Below are a few things we grew fond of this summer while camping - some new to us, and others that just remain awesome each year. I've also included my wish list items at the end of the post that we might try to pick up before the 2014 season.
|The 2013 Camping Project all started with our new trailer|
A few things we really loved:
1. Our new trailer
This die-hard tenting family finally caved and bought a small hybrid trailer this spring at the prospect of camping for 40 nights. The result? LOVE the trailer. Will never camp without it again. Tents are awesome in the backcountry. Car camping though - might as well make it as comfortable as possible, right?
We stocked our trailer with everything from toys to dishes, pantry food and spices, toiletry items, and about 80% of the other items we had to pack up each and every time we went camping the previous summer. The end result was 1 hour of packing before each trip, gathering clothes, food, and a few last minute items. It was so sweet and easy. We're official RV converts now. While we still don't have a shower or toilet in our trailer, and while we have soft sided pull-outs, we are much more comfortable and I slept better in the trailer than I do at home now.
|Our trailer with camp kitchen|
2. Our kayak and stand up paddleboard
I fell in love with stand up paddleboarding last August, 2012 when I tried it in the Okanagan. I bought my own board at the end of the last season but never got to use it on any camping trips until this year. Actually, I guess I never really got to use it on any camping trip because I bought a new board this summer to replace the second-hand one I had originally purchased.
We planned most of our trips around places we could paddle this summer and bought a two-person recreational kayak so that my husband and son could join me out on the water. We had a blast becoming a paddling family and will definitely be choosing more water-friendly campgrounds next summer as well.
One thing we learned though this summer was that when a campground is advertised as being across from the beach, near the beach, or even that it has a beach, this still does not mean you will be camped close enough to the water to just put your boats in anytime you want. We will be searching out waterfront camping sites next summer so that I can actually put my board in at sunrise or sunset without carrying it half a mile (or further as was often the case).
|Our Old Town Twin Heron Kayak|
|SUP - my not so secret passion! (My Jimmy Styks board)|
3. Our screen tent
In July when mosquitoes are at their worst, camping is absolutely miserable unless you have a screen tent to shelter you from the blood sucking monsters. The same can be said for late August when wasps buzz around campsites in a vengeance to get at any piece of meat, garbage, or food item they can find. Even our screen tent couldn't completely ward off the offenders, but it was a start. (and it was much easier to kill them with a fly swatter from within the confines of a tent than out in the open.)
|Our trailer and screen tent made for a cozy home away from home this summer|
4. Our down blankets
Get a down blanket and you won't need to worry about ever being cold when camping! Yeah, we have a trailer, but it still gets really cold in a trailer when you're camping in May or September and we don't use our heater while we sleep. We used real sheets, blankets, and a down duvet on our bed but it was still a bit chilly for me at times. On those nights, I'd taco myself in my down blanket, get into bed, and within 5 minutes it felt like I was wrapped in an electric blanket. The KEY to ultimate warmth is that you have to put the down blanket next to your skin and layer the other blankets over top. Our son didn't like the cool fabric against his skin so his was layered over his first blanket and he was never as warm as I was.
Sadly, MEC is no longer selling down blankets so this item is a bit more difficult to find. Thank God we had the foresight to buy a second one when they went on clearance this spring. REI sells a similar product though made by Therm-a-Rest.
|Best Christmas present last year!!|
5. Keen sandals
In previous years when we've gone camping, I've had to bring sandals, biking shoes, water shoes, hiking boots, and a plethora of other footwear. This year, I camped in my Keen sandals and used them for everything! I even used them for backpacking this summer. They are that awesome! The only time I had to switch to other shoes was when they were drying out after using them in the water. The solution for next year will be to get one pair that I reserve for the water so that I always have a pair of dry ones. I even have them picked out so follow this link to see the Clearwater CNX sandals that I plan to get for next summer - in pink of course!
|SUPing in my Keen sandals|
6. Our ENO Hammock
If you haven't checked out the gear review I did for our new Eagles Nest Outfitters hammock, take a look and add a double nest hammock to your Christmas list. Best camping investment ever (aside from the trailer maybe). Our campsite was always popular thanks to the hammock and I'm sure we've had at least 6 kids in the hammock at one time.
