Archive for August, 2006

How to Choose the Right Tent for Your Campout - Part 2

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4. Shape - The “popular” shapes of tents include A-frame, Dome and Walled tents. I go into this subject in more detail in a Report called: Essential Camping Gear for Beginner Campers, on my website. Go all the way to the bottom of the page for your free Report. From my experience I have chosen a dome tent for a number of reasons:

  • More spacious with lots of headroom.
  • Some have multiple rooms and vestibules! Separate rooms give you privacy or an area to store gear.
  • Dome shape offers good stability, even in strong winds.
  • Easy to clean and dry. You can pull the stakes out of a dome tent and flip it upside down in the morning to dry the bottom of the tent floor!

In addition to the four important areas mentioned above, here’s a few more that will broaden your knowledge. Remember: Knowledge is Power!

Most tents these days have a rain fly that fits over the top of the tent for rain protection. If you notice the picture on the left without the rain fly, the top of the tent is screened to allow for proper ventilation while you are sleeping. Hot air from sleeping bodies rises and goes out the top of the tent. During inclement weather the rain fly protects the screened top from water while still allowing ventilation.

Make sure the rain fly goes over the whole top of the tent and at least half way down the side of the tent and has guy lines to firmly attach it to the tent. The one I have goes about halfway down the wall of the tent and has elastic cords with hooks on the end to attach it to a hook sewn into the seam of the tent walls.

Most modern tents have what’s called a tub floor. This is a seamless, heavy-duty waterproof material that lines the floor of the tent and goes up the wall about 4-6 inches before it is sewn into the wall. It gets its name because it looks like a bathtub. But, its purpose is to keep any side seams away from the ground so that leaks can’t occur.

Make sure the tent you pick has a tub of heavy-duty polyurethane coated nylon to provide maximum water protection. Protect this flooring by sweeping up any dirt and debris that gets on it and by using a ground cloth under it. A simple throw rug or carpet remnant put inside the front door of the tent can serve as a doormat for everyone’s boots and shoes when they enter. That way you keep the floor clean and free of debris.


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How to Choose the Right Tent for Your Campout

What makes a tent right for your family and its camping needs? Let me show you how to pick the correct tent that fits your budget and how to take care of it so it will last for many happy camping seasons.

As a first-time camper you will rely on a tent for shelter for you and your family. Not only shelter from the wind, rain and morning dew, but also from pesky bugs. No, not your kids, those bugs that fly. :-) There are a great variety of tents available for your camping adventure. For your purposes you will want a tent that is light and portable. Most of the tents in the market today have double-thick nylon or polyester walls, dual-zippered doors, screening, a rain fly and shock-cord poles that fold up neatly into a small package. The four most important factors to consider when choosing a tent are:

1. Season
2. Size
3. Strength
4. Shape

1. Season - there are typically three- and four-season tents available. Three-season tents are for spring, summer and fall. They typically have mosquito or “No-see-um” netting panels that zip-in and allow plenty of warm weather ventilation. The one I have has bug panels and a nylon panel. I can roll up the interior nylon panel out of the way giving the tent a screen door effect. When I roll up the panel in the rear of the tent I can get a nice cross breeze during summer camping and keep the bugs out. In the fall the panel stays zipped-up to break the wind.

Four-season tents are built for winter camping and may have extra poles for stability and thicker panels and outer shell. Since I don’t imagine any of you doing this right away, just tuck this information away for when you need it.

2. Size - tents are marked as 2-person, 3-person, etc. Regardless of how they are “rated” you need to pick a tent that suits your space requirements for all your campers and your gear. I have found that a 2-person tent will barely fit two campers and have no room for your gear. A 4-person tent gives two campers lots of elbowroom and space to stow your gear. As a “rule of thumb” add 2 to the number of campers you want in the tent and you will have enough room. So, for a family of 4, pick a 6-person tent.

If you can, borrow or rent different tents and take them on overnight campouts to see what they are like. I’ve also found that some sporting goods stores have tents set-up in their showrooms. Find one you think will fit your needs and crawl around in it. Check out the size, comfort, quality of construction and most importantly, the ease of setting up and taking down.

I can remember taking my kids with me to the local sporting goods store and having them get in the tents with me, zipping up the tent and laying down inside to see how it felt to them. I also wanted to see if they could work the zippers without any trouble.

I will cover the next two sections in my next post.

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The Truth About First-time Camping

Right here and now let me get rid of some of the myths and rumors that keep first-time campers from taking the plunge. This knowledge will prepare you for the camping time of your life!

Camping can be simple and inexpensive. Much of the clothing you will need for the outdoors is probably already in your closet. Some of your personal camping gear can be made from things around the house or purchased at surplus stores, garage sales, or sporting goods stores.

If you follow the rest of the instructions in my book you will be fully prepared for the camping adventure of a lifetime. So, let’s start with some of these myths!

Myth #1  I’m not an outdoor person
Sure, camping is about being outdoors and enjoying it, but you don’t have to be “Ranger Tom” or a card-carrying Sierra Club member to enjoy camping! It is natural for people to be outside, breathing fresh air, getting a little color on your cheeks. With the proper equipment such as a tent, warm sleep bag, and some good food you will have most of the amenities that you have at home, only be outside. Go on, give it a try and tell me what you think.

Myth #2  It’s too expensive
Yes, everything you do seems to cost money. But where can you stay overnight with a family of 4 or more for under $45? Once you make the initial investment in equipment that I talk about in my book you will have many seasons of enjoyable camping at a fraction of the cost of staying in a hotel.

