Mount Garfield to Mount Washington

It’s not a hike without some sort of complication either late in the night created by the Admiral’s excitement to “go to the mountain” or the morning phone call to the Navigator asking for help to deal with some networking and WiFi issue. The fact it was a combo of both was not surprising. At least, we got the hiccup of the hike out-of-the-way before we left the house.

We headed out to the start location a bit later than planned, but it was manageable to make the summit and get to campsite one. We would arrive at the campsite at nightfall.

The hike up to the campsite one was rather uneventful and a good warm up to the remaining terrain on the hike. We followed the Garfield Trail to the summit of Mount Garfield and down to Garfield Campsite. The summit approach was a bit of a rock scrabble but nothing difficult. New hikers may find it problematic, just take your time.

Some images along the way to Garfield

Up to Garfield Water crossing
Water Crossing
Up to Garfield Abby during break time
Break time
Up to Garfield Abby
Abby leading the way, she focused on the Navigator

We were surprised to find out that we were able to locate Abby via her pet tracker, Tagg. This is the first hike we have done with being able to receive the update. It was short-lived, though. However, it is about right. Smack in the middle of a few trees on a side of a mountain 🙂

Abby's location about right in the middle of no where
Abby’s location

We captured a few images at the path division, one direction leads to Mount Garfield and to the Franconia Ridge, the other direction is a steep rock to rock descent on the Garfield Ridge Trail and to the Garfield Campsite.

Someone snuck a picture without us knowing
Trail Sign
Garfield Ridge
Garfield Ridge heading to campsite

When we arrived to the campsite, we met with the Caretaker to receive our site location, unpacked before we needed our headlamps to move around the camp. We were placed at campsite #7, which is located on the right edge of the camp.

As a note to hikers using campsites — All hikers with two legs are $8, four legs are free, but no shelter is offered to four legs during storms. AMC rules so plan accordingly.

A memory plaque for Anne Converse Backus. You will pass this plaque on your left when you approach the campsite.

Garfield Campsite

Anyone hiking the Garfield Ridge Trail and happens to need water. This campsite has a water source outside the campgrounds. It is about 8 to 10 steps from the trail junction for the Garfield Campsite & Garfield Ridge Trail.  Just follow the sign below to find the water.

Make sure to read the warning sign, if it’s not there — here is the cliff note version: boil water, use filtration system or take your chances of becoming ill.  (If you need understanding on becoming ill, please watch Naked & Afraid, episode Botswana Breakdown, 2014, season 3 episode 9 there is no medical team moments away on a mountain and well no modern bathrooms.  We are not avid watchers of the show, but during recovery it was on and found it right on spot for how to get yourself sick.)

Water at junction of Garfield Ridge Trail & Garfield Campsite

We had our dinner at the campsite assigned “meal grounds”. It’s just in the center of the campsite with a cook pan. Abby enjoyed her raw diet dinner while we had some leftovers. First day meals and second day morning meals on long hikes are always nice. If you plan smartly, you can freeze your meal and by the time you sit to enjoy it — its unfrozen. 🙂 Abby’s dinner was still a bit frozen, but it is helpful for keeping moisture in her diet.

Yum Yums
Dinner Date
We shared the same side of a rock booth, while the Admiral and Navigator shared the other.
Moons Out, Goons Out

The caretaker notified us of bear activity, we followed all rules with food storage, trash and added in our toiletries for good measure. This meant placing all those items into the bear boxes provided to us.

Campsite Bear Box
Campsite Bear Box
Closing up for the night

Abby’s activity for the day via Tagg, a pet tracker.

Activity for the day
Activity for the day

The night was cool, windy and clear. About 430 in the morning, Abby woke me up. First thing, I thought was, “really you have to use the bathroom this early” and then I heard the activity and felt the impact tremors of a bear or two. I was not up for sticking my head out of the tent to get a firm count on the activity. Since, Abby’s behavior made it clear to us it was not a little raccoon.

We maneuvered into position while Abby went into a low guarded position. Minutes later, Abby let out one hell of a deep growl within moments we could hear the outdoor activity moving farther away, the Navigator exited the tent and all as well. Of course, the Admiral was snoring through it all.

Abby hanging out in the tent while the Admiral caught a few more minutes of sleep
Ready to leave
All ready to leave

We headed out of the campsite and refilled our water. Though, it was a cold morning the temperature would be in the upper 70s by mid-day with possible severe thunderstorms in the evening and overnight.  This is one reason we love  our AMC huts and campsites, it’s a location to receive our weather updates.

Albeit in the Whites, it is still best guess 🙂  So, plan for the worst and pray like hell for the best.

After refilling our water, we headed down the Garfield Ridge Trail to Galehead Hut. About 1/2 mile into the morning trek, Abby came to a dead stop and looked back with one of her famous WTF looks. When reached her location, we fully understood her look. Our morning plans to leave camp an hour later, so that the clouds were passing over us was worth it.

We came to a point where we needed to travel down a ‘waterfall’. Now, it’s not a gushing waterfall, but the climb down is steep. Of course, Abby being wise and small avoided the rocks by traveling through the trees. The Navigator and I made our way down the wet moss-covered rocks while listening to the Admiral talk about rocks, trees, and made sure we very careful.