|Fun in the ENO hammock (5 kids in this time)|
7. Our camp kitchen
Last summer, 2012 we bought a deluxe camp kitchen from Bass Pro Shops and used it in our screen tent to add a bit of comfort to our car camping. This year we set the table up against the side of our trailer and it gave us an outside kitchen for ultimate camp comfort. We could do our dishes right there with the built in sink (rather than hauling them to the campground sinks), leave the dishes out to dry on the attached table, and do our cooking on the stove rack. It was brilliant and we loved it. (follow the link above to see the exact model we bought)
|Our camp kitchen in front of our trailer|
8. Our RV matt
You can't get a trailer and not buy one of those giant carpets to place under your awning. It helped keep dirt out of the trailer and I enjoyed the civilized atmosphere it created. Between the awning, carpet, the outdoor kitchen, and our lawn chairs, we created a small outdoor room in front of our trailer. Our son would sit on the carpet to play with his toys and sometimes I sat there to play guitar as well when I needed quiet time.
We got our Woods RV Matt from Camper's Village and I honestly don't know what size we got but they come in 9x18 and 9x12.
|Our Camping home|
What we want to buy for next year:
1. A bike hitch for our trailer
Loved the bikes!! Especially loved Noah's new Spawn Cycles Banshee! Got very tired though of having to throw the bikes in the back of the truck or trying to fit them in the trailer. We ended up just bringing my son's bike and mine to save room. My husband got a lot of running in last summer!
|Need a bike hitch for the trailer!|
2. A propane powered source of fire
What's camping without a fire? Yet sadly we spent 13 nights camping last summer (in a row) under a fire ban. I read a LOT of books on that camping trip without the fire to provide a natural source of entertainment after our son had gone to bed. Next summer we definitely need to order one of those Amazing Campfire in a Can gadgets.
|What's camping without a fire?|
3. A sun tent
Families that like paddling spend a lot of time on the beach. Beaches are hot. Sun is hot. Shade is usually at a premium. Need a beach tent!
|Beach fun - better with shade|
4. I-Pod Speakers
I put this on the list with a bit of hesitation because I must make it clear that we are NOT that group blasting loud music at their campsite. Each morning though I'd find myself in the trailer making lunches for the day, and thinking, "it would be nice to have some light music playing in my trailer." 99% of the time I honestly can't see us playing music because I go camping to listen to the sounds of nature around me - but there are those times when a few minutes of music would just be nice.
|A little music in here would be lovely in the morning|
5. Bush Pie Makers
My friend Greta is the Bush Pie Master and always makes us delicious bed time treats over the campfire from apple pies to recess peanut butter cup pies. Sadly though I can't get her to come on every single camping trip we do and be my personal pie-maker. Think we'll have to buy our own pie makers eventually. Then we can try making pizza too! If you have no clue what I'm talking about, check out this link that explains what a bush pie maker or pie iron is. For more recipes check out this link to Bush Pies - The Perfect Camp Food. I also like this website: Mennonite Girls Can Cook. Tons of great bush pie recipes on it along with complete directions for making them.
6. A camp couch
|Broadstone Camp Couch (Photo: Canadiantire.ca )|
7. A Coleman camping coffee maker
8. Trailer patio lanterns
This is purely a luxury item and probably won't go on any Christmas list. BUT, I saw lots of trailers with patio lanterns strung from their awnings last summer when we were camped in the Okanagan. Loved it! Thought, wow, we should do that. Fortunately we did have some battery powered twilights from Eagles Nest Outfitters that we were able to use. Maybe we just need more of them.
Any recommendations for brands we should buy for some of the items above? I'd love to hear what kind of propane fire you use, hear how you make camp coffee, or if you use lights to give your camping space some atmosphere. And would LOVE thoughts on the trailer bike hitch!
2013 Summer Camping Project - Lessons on Community
2013 Summer Camping Project - Lessons on Commun