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tent camping, making it a little easier
Posted by: davemchine
Date: September 10, 2006 09:40PM
I just returned from an overnight tent camping trip with my six year old daughter. We had a fantastic time. We explored boulder cave ( [www.aviewofamerica.com] ), played in the river (dad soaked his feet) and we went on a hike. It was a complete success!

I haven't been camping in a really long time though and there were a few things that were more difficult than I remembered. For one thing my 4ft tall tent is much more difficult to get in and out of than it was 10 years ago. Also, my little inflatible mattress just wasn't adequate anymore. I kept rolling off it. Lastly I was very cold.

So I'm thinking about a larger tent, hopefully they have some end of season sale going on at costco right now. I'm also thinking about one of those double decker mattresses, they are supposed to provide better insulation and would certainly be easier to get on and off of. For being cold I guess I just need to bring more blankets. I did see a coleman heater that says it is intended for inside a tent. anybody have experience with one of these? [www.amazon.com]

So, what do you do to make tent camping a bit easier to handle?

dave
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Re: tent camping, making it a little easier
Posted by: ztirffritz
Date: September 10, 2006 09:43PM
reverse aging sounds like the cure that you're looking for...



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Re: tent camping, making it a little easier
Posted by: Harry in MI
Date: September 10, 2006 10:07PM
If you're mostly going to be "car camping" then get a big cabin tent you can stand up in, some nice army cots, a nice sleeping pad, and a good sleeping bag (like a used goose down bag of of eBay).

I would not use a heater of any type in a tent other than to take the chill off prior to going to bed/changing cloths. A propane lantern throws off plenty of heat (and light) and will take the chill out of a tent in 50 degree weather in a few minutes. It's not worth the burn/fire/carbon monoxide risk to keep one in the tent while sleeping, and with a small child to boot.

Most items can be had very cheaply if you buy used and bargain shop. I've gotten all of my sleeping bags (mostly down) ,stoves, lanterns, cook kits, etc. at yard sales and flea markets over the last 10 years or so for very little money.
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Re: tent camping, making it a little easier
Posted by: Kraniac
Date: September 10, 2006 10:09PM
Dave,

Air matterressess might be comfy but they provide not a bit of insulation. I use a nice foam pad that is semi inflatable. You blow it up but it don't get all cushy, just enough to take the edge off of the pointy parts of your body. I do believe you can find air matterressess with a layer of insulation. don't know where to look.

No idea about tents from Costco but whatever you do, if you plan doing this more often, get one that has real rainfly. A good tent is worth it's weight in baby back ribs, maybe even gold..ok, gold

Never used a tent heater, a good pair of lightweight long undies and some thin wool layers with neck protection and balaclava have always been my friends. The idea of putting a lit, gas powered device in my tent scares the skid out of me.

Maybe you don't to invest to much in these devices for acting like a sophisticated caveman and cavemammy, but a sleeping bag instead of blankets is something to think about. Im not sure where you are camping at but if the potential for real cold is there you'd be much happier. Im sure you know this and Im not trying to insult your intelligence : )

Check out [www.cabelas.com]

good prices...quality goods, look in the sock department for there merino wool blend socks. Best socks I've ever had, warm, comfy on the inside. I've seen these same things at camping stores for more $. you should be able to find a good tent here to. They usually have sales running.

A good pair of tootsie toasters is a big step towards being warm.

and yep, you might be able to find some of this stuff on E-bay or your local craigslist for cheaper. Don't buy the socks off of Craigslist though or you might end up with jock itch...one of the more ugly urban and suburban legends.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/10/2006 10:12PM by Kraniac.
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Re: tent camping, making it a little easier
Posted by: Harry in MI
Date: September 10, 2006 10:17PM
Here are a few quick "finds" on ebay:

[cgi.ebay.com]

[cgi.ebay.com]
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Re: tent camping, making it a little easier
Posted by: davester
Date: September 10, 2006 10:19PM
Kraniac is absolutely right. Air mattresses not only provide no insulation, but the air circulating in them actually cools you down. If you use one in cold weather make sure to put some insulating foam on top. If you have the bucks, buy a thermarest mattress, which is an air mattress full of insulating foam...best of both worlds, comfort and warmth.

