Family Camping Tips & Tricks, guides and reviews

Check out all the latest camping news for families. Child friendly gear reviews and plenty of advice on how to keep the little ones entertained on your trip.

camping infographic

Animated Camping Series

CAMPING INFOGRAPHICS

Camping is one of the best ways to reconnect with nature and your family, and has the opportunity to provide some of the best memories of your life. There is something unique and special about waking up before sunrise, walking quietly and calmly to the corner of a lake — or heading into the middle of that lake with a boat — and fishing as the sun rises in the distance.

Whether you’re a highly experienced camper, or you’re looking to make family camping a new tradition for you and your children, it’s important that you know what you’re doing before heading out into the wilderness.

animated camping infographics

pitching a dome tent

A great animated image showing you the best way to set up your dome tent.

lighting a camp fire

A great animated image showing you the best way to light a camp fire.

fishing tips and techniques

A great animated image showing you to to catch a fish when out camping.

An animated infographic by Personal Creations helps ensure that you don’t forget anything you might need on your camping trip, with a list of 20 essentialcamping items.

The infographic also provides simple instructions on how to pitch a tent, get a fire started, and cast a fishing line. You can share this infographic with your kids (or significant other) before leaving for your trip, so everyone is familiar with what to expect once you are all out enjoying nature.

If you do go camping and make use of the animated infographics, make sure to tell us about your trip!

camping jacket for women

What to Pack on a Day Hike – Hiking 101

best hiking tips for beginners

What to Pack on a Day Hike – Hiking 101

It’s your first time and you’re beginning to panic. You have no idea what to do, what to bring or what to wear. You’ve heard it hurts and that it isn’t easy, so what do you need to take on your first ever hiking trip?

They say hiking is not for the faint-hearted, however, it doesn’t have to involve constant scaling of high terrain. When hiking, you’ll choose your path related to your hiking experience and of course your fitness level. First time hikers often make one mistake – they take the wrong things hiking, which of course will affect the outcome. Hiking is fun, so be prepared and read on to find out what things you need to pack for a day hike.

Of course what you pack on a hike is weather dependent and you may have to adjust your equipment depending on the weather and season, but wet weather gear and sun cream aside, there are also essential items for hiking.

what to pack on a day hikeBackpack – What else will you carry your provisions in?

If you’re on a day hike, you won’t have to travel with too many items, so buying an expensive 75 litre ultra backpack for camping is unnecessary. Any backpack that has padded areas around the shoulders is sufficient.

If you decide later on that you absolutely love hiking and wish to go on a 6-day hike then you can invest more and buy a professional backpack for camping and hiking.

Backpacks with outside holders for drink bottles would be the best bet as it’s much easier to access your water while hiking without having to stop and unzip your bag constantly.

We recommend this handy lightweight daypack as it would be perfect for your needs. 

Mobile phone – In case of emergency

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a seasoned hiker or not, one of the most important items you can take with you when you go hiking is your mobile phone. Mobile phones have saved many people’s lives while they’ve been out and about in unfamiliar territory, so don’t leave home without it.

These days your phones can multitask. They’re used to call people, but if you download apps for hiking, you’ll also have a compass, a route mapper, a distance tracker and so on all in one device.

Orientation – Ensure you remain on track

compassEven the most experienced hiker hiking on an unknown trail for the first time should be well-equipped when it comes to hiking orientation gear. A map of the area you’re hiking is essential.

This is not something you pull out halfway through your hike because you find yourself suddenly lost. Study it prior to your hike to ensure you know the way and terrain.

If you’re interested in learning more about the area in terms of geography, history and wildlife, you can also take a hiking guide book with you or better still photocopy the pages you need to ensure your hiking backpack isn’t too heavy.

If you’re heading out into rugged terrain that isn’t signposted, it’s also a good idea to carry a compass with you, but for this to be useful, you need to know how to use a compass.

Water – Stay hydrated

One of the most important things you need to pack when you go hiking is water or enough liquid to remain hydrated. Take enough water with you that you can access at all times, more so in the hot summer months. Some people sweat more than others, but regardless of this sweating causes fluid and electrolyte loss and this is accelerated 3-fold when hiking uphill.

Water is naturally the best thing to take hiking, but specially formulated sports drink work just as well. Avoid any kind of drink that’s going to dehydrate you like caffeinated drinks, fizzy drinks and alcohol.

Hikes can often take longer than expected, which is why it’s advised to take more liquids than you’ll need because you can never be too sure.

