I love sleeping outside in a tent. Weird, right?
It’s probably because of all my years in the Girl Scouts. Steve was also a Scout. Unlike me, Steve earned all the badges to become an Eagle Scout. I was a slacker scout, who went on all the trips way into my high school years, but never earned a single badge. I couldn’t be bothered to read the manual. Still, that experience was formative enough to hook me on the outdoors.
I like the mobility of life in a tent; you can find a campsite anywhere. I’ve camped in a New Mexico desert and on an island in Maine. It’s super affordable. There’s nothing like sleeping in the fresh air and drinking wine around a roaring fire in the evening.
We took the boys camping last weekend. We haven’t gone as often as we have liked with them in the past, because Ian had trouble functioning in a world without Internet access, when he was younger. (He’s fine now, so we’re going more often.) Even with those obstacles, we were able to go once a year and accumulate all the right equipment piled on a shelving unit dedicated for camping in the basement.
The fall is actually a perfect time to camp, because the temperature in the Northeast is not too hot and muggy. The leaves are turning, so the views are magnificent. We’re going to go again in the next few weeks to take advantage of the local Octoberfests. And camping gear is all on sale.
In the next post, I’ll share all the links to places we went, in case local readers want the details. In this post, I’ll just give some tips about how to do it:
- Get a good tent. If it rains, you do NOT want to sleeping in a puddle. Good brands are Kelty, Marmot, or Big Agnes. Make sure the system has a ground cloth and a tarp. Tents can be found at REI, Campmor, and Amazon.
- With a family with teenagers, everybody should get their own tent. And always go a size up for comfort; a two person tent is really a one person tent.
- Bring your own pillow. Camping pillows suck.
- Good sleeping bags are a must
- I love our air mattresses. I couldn’t sleep outside without one anymore.
- We only cook breakfast at the camp site. We’ve got a propane stove for that. A coffee press is essential. Need a cooler and ice for eggs, milk, and the white wine.
- On the way into the campsite, get some wood at the local supermarket. (Don’t forget the fire starter and fire gun like we did this year.) It’s also good to have the day’s newspaper in the car. You read it, then crumple up the op-ed pages for tinder.
- You have to go for two nights minimum to make it worth the effort of setting up a site.
- We’re medium level campers. We’re not eating freeze dried lasagnas or carrying all our gear on our back. Nor are we “glamping”. That middle level means that we go to campsites where you can park your car at the site. These sites are also near civilization where a person can find a decent burger and beer in the evening.
- Most camping sites come with their own picnic table, so if your trunk is short on room, then you can skip folding chairs. But if have room, a comfy chair is nice.
- With the four of us and all our stuff, we usually do need the car roof top cargo holder. We’ve got the canvas one, which means that we have to wrap everything in plastic garbage bags. When it dies, we’ll replace it with the hardtop version.
- Lanterns are needed, of course.
- Put your food in the car over night, so you don’t get a visit from bears who can smell your s’mores a mile away.
- And here’s my favorite camping/hiking memoir: