items you can make the outdoors your own private romper room.
A BOB Ironman Stroller ($349; www.bobgear.com) is the Reids' wee-people mover of choice. "It has shocks, so we can even do long walks on gravel roads," says Rich. It also has copious space under the seat for gear storage -- baby-related and otherwise ("I load it with photo equipment for airport schleps") -- and folds easily for stowing on a plane or in a car trunk.
Courtesy of Bob
Beginning at around six months, Riley gained even greater perspective and mobility from her perch in a Kelty Pathfinder child carrier ($190; www.kelty.com), which melds ergonomic technical backpack features -- weight-bearing suspension being the most notable benefit -- with a durable, secure, all-weather-ready kid-mobile. Rated up to 50 pounds, it will serve as baby's cockpit on the trail for several years to come.
Courtesy of Kelty
"We've always been a truck family," says Reid, "until ours broke down in 100-plus-degree weather just outside Sacramento, California. We bought a Toyota Sienna CE [$24,155; www.toyota.com] on the spot." At first sheepish about becoming a minivan family, the Reids added a roof rack to distinguish it from its brethren parked in front of day care, and now Rich calls it "the most utilitarian kid product we own, with dual sliding doors and sleeping room for two and a half."