Bump On The Trail: Hiking While Pregnant

After my revelation that I can do all the things—grow in my career, be an outdoorsy badass, launch a startup and in the near future become a mom—there was certainly nothing that was going to keep me from hitting the trail as often as I could.

Fascinated by the idea of a tiny peanut inside of me, I couldn’t help but daydream of holding my growing belly atop cliffs of the Columbia Gorge, staring into the depths of the forest and feeling the mist of waterfalls as I stood before them.

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Our three-day sea kayaking trip around the San Juan Islands and Jefferson Wilderness Backpacking trip were planned back in spring and nothing about my being pregnant was about to impact my intention to accomplish these; we simply had to re-think what some of that might look like in terms of preparing and packing. And did our adventure planning stop? Absolutely not! We planned a week of winter glamping packed with snowy adventures in Whistler and plotted out our hiking, snowshoeing and cross country skiing goals of the fall and winter.

Then the wheels really started turning...

I began to imagine how my wolfpack might grow and evolve. Who would be the faces of our new friends—the parents who we might raise our children with, specifically on the trail. How would I find them?

And then I thought about gear and clothing. In what ways would I need to modify my packlist? What types of clothing would I need to add? How would I figure out sizing since there are so many different body types and every woman’s pregnancy needs and weight gain can vary drastically from one another. Are there even brands that make maternity specific outdoor apparel? Or would i need to sleuth out the hacks that women before me have done to make adventuring with a bump on the trail possible?

Then finally, the big day! Not our baby’s birth day, but the day we bring her out into the outdoors to experience all that mother nature has to offer. What type of gear should I be researching for adventuring with a baby? What brands hold up well and can be bought second hand, and what might I prefer to buy new? What are the essentials for hiking with a baby or toddler? How will our packlist modify for camping and Airstream glamping?

Oh, and my wellness care. What types of questions should I be asking my midwife? Who can I ask for guidance around planning my adventures. Sure, nothing is going to stop this mama bear to be from adventure—but I should plan wisely, make sure that I am informed of what’s happening in my body and how that will impact my needs.

So. Many. Questions.

The thing is, the more I began to research, the more I realized that there wasn’t a ton of information out there. Sure, there are a handful of niche articles that gently brush the topic, you know that one article that checks the “we wrote something for pregnant women in the outdoors” box, now let’s move onto more interesting things. Yet, pregnancy is fascinating; I’ve never learned so much about my body and life as I have during these past several months! Sadly, I wasn’t having much luck in finding any one source take a deep dive on on the topic. Pregnancy occupies nine-ish months of our life. While this may seem relatively short to some, if you are an active and pregnant person it’s at this time you need to see articles that support and guide you through this deeply special, but wildly unknown time in your life. Pregnancy in itself is a huge chapter in a person’s life and how we treat ourselves during this time will have an everlasting impact on future chapters. And then there is postpartum: when we are with this sweet, new human in the world, we absolutely need resources and guidance to help us have confidence and learn the skills we will need to be the newest version of ourselves!

Pregnancy is often viewed and treated as an illness with symptoms. Society often says that women should take it easy during pregnancy, don’t overdo it, stay inside….stop doing anything fun and just sit and gestate. That advice is all all wrong! Yes, there are people who do need to take it easy during pregnancy, and things can indeed come up; in fact there were moments for me where I had to take a break or significantly scale down activity levels. But that doesn’t have to be the norm. If you’ve been active, you can continue being active and at some point modifications might need to be considered. We should be encouraged, not discouraged, to keep on adventuring with our baby bumps displayed in all their glory on the trail!

Walking while pregnant has tons of health benefits, so why not take that baby bump onto the trail for a hike:

  • Great way to get fresh air, improve your strength and get a good cardio workout

  • Relieves stress and gives your brain some time to decompress

  • Lowers blood pressure, which lowers the risk of pre-eclampsia

  • Regulates blood sugar levels, which decreases chances of gestational diabetes

  • Helps to maintain a healthy weight for both mom and baby

  • By keeping your blood flowing and hip and leg muscles toned and flexible, you can help alleviate some of the aches and pains of your growing and expanding body while also preparing your body for an easier and faster labor  

  • Exercise causes your body to release endorphins and it’s not just the mama who reaps the rewards of this—while her mood is boosted, those very same endorphins make their way to the baby stimulating healthy development, with the brain as the primary target, making them smarter.