If you have a good pad and a decent sleeping bag there would be no need for a tent heater...sounds too dangerous to me anyway. I would NOT recommend a down sleeping bag for car camping. Any moisture at all and the insulating value goes quickly to zero. Down is only good for ultralight backpacking in dry weather.

A couple of other great items for camping: A Tikka LED headlight, comfy folding chairs, and a sun shower will take you from "surviving" to "enjoying".



"In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion." (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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Re: tent camping, making it a little easier
Posted by: davemchine
Date: September 10, 2006 10:39PM
Thermarest is $180!! wow. Your right about the long underwear, that would be the cheapest way to keep warm.

Dave
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Re: tent camping, making it a little easier
Posted by: ztirffritz
Date: September 10, 2006 10:46PM
Dave,

Hyperspud on S 1st has Thermarests for much less than $180. My wife just bought one for about $70.

[www.hyperspud.com]



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Re: tent camping, making it a little easier
Posted by: davemchine
Date: September 10, 2006 10:47PM
How about family size tent suggestions? I'm ready to try costco but if there are suggestions here?

Dave
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Re: tent camping, making it a little easier
Posted by: Markintosh
Date: September 10, 2006 10:52PM
Costco is done with summer in Reno area. They currently have Halloween AND Christmas stuff out.

This time of year, your local Target may have some smokin deals. Last year at this time, we bought a great little 3 man for $24. Though not top quality they are feature laden and will serve casual campers just fine.

Otherwise, review sale items at:

REI.com
Backcountry.com
Campmor.com



“Live your life, love your life, don’t regret…live, learn and move forward positively.” – CR Johnson
Loving life in Lake Tahoe, CA
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Re: tent camping, making it a little easier
Posted by: SteveO
Date: September 11, 2006 01:06AM
Dave, Dave, DAVE!

First, CONGRATS for taking your kid camping, that is awesome! But we need to get you up to speed -- at least into the 1970s! Blankets? And then, "more blankets"?! I thought you were joking! ;) Razz, razz.

But seriously:

Tents: I bought a Coleman Kenai model at Costco early this summer for $35. It is spacious, packs down well, and great for car camping. Two doors, easy setup, and I am 6'1 and can stand in it and barely have to poke my head to walk inside. Sleeps 3-4 adults and holds plenty of gear.

Costco got rid of their tent stock pretty much in July, though (my tent was a closeout even in June)...but you should be able to find this tent on eBay for about $45 or $50+s/h. It has a great rainfly, I've had it out 3 or 4 nights in the wet and not a drop inside the tent. You will want to buy a tarp at your local big box home store to put beneath any tent you get; this will protect the floor from abrasion while helping to keep moisure out. Also serves as another layer of insulation between you and the cold ground.

You can also find a ton of deals on NEW tents online (nothing wrong with used if you can inspect in person, but that's kind of a potluck proposition). I just bought an ultralight backpacking tent from [www.backcountry.com] for <$100. Eureka is the maker; they also make several other models, are reasonably priced and of good quality.

REI brand tents are also very, very good, and have a lifetime guarantee...but I think you'd be real happy with a Coleman or Eureka. It's kind of hard to find a bad branded tent; I'd be wary of some of those no-names that Target has -- great for dry camping, but there's no reason a rainstorm should ruin your experience. An extra 20 or 30 bucks on a name-brand tent will do wonders for you in most cases.


Bags: Sleeping bags start around $20 and up. There are two types: mummy and traditional. Mummy bags have less room to move around but are generally warmer and lighter than rectangle bags. It's a personal choice, really. But do compare the dimensions of bags you shop, and find reviews where possible, so you know what to expect.

These days, most bags have a temperature rating on them. If you don't see a rating, move on. Also, the ratings are generally about 10 to 15 degrees BELOW what actual comfort is. I think the people who rate them are wearing heated pajamas! That said, you can still get a real decent bag for a good price.

My favorite bargain brands are Wenzel, Nebo and SwissGear. Eureka falls into what I'd consider a mid-level -- not always bargain, but not always expensive, either. Some of these bags are great, others are so-so. For your needs, a "synthetic" (polyfill) bag is probably great. Don't bother with down as mentioned above, I'd say you have no need for it at this point.

I bought a Wenzel 35º bag for light spring/summer/fall camping for about $20 at Kmart several years ago. If you end up taking a bag rated for higher temps onto a colder trip, you may want to grab a fleece bag from Wal-Mart. (Yeah, razz me, I sometimes find what I need at Wally World!) These fleece bags are only about $10-$15 and they add a good 10-15 degrees to the inside of your regular sleeping bag. For summer camping, sometimes this fleece bag is all I use.

Here's an example of a decent yet cheap sleeping bag:
[cgi.ebay.com]

Note the temp rating; the lower the temp, the more the bag costs.

I have a North Face bag that I use for heavy-duty winter camping. It's rated to 15º so it's pretty cozy. I gave about $79 (closeout) for it last fall from travelcountry.com. The thing with bags is to buy them at the end of the season (NOW), because you'll find some great deals as they close out stock.

I almost bought a Eureka 30º-ish bag recently b/c it was such an amazing deal -- only $35 or so from campmor! Also, your bag will insulate well for years longer if you leave it out of it's stuff sack while storing it. (I hang mine in a closet.) Reason being is the fill gets compacted in the stuff sack, and then it loses much of it's insulating ability.

Sleeping Pads: A pad, insulated or not, will greatly help with colder temps. Insulated is better, of course. But being off the cold ground will go a long way toward sleeping comfortably. Do NOT buy the Eddie Bauer air mat that Target sells. I have gone through 4 of them in under a year, they are a complete POS; they simply don't hold air. There are a couple of other versions of this same exact mat that appear under other brands. It sounds great: 2.75" d x 25" w x 6' l. But sadly, it simply isn't. Beware! (I've also seen some bad reviews on the EB tent line at Target...fwiw.)

I think I've finally found the holy grail of sleeping pads. A brand called Big Agnes makes a fantastic line of pads that are very comfortable and come in varying lengths and widths, yet still pack down to very small and light. I just bought two of these: an insulated one for my gf, and a regular one for myself (I sleep fairly warm) from CC Outdoor store (link below). They were on sale in August and probably still are. I bought mine for around $45 and $55 each.

Fleece clothing is also your friend. Cheap at the discount big boxes, or online. Baclava, excellent call by Kraniac!

If you spend literally just a few extra bucks on your gear, it can mean the diff b/w a great trip or a miserable one. And it can all still be done on a shoestring budget -- trust me, I am such a bargain nut that I fritter away hours on stuff like this. But I enjoy it, so it's just another hobby.

Here are my favorite bargain sites to shop for outdoor gear:

[www.ccoutdoorstore.com]
[www.travelcountry.com]
[www.backcountry.com]
[www.reioutlet.com]
[www.sierratradingpost.com]
[www.campmor.com]
[www.amazon.com]
[maskedmerchant.itcstore.com]

Good luck, Dave, and enjoy!



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 09/11/2006 01:20AM by SteveO.
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Re: tent camping, making it a little easier
Posted by: grad
Date: September 11, 2006 02:21AM
For "Car Camping":

1. Get a good mattress pad from Thermarest. Thermarest sells a thicker, heavier pad for situations such as Car Campling (You can get the big inflatable, full size ones because you do not have to lug them around). You can go to a local REI store and clearly differentiate between the different types of Thermarest mattresses.

2. Get a properly temperature rated sleeping bag. Decide on an adequate rating based on the time (Seasonal Temperature) you go camping and location you expect to go camping.

Example from this weekend:
YOU: Camping in September in Washington State
ME: Camping in NC and did not even need to use a sleeping bag.

3. Also, DO NOT use any kind of heater in the tent. That could be really dangerous.

4. Other Misc. tips to stay warm:

-Wear a hat to bed
-Wear socks to bed
-Get a mummy bag because it minimizes the overall amount of airspace you body has to heat up
-It may sound dumb....but: Plan ahead, Check the Weather, Go camping at a warmer time if you feel uncomfortable with cold temperatures.



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Re: tent camping, making it a little easier
Posted by: grad
Date: September 11, 2006 02:31AM
Also, another tip is to eat something before going to bed.



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Re: tent camping, making it a little easier
Posted by: mikebw
Date: September 11, 2006 05:21AM
Cold camping isn't something I usually do, but if you can it helps to sleep with a SO (where applicable).

