Fall is here, summer is long gone, and winter is just over the horizon. While I went camping several times this summer, it just never seems like enough. I am a firm believer in getting outdoors and learning about nature and how it can help us refocus and regenerate our mind and our bodies. But, the one thing I know about camping is that we like to be able to just get up and go all the while having all the comforts of home with us when we go. Anyone else with me? This is called "car camping". If you have never heard the term it is basically where you bring everything with you but the kitchen sink when you go camping so you have all the things you need when you go. Small medicine cabinet, sleeping essentials and those things are always on the list but what about your camp stove and cooking utensils? I am first to admit that I am not camping expert, but I do know that these following items help me when I go camping and so I wanted to share them with you in case you might find them worthy as well.
This 6 person tent is so amazing because not only does it fit all four of us well, it also has plenty of space to hold our bags for clothes, dog beds and blankets that end up lying all over the rest of the floor. And a bonus is that this front room is great for when you want to bring in dirty items and not have them with your sleep wear or just perfect for a sitting area free from bugs. Only problem with this tent is that is does take a large pad to be able to set it up and its more of a two-person set up. However, if my ten year old can help, than anyone can really do it!
2. Sleeping bags
Are you a mummy bag person? Or do you prefer a little more space to move around when you are sleeping? My hubby and I love our mummy bags on the cold nights but when we go together, nothing beats zipping up two bags together to make a mini bed. Whatever you prefer, make sure you check the temperature rating of your bag. The more expensive the bag, generally the colder temperatures it can handle. So make sure you spend accordingly if you are thinking the area could get cold at night. OR plan on bringing lots of blankets!
The ground is hard and it's cold. An air mattress helps you not only be a little more comfortable, but it helps you stay off the cold ground, keeping you warmer throughout the night. There are SEVERAL ways to stay off the ground. Mattress pad and cots are just two of the ways (albeit the most popular) that you can accomplish this. We like our mattress pad because you fill it with air and its just overall a little more comfortable than a cot for us. Don't forget to buy extra batteries for the pump or get a pump that is rechargeable or even one that connects to your car for power. There are pluses and minuses of each kind so you just have to try one out and see what works for you and your family.
4. Cooking stove/BBQ
Depending on how long you intend to be gone, life will be hard without a way to cook your food. Longer trips require more meals and it's really easy to get tired of dry, cold foods really fast. A good camp stove plus extra propane tanks help make this cooking process fast and efficient. Some stoves come with a BBQ even to make it super simple and easy to use. Who doesn't love BBQ!?
5. Ice Chest
Ice chests come in many shapes and sizes. One thing to remember when picking out an ice chest is how well it is insulated from the outside. Some ice chests are simple and will hold ice for a day or maybe a little longer without any melting. Some ice chests will help ice last two weeks or longer. This ice chest is our favorite because not only does it keep ice frozen for long periods, it is SUPER cool looking and probably even almost bear proof. (But don't quote me on that! haha). Generally speaking, the more expensive the chest the better quality it will be. Also, look for warranty information because not all warranties are the same. Choose carefully.
6. Camp Kitchen
This item is really a luxury. Most camp sites have tables that are included in the site but if you prefer to use your table for eating and not cooking or doing the dishes, then this is for you!
We are complete fans of not making waste when we go camping. If you are the same, then you may consider not buying paper goods when you go out to camp. There is a downside to having real plates and silverware when you camp which is that you have to wash them, but really, its only a few minutes of work and you just feel so much better about yourself.
8. Biodegradable Soap
When we use soap in the lake or the rivers to wash up or to clean ourselves, it's really important that we use the right soap so we aren't literally causing more problems with the environment while we are gone. Consider buying a kind that you feel good about using on yourself and your family.
Tubs of all sizes and shapes are what really help us get up and go. We label each tub with whats inside and all I have to do is grab them and pack them up in the car.
10. The "forgettables"
There is always that trip that you won't bring something you need. Forget your pillow? Darn it... What about your swimming suit? Oh man! Make a master camping list. Print it, laminate it, whatever and put it with your gear so you don't lose it. Check off the items on the list and every year when you go camping, make sure you add to the list the items that you think would be helpful to have had you brought them along. Buy them when you get home and add them to your gear so you don't forget. I can't tell you how many times we have forgotten things and I wish I had made a list. I need to follow my own advice...
If you head on over to my resources page you can check out all the things I like, all the things I would buy if I had all the money in the world and all the things I need for next year. Did you know that buying stuff at the end of the season means you can usually get a great deal. Check it out. Let me know if you have suggestions for my page or if you can think of something I missed!