Although I’m no expert in pregnancy, I realized that the best I can do to positively impact the wellness of others around me is to start the conversation. My advice and tips may not be perfect, but during my pregnancy I’ve had a ton of time to journey within. It’s not about acting in perfection; it’s about accepting our imperfection, waking up to the realizations of knowing that we don’t know what we don’t know and then having the courage to start doing the work, sharing our experience and owning our voice.

For me this meant this translated into two immediate actions:

  • Share my own experiences, including my research and recommendations

  • Shed more light on other amazing mamas with their bumps and babies on the trail

Stay tuned mama bears! Over the next few weeks, we will be releasing posts to touch on all the things I’ve mentioned above! If there is a topic you’d like to hear more about, or a person or organization you think needs to be highlighted, let us know send us an email! Additionally, I’ve created a instagram account, @bumponthetrail, to highlight women we can look to for inspiration to get us on the trail and keep us there, bumps and all, with the hashtag #bumponthetrail to be featured.

See you on the trail,

Dayna Del Mar


Bump on the Trail: Founding a Company and Having a Baby


I’ve always wanted to have children, but I never felt ready. In my mind, I’d have done, or tried to have done, something epic, something that could change the world—but I was never quite certain what that looked like. I wanted to feel like a role model for my children, with a story to share that would inspire them to pursue whatever calls them. At the same time, I felt that regardless of whether I was ready, I would be forced to choose from among of the following:

1. Continue to grow in my career

2. Live a life of travel and adventure

3. Be a mom.

I didn’t realize it then, but I was holding myself prisoner to this zero-sum idea that society and my upbringing instilled in me. Part of that, of course, has to do with the various bubbles I’ve existed within, including my privilege. But a bigger part of that is the public visibility of women who embrace their identities as woven together from many things.

Usually when we hear about or see motherhood in the media, it’s baby clothing and gear ads—a setting within the household, some chores, diaper-changing, bottle feeding (because god forbid we see a woman’s breasts)—you get the idea, it’s this image of a mom who is exclusively caring for her baby. It’s as though her entire identity is stripped, or at least put on hold, while she wears her mom hat. Rarely is she portrayed to have any outside interests, like somehow her degree is out the window, she only wears sweats and yoga pants, stops participating in social activities except for mommy-and-me classes, has no career or passion projects and certainly doesn’t climb mountains or travel abroad. She’s never just an ordinary woman doing mom things and other things—she’s either frazzled and disorganized, or she’s picture perfect with amazing hair, nails and makeup, is super fit with an exercise regime she performs in the home and blissfully cooks all of the meals for their family, sending her husband off with a packed lunch each morning.

I moved to Portland in 2013 for the outdoorsy adventures and a place where I could ground myself to focus on my career. By 2016 I was working in talent acquisition at a growing tech startup. It was only once I was immersed in tech that I began to see women in leadership roles who were also moms—directors, VPs and even CEOs. It was eye opening and reassuring to see that it could indeed be done. In 2018, I left my job to pursue PackDen full time. In the back of my mind, I thought, “Okay, let’s build our vision, launch it, fund it, grow it...and then we can think about starting a family.” That spring I attended a Mountain Chicks Retreat Weekend in Leavenworth and met with so many rad women and connected with about a dozen who were all pursuing a variety of passions in their lives—leadership career roles, photography, ambassador work, volunteer work and guess what ...almost all of them were moms! While I am slightly embarrassed to openly admit this, it just never occurred to me when I was I was getting to know all of these inspiring women that they could be moms too. But it turned out that nearly every single woman I connected with was a mom AND so many other things. One of my now dearest friends came from that very retreat!

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After a great weekend, there I was, driving home through the Cascades back to Portland, binging on the Women in Tech podcast while glowing with hope and possibility. For the first time ever, I realized and believed that I could be all of the things. I felt ready, finally!

In my mind it was all coming together...

  • Maintain the ability to continue growing in my career - I got this!

  • Keep on trekking—adventure far and wide, see the world - I got this, too!

  • Accomplish (or try to accomplish) something awesome: Pour my heart and soul into building PackDen - I’ve totally got this!

  • Become/Be a mom - deep breath...Okay, yes! I got this!

  • Do that happy dance, be me! Woo hoo! Throw them hands up in the air! Turn up Kesha’s song “Woman.” Yes!!! I’ve so got this!

  • ...but wait, put myself in a spotlight and raise scarce (to me) venture capital to launch our company? How the heck am I supposed to...who in their right mind would...am I freaking nuts? - The mantra goes silent and I’m now staring blankly into distance.