Barring that, I would just put on more clothes, sweater, pants, socks and hat like the others mentioned. That helps keep your inventory down for travel, since you generally need clothes anyway, instead of having to bring an extra sleeping mat or blanket.

I would never use an open-flame heating element inside a tent. Tents are usually flame-retardant, but still flammable. Big tents are nice, and I really like having one tall enough to stand in.
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Re: tent camping, making it a little easier
Posted by: Andrew
Date: September 11, 2006 07:31AM
Seriously, what others have said: ThermaRest

It has transformed camping for me -- now I always get a good night's sleep (even over rocks, etc.) You can get a good one for around but under $100.

Here's another tip for a good night's sleep-- Try to arrange your tent so your head end is ever-so-slightly higher on an incline than your feet.
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Re: tent camping, making it a little easier
Posted by: davemchine
Date: September 11, 2006 08:47AM
Thanks for all the good information. The thermarest seems to be the clear favorite here but it still leaves me relatively low to the ground and as frank pointed out, i'm not getting any younger. I'll go that route if it's the clear choice but wanted to ask about cots, does anyone use something like the one pictured below? rei sells them for $50 right now.

dave


[www.rei.com]
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Re: tent camping, making it a little easier
Posted by: mrthuse
Date: September 11, 2006 08:57AM
Grad's right about eating before sleep; preferably something w/ lots of carbs. You burn up an enormous amount of energy just trying to stay warm in a tent when it's cold. Peanut butter's perfect unless you have trouble digesting.

Campmore.com's my mail order of choice for all things outdoors. REI's stuff is superb but pricey; there are other products that do just as good a job for less money. Eureka's Timberline 4-person tent w/ a vestibule's been w/ me for more years that I can remember. Roomy, simple A-frame construction that goes up in a snap. Perfect for 2 people. Store it all out of the sun when it's not being used, stuff it into its bag - do not fold; creases can distress the fabric and tear. Seal the seams once a year and replace the fly every few years (about $11); in about 20 years, I've replaced one fly.

Untold heat secret: lay Tyvek on the ground (logo up) before covering w/ ground cloth (tarp). At least a 10 degree heat difference than w/o. Toasty.
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Re: tent camping, making it a little easier
Posted by: Maddog
Date: September 11, 2006 10:23AM
Ok, lots of good advice. However, if you don't have to hike the stuff a long way (i.e, "car camping"), then I say, go for the cot. Anything that gets you off the ground will make for a more comfortable sleep. The thermarests are ok, but I always seem to be getting poked, even with them inflated and it is hard to stay located over this relatively narrow pad while in a sleeping bag. However, a thermarest on a large (cheap) coleman inflatable air mattress is super comfortable.

REI is great, but not inexpensive.
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Re: tent camping, making it a little easier
Posted by: graylocks
Date: September 11, 2006 11:09AM
i bought a cot for my last car camping adventure. i loved being off the ground however, the cot i bought is so noisy when i turned over it kept me and my son awake.

try the cot in the store for the noise factor before purchasing.
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Re: tent camping, making it a little easier
Posted by: Mike Johnson
Date: September 11, 2006 11:29PM
I like camping in the snow. At places like Mammoth, CA or Zion National Park, it's beautiful and quiet and you have the place to yourself.

I use a thermarest and a small tent. Remember, you'll be colder in a big tent. When I'm snow camping, I always pack a bag of russet potatoes and a big old cooked ham. Each night, I wrap potatoes in foil, bake them in a the campfire for about an hour before bed. Then I put one in the foot of each sleeping bag. By the time you're ready for your bag, your bag is ready for you.

The next day, I'll use the potatoes, sometimes mashed or twice-baked. Better yet is a chowder with ham, canned corn, and milk. The potato thickens it up beautifully. Then I serve it with cheddar cheese and tabasco.
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Re: tent camping, making it a little easier
Posted by: mikebw
Date: September 12, 2006 12:20AM
A new level of meaning for the term "breakfast in bed".
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Re: tent camping, making it a little easier
Posted by: SteveO
Date: September 14, 2006 01:59PM
Mmm yeah, excellent idea and recipe, Mike Johnson!
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