Cloth Diapering Greener Living

Camping with Cloth Diapers

My family went tent camping for three days and two nights earlier this week, and we did it with Kay in cloth diapers. This isn’t the first time we’ve gone camping with a little one in diapers, though the last occasion was two years ago and things were easier simply because there was only one kid in the mix. But if you’ve ever wondered whether taking your cloth diapers camping with you is doable, here’s how I did it.

How to go camping with cloth diapers

What You’ll Need

  • 2 large wet bags, one zippered (or one zippered wet bag and one garbage bag)
  • Large wipeable change pad
  • Diapers and wipes
  • Don’t forget to pack liners or any rash creams you might need
  • If you use wipe solution, wet your wipes before heading out and store them in a smaller zippered wet bag or an empty disposable wipe container

Set Up Your Changing Station

Pack your clean diapers in a wet bag, garbage bag, or any other bag large enough to carry the diapers you’ll need for your trip, plus a few extra. Depending on the age and toileting habits of your baby, this could be anywhere from 6-12 diapers per day. You know your baby best. Calculate your daily average multiplied by the number of days you’ll be away, then add a few extra just in case. For this trip I took 16 pocket diapers plus 4 fitted diapers and 2 covers for overnights.

I brought reusable fleece liners to help with poop removal – there are no diaper sprayers in the great outdoors! We had outhouses at our campsite so that’s where the poop went. I also packed my largest changing pad. If you don’t have a table, a larger pad will keep your baby clean when doing changes on the ground and protect your tent if doing changes in there. If you’re camping in an RV or trailer, then this part is much easier.

We were lucky enough to have a couple of hooks already set up in the tree near our picnic table. That made it a no brainer to hang the dirty diaper wet bag there and set up the changing station underneath. Alternatively, you can hang the bag off your vehicle’s side view mirror or wherever makes the most sense in your situation. The key is to keep the dirty diapers in a high quality wet bag with a good zipper. For this trip I used my Funky Fluff hanging diaper pail and even after three very hot days, there was no dirty diaper smell in the car on the ride home.

The biggest issue I have when camping with cloth diapers is that they take up more room than disposables. With a family of four and all our camping gear, space is at a premium in the car, but with some creative packing it was totally doable.

Long-Term Camping

But what if you’re camping for more than two or three days? First of all, you are clearly a braver woman than me, but in that situation, you can either pack more diapers (if you have them) or take along a simple DIY camp style washer or hand-held washer. Flats and covers are probably a better option in this situation as they take up less space, wash up easier, and dry faster on a clothesline. Make sure to pick a biodegradable detergent that’s phosphate-free and safe for local waterways.
Have you ever gone camping with cloth diapers?

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  • I was going to do cloth when we went camping last night (6 days, 5 nights) but my husband said he thought we should just do disposables. I hate how much garbage is created when using ‘sposies though; it seemed like our camp garbage filled up way too fast. We ended up spending a decent amount of time at the beach and used cloth swimmers so that saved us some garbage space 🙂
    I want to use cloth next time we camp though! (if I have a baby again next summer…I suppose my current ‘baby’ will be out of diapers by then!)

    • On the occasions we’ve used disposables (yeast rash), it’s crazy to me how quickly the trash builds up! Maybe it looks like so much because we’re not used to disposables. Cloth swim diapers rock! 🙂

  • I did think about using CD for our camping trips this summer, but they were all 3 nights or longer and would be too long between washing. I already feel while camping that I move from one job to the next (nursing, getting kids and self dressed, then fed, then changed, then make more food, wash dishes, do an activity with the kids, get them down for naps and bed etc) that I had very few relaxing times till they were in bed. I didn’t want to have to worry about washing diapers as well.

    • I can totally understand that. When we go camping, hubby does all the cooking and that makes a big difference. Longer trips are more work all around!

  • You are brave! I must say until just recently I had a difficult time just wear cloth diapers when going on a day trip. I am still on the learning curve as to how many to bring when we go out (with 2 in diapers). I always tend to overpack! But I hope to be as confident as you are with us ring cloth diapers! You have inspired me!

  • The thought of tenting with a baby at all seems daunting, let alone bringing cloth! I suppose for a weekend it’d be fine but I’ll be honest, I’d probably go with disposables for anything longer. Maybe we’ll be brave enough to try next year!

  • I love nature and all but I consider myself lucky that my partner hates camping. I went on a cross-country road trip a few years ago and spent almost every night in my backpacking tent so I’m all tented out.
    A lot of this advice will help with traveling to the in-laws, though! They want nothing to do with my little cloth diaper obsession and seeing how well you did outdoors inspires me to keep going with the cloth even when we’re staying over the weekend.

  • When my 7, now adults, were small there were an awful lot of diapers and washing to cope with. In those days it was very much a society of pro disposables. I found them very wasteful and way too expensive to boot. I always had a diaper bag, full to the top, most other mums needed nowhere near as much as I did 🙂

  • I’ve used cloth while camping twice, with my now 8 year old. Both trips were 4 days and 3 nights. It was pretty easy. This summer we’re camping for 6 days and 5 nights. I don’t think I have enough cloth diapers for that long. I’m thinking of buying some disposable inserts for my Grovia hybrids shells and using a combination of those and cloth.

    • @Jeanie Payne: We use grovia and we’ll be hiking in, but have an outhouse where we’re going. Our plan is to use the grovia biosoakers and leave them in the outhouse since they’re biodegradable/compostable. Best of both worlds (I hope).

  • Thank you for the great tips, my son’s family will be doing some camping next summer and they’ll have one in diapers. I can now show his its possible.