Who the heck am I to believe anyone in their right mind would fund a company led by a pregnant woman or first-time mom? I know myself to be highly ambitious and tenacious with an incredibly strong work ethic, but it feels like once seated at a table of investors pitching our vision, the moment that “mother” goes into that list, all of those other qualities become null. I am the co-founder and CEO of an early stage startup in tech and the outdoors. I must be crazy to believe that I can do all the things AND raise funding for PackDen. After all, according to Pitchbook: only 2.2% of tech startups lead solely by women get funded, and those investments tend to be significantly less than for startups led by men; 17% of startups with at least one woman founder get funded; and 11.3% of partners at venture capital firms are women. When it comes to the amount of women in C-Suite roles in the outdoor industry, it’s somewhere in the range of 10%-20% according to REI’s interview with DeAnn Buck, formerly of Camber Outdoors. Yet, women make up a whopping 46% of all outdoor participants according to The Outdoor Foundation!

I began opening up conversations around this idea with some friends and one day a friend shared an article by Techstars with me about the startup, Seed&Spark: “How raising a $2+M Seed Round really, actually went.” What made it unique was that the Founder and CEO, Emily Best, was fundraising during her pregnancy. Sure, she speaks about plenty of struggle along the journey, but all that I saw was an image of this strong, brave and badass woman with her baby bump on full display, making it happen. That visual will forever live in my mind because it was the first time I saw anything like it. I thought, if she can do this, so can I! And then I thought, why the heck aren’t we seeing more of this? Are we just a rare breed of crazies or does media hate seeing women with their bumps and babies out and about being their complex selves and pursuing dreams?

My worldview was shattered in the best way and reconstructed to now know and believe that I don’t need to choose between being any singular identity. With that realization, I turned to my partner and co-founder, Dana Maher, and said, “Let’s make a baby, like now!” He eagerly responded with a huge grin and a confident, “Yes!”  and a couple months later we were pregnant. We’re stoked to announce that our baby girl is due this April 2019!

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Was I nervous about the possible repercussions of this decision? Of course! But I thought back to the TiEXL Startup Bootcamp I attended (on scholarship) and remembered being inspired by one of the instructors, Paige Hendrix Buckner - Founder of Client Joy and The XXcelerate Fund, as she presented while just weeks away from giving birth to her first child, full baby bump on display. And then there was this fireside chat with a woman venture capitalist, Heidi Roizen, hosted by PDX Women in Tech and Silicon Valley Bank; I remember her joking about a request for an NDA signed by her child, since she often worked from home to manage parenting responsibilities while still crushing it in her career and being one of those rare 11.3% of female VCs. In October I attended Elevate Capital’s Inclusion Summit and felt more possibility than ever. For the first time, I saw a stage with six women who were partners or founders of venture capital firms on a mission to fund women and underrepresented minority lead startups specifically; I didn’t even know such a niche existed! There were panels on the power of investing in women and the impact of inclusivity, as well as plenty of stories told by women who were entrepreneurs...and moms. There they were—women leading by example and the timing of that visibility to me was impeccable.

It feels like now, more than ever, the world is changing rapidly and the spotlights are beginning to shine a little harder on folks who once never or rarely took the spotlight. I love this so much! The catch is, that not everyone has access to it, has role models to look up to, mentors to lean on or the resources to support it all. As we move forward into our beta launch this spring and then into fundraising, I am over the moon about the idea that I could potentially be a role model or source of inspiration to others, to believe that they can do anything.

See you on the trail,

Dayna Del Mar


My Most Impressive #TrailFails

My Most Impressive #TrailFails

It was mid-June in Oregon, and I was on Hike 25 of the #52HikeChallenge. A couple of weeks prior I had met a new friend, one of the first adventure buddies I had found since beginning my hiking adventure.

Kellie had moved to the PNW that spring, also for the promise of adventure — but next level! She came to Portland to train for a thru-hike the Pacific Crest Trail, an adventure of 2600 miles that can take six months.

Welcome to PackDen — Here’s What It’s All About

Welcome to PackDen — Here’s What It’s All About

My name is Dayna Del Mar, and I am the founder and CEO of PackDen. It feels funny to say that because, up until a year ago, never in a million years would I have imagined myself as a founder of a tech company. But my path to PackDen has been anything but ordinary.

Unlike most tech founders, I didn’t major in computer science or business, I didn’t graduate from high school when I was 14 and I don’t live in Silicon Valley. My resume looks a little bit different: