“Be First In Line” Campout

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Crowd WaitingYou’ve seen them…they’re lined up outside in long lines waiting for the new iPhone, or Xbox or even concert tickers.  They show up days in advance so they can be first in line.  The last time I saw that I said to myself, “what nuts!” they’re in lawn chairs and sleeping bags.  If you gonna do this, do it right, with comfort!  So, for all you fans that want to be first in line, here’s some Camping Guy tips on how to make it enjoyable.

Shelter
You need something that you can immediately fold up and stow away so that if you’re asked to leave the line or if it suddenly begins to move, you’re not left in the cold dragging your belongings.  :-( A small pop-up tent is the easy answer. They’re easy to fold and unfold and they’re very light. So if the line moves, your shelter can, too

Comfort
A pop-up tent is convenient and light but the sidewalk is very hard!  So get a camping pad or camping mattress, as they’re called, to keep your body comfortable, away from the cold ground and cramp free.  Also, take a sleeping bag, pillow, and comfortable chair so you can sleep a little….sit a little, and not get totally bored.

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The Secret of Camping in the Rain!

Camping in the RainI was in the checkout line at my local grocery store when I overhead the guy in front of me talking to the checkout gal about his wife and kids at the local campground and how they got rained on last night. They survived…but got a little soggy. Being “The Camping Guy”, I was about to give him some tips, but the line was growing behind me and I was getting “those stares” from other shoppers. So, instead I’ll give the tips here, so everyone can use them.

My all time favorite is Seam Sealer. I written about this a few times and even have a quiz on my blog around this idea. The bottom line is - always check your tent seams. It’s just a good habit to get into whenever you set up your tent. Sometimes it can crack or peel, exposing the stitches where water can get through. A $5 bottle of seam sealer can make the difference between a soggy campout and a dry one!

#2 Ground sheet. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen ground sheets under a tent floor that are sticking out past the tent. Imagine, as the water rolls off the tent roof and down the walls…it puddles on the ground sheet and rolls back under the floor of the tent! Yikes! So, please make sure you fold the edges of the ground sheet under the edges of the tent floor. This way, water will drain off the roof and tent walls and around the edges of the tent and soak into the surrounding ground, not roll back under the tent. (Note to self – make a video on how to properly position the ground sheet under the tent)

#3 Keep your gear away from the walls of the tent! Make sure your sleeping bags, packs, and other gear are not resting up against the walls of the tent. Remember, a tent is designed to deflect the water off the tent and onto the ground. A bump in the tent wall will cause the water to stop, pool and soak through.

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Number of People Camping is UP!

GraphIt always warms my heart to see great numbers of people using our local and state parks to get outdoors and go camping. According to Reserve USA an online service that reviews camping trends, facilities and takes reservations nationwide, they believe that the increased expense of long distance car travel is keeping families closer to home during the summer months, making outdoor activities like family picnics and camping trips the preferred choice. And I thought it was all the great tips, tricks and advice that I was giving on TheCampingGuy. ;-)

Regardless of the reason don’t hesitate to go camping. Here’s 5 good reasons:

1. The TV, video games and computer need to rest too. Leave them at home and enjoy the outdoors. I dare you!

2. It’s sooo affordable. The amount you would spend on a hotel for a couple of nights can get all the equipment you will need….and you get to reuse it. Don’t know what to bring, follow these links:

How to choose the right tent
How to choose the right sleeping bag
What stove to use

Checklist of things to bring
Want more?

3. When was the last time you were far enough away from the city lights to see the stars? I mean all the stars, like a dark sheet with millions of pinholes.

4. Your senses wake up. The smell of bacon frying and the wood burning in the campfire fill your nose with rich aromas. I even believe that food tastes better when you’re camping.

5. Capture some memories. Ones that will remain with your family forever. I can still fondly remember the campouts I went on when I was a boy. Why not give that to your kids too?

So what are you waiting for? Go Camping!

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7 Tips On How to Pick a Campsite

Sorry…post removed while I fix incompatibilities with YouTube and WP 2.2.2

In the meantime go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HoToVxLJ0Xc

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Tent Quiz

Can you guess what this is a picture of?

Seam sealer on Tent

I’ll give you a hint. It’s got something to do with camping :o

Oh, alright, I’ll give it up. This is a picture of the seams of my tent with seam sealer smeared all over them. Why am I showing you this? To remind you that this is the rainy part of the camping season and to make sure you put some fresh seam sealer on your tent seams before you go camping.

There’s nothing worse than lying awake at night listening to the melodic pitter patter of rain and have it interrupted by the constant plop, plop sound as water leaks in through the seam and puddles on the floor of your tent!

Happy Camping!

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Caring for Your Tent

Care for your tent and it will take care of you.

I wrote about how to choose the right tent in the last two postings, so I thought it only right to tell about how to take care of your tent.

Here are some TIPS on how to make your tent last many seasons:

  • Use a ground cloth under your tent. This will protect the floor from rocks and twigs and keep moisture from seeping through. HOT TIP: Always tuck the edges of your ground cloth beneath the floor of your tent so that rainwater will not collect on the ground cloth and run under the tent. :-(
  • Take off boots or shoes when entering the tent.
  • Keep the inside clean by sweeping or tipping it up and shaking out debris.
  • Never store a wet or damp tent. This will cause mildew - yuck! When you get home from a wet campout put the tent over a clothesline, fence or patio chairs to dry it out. If the weather won’t permit this, hang the tent on a couple of nails in the garage. But, make sure you dry it out.
  • Seal the seams of your tent. When I buy a new tent I also purchase some sealer. I setup the tent in the backyard and seal the seams. This also allows me to become familiar with the setup and take down of my new tent!
  • NEVER store food in your tent. Critters will tear a hole in your tent to get that food. Store food in your car.

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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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