Pushchairs, Wagons, Slings, Carriers and Buggies
I once read on the old Glastonbury advice page that parents should get a cheap £20 stroller from Argos and throw it away after the festival. WOW – I was so unimpressed by this comment!
Leaving aside the obvious environmental issues with that approach, for parents taking babies, a good buggy can make or break your festival experience. Can you imagine trying to get a cheap stroller through 6 inches of mud???!!
Surely we all want our festival experience to be easy and enjoyable?
Transport for all ages
New born and very young babies – chariots or all-terrain buggies with carrycot are great – otherwise a fully reclining model with an extra head support.
Bigger children (5 – 8 years) – bike trailer/joggers that convert to pushchairs.*
Multiple children (18 months – 5 years) – if you have two or more small children the usual wagons will be too small, so we recommend buying a large garden trolley and lining it with a camping mat and cushions. You can build a rain cover using plastic pipe or bamboo and a piece of tarpaulin.
* Bear in mind that if you are going to a small festival, you probably won’t need anything. Older children should be able to manage on their own legs.
Wagons and trolleys
Quintessential festie-cool image. Make it fun for kids and part of the whole festival vibe by decorating and customising with fairy lights.
Easy to carry lots of extra snacks, clothes, drinks, chairs etc around with you. Can be a dry place to sit off the mud (for adults too).
Trolleys can often be hired at the festival. Saves you the trouble of transporting it and cleaning the mud off! See Mr Trolley or Trolley Tots. You could even use it for a little one to sleep in while catching the late night bands.
The downsides are they can be big and bulky. It may not fit in your car without partially, or fully, dismantling. They can be hard work to pull around, especially as kids will often refuse to walk when there is such an appealing alternative on offer!
The ultimate in retro cool are of course Radio Flyer wagons. Most practical for a festival field is probably the Big Red ATW, but the Ranger Wagon is cheaper. The Pathfinder is excellent for two little ones. If you look on Amazon you can find cheaper replicas of the Radio Flyers too.
You can also get lovely wooden carts. These are bulkier and heavier than Radio Flyers, but cheaper and more versatile, you can remove the sides and use it as a bench or even a picnic/drawing table.
Lately we have seen more and more folding wagons appearing at festivals.
The obvious advantage is they take up less space in your car but they also have built in storage (with a cool bag and drinks holders), wide wheels to reduce the possibility of getting stuck in the mud, and a roof!
Build your own wagon!
Wagon building is becoming a fun festival pastime – we’ve seen them in the shape of wild west wagons, butterflies, tanks and a VW campervan!
Ours fits three children (two sleeping) and is made from a large garden trolley. It has a camping mat to line it, and the cover is made from plastic water pipes. We have also seen supports made from a hula hoop cut in half.
We have a daytime sun cover made out of an old sheet, and a rain cover made from a tarpaulin.
If your main need is for help with transporting your gear from the car to the campsite then a folding wheelbarrow is a viable option.
Most are not really super-strong, but you can get more robust ones. There are some with very practical folding sides, collapsible legs, handy bits to hang stuff off, and all-terrain wheels.
The adjustable legs are particularly good if you are using it for kids to sleep in because you can make it flat even if you are on a hill (but of course you will need to customise it by adding a base of some sort).
Slings and Babywearing
Babywearing offers a hands-free way of carrying your baby, with the bonus of keeping baby close.
Back carriers are great in terrain where a buggy would struggle. Slings, especially front carriers, allow you to keep an eye on your little one. Baby feels snug, safe and secure. It’s easy to walk around with them, even in mud, and leaves your hands free. Breastfeeding can also be done discreetly. Take a look at our Babywearing blog.
Carrying children all day is tiring though and it can be difficult to keep your child dry in the rain. It’s harder to share the burden as you need to remove baby to swap over the harness. It’s also only really suitable for babies, although experienced wearers can carry toddlers with ease in this way.
Rucksack-style carriers enable a small child to get a better view of the festival, rather than just seeing a sea of legs, and they may enjoy feeling more part of the action.
But again, carrying your child all day is tiring. They can be restrictive – much harder to just sit down on the grass spontaneously or indulge in a quick spot of hula-hooping as you pass the circus skills area! And it becomes a real pain if a child likes to get in and out a lot.
There are a number of things to consider when buying a buggy for festival use
- Wheels – always go for pump up – the bigger the wheel the more chance you have at getting through mud and clay patches, and gliding effortlessly round the festival site. 3 wheels are better for off-road / all-terrain
- Suspension – can you effortlessly push the buggy up hills and over metal corrugated paths while avoiding a headache from all the bouncing and vibrations.
- Weight – if your 3 year old is a weighty lump at the best of times imagine pushing him up a hill in a heavy buggy – a lighter aluminium frame makes a huge difference.
- Folded Size – does it fit in your car? Does it fold flat? Can you take the wheels off, and can you fit your tent and backpacks in the car too?
- Storage – is there room to stow the rain cover, shade, bags, coats, picnic blanket, water bottles, snacks, etc.? When you are out all day at larger festivals the weather can be changeable so you need to be able to take everything with you – big storage pockets are great.
Best buggy? We recommend the Mountain Buggy Urban Jungle All Terrain Baby Pushchair, or the Out n About Nipper which also has a double version if you have 2 children or twins! Our twins went to several festivals in their Nipper.
You can even get another toddler to perch on the front if they need a rest.
Each festival comes with its own environmental and geographical challenges. When going to a new festival err on the side of caution.
The most taxing festival for any parent will undoubtedly be Glastonbury. Steep hills and mud that can be slush one minute but come dusk it turns into 4” of thick clay – imagine trying to get your buggy through that! It’s like cement seconds before it sets and it can take 2 of you to push. In the end you give up, get your hands filthy dirty and carry the thing to the next available path.
Some festival sites have massive hills to get to the campsite from the car park, such as Camp Bestival. Festivals held on racetracks, like Wychwood, tend to be pretty level. Some festivals have great paths and trackways but others like Just So are held within woodlands, so hipseats, baby carriers and slings are a much more viable option if you want to explore.
Do your research so you know what to expect. You may need to invest in a more appropriate form of transport. And of course, if money is no object… just get yourself a wonderful Walking Wagon!!