When we began camping and bike touring with our son he was just a few months old. One of our biggest concerns was finding a way for him to sleep safely and comfortably.
Most advice online was targeted to people travelling by car. Hauling a large and relatively heavy travel cot around by bicycle was not an option.
Since we co-sleep at home anyway, we didn’t actually feel the need for a travel cot. If we had, we probably would have gone for something like this Samsonite Pop-Up Travel Cot. Someone gave us one of these and we were impressed by how lightweight and compact it is.
For overnight camping you’d have to add an insulating layer (the ‘mattress’ that comes with it is pretty thin) but otherwise it seems quite handy for a very young baby that can’t roll over. Older babies will not be safe in this cot as they can easily tip it over.
We never used the Samsonite cot. Instead, we started with a Z-lite mattress, folded up to suit Luke’s proportions. We put it between our two camping mats, and it turned out to be pretty good for changing diapers as well as sleeping.
At night, we covered the mattress with a soft blanket. Luke was dressed in PJs, a down sleep sack and a hat. We had another blanket that went over top of him as well. Since temperatures were close to freezing at night, we added a hot water bottle for good measure. As you can see, Luke was a pretty happy camper.
When Luke was 5 months old, we decided to ride our bikes to France. This was a 2-week journey and we wanted a more compact sleeping mat than the Thermarest Z-lite mattress. We invested in the short version of the Thermarest NeoAir. The NeoAir is wonderfully light (just 230g) and we hope Luke can use it for camping until he’s 4-5 years old.
By this point, Luke had made it clear that he didn’t like sleepsacks so instead we invested in a sleeping bag that would cover both mum and Luke at the same time: the Vaude Sioux 500 XL.
This set-up worked really well for us, and we’ll use it again next summer.
Now that we’re off to Cuba, we’re planning to do exactly what we do at home: co-sleep. Obviously not every family will be comfortable with this but for us it’s the most pleasant and practical arrangement.
Want to know more about bike touring with a baby? Here’s a video of our summer bike tour to France:
And one made by our friend Blanche, which tells more about our set-up.