Camping Fun

During baby’s first camping trip our camera bit the bullet.  We don’t even have one photo of the experience.  I am relying on my camping buddies to send me some pics from their cameras and then I’ll post a few.

If you have camping gear (or know people who do), camping is frugal and fun.  If you have to purchase your gear, buyer beware – it can get expensive.

Here’s what I figure to be the most basic list of what you NEED:

Tent – Size is up to you and your comfort level.  Our tent is 9′ x 11′ with a square base and a 6’6″ center height.  This is our 3rd tent – each was progressively bigger – and we are happy.

Sleeping bags – The thickness and warmth factor are up to you.  We like to do cool/cold weather camping in Oct/Nov, so we have nice warm sleeping bags.

Sleeping pads – This is anything you put under the sleeping bag to 1) increase comfort and 2) insulate you from the cold ground.  We go with 2 full size eggshell foam mattress toppers.  I think they were $15 each at WalMart.

2 or 3 tarps – 1 tarp goes under your tent to protect the bottom of the tent from the terrain. 1 tarp goes inside your tent to help keep it clean and to protect the bottom from rips and tears caused by you. 1 tarp to string from the trees over the tent in case your tent isn’t waterproof and it rains or to provide shade (you would need rope also to string up the tarp).

Tent stake mallet – This is helpful to stake down your tent and to pull up the stakes when you leave.

Flashlight – Most campsites have zero light at night, particularly if it is just a tent only campsite.

Trash bags – A few trash bags to collect your garbage is a good thing.  Leave the campsite as clean, if not cleaner, as you found it.

Believe it or not, this is all the gear you need for the most basic camping trip.  I have seen some people literally live out of their cooler all weekend using paper products and grilling over the camp fire.  They’ll have cereal and milk in the morning, sandwiches and chips in the afternoon, and burgers in the evening.  They drink bottled water, sodas, beer, etc…  They don’t have any sort of cooking gear other than a spatula maybe to flip burgers.  Everything is paper or plastic and goes right into the trash.  These people seem to be more focused on getting out and “doing” something – hiking, kayaking, etc… or are out to party and get drunk.  Either way, they don’t like to waste time cooking, cleaning, setting things up, etc…

All the rest of the things you “need” to bring depend on where you are camping and what you intend to do.  Does the site have bathrooms/showers?  Does it have running water? Can you have  a fire? Do they have a grate to place over the fire? Is there electricity available? Each campsite can be vastly different from the next.

We are more the “camping experience” type of people.  We love cooking over the campfire using cast iron skillets, aluminum camp cookware, and enamelware.  We love the gizmos and gadgets that bring a little bit of home to the great outdoors.  We pack our gear in clear Rubbermaid tote boxes and load up the minivan to the max!  We are definitely what you call the “car-camper”.  :-)

Now that we have a baby, 1/3 of our space is needed for his gear.  After this weekend, we have new plans to streamline, minimize and organize our camping gear.  Gone are the Rubbermaid totes and in comes the chest of drawers with wheels!

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