This image does not do the climb down justice, but you get an idea of the terrain.

section on the descent

Here is the descent from the campsite to the waterfall and off Garfield.

Map of descent
Map of descent

The rest of the trail to Galehead Hut is what we call PUDS, also known as, Pointless Ups and DownS. Most of the ups and downs are on rock facings and some are steep, but not steep enough for a hand over feet climb.

Trail Sign

Below is one of the easier rock facing climbs, it gives you an idea of the terrain and the puds.  There are some rather steep descents, if you take a moment and look around you may find a well-travelled path to your left or right. The path leads around the rock area, it is safer for people with heavier backpacks and easier on your legs.

One of many rock facing climbs

Not all of the trail is rocks. You will stumble across some roots along the way. No pun intended.

Abby leading the way

And there are a few short-lived areas of flat.

Always watching – break time.

Here is a section of the PUDS hike.


The last 0.6 miles to Galehead Hut is a rather steep climb. You can see the incline in the image above. Galehead Hut is located to the right in the image above.

Trail Junction
Trail Junction

Galehead Hut is located at the ‘base’ of South Twin and Galehead Mountain. Galehead Mountain is a quick half mile climb from the hut. This is a great location to drop your gear and make the climb. You will take Frost Trail to the summit of Galehead. The summit of Galehead has no great views at the summit. However, there are some views along the way.  So, when you drop your gear, remember to bring the camera. 😉

We hung out at the hut for some time. The trek from Garfield to Galehead was not the easiest nor the worst, but the carrying 54lb pack, 43lbs of it was moving and talking, made a break without the pack feel like heaven. I am pretty sure Abby was happy to disconnect from her saddle bags weighing 5 lbs, too. I did not have to ask the Navigator, who nicely dropped his pack of 56lbs right on arrival. (Remember, we are carrying items for three people’s needs in one and a fourth packs)

As usual, we got the weather updates, refilled our water and made a few friends while hanging out at the hut. Of course, Abby was the center of attention before she just wanted to be left alone and regroup in her corner.

We had an early dinner while a few storm clouds passed over and reviewed our plan. The night forecast was a high probability of serve thunderstorms.  Our next location to camp was Guyot about 3.5 miles away.

A few things about Guyot Campsite. It’s in a rather open area, which means limited tree cover. There are shelters for storms, but dogs are not allowed. From the hut, one will have to summit South Twin, descend South Twin, walk to Mount Guyot, descend part of Mount Guyot and reach the Guyot Campsite. There is a point in the trek where you must commit to the campsite or fall back and camp in the tree line of South Twin. The approach to the campsite is open from Mount Guyot and at times steep. So, plan wisely.

We made our plans to attempt to make it to Guyot campsite. We would make a judgment call at the point of total commitment. We collected our gear and we were off.

First goal was to tackle the very steep climb of South Twin. It’s a short climb, but very steep. Very steep puts it mildly.  During the climb, Abby needed a few supported jumps. One of the jumps was onto a steep rock facing and then onto a huge bolder. We needed to work together to support her on the second jump so she did not fall backwards and made the jump to the second onto boulder without face planting into the next rock only a few inches from the landing on the boulder. We did have to lift her up twice. I am grateful she had a very supportive harness that made lifting her very easy and comfortable.

It’s a tough climb, but manageable. It’s an easier climb to start a day of hiking rather than end a day of hiking on tried legs. But I am very glad to have climbed up rather than descend it.

Here is the climb in two views.

South Twin, North Twin in background
South Twin, North Twin in background
South Twin
South Twin

The climb is a workout. You will know you are getting to the summit when the terrain changes from big boulders to those pesky little loose rocks.

More terrain

Here are some images looking back out during the climb.

Looking back
Looking back, rain clouds passing by again.
Looking back out climbing S. Twin
Looking back out climbing of South Twin

The views from the summit are absolutely amazing and very worth the climb.

Abby and I are the Summit
Abby and I are the Summit
Summit of South Twin
Summit of South Twin
At the summit of South Twin
At the summit of South Twin
Hanging out at the Summit
Walking around on the summit
About to descend South Twin
About to descend South Twin,  Abby is so over pictures

A few notes about South Twin, if you are traveling onto North Twin continue walking straight for roughly 1.2 miles, if you are traveling to Guyot, Bonds, Zealand you need to descend the mountain to the “south by southeast” or from the summit path you just climbed, it is to the right.  The above image is the trail sign where you start to descend. It’s a nice gotcha if you are not paying attention.

Also, if you are heading up South Twin via Twinway Trail with a child carrier, make sure he/she is secured snugly in the carrier. It will help limit their movement helping you climb without large shifts of weight, especially those going backwards.

The descent from South Twin is quick, but a bit steep. Absolutely nothing like the climb up South Twin. You will descend back into the trees and have a nice flattish walk to Mount Guyot. This is a highly camped area, so if you are looking for a campsite there are various places. While you travel along the path, look for well-travelled paths heading off the main trail, most of them are to campsite, just make sure the one you chose to camp at is 200ft from the trail.

We broke out of the tree line roughly 2 miles passed the descent. This is the point of the commitment. We took a short break looking out over the area we were to camp and climb the next day. It was beautiful. During the break, we saw an awesome multiple lightning strikes in the distance and rain, we made the decision not to make the commitment and went to our back up plan for the remaining of the hike.

