Traveling for N00bs: Tent Camping

{Campsite at DSSP, Labor Day Weekend 2011}
I want to give special thanks to Mindie at The Travel Hag for her excellent post on camping for beginners. Without it, we may have missed out on some very important gear!

If you've never been camping before (like us!), the thought of everything you have to do might be daunting. You have to buy a tent, but what kind of tent? How big? Which brand? Graded for what kind of weather? What kinds of materials? And once you buy your tent, what goes in it? Sleeping bags? Cookware? What about food?

We had all of these questions, and more. We did some research on what kinds of tents are out there, what to look for, etc., and we decided on a five-person, two-room tent from Wenzel. It ran us about $70 on Amazon, and it has a sonic-sealed tub floor. Of course, I didn't know what that meant in the grand scheme of things at first; it basically means that it keeps water out of the tent a little better than if the floor was sewn down and lay flush to the ground.

Once we had the tent, we started making a list of everything that we might need: cooler, lanterns, sleeping bags, sunscreen, bug spray ... and then we got stuck. What else could we possibly need, aside from food to go into the cooler? This is where Mindie's list came in.

From her post on camping for beginners:
  • Tent
  • Plastic tarp to go under tent
  • 2 cots
  • 2 air (twin) air mattresses (This travel hag is okay with a bit of distance between my grizzly man and me)
  • Sleeping bags
  • Pillows
  • flashlights
  • outdoor chairs
  • camp stove (2 burner Coleman)
  • Coffee pot – enamel
  • paper plates, plastic flatware, cups, plastic table cloth
  • paper towels
  • Cooler for food
  • Cooking and prep utensils – knife, cutting board, bowls, cooking spoons, spatulas, pots, pans (this list is made based on the menu you’ve planned).  I like Lodge cast-iron ware.
  • zip lock bags, both large and small
  • aluminum foil
  • bucket (for toting water) or gallon jugs
  • tubs for washing dishes (these can also be used to pack and carry dry food)
  • lantern for outside (gas powered)
  • gas bottles for stove and lantern
  • bio-degradable baby wipes
  • insect repellant
  • sun screen
  • shovel
  • axe
  • binoculars
  • extra batteries
  • broom and dust pan for sweeping out the tent
  • first aid kit
  • rope – twine – string … all three
  • towels, wash cloth
  • shampoo, tooth paste, soap (personal hygiene items)
  • food (based on your menu) and ice
  • clothes (including rain jacket) and back pack
  • books to read
  • fishing rod, tackle, kayak (based on the activities you’ve planned)
  • wine, wine and more wine (preferably with some nice bread and cheese)
The lined-through items are the ones that we didn't bring, and I have to say, I wish that I had brought an air mattress, a plastic table cloth, and a rain jacket. Not that we needed the rain jacket (thank goodness), but if it had started raining, we would have been drenched. And then all that rain would have come into the tent and mixed with the sand that we couldn't quite get out, and then we would have been sleeping on a lovely layer of gross.

In addition to what Mindie suggested, we also brought bungee cords, waterproof matches, a Swiss Army knife, a deck of cards, beer, a grill, quick-light charcoal, biodegradable camping soap, and a few other things that are escaping me at the moment. Of all of the things that I'm really glad that we brought, the bungee cords were the BEST. We hooked them together in different combinations to act as a clothesline, to secure our paper towels, and keep the kids entertained. (You'd be amazed at how happy they are to stretch the cords out!)

We probably could have done without the biodegradable baby wipes, seeing as we had a bunch with us because of Petra and we had a dumpster nearby. I would add clothes pins to the list, because our drying clothes kept flying away in the constant breeze.

Overall, I think we did a pretty good job our first time out. In the future, we're going to make a few adjustments, but the list from Mindie's blog is pretty comprehensive and helpful. The next time we go camping (because apparently, there is a next time), I'm going to try my hand at more adventurous meals, which will probably invite a whole different set of tools and issues ... we'll see.

Hey, you hard-core campers! Any tips you want to send my way? Leave 'em in the comments!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...