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 many of the usual wagons will be too small, so we recommend either buying a larger wagon or making your own using 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.
If you’re not sure what to go for, Kids Bike Trailers offer a range of kids bike trailers, jogging strollers and child carriers for hire – so you can try something out before buying. They will deliver it you and you can either return it by courier at the end of the hire period, or opt to buy it. This is also useful if you’ve got no storage space for it, or only need it the one time.
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.
Wagons and trolleys
Festival Kidz is a little bit obsessed with festival trolleys, and so we have also written a separate guide to wagons and trolleys.
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).
They are the quintessential festie-cool image. Make it fun for kids and part of the whole festival vibe by decorating and customising with fairy lights.
The downsides are they can be big and bulky. They 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. You will also not want to pull them up any large hills (trust us on this one!)
The ultimate in retro cool are of course Radio Flyer wagons. Most practical for a festival field is probably the Big Red ATW (you can also get them with wooden sides) but the smaller classic version is cheaper. If you look on Amazon you can find cheaper replicas of the Radio Flyers too. The Toby all terrain wagon is a cheaper but bulkier.
Tip: Make sure you check dimensions when you buy so you are getting the correct version. I met someone who bought the toy one by accident! (it is only large enough for a teddy)
They also make the Radio Flyer Off-Road 3 in 1 with off-road tires, and there is a Radio Flyer Stroll n Wagon – that you can either push or pull. Both of these come with seat belts and convert into a bench which is especially useful to give your children somewhere to sit when it’s muddy.
It’s also worth looking at the size of the wheels on these – smaller wheels will not be good in mud. If you want to transport larger children on rough terrain we still recommend a bike trailer or garden trolley.
Build your own wagon!
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.
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!
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. We particularly like the ones with a stand, so they stand upright when you put them down, and so can double up as a seat for mealtimes.
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! One of our writers has twins and recommends the Out n About, it can’t be beaten for manoeuvrability on rough terrain.
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 a regular buggy through that! Glastonbury is also massive and hilly so you don’t want to be pushing anything too heavy. Large wheels are essential.
Some festival sites have 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.
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