We headed back into the tree line to a nice level camp area, we marked as our back up campsite as we walked by it. We made camp, hung our food in case of bears and within 5 minutes of getting settled in the tent we had a nice lighting show and rain for remaining of the night. It was an amazing storm, but I am glad we were fully covered and did not need to retreat to another location. Also, we had no bear visitors that night.

Abby did extremely well throughout the day. It was not just a physical workout for her, but a mental test. She followed every command to wait, climb, jump, rest, go (okay to pass and lead), platz (down), plac (crawl), bot (here) and leave it. The below picture is the result of her hard work. She did not even wait for her blanket or removal of her leash before laying down for the night.

Result of the day.

Abby activity for the day, 10 hours 26 minutes of movement. (resting hours includes not only sleep, but anytime Abby is not moving, laying down, sitting, standing still, etc)


By the morning, she was all ready to go. In fact, she became the morning supervisor of taking down camp. We felt like she was grading us on time and method.

Abby supervising

The morning view of campsite two. Abby and I walked the area in the morning to stretch our legs and to allow Abby to enjoy all the smells the woods have to offer before getting ready to work. The Admiral chatted away to her pony. (The Admiral is 3 and half years old)

Campsite two

Since, we did not commit to Guyot Campsite, we would not be able to make West Bond, Bond and Bondcliff. The decision was made to keep our family together and safe. It did remove about 6 miles from our total. With that being said, we have planned to make the hike to the Guyot and to the Bonds in the near future to keep Abby’s word of making it there. The fall foliage will hopefully be amazing this time of year. So, check back soon for the post, images and videos.

We headed back to Mount Guyot in the morning. The view in the morning was even better with most of the clouds gone and the sun out. It was a good area to take a break. However, the wind was very active. We dealt with 30 mph winds with gusts up 37 mph. A very normal occurrence in the Whites.

Enjoying the nice breeze and view
View going to Mt. Guyot

The path up to Mt Guyot or down to Guyot Campsite is open and a rock to rock pathway. Night travel, rain or high winds can make the path little tough to navigate. Though, its probably very nice place for some snowshoeing.

Rock path
Rock path, Admiral loving the wind

Follow the path until you get to the junction one path goes to Guyot Campsite, the path up heads to the summit of Mt. Guyot

Some images from the summit of Mount Guyot

Mt. Guyot Summit
Abby and Dad hanging out
Abby and Navigator hanging out
Abby on Mount Guyot
Abby on Mount Guyot

Continue on the path to descend Mt. Guyot and follow the Twinway Trail. It’s a nice trail with some huge boulders that you will need to climb over or work around.  Twinway Trail will bring you to the summit of Mount Zealand.

Yes, you will descend Mount Guyot then climb up Mount Zealand only to descend Mount Zealand to get the Zealand Falls Hut. Though, it is ups and downs, but far from pointless. 😉

Heading from Mount Guyot
Descending Mount Guyot

Just follow the path and signs along Twinway Trail

Twinway Trail Sign
Twinway Trail Sign
Abby on the Twinway Trail

The summit to Zealand is a little tricky for about 25 feet, if that. The summit of Zealand is 0.1 miles off the Twinway Trail. There is no views at the summit, but along the cliff there are 360 views. At the summit, you will find numerous Gray Jays/Canadian Jays or Camp Robbers. The latter is a nickname well-earned.

Canadian Jay, Gray Jay, Camp Robber,
Canadian Jay, Gray Jay, Camp Robber

Abby was not assumed at all with the summit of Mount Zealand

Summit of Zealand
Summit of Zealand

The descent of Mount Zealand is quick and easy. First, part is a steep rock facing descent, which is also a great location to take a break and enjoy a snack. Here is where all the views are located.

View from Zealand Cliff
View from Zealand Ridge

The second part of the descent is a ladder. Nothing like the ladder at Cannon Mountain via Hi-Cannon Trail. It’s just five steps and not so steep.

Abby being guided down the ladder

I will train Abby to at least look while spotting.
I will train Abby to at least look while spotting.  However, she is waiting for the command to move.
Descent from Zealand

The rest of the trek to Zealand Falls Hut is rather uneventful. Most of the hike is downhill with some areas of rock facing climbs. You will pass over a few bog bridges. Though, Abby decided to entertain us with skipping the bog bridges and plow through the mud. :/ At least, she wasn’t headed into the car or home for a few days. 🙂

After the descent of Zealand, you will remain dropping elevation until you reach the Zealand Falls Hut.

Heading down Zealand
Heading down Zealand

You will know when you are close to the hut when you start hearing the Zealand Falls. It’s a beautiful little area and during the summer months packed with people. There are a few pools water. Abby went to cool off. Though, I was glad she went to clean off the mud. It is also, a great location to give your feet a quick spa treatment.  Though, I suggest first removing your boots and socks.

Zealand Falls
Zealand Falls
Zealand Falls Hut
Zealand Falls Hut

The Zealand Falls Hut is rather popular because of its easy hike to the Hut and has easy water access. We enjoyed some nice hot beef and barley soup and instant coffee while we relaxed a bit before heading on to our next campsite.

Of course, we got the weather report before we left. Again, the forecast was thunderstorms at night. The storms seemed to be following us and a theme song to the nights during this hike.

