Interested in Camping? Check Out These Seven Key Items
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Is the great outdoors calling your name this spring? Are you thinking about packing up your kids and heading out to explore the back country? Have you always wanted to pitch a tent on the side of a mountain? If so, here are a few must-have items to keep your sanity intact and make your adventure manageable.
1. A Much Bigger Tent Than You Think You Need
Even if you are a small family of three, you won’t regret a sizable tent if you’re new to camping. Unless you are a family of minimalists who’ve mastered tiny house living, you probably have trouble traveling lightly with children. If your kids are like mine and require a tote bag full of accoutrements just to go to the grocery store, then your camping trip could be a hot mess if you try to squeeze all your stuff into a little hiking tent. Coleman makes a great eight person tent that can be divided into three rooms with removable partitions. In all honesty, we’ve never used the partitions in ours because we need all the space we can get for all the beds and toys.
2. Air Mattresses
If you’re over, say 25, and have given birth, you’ll probably agree that sleeping on the ground is only fun if you enjoy swollen joints and eating Ibuprofen like candy. Even if you’re really dedicated to getting back to the Earth, spend one night tossing around in your sleeping bag on the cold ground during a rainstorm and then come talk to me. I’ll wager you’ll be riding out to the nearest big box store in the wilderness before the sun rises to buy the tallest air mattress on the market. Before you find yourself in this pickle, let me recommend the elevated air beds by Intex. They have a built-in pump and everything. These plush lovelies are the reason why you need a big tent. Your kids will want one, too. Top this with your sleeping bag and your favorite pillow, and I promise you’ll really be in the mood to embrace some trees during your camping trip.
3. A Grill/Stove Combo
Unless you’re a big fan of expensive MREs or are content to eat Nabs and Cheerios for your whole trip, you’ll want to bring some sort of grill. Most camp sites will have a fire ring, but you will have to buy fire wood and bring a rack to cook on that as well. The Coleman Grill Stove Combo is a great product to grill your burgers and warm your buns. You can buy an add-on griddle to cook pancakes for breakfast as well. The entire thing fits into a neat pouch you can shove into the back of your tractor-trailer vehicle along with all your other vital camping supplies.
Our family likes to string tacky lantern, fish, flamingo, and palm tree lights all over our campsite just for fun, but you may be more in love with the vast dark than we are. E-Trends makes a cool two-pack of tent lights. These lights even have a dimmer to reduce battery usage. Coleman makes all kinds of awesome lights—some gas-powered, some LED. Personally, I like the LED ones over the flame-powered lights.
5. Marshmallow and Hot Dog Roasting Forks
This goes without saying. You can’t camp without roasting marshmallows and hot dogs; that is, unless your kids are picky like mine and won’t eat marshmallows. My kids just like to set the marshmallows on fire until they look like falling parts of the Marshmallow Man after the Ghostbusters got finished with him in the first movie. Most sets will roast both marshmallows and hot dogs.
6. Plastic Bins of Different Sizes
Storage containers of different sizes containers of different sizes are critical for all your camping supplies. Organize your paper plates, utensils, napkins, paper towels, etc., in these and be diligent about teaching everyone in the family where different things go while on your trip. This will make your time in the wild go smoothly and it will help you when you pack everything up to go home.
7. Emergency Weather Radio or Weather Phone App
All joking aside, it’s critical to keep an eye on the weather, particularly when you’re tent camping. You are pretty vulnerable then after all. We’ve spent a few nights huddled in a vehicle during thunderstorms, a tornado warning, and a rogue tropical storm that didn’t follow its projected path. All turned out well because we were prepared, and we could pull up www.weather.gov on our phones. If you’re determined to leave screens behind, a weather radio isn’t a bad idea.
Hopefully this list of items will help you on your camping adventure. Our experiences in the wilderness have been exciting, hilarious, and wonderful opportunities for bonding and sharing. I wish for you the same as you explore your countryside this spring!