Most families have been camping together at one time or another. For some it was a first and last time. Not everyone enjoys the outdoors. But for those families that do take to the natural world of camping they tend to find every opportunity to get outdoors again. Holiday seasons are particularly popular times for family camping trips. The ease of making arrangements while school is out and the range of activities on offer from Park Rangers is inviting. The key to any family camping adventure is to make sure you have all the necessary equipment to enjoy all weather conditions and to be comfortable away from home.
Of course the most essential part of any camping equipment inventory is a tent. There are tents to suit every family, as well as single person or twin hiking domes. Depending on the size of your family and your tent you could find a tent that one person could carry while hiking. Alternatively you could find a secure structure that you could leave up while you spend the day exploring the trails. Large family tents commonly have two rooms that both open onto a corridor down the center. This in turn has two openings at either side. The advantages of corridor tents is that they avoid letting dirt and sand into the sleeping quarters. There are other, slightly smaller tents, with only one room that have an entry ‘foyer’ where you can come in and take off your shoes comfortably before going into the main sleeping areas.
Apart from a tent you’ll also need some warm sleeping bags that are going to stay dry in any weather. Because of the advances in technology most sleeping bags easily fit the bill. Unless you are planning a snow camping expedition a standard sleeping bag should be sufficient. Also, make sure you have good quality packs for hiking, a quality cooking stove and utensils, a tarpaulin to create shade and possibly a fold-out table and chairs. It is also advisable to invest in a fully stocked first aid kit. Because you are going to be away from emergency services it’s essential to make sure you can respond to any injuries with first aid. Finally, it’s advisable to have some old towels, fuel, ropes, torches and a radio.
Unfortunately, camping equipment can be an expensive investment, particularly for families on a tight budget. In my experience if you want to build up a good supply of quality equipment (it’s always best to buy something that will stand the test of time rather than save money and run into maintenance or replacement problems later on) you should discuss as a family the idea of each member of the family devoting their gift giving and receiving to building up a camping inventory for 24 months. Everyone can buy some things and contribute this way and with Sear’s coupons and several stock-take sales during this time you’ll have a great supply of equipment in no time.
As a necessary requirement for any camping activity or outdoor overnight activity, the sleeping bag is very important. When sleeping in the cold outdoors, it is vital that the proper type of bag is purchased. All products provide a rating on the label, so you know how much protection you will have against the cold. For bags that do not provide enough warmth in the cold, there are other options in improving performance, without purchasing another bag. A sleeping bag liner or travel sheet slips inside your bag, to improve its ability to protect you from the cold. Liners can be added or removed to meet the changing requirements from one day to the next or in different locations. These products typically come with a zipper, which aids in keeping warmth in your bed roll.
One product available is the silk liner, which is desirable because it is soft, yet sturdy. Other products combine Egyptian cotton with silk, for an even more comfortable feel. Silk fabric is a soft and shiny when dry, yet becomes very strong when it gets wet. Woven silk provides insulation properties that are far better than other heavier fabrics. This makes it perfect for use with bedding, particularly in the outdoors. It can greatly improve the comfort level of the sleeping bag and allow the user to get a better night’s rest. Silk used to make consumer products interestingly comes from caterpillars. If you think about how well this creature’s cocoon keeps out chilling temperatures, you can understand the benefits that using silk will provide in keeping you warm.
If the high cost of a silk liner is not in your budget, you can buy a fleece liner as an alternative. Fleece is made of natural animal fibers, typically from the yak or sheep. It keeps animals warm, so it will help keep you warm inside your bedroll as well. Liners made of this fabric can be washed in a machine at home and are available in many bright colors as well. Coleman offers a desirable product which folds into a highly compact roll, which is kept in place with a stretch cord. This can keep you warm in temperatures as low as fifty degrees (F), by itself. This is an indication of just how warm you will be when using this product inside your bag. It is a very thin fabric, but provides quite a bit of warmth.
As weather conditions can change very quickly outdoors and wind chill can make the environment much colder, using a bag liner is the best way to ensure you will stay warm, when such conditions arise. Many have additional handy features, like a carrying pouch or a closable storage pocket. These items are easy to pack and take with your other camping gear.
If you’re new to camping and are in the market for camping sleeping bags, you’re going to have to make sure you get the right kind for the kind of camping you plan on doing. If you don’t know exactly what kind of camping you’ll be doing or what temperature ranges you might find yourself in, you really should find those things out before you commit to laying any of your hard earned money down. There’s just no sense in spending money for a sub zero rated sleeping bag if you’re only going to be spending your time camping by the beach in July and August. In fact, with that kind of sleeping bag in those kinds of conditions, you’ll probably be miserable. Make sure you get appropriately rated equipment for the kind of environment you’ll be spending your time in. And if you think you’ll be camping in everything from summer beaches to winter snow camping… well then you just might be in the market for more than just one bag!
The other thing you might want to consider is who you will be camping with and whether that makes a difference. What I mean is if you are just going camping with your buddies and it might be cold weather, you’ll probably want to get a mummy style sleeping bag. On the other hand, if you’re planning on enjoying the outdoors with your boyfriend, girlfriend, wife or husband, then you might want to think about getting the kind of sleeping bag that can zip together and make a double bag. This way you have the option of having a single bag if you ever camp alone, but if and when the two of you camp together, you can really enjoy the experience “together”.
Still, the same suggestion applies as was mentioned above; make sure your double sleeping bag is rated to the appropriate temperatures you’ll be camping in.