We climbed down a short descent, roughly 750 feet, from Zealand Falls Hut. There is a nice water spot for lunch, break or to avoid some of the hut traffic.

At the base of Zeland Falls Hut

We continued to follow the Zealand Trail. The Zealand pond is very beautiful and a great location to maybe see a moose or two during the off-season of the hut.

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Bridge Crossing (click for larger image)
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Zealand Pond (click for larger image)

Here is my view from the bridge and pond images above.


Storm clouds

We hiked to the A-Z Trail junction and took the trail leading up to Mount Tom Spur. It is a 2.8 miles trek easy with a moderate areas.

Trail sign
View along the A-Z Trail
A-Z Trail Abby & Navigator
A-Z Trail Abby & Navigator
A-Z Trail
A-Z Trail

Our goal was to make it to the campsite location before the storm hit. Unfortunately, we made it about a mile before we felt the first few raindrops.  We managed to get the Admiral covered, rain covers on the packs and electronics safely stored out of the rain before it started pouring.

When I say pouring, I mean it. It was the type of rain that causes puddles in a few minutes and when you are traveling up hill, there is a small river of water traveling down. Your quick dry pants are just soaked in minutes. That type of pouring rain, the deluge type.

The storm ended up cutting our day light short, which meant we were rocking headlamps up to Mount Tom Spur area.

The A-Z Trail is truly a hike in the woods. You will face different terrain in a heavily dense trees and bushes. Not many people travel the path even though it is a cut over to the Presidential Range. Most people travel via the Ethan Pond Trail. That being said, keep you eye out for yellow trail markers it easy to lose the trail if you are not paying attention and you will see numerous trees with bear markings. No worries, no attacks have occurred. It’s normal you are in their territory after all.

You will know you hit your ascent to Mount Tom Spur, because the path will just start to ascend with rocks. Its steep at a moderate rate. Passing through this area in the dark in the rain was a bit tricky. I remember a large amount of swearing coming from somewhere behind me, thankfully the Admiral was taking a nap. 😛

Abby enjoyed the rain as a way to cool off.  She led the way last the 0.2 miles to the campsite. The red lights attached to Abby’s harness were extremely helpful this evening and night. We removed her packs and placed them into our packs to protect them from getting wet.

Abby leading the way at night

By the grace of the Mountain Gods, the rain stopped for roughly the last half mile to the campsite location and throughout camp set up. With all the bear markings, we hung our food and other items a little farther than usual. We got all settled in before the rain restarted and the thunder came.

In the morning, we pack up camp while our supervisor decided we could manage without the watchful eye.

Our Napping Supervisor
Our Napping Supervisor

We followed the A-Z Trail to the Avalon Trail and out to Crawford’s Depot.

Navigator and Abby
Navigator and Abby
Admiral and I on the Avalon Trail
Admiral and I on the Avalon Trail
Water Crossing heading to Crawford's Depot
Water Crossing via Avalon Trail heading to Crawford’s Depot
Trail sign
Trail sign
Look both ways
Look both ways before crossing
Crawford's Depot
Crawford’s Depot
In case you what google it
In case you what to find the location

We could not have been more happy to see the Highland Center. For a few reasons, first and most important real bathrooms, cooked food, cold drinks and a chance to do a wash down. There is nothing like a good hand and face wash after a few days in the woods. Plus, our car was close by with a stash of goodies, clean clothes and a chance to unload items we no longer needed.

We lived a lavish life for a few hours before making our way to our final campsite in a light rain. Our final campsite was off the Jewell Trail. A trail we have travelled numerous times to the summit of Mount Washington. Our original plan was to camp at the Mizpah tentsite. The weather report of rain throughout the night and morning, we decided to travel on a trail that was covered for half the hike up to Mount Washington.

We did this for a few reasons. Once, we left the Mizpah tentsite we would have to travel about 7 miles above tree line in what was projected to be in the clouds and rain. Shelters nor huts allow dogs. Lake in the Clouds Hut would be available for water and some food, but no shelter, if needed. Basically, there was no areas for safety.

The morning of September 11th, we were in the clouds with light rain. The visibility was limited but manageable.

We made it to the summit in the latter morning, of course the summit was usual in the clouds.

Oldest mountain hiking trail in America
Summit Marker


The Cog Railroad, sorry no dogs allowed.
Mount Washington State Park
At the Summit
Trinity Height Connector
Trinity Height Connector
Lake in the Clouds Hut
Summit Marker
Tip Top House, old hotel at the summit
Tip Top House, old shelter for hikers at the summit
Summit, 9/11
Abby sitting on the summit marker
Abby sitting on the summit marker
I said “home” Abby totally agreed
Where the cloud meets the Mountain
Where the cloud meets the Mountain
Click for panoramic photo
Click for Panoramic photo
Click for panoramic photo
Hike to Mount Washington
Hike to Mount Washington

Overall, it was a great hike. We enjoyed our time on the trails and all the hikers we met along the way. We made tough calls to make sure we were all kept safe. Our original plans had to be modified, but it happens. We worked together as a team to get through some tough areas. We had numerous laughs along the way. And made memories that will be carried with us for a lifetime. We did it all while supporting a great organization, Warrior Dog Foundation.

It doesn’t get much better than that!

Please, visit our store to purchase the Hike for K9 Heroes Hoo-Rag Bandana. 100% of the proceeds to directly to the Warrior Dog Foundation. To learn more about the Warrior Dog Foundation, visit their site, here.

