I was surprised when I found out that my friends don’t like to camp. I guess to someone who hasn’t camped before it sounds very uncomfortable and dirty. I’m sure they ask themselves why do it when they have a perfectly comfortable bed at home, or can stay at a nice hotel? When you wake up to an awesome nature view (as pictured below), you can’t beat this view when camping.
REASONS TO CAMP
- You love the outdoors and nature
- To expose your kids to a lifelong hobby of camping
- Experience a simpler style of living
- It’s fun for the entire family and a great way to bond with the family
I would only camp if you have the the right camping gear. I have accumulated various camping gadgets over the years. Every time I upgrade a piece of equipment, I hand that down to my kids.
PURCHASING CAMPING GEAR
Before purchasing camping gear, I like to do my research and make sure it has good reviews. My camping gear is pretty old but still works well even after several decades. I always buy the best gear that I can afford. I encourage you to do the same—research the camping gear you want to purchase and buy the best you can afford. Think of your camping gear as an investment. You only want to buy it once.
I also try and take good care of my gear. I have a dedicated closet for all my camping gadgets and travel accessories. I hang up the sleeping bags on a hanger and make sure it is aired out. After each camping trip, I make sure to lay the tent, rainfly, footprint on the driveway in order for it to dry completely. You don’t want to store wet gear in its bag which will grow mold and damage your tent. Don’t forget to remove all batteries from your gadgets like flashlights when storing your camping gadgets. You don’t want your batteries to corrode in your gadgets.
CAMPING GEAR TO PACK
I pack a lot more camping gadgets since I have more room in the minivan as opposed to packing my stuff in a backpack. Car camping is the easiest way to camp when camping with your family. The items pictured below is what I take when I camp with my family.
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- Purchase a good family tent. I recommend Big Agnes’ Flying Diamond 6*. I’ve used it for several years and it has worked well in the sun, rain, and minimal snow. My family of four and dog love to sleep and hang out in this tent.
- The dog stays in a portable dog crate* while in the tent and in the car when traveling with us. My dog feels safer in her crate when traveling with the family.
- Buy some sleeping gear including sleeping pads, sleeping bags, sleeping bag liners and travel pillows. I personally like purchasing Therm-a-Rest® mattresses* and try to buy the lightest that I can afford. I also like down sleeping bags with a high fill power. I’ve used silk and cotton sleeping bag liners* which work fine. I prefer using liners to help minimize cleaning the sleeping bags. My favorite travel pillow is made of down by Quixote.
- Camping Kitchen Bag (to store anything related to cooking, food, utensils).
- When planning a camping trip, I make sure there are flushable toilets. If not I bring my own portable toilet* which stays outside of the tent in the vestibule. If you feel you want your own area for the toilet you can always purchase the privacy shelter*. Or buy the toilet system that includes the toilet, privacy shelter, and backpack carrying case*.
- Make sure to have shelter over your cooking/eating area.
- Small Flashlight / Headlamp.
- Make sure you have a bag for going to the bathroom that has compact toilet paper, toilet seat covers (especially for kids who don’t know how to squat), hand sanitizer.
- Your toiletry bag should have toothpaste, tooth brush, sunscreen, deodorant. Even if I’m camping I bring the stuff I normally put on my face at home so that’s a call you have to make. If there are no showers at the camp, I make sure to bring baby wipes or No Rinse Cleansing & Deodorizing Bathing Wipes*.
- A mini first-aid kit.
- Drinking water. When I used to backpack, I would filter the water from a lake or stream. I rather bring water for cooking and drinking purposes when car camping.
- I like having some portable chairs which is not necessary. I personally use portable chairs made from Crazy Creek*.
- Also bring sunglasses, hat, lip balm.
- To get better sleep, bring a sleep mask / eye mask which makes it dark for the person sleeping. Because everyone is in close quarters in the tent, the person wearing a sleep mask can easily fall asleep when another person may be reading. Also bring earplugs because you never know if you end up camping next to a noisy group of campers playing loud music in the evening.
- Tent lights are also nice to have like Big Agnes’ mtnGLO® Tent Light Accessory Kit*. The string of LED lights provide a nice glow in the tent and the best part is that you don’t have to turn on your head light lamp which tends to blind people when you accidentally point the light at them. I like these lights so much that I now have two of these lights to make the tent a little bit brighter.
- Mattress Air Pump if you don’t want to manually blow your mattress with your mouth. It’s recommended to use a pump so there isn’t as much condensation build up in the mattress which can cause mold to develop in your mattress. I use the NeoAir® Mini Pump*. I turn this pump on while setting up the rest of the items in the tent. After several minutes, I typically have to blow 2-3 times with my mouth to firm up the mattress. I’m still happy with the product since it saves me from being out of breath.
- Also bring 9-hour candles and holder because you never know when your batteries for your flashlights may not work. Don’t forget the stormproof matches*.
- As you’ve noticed, I personally pack my camp gear in storage bags made by Mountainsmith*.
Typically there are smaller Eagle Creek bags within the larger bags to keep things organized.
I hope this list helps you get started to camp with your family and/or friends. Happy camping 🙂