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Camping Equipment can make or break your Outdoor Fun ★
Why Consider Camping?
Under the right circumstances camping can be a very relaxing and easy holiday. It can make a long weekend holiday one to remember, or you can go all out and set yourself up for a long outdoor adventure. Where ever you live and in what ever country I assure you there will be places to camp with breathless beauty, this is coming from a Londoner!
With the right camping equipment you can use public transportation such as a coach to get out of town and into a camping area. If you own a car there is nothing to stop you from throwing your camping gear in the car and going for a quick camping trip on a long weekend! Once you have the right gear the costs of hiring a plot on a camp site (these can often include showers and toilets) or find a spot where anyone can just pitch a tent are cheap to free. The only cost now are for the food you want to eat and the transportation ie. petrol or coach ticket costs.
So How Do I Choose The Right Camping Equipment?
There are several things to take into consideration in picking the right camping gear. The first thing most people look at is the price. I love the great outdoors and have had to train myself to look at price last. The thing is you get what you pay for, so if its cheap its probably cheap. For a novice going cheap might be the best idea. If you wind up hating all those trees and views and never want to leave the safety of the city again a cheap tent or sleeping bag means you have not lost that much money. Of course with cheap gear you may wind up hating camping because your gear did nothing to keep you comfortable or warm. If you decide to give yourself the best chance of having a good time and still don't really take to it you can always re-sell on ebay and make most if not all of your money back.
The next thing to think about is what you will need to be comfortable while asleep no matter what the weather does. A good four season tent will help keep you warm and dry no matter the weather. I went camping last christmas on the south coast of england for four days (literally just before christmas, packed up on the 24th for our brother in laws). We were less then a quarter of a mile off the beach and we got rained on, I would have preferred snow I think, I hate winter rain. During the nights we were toasty and warm in our tent, when ever I had to get out to use the lavatory the blast of cold air was amazing in contrast to the temperature inside the tent. Our little four season tent was just amazing at capturing our body heat! The weight of it is impressive too, its light enough for me to carry with my clothing and sleeping bag, meaning my hubby can carry the heavy food stuffs! If you have a car and would be using it weight is not as much of an issue, so bear that in mind when picking your tent.
So you have picked you tent, what else makes a good collection of camping gear? I would suggest your sleeping bag is the next most important piece of gear. I recommend going for a down filled sleeping bag. Down will keep you wonderfully warm! Different sleeping bags are designed for different temperatures and will reflect that in how much down is used. Hollow fiber sleeping bags can be warm, the down sides are that they tend to be heavier and less durable so wont last as long. You also want to think about how well it will breathe. What I mean by how well it breathes is how easily it let moisture evaporate so you don't get to sweaty. Getting sweaty in a cold environment can wind up making you colder as you are wet with sweat. In a lot of extreme sports that cause people frost bite, the frost bite is caused by the sweat freezing to the skin.
You have a good sleeping bag picked out, now you want to think about some sort of mattress. A light self inflating mattress will be light weight and be easy to carry to your camp site. This light mattress will also help insulate you against the cold from the ground, ensure you don't have a miserable night by using some sort of mattress. There are pump inflating mattresses that will give a lot of comfort during sleep and are great if you are traveling by car. These pump mattresses do tend to be heavy and may need a power source to inflate, if you don't think you will have access to power sources you can get hand pumps for them. If you want to go all out you can get down filled mattresses, these are extremely warm and light weight but not cheap.
So now you have everything you need to be sure of a good nights sleep! Now you want to think about food. Good hardy meals will give you energy during the day for hiking or checking out the local sights (where I went at christmas we went fossil hunting). You may just be happy cooking over an open fire however this is not always an option, in some areas open fires are illegal and dangerous. Finding the right cooking set up means you have warm food and drinks to enjoy whenever you need them. There are a few different types of camping stoves out there. I would advise finding one with a low center of gravity, something that is not likely to accidentally be knocked over. A low cooker with a butane spirits burner can be a safe option. If you absolutely needed to cook inside the tent it can be kept safe, all you need think of is finding a fire proof bottom to put the cooker on, say a flat stone or large tile. Our tent has a little porch area that could be closed off to the worst of the weather and we were happy to cook inside the porch area. The cooker even added to the trapped heat in the tent!
The last thing to consider is footwear. During the days you are likely to be hiking and you may even hike into your camp site. Getting blisters is no fun! Many shoes are designed to look cool and be worn to the office. If you are going to be on your feet all day and you are wearing the wrong pair of shoes you will get blisters, and they will hurt. Blisters alone could ruin an otherwise great camping trip. My hiking shoes have gore tex, I never really believed that shoes could be that comfortable and keep your feet dry and keep them from smelling too! Gore-tex works by allowing your feet to breathe, this means dry feet, dry feet mean less chance for blisters. I have had hiking boots that still caused blisters because my feet got soaked in sweat. Gore-tex is not the only the only thing that can make a good shoe, its just a good way to be sure you have covered all your bases. There are plenty of shoes out there that are breathable, antimicrobial and well padded for comfort.
Ensure your total comfort and add a good jacket to a good pair of shoes and you are pretty much set! Even in the summer time a good jacket can come in handy, sitting round a camp fire and the breeze is a bit chilly wearing your jacket is like wrapping up in a snugly blanket. I recently purchased a ladies' down filled rab jacket. The jacket is super light weight so I do not need to wear it when the weather is warm and it wont add much weight to my pack. Rab is an english company well known for its extreme temperature jackets and all over body jumpers. The all over body jumpers are quite expensive but man those things will keep you warm! Santa, thats what I want for christmas :D! I saw a test of the body jumpers and they stood up to walk in freezer conditions and were actually still a bit to warm!