Mount Waumbeck via Starr King Trail

Mount Waumbeck is location in Lancaster, Jefferson, Coos County, New Hampshire. Jefferson is a very pretty town. If you can, I highly suggest adding some time here to stop by the museum and statue.

Mount Waumbeck is part of the 48 4,000 footers in New Hampshire.  Learn more about Waumbeck.  There are a few ways to access this peak. We took the shortest route via Starr King Trail. It is direct and to the point, but do not take that lightly, after all you are hiking in the White Mountains.

Starr King Trail is located off of Starr King Road in Jefferson, NH. Starr King Road is off of Cottage Road accessed via Route 2. Map of location.

Starr King Trail to the summit of Starr King is 2.6 miles. The hike is at incline, but gradual with a handful switchbacks.  The terrain is very easy for the White Mountains.  At the 1/4 mile into the ascent or so,  you will pass a well. This is a good land-marker for your descent if you plan to return the same way.

A few images to Starr King Trail:




Summit of Starr King


Starr King is a good location to stop, rest and have lunch. Of course, the Admiral chatted through the whole break.


The trail to Mount Waumbeck from Star King is roughly 1.1 miles. The ridge walk is rather flat and very straight forward.

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The summit of Mount Waumbeck is below tree-line, but it a very nice walk on what could be a rainy day. The rain came shortly after our summit of Mount Waumbeck. It made the descent somewhat slippery, but manageable. Though, in a downpour the trail could get really muddy and the moss very slippery rather quickly.

Here are some summit of Mount Waumbeck pictures:




Here is the topography map of the trail in 3D

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Abby’s activity level for the day by Pet Tracker


My Pack Loadout

There is one major question, I get asked all the time when hiking with M. In fact, I get asked it so much I have a standardized the answer to encumber answers to the next several questions that are highly likely to be asked. The most asked question is **drum roll**

How much does your pack weigh?

My answer – My pack weighs between 40 to 45 pounds. It depends on length of the hike, the season, the weather and the weight of M.  M weighs between 30 to 32 pounds.

So, how did I come up with 40 to 45 pounds. Well, as stated M weighs between 30 to 32 pounds. Yes, I weigh her, bi-weekly during hiking season. My only purpose for this to make help make sure my pack states under 45 pounds (per the specs requirement for my pack). By knowing her weight and the weight of water I’m carrying makes it rather easy to pack everything else.

I carry two sources of water. One is a 2 liter Camelbak, which weighs approximately 4.4 pounds. The second is a 1.5 liter Camelbak, which weighs approximately 3.3 lbs that is for M. The great thing about water is that it will be used and my pack gets a wee-bit lighter as I go. But, if needed at huts the water will be partially or completely refilled.  This means at maximum I carry about 7.7 lbs of water.

Let’s calculate that, so you don’t have to break out the calculator, break out the pen and paper or think too hard. I know its been a rough week. 🙂  The weight of M and the weight of water means I carry 37.7 to 39.7 lbs. That leaves me with a remaining weight of 5.3 to 7.3 lbs.

The inside my pack are the items below:

  • 2 to 3 diapers and wipes
  • Plastic bag for dirty diapers
  • long sleeve shirt for M
  • Rain/wind jacket for M
  • Long hiking pants for M (used as backup)
  • Cold weather hat for M (used when its windy)
  • Extra Socks for M (used as backup or if needed as gloves for unexpected weather change)
  • Toddler Medkit
  • Snacks for M and I (homemade trail-mix & bars which is normally carried in my cargo or front pocket)
  • Snack cup
  • Long sleeve shirt for me
  • Rain/wind jacket for me
  • Extra socks for me
  • Medkit for myself
  • Rain/Wind cover for pack
  • Orange Trail Marking Tape
  • Waterproof matches

That is the standard items that HAVE TO come along. The only items that may which to J’s pack is my long sleeve shirt, rain/wind jacket and extra socks.  Again, during the colder season, which for M since she is not moving most of the time really starts towards the end of August/beginning of September. And that is subject to change when hiking the White Mountains. Why, simply because it snowed this year in June. As I always say, being prepared is what is most important and half the battle.

The accessory items (i.e. connected to my pack in a handy location) are as follows:

  • Chap stick (which is 99% of the time is in my front zip pocket)
  • Sunblock
  • Special Ops 6″ tactical knife with pouch (Thank you to J for the lessons in uses and how to use)
  • Emergency whistle
  • Mirror for M
  • Old Fashion compass
  • Map (which is 99% of the time is in my cargo pocket in a waterproof protector)
  • Flashlight

And that folks sums it up. Surprisingly, your clothes and items do not add that much extra weight, but it still counts towards the total weight.

No matter what my pack always always carries emergencies items for M and I. That’s for injuries, unexpected people or animal attack and separation from J. We never want anything to happen, but we rather be prepared for it then be “up sh*ts creek without a paddle”.

And if you are wondering, we have taken a well-used hiking trail in Virginia that we played a real game of “hide and get moving” from a Black Bear. We actually could feel the impact tremors from the Bear’s paw striking the ground and hear the bear growl which means “Exit, stage left or be lunch”. No matter where you go for hiking, remember you are on their land, their territory and its best to respect that, but be prepared.


