Pumping Tips for Hiking and Camping

Don’t let the fear of pumping keep you from getting out and enjoying the great outdoors.  Check out this list for 8 must-haves before taking off on your next camping trip or hitting the trail. 

Angel’s Landing from the view of the West Rim trail in Zion National Park.

This post contains affiliate links. When you make a purchase through one of these links, I earn a small commission, and you help support this blog. More importantly, I hope it helps save you time and energy in searching for similar products on your own. Momma, I know how valuable this is. This does not affect the price you pay.

What to pack:

1.) Pump

Non-electric pump

Bring along a manual hand pump in case electricity isn’t available. I’ve lived life on the edge (always counting on my electric pump to be charged) and admittedly don’t actually have one, but I’ve heard amazing things about them. This will give you the security you want and need, especially if doing disperse camping. 

Electric pump

My favorite has been the Spectra 1 Breastpump.  Just remember to pack the AC plugin cord to recharge as needed. This pump gives you the versatility of being able to pump anywhere because it doesn’t have to be plugged in. It holds a charge for about five days when pumping four-five times a day. The power isn’t compromised when it’s not plugged in. 

The Medella Pump in Style Advanced with a battery pack is another pump that allows for pumping anywhere. Just remember to pack extra batteries. In my experience, the battery pack is great to give you the freedom to pump whenever or wherever, but it doesn’t seem to have the same suction power as when it is plugged in. Therefore, if you don’t want to risk compromising your milk supply or require an extensive amount of time to pump, using the AC plugin when an outlet is available is recommended. 

Better yet, consider investing in upgrading to the Medella Freestyle. This is designed for on-the-go pumping. The size allows you to easily pack it in your day-pack for hiking.  

2.) Bottles and a set of extra parts

I tend to not over-pack bottles because they take up room and seem to always be falling all over the place. Packing four (six at the most) bottles seems to be the right amount. Having at least two that can be drying out on standby works out nicely. Instead of so many bottles that take up fridge or cooler space, pour directly into bags when done pumping. 

An extra set of Medella or Spectra pump parts is ideal too. It is definitely worth investing in if you don’t have a spare set already.  If you’re like me and hate drying off all the little crevices of each part between uses, letting one air-dry while you use the first set can save you time and frustration. 

Bigger bottles may be helpful when pumping while in the wilderness if you plan on pumping less frequently than what your baby typically eats when you’re around. Trying to switch out bottles mid-pump is a hassle that can easily be avoided.

3.) Plenty of milk storage bags

Also bring a permanent marker to label them. These don’t take up much space so don’t worry about overpacking these so you have plenty of potential storage. 

4.) Smaller ice packs and small fabric coolers too

Bring something light and collapsible like a fabric cooler that you can easily pack in your backpack. This is important in order to keep the milk cool after pumping. Although, breast milk can sit out at room temperature for up to four-six hours without spoiling, according to Mama Loves Best , it’s not worth the risk, especially if you’re hiking in warmer temperatures. 

Small cooler and Spectra pulled out of my Camelback backpack and ready to be used.

5.) Large ice packs and large cooler

A nursing mom’s worst nightmare is the fridge or freezer where all of your milk is stored going out. Avoid this fear by having plenty of ice packs and cooler space available in case this should happen. If traveling over multiple days, wait two-three days to freeze the pumped milk in case the freezer dies and it’s not feasible to keep it completely frozen. It’s recommended to use milk that has thawed within 24 hours. However, you can wait days to freeze it without risking losing too many nutrients as long as it stays cool at refrigerator temperature. 

6.) Dr. Brown’s pacifier and bottle wipes 

These work wonders to quickly wipe out parts. No, I don’t think they should be used solely to clean or sterilize your parts, but I think they work well if you keep your parts cold like in a cooler or fridge between uses.  This eliminates one extra time washing between uses but still keeping them sanitary. An example of when this would be advantageous is if you are hiking for more than six-ten hours and will need to pump twice. Quickly wiping down your parts and throwing them in a cooler will save you time and resources versus having to stop, use up valuable water sources, and wash them. Making use of your spare set of parts could be beneficial and more sanitary too if your backpack space allows for it. 

7.) A comfortable carrying bag

If you plan to go hiking or just be out-and-about, be sure to pack a backpack that has comfortable straps. This may be a bag different from your typical pump bag. Your shoulders will thank you if you put your pump in something more practical for carrying for long distances. Test it out by walking around your neighborhood before your trip to ensure the pump fits and the bag feels okay on your shoulders. 

8.) Nursing bra or loose-fitting top to easily and discretely pump in public

Find a nice quiet spot on the trail that isn’t frequented. Toss a blanket or extra shirt from your bag over your chest in case someone happens to stumble upon you. 

With the technology of breast pumps and practical ways to store and transport breast milk now, it’s completely feasible to go camping as a nursing mother. Don’t let this detour you away from getting out and being active. There’s so much of this world that needs to be seen and explored, don’t let the excuse, “I’ll need to pump” limit you. 

Please note: The affiliate links for the breast pumps are intended to give you an idea of the different types available at this time and what they look like. It’s always a good idea to check with your insurance to see what your plan will cover before purchasing a pump. Coverage is required by law.

Pumping with a view from the West Rim Trail in Zion National Park.

2 thoughts on “Pumping Tips for Hiking and Camping”

  1. For a whole host of reasons that began shortly after our little dude was born, I made the choice to exclusively pump. I got in to this knowing it would be an added drain on my already depleted time, and would hinder ability to be as mobile as I might like but it’s what worked for us and ensured my guy still got all the benefits of breast milk. While I haven’t had to navigate pumping while hiking/camping/etc. figuring out ways to pump on the go became essential….because that every 3 hour pumping schedule became tricky to navigate alongside all the other ‘stuff’ required of managing a home and family. My favorite ‘pro tip’? Popping those pumping parts into a ziplock and tossing them into a cooler (or the fridge) to get a couple pumping sessions out of them before the wash cycle. Love all your suggestions and that you talk from experience, Kristen!

    1. So glad you were able to learn a new tip that will make your life easier. Nothing seems more tedious then hand-washing individual pump parts multiple times a day, day after day, for months in a row. These tips aren’t just limited to those of us who like to camp and hike. They are for any mom managing a busy, chaotic life (let’s be honest, that’s got to be most of us)! They may be especially useful for those of us who like to travel or be on-the-go more as you point out.

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