Myth #3  I don’t know what to take
Hold on! Isn’t that why you are reading this? This is the simple, no-brainer, “Camping 101 course that will give you the facts about the necessary equipment to bring. It’s all boiled down for you in this easy to read format. Read on…or get the book.

Myth #4  Camping is boring. What will I do with the kids?
Your kids are probably like mine. They spend too much time watching TV, playing video games, and doing e-mail or IM (instant messaging). So, for me, when I can get them away from all this, I welcome it. When I’m going camping with the kids I pick some activities that they like to do or let them choose what they want to do, while we’re camping. I get them involved by having them help plan and cook the meals. We may go for a hike on a nearby trail. Next to the campsite may be a lake where they can fish or swim. I also bring pencils, paper, and crayons for them to draw what they see. Bring a football, soccer ball, baseball glove and any other sporting equipment that the kids are into. They also bring their favorite board game or favorite book(s) to keep them busy.

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5 Easy Steps to Enjoy Your First Campout

First of all, never go camping without knowing the 5 ways to make your campout a success. Follow these steps and you will enjoy camping every time you go.

The 5 “Ps” of Camping are: Proper-Planning-Prevents-Poor-Performance. Not just in camping, but also in everything in life, you must have a plan. To make it even easier the Planning part has 5 “Ws“ where, when, who, why and what. So, let’s start at the beginning.

Step #1 - Where do you want to go?

Every part of the United States and other countries around the world have exciting and fun places to camp. Most of the great camping areas are on public lands administered by land management agencies. There are local, state and federal land management agencies that can assist you in your area or country. In the U.S., they include the Bureau of Land Management, the USDA Forest Service, the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Also camping equipment stores in your area will have local guidebooks. And don’t forget to search the Internet for campgrounds in your area. Similar agencies and government departments exist in all countries, worldwide for campers. Here are a few that I have found are useful in the U.S., along with links and descriptions.

National Park Service
There are hundreds of parks, recreation areas, and other facilities within the National Park Service. Within these facilities are over one hundred campgrounds open to the public. Campsites are usually available on a first-come, first-serve basis. A few of the campgrounds offer on-line reservations. These campgrounds aren’t expensive and usually cost $35-45 a night, with a maximum stay of 14 days. The campgrounds have toilets, showers, picnic tables and fire pits, all the essentials for a great campout! But remember, the national parks are very popular and tend to get very busy on holidays and during the summer months.

USDA Forest Service
This is the “mother lode” for campers with tens of thousands of campsites at over 1,700 locations managed by the USDA Forest Service, Army Corps of Engineers, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Reclamation.

Information on individual campgrounds is available on-line from ReserveUSA, a service provided by the National Recreation Reservation Service (NRRS).

Finding a campground at ReserveUSA is easy. Click on the link and it will take you to their web site, click on the map of the U.S. or choose from the list of states. This will take you to the state map with all the campsites displayed and a linked list of all the campsites. Click on a campsite from the list or click the map for a smaller map and campsite list. Each campground page will tell you about the area and show a detailed map of that campground’s layout. You get directions, local sites of interest and you can reserve your site on-line. Definitely worth checking out!

Step #2 - When are you leaving and how long will you be away?

This is a somewhat obvious step, but you’d be surprised how many people miss this. You should plan the length of your camping trip so you know how much food, clothing, fuel and other gear you will need to be successful and happy! There is basically short-term and long-term camping.

Short-term camping is typically an over-night campout on a weekend. Perhaps arrive Friday after work and stay overnight through Saturday, and home in time for dinner. Or arrive Saturday morning, enjoy the day and night and leave Sunday morning.

Either way, this is short campout and is the best type to try on your first adventure in camping. This will allow you and your family to try it out, see if they like it and above all will be useful for you to work out any “bugs” in your planning.

Long-term camping is typically five, six or seven days on a campout that we like to do around a lake, along side a river or somewhere where there are lots of activities to keep the kids busy. One place we like to go to is a beach campout, which has hiking trails, bicycle paths, and horseback riding all within minutes of the Park. These types of trips usually happen during longer school breaks around holidays or during the summer.

This is the type of campout you will want to try once you’ve tried a couple of successful short-term campouts and are ready to experience more!

Step #3 - Who is going with you?

If just the immediate members of your family are going you are probably meeting the size limitation at most camps. Assuming you don’t have a family of 12! :-)

What I’m really trying to point out is, in many areas a big group of campers comprised of a couple of families can be hard on the land by trampling vegetation and requiring a large area for tents and cooking. The noise and impact of a large group on fellow campers that want to get away from the crowds can be disturbing. We noticed this especially when we camped with 35-40 Boy Scouts and have to pick remote locations, or group camp areas that will support our needs. Although you may not have that many people in your campout you should be aware of the group size guidelines established at the campground you are planning to attend. Following area guidelines on group size will make for a happy and enjoyable campout, with no hassles from the neighboring campers.

Step #4 - Why are you going?

To have fun, or course! But also, to learn about the outdoors, to be with friends, see new sites and explore all that nature has to offer! Can there be any other reason?

Remember: if there are hiking trails or bike trails, don’t forget the necessary equipment to make this fun!

Step #5 - What should you take with you?

I’ve left this step for last on purpose. You can’t start here because if you don’t know where you are going, how long you will stay and who’s going, you won’t know what to bring…right?

In fact, it is so important to have the correct gear to make your campout enjoyable, that I will cover this in a new post.

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