Deuter Kid Comfort III

As mentioned, a few blogs ago,  M and I received an ‘upgrade’ on our backpack/kid carrier. We were using the Deuter Kid Comfort II, which you can read about it in a post I wrote, here.  That post goes into some important items to think about, I will re-address some of them during this post, because they are worth repeating a few times.

*Note; Toddler is interchangeable with Infant*

First off, my suggestion to anyone trying to find a toddler backpack for hiking is to go to your local hiking/outdoor retail store and try every single one on with your toddler in the seat.  Some store examples are Eastern Mountain Sports (EMS), REI, Gander Mnt, etc. I suggest calling ahead to make sure they have kid carriers at their location.

Also, make sure you have receive help from the store’s staff, they will know about the how to properly adjust the carrier for your toddler and fit the pack on you. What works for me, may not work for you. After trying several types on with M, again this year, we went with the Deuter Kid Comfort III. I have read some poor reviews over the pack. Most of the reviews, deal with not having the pack properly fitted for your child and/or you.

Lastly, I suggest thinking about what you will be hiking, how long and where. This will help you find the correct carrier and also help the store’s staff give you options.

I have absolutely no complaints with our Kid Comfort III (KC3). I have tried to find errors and things, I would want replaced or changed, but I can’t find have anything to complain about. For what we want, this pack is perfect. Every small issue, we had with the Kid Comfort II (KC2) has been improved. I am picky, very picky about things I purchase.  With this pack, I have no buyer’s remorse…. none at all and that is definitely saying something.

Here is the link to Deuter’s site to show the pack — link. You can get all the information from them, but I am going to take you through the changes and why we love this carrier.

I am borrowing Deuter’s image of the Kid Comfort III. My pack is loaded out for hiking and I don’t want to get you confused on what is part of the pack and what is not. And yes, you get the teddy bear shown, red bow and all.

Kid Comfort III
Kid Comfort III

Okay, let’s get down to business. Here are the changes from the Kid Comfort II to the Kid Comfort III

1) The adjustment for fitting your back, sizing your torso.

Here is the old, from the KC2. The 4 loop adjustment…. A.K.A  — A big PIA, if you have to change the pack between people and one is shorter or taller.OldAdjustment

With the new,  Kid Comfort III the adjustment is now found under the back padding and is a simple pull to shorten or loosen to lengthen. In addition, there is an easy sizing chart on the pack itself. When looking at the back of the pack, it is located behind the right side strap where your shoulder area would be if the pack was on your back. You can also find the location for your water bladder by finding the H2O marker on the pack and you will see the sizing chart. The sizing is done by L, M,S and on the arm strap is a line to help you line up to the correct fitting. Depending on your load, elevation gain or loss, and as your child grows you may need to adjust it.  So, don’t get stuck on a setting.

Here is the back padding on the KC3


Back padding (excuse the whistle and water tube)
Back padding (excuse the whistle , water tube and carabiner clips)

Right below the “VariFit” is the location of the strap. You flip out the padding  and find the orange strap that you will loosen or tighten. The padding is connected to the pack with velcro. 



Here is the sizing marker. As you can see the shoulder strap has the marker (white line on the left) and the sizing chart is on the right.



Another view of the sizing. As you can see, it is located near your water bladder.



Next up, the kick stand. The Kid Comfort II (KC2) is more square and does not have as wide of a base as the Kid Comfort III (KC3). This is important just for stabilizing the pack on the ground. With our Kid Comfort II, we always had to help stabilize the pack for M to get in. Now, with the Kid Comfort III, M can easily get in and out without trouble.

The images below show you the distance between the KC2 and KC3. The KC3 is about 2 inches wider.

Kid Comfort III 16.5 inches wide.. Please, note their is an addition pack in this picture connected to the KC3 that does not come with the carrier)
Kid Comfort II 14.5 inches wide
Kid Comfort II 14.5 inches wide


Some other differences…

*Note: These are not in any order*

  • The front pocket of the KC3, which is located underneath your child’s seat is larger than the KC2. This is helpful in many ways, but mostly for weather changes preparedness and/or longer hikes.  Do note this does depend on how well you pack.
  • KC2 had only one pocket on your waist bucket.  With the new KC3, there is one on each side and you get a mirror in one pocket. We still use our own. Simply because I can connect the mirror to my carabiner clips for easy access or quick ‘put-away’.  It is a nice function to have. You can pack snacks, iPhone, mirror and other items you want on hand into these two waist pockets.
  • The Sun Shade on the KC2 was detachable. This I hated!! We ended up either packing with J’s gear or placing it on the carrier even when we were not using it. Below is the picture to help you understand the old way. In the KC3, it is part of the carrier, it is located in a zip pocket right behind the child. Unzip the location and pull it out then when you are done with it tuck it way. No swing strings, no child trying to pull it.
Bridge Crossing
Old way, you can see the shade cover hooked up, but not being used
Zip pocket - Location of Sun Shade
Zip pocket – Location of Sun Shade
  • The KC3 comes with foot stirrups for your child, the KC2 did not. This is wonderful! Your child will have their feet secured and stable. This makes them feel more comfortable. No more swing feet, no more getting kicked.  I have received many comments on this one key thing on the Kid Comfort III. It’s purely a blessing!
  • The KC3 allows you to adjust the child resistant straps at the shoulder. As your child grows you can move up the straps. In addition, you can lower the seat of your child for growth or comfort. There are two locations to do this. First, is on the side of the seat and the other is in the front of the child’s seat. The adjustments are very simple, normal loop system.
  • The upgraded chin-pad, you can see it here at this, link.  This pad can be is easily removed for washing. There are two snap buttons in the front and two loops to connect it to the pack in the back.  We love this upgrade. It has helped keep our daughter’s head more stable when she sleeps.
Sleeping on the chin pad

The below image shows you the sun shade, foot stirrups, chin pad. Please, note, the sun shade is not in place, this was during our lunch break and M fell asleep. We did not want to wake her.

Napping on Carter Dome

One major point, I give to the Deuter Kid Comfort is the side buckle, which allows for side entry. It is a small, but important item that all Deuter Kid Comforts offer. Our daughter loves hiking with us, this side buckle allows her to climb in when we are ready to go and out when its time to walk around.  Yes, there are times we have to ‘put her in’, but that is only about 5% of the time, the rest she goes willing. Other carries, do not have this option. This buckle is not easily opened by a toddler. It locks in similar to a seatbelt clip.

Miss M has been known to climb in the pack when I am cleaning it or packing for a hike.

Sneak in her pack to play

As we did with the Kid Comfort II,  we connected a camel back waist pack to the back, so M has her own water source. This does add the weight to the pack, so be wary when doing this. This is the only issue I have will ALL child carriers used for hiking. There is no location for your child to have their own water source. Yes, most packs have a  2 Liter area for a bladder. But this means you and your child will need to spilt it. Two liters of water can go quick on a hot, humid, or harder trail.

In addition, we place Nuun in our water for electrolyte replenishment. Since, M isn’t doing much work, she doesn’t need them. Nuun is another recommended item for hydration. Unlike, Powerade, Gatorade, and other sugar filled hydration fluids, Nuun uses no sugar, no carbs it’s a great hydration source. Oh, as a suggestion, don’t use the Strawberry lemonade, it’s the only type so far we do not like. And my husband loves Strawberry lemonade.

If you have any questions or areas you would like clarification on. Please, don’t hesitate to reach out to me.

Helping you pick a child carrier for hiking #Deuter Kid Comfort II

This is probably one of the most important pieces of equipment you will purchase for hiking with toddler.

We purchased two types, the Ergo Baby and the Deuter, Kid Comfort II. We used the Ergo Baby for when our little one was 13 months and under. It was the winter, when she was one year old. The comfort of being close was good for her, but we NEVER passed 4 miles in a day. Longer hikes, you need something stronger with more storage and frankly for us hiking with an infant, should be done with caution. Again, that’s my family and my own views.

We will start with the Deuter, Kid Carrier II…. AKA Toddler Carrier (in our view)

My advice is for you and your hiking partner to try on as many carriers as possible and do your research on each.  I suggest going to a specialized retail store for outdoor activities. We found our carrier at Eastern Mountain Store (EMS), in fact, we do ALL of our outdoor purchases through them. (I am not an employee or receive any sort of endorsement from them). We have found their service and knowledge is well above any of their competitors.  We found this out during our first trip into their store. Our first purchase was our Deuter Kid Comfort II.  At the EMS store we went to they have a wonderful and knowledgable sales employee that actually went to a “class” where she was able to bring her child test out the carriers and learn about each of them. This knowledge was extremely helpful when purchasing our carrier.

As a side note, coming from the retail world, I was excited to hear that from her. It’s an another reason we stick with EMS. It benefits so many, not just the gross profit line, but for consumer’s buck, too.  I have always recommend them for any employee interested in a specialized area or just wanting to learn. Overall, it was about passing along knowledge to the consumer to help them make the best purchase for their needs — not what our retail store wanted.  Back on track….

It is really a good idea to have your hiking partner and your toddler with you when trying on packs. Most places have a dummy doll that will simulate your toddler, but there nothing like doing it for real. Seeing how your toddler sits in the pack and moves in the pack is helpful. A dummy just doesn’t seem to make those moves.  Yes, they will react in some manner. Most likely on the scared side. It’s outside their norm, so bare with it. Do it after nap time or well before nap time. It’s definitely a stressful time for them and our little one as been in a carrier since she was brought home.  Two Dogs, a husband that travels and no nanny nor family in the area makes child carrying a must unless you don’t like getting things done. But that’s another story….

We went with the Deuter, Kid Comfort II…. here is why…(the below image is the carrier)


1) The seat where your child will sit is the largest of all carrier. What does this mean for your child? It simple, their legs will not lose circulation as quickly as they would with other carriers. No matter what carrier you choose, you will need to schedule breaks for your child to come out of the carrier and walk around. When doing so, keep in mind, they need a little time to get their legs situated to stand/walk. In the beginning, the process maybe a little out of sync, but you will learn to read your child needs as you take more and more breaks. Just think of your most recent long lecture, boring meeting that would never end, you probably got to adjust yourselves, especially your legs. In a carrier, your toddler doesn’t, so give them a little time. 🙂

2) The carrier has a very large storage pocket under the child. Please, view the picture above to see lower storage.


I guess it depends on what and how you pack. It’s a big pocket, though. Here is what we can pack inside this pocket; 4 to 6 diapers, a pack of all natural Huggies wipes,  2 adult long sleeve tops, 2 adult pair of socks, 1 pair of child socks, 1 long sleeve shirt, 1 winter/wind pants and 1 jacket to fit a 22 month old, the Deuter KC Rain Cover,  first aid kit for both a child and an adult and a hand towel. I would say that pocket can handle a bit. If you pack smartly you can pack for at least 3 to 6 day trip.

3) There is a location for a 2L water bladder.  We use a camel back model. Deuter does not seem to have a bladder designed for this carrier or at least not that we could have locally. It’s great because you can use it, but so can you child. However, we purchased a 1.5L waist camel back that we attached to the back of the Deuter that is just for our child. Again, we plan for the worse case so the more water the better. We found in the summer, the 2L bladder was empty by the end of a 8 to 10 mile hike. This does not leave room for error. So, we created a way to make it work for us. The design of the Deuter allowed us to make this adaptation without compromising the structural safety of the carrier. It helps that my hiking partner is an engineer.

4) With the purchase of the Deuter Kid Comfort II you receive a sunshade and a rain cover.  Along with a cute little teddy bear for your toddler. The latter was a nice gesture, but the first is what’s important.  Unfortunately, the rain cover given is not the same as the KC Rain cover. The difference is that the KC Rain Cover is a full length cover while the given cover just covers the upper body of your child.

Here is the Deuter KC Rain Cover AKA Full Cover.


This cover we have used as a wind shield, too. During, one of your hikes in the Franconia Notch, NH (up to Little Haystack, to Mt. Lincoln to Mt. Lafayette and down) we found this very help, bc it was windy walking along the ridge.  Here is one picture from the hike…


Little one is napping during a break, which happened to be on the summit of Little Haystack. She slept through us placing on the cover. Here is us on Mt. Lafayette…


The picture below is the sunshade, which you will be given with the purchase of the Kid Comfort II. You will need this attachment whether you use the KC Rain Cover or the given rain cover with purchase. The sun shade is great for those hikes above the tree line during the summer, but do not forget to apply sun screen.  Also, for some light rain.


Below is the rain cover given with purchase. As you can see, the toddler’s upper body is covered, but their legs are exposed.


5) From the pictures above, you can see the amount of extra pockets to carry additional items. You can place all your items you will need readily available. Here is what we have handy snacks, bug repellent, surveying tape, our little ones hat and sunglass and sun screen. Our child has learned to reach the side pockets for her snacks when she is hungry.  In addition, there are numerous areas to place d-links. We use our d-links for our emergency whistle, items for our little one to play with, a compass, my hat, a GPS tracker and other smaller items that are helpful to carry within arms reach.

6) There is a small pocket on your waist belt AKA hip fin pocket.  I place chap stick, a cell phone, an extra set of keys and a mirror. The latter I have found to be extremely helpful. The mirror allows me to check on my child whenever I need, too. Also, it gives my child a chance to see me whenever she wants without having to dismount her. We have had numerous conversation with looking into the mirror. This idea is similar to one you may use your car. Here is a picture from our Bald Face hike with me and our little one talking using the mirror.


7) There is a place for your child to rest their head. This fleece piece can be removed for washing. It’s a quick pull and into the washer machine it goes. To place it back on, just line up the velcro pieces.  It can’t get any easier than that!

8) Its padded! I mean very well padded. I was surprised by the difference when testing out carriers. Deuter took the time to pad it and make it breathable. The EMS employee even got to see the material of the padding, which is one of her reasons for going with this pack, too. This is helpful, because it’s the barrier between you, your child, your water and weight. The weight is more on the weight belt, but there nothing like padding on your hiking pack.

While we are talking about the weight, on the shoulder straps, there is an adjustment, called stabilizer straps, make sure these straps are pulled tightly. We found that is most comfortable for us. It makes the pack closer to your back, but the weight will still be on your waist belt. If its loose, I have found that I feel as though my pack is pulling me backwards. Definitely, not the direction we want to go!

No matter what breathable material and system your pack has to create a movement of air,  you will sweat.  The padding and system made for air flow doesn’t mean you will not get wet from sweat, but without it…. I am not sure I even want to think about what it would be like.

9) It has the 5-point harness strap. The same idea used in your toddler’s car seat is applied here. Connect them all, make them snug on your child. This doesn’t mean he/she will not shift in the pack, but they will be safely in the pack and staying in the pack.

10) The pack can handle up to 48lbs, which 40lbs of a child. This is great because it gives you the chance to hike quite a bit. In other words, you are getting your money’s worth.

Lastly, please, remember if you go with the Deuter. ALWAYS, ALWAYS have the shoulder restraint going through FOUR loops. See, the image below, the red arrow shows you the loops, I am speaking about. This is also where you can adjust the height of the pack. It’s great, because you do not have to dismount your child to make adjustments. I guess that would be reason number 11. This is great for when you switch, who is carrying your toddler. But, no excuses FOUR loops. It’s the safest for the amount of weight of your pack that includes your child.


Up next,  I will review our Ergo Baby carrier, why we went with it for shorter hikes when your little one was younger and other ways we used the carrier. To clarify now, we use only the Deuter Kid Comfort II for all our hikes. Our toddler loves the pack and knows what it means. She gets excited to go in it…… that makes the cost priceless.