Fuel – Snacks to keep you going

Snacks are necessary. Naturally throughout a normal day when you’re not hiking, you’ll feel your energy levels drop and this is even more evident when hiking. When deciding which snacks to take on a hiking trip, you need to consider the amount of energy they’ll give you. Your body can be compared to a car – without fuel, you’re not going anywhere!

High energy snacks that are ideal for a hike include dried fruit, muesli bars, trail mix, beef jerky, chocolate, and sweets. Not only do you have to consider how much energy these snacks provide, you also have to think about the weight, which is why it’s advised to go for dried fruits as opposed to fresh fruit.

Socks – Protect your feet

It may sound silly, but extra socks when hiking are a must. Good hiking socks are essential. These provide comfort to your feet and help prevent blisters. But you never know what’s going to happen. If your feet get wet from the rain or you step in a large puddle or creek, you’re setting yourself up for a lot of discomfort and blisters if you don’t take a spare pair of socks when hiking.

Leatherman-Wingman-Multi-ToolKnife – A multi-purpose knife for everything

A Swiss Army Knife is a multi-purpose knife designed for many uses – you just never know when you’ll need some kind of tool whether it is a knife, a can opener, a file or something else. A multi-purpose knife is a hiking and camping staple, so don’t leave home without it.

Check out our camping utility knives page for more info or go one step further and look at a bushcraft knife if you want something a bit more heavy duty.

Hiking boots – Your boots are made for walking

It doesn’t matter if you’re a serious hiker or a novice; a decent pair of hiking boots is a must. Hiking boots are designed for one thing – hiking. Without a good pair of boots for walking in the mountains, your hiking time will be limited. Good hiking boots are waterproof, have good grip and also ankle support.

If it’s your first time hiking, make sure you wear them in properly otherwise you’ll end up with blisters and other nasty sores on your feet from the rubbing. Our advice here is to invest in a decent pair of boots when you are starting out and your feet will love you for it. 

For our favourite Mens hiking boots go here

For our favourite Women’s hiking boots go here

Hat – Protect your head

If you’re hiking in the summertime, a hat is an absolute must. No matter where you are in the world the sun is dangerous. Too much sun exposure will cause headaches, dizziness, and in extreme cases sunstroke. Usually, any kind of cap or sunhat will suffice while hiking, but if you’re hiking in an area that’s known to have a lot of sun it’s a good idea to invest in a floppy hat with a big brim. A floppy hat will not only keep your face and head protected from the sun, it will also protect areas of your body that are more susceptible to sunburn like your ears and the back of your neck.

Sunglasses – Enjoy the views while wearing your shades

Just like your head, your eyes also need protecting from the glare of the sun. Sunglasses for hiking are essential in all seasons. Wear a comfortable pair of polarized sunglasses with UV protection and if you’ve got more than one pair, take the cheaper ones in case they are dropped.

Sun Cream – Rain or shine

Even if the sun isn’t visible, it’s still possible to get burnt, especially if you’ve got sensitive skin. You may be fooled into thinking that because there’s a cool breeze in the air you don’t need sun cream when hiking, but you’re mistaken. Opt for a cream with a high SPF such as SPF30. It’s likely you’ll be sweating a lot when hiking, so buy waterproof sun cream that will stick despite the streams of sweat running down your body.

Don’t just pack sun cream in your hiking bag, put it on before you leave and reapply every few hours, making sure you cover your ears, the back of your neck and cheeks properly.

Insect Repellant – Don’t let the bugs win

Grassy and green areas are known for having many different kinds of bugs and there’s nothing worse than finishing a hike successfully and discovering you’ve been attacked by hundreds of hungry insects.

Jacket – Don’t let it rain on your parade

No matter what the season is it’s always a good idea to pack a lightweight waterproof jacket when hiking. Lightweight mountain jackets that are 100% waterproof aren’t heavy and take up very little space in your hiking backpack. These jackets will keep you dry, warm to a certain extent and also protect you from the wind.

First Aid Kit – Anything can happen out there

Another important item for a hiking trip is a small well-equipped first aid kit. Things happen and without tempting fate, you should always have a first aid kit when hiking. You can buy a readymade first aid kit or you can make your own, but there are a few essential items you should have in it such as plasters, bandages, antiseptic cream, scissors, disinfectant, aspirin, and also moleskin just in case you get a blister when walking.

Hiking is great fun and a full-day hike can make for an excellent day out, but if you’re not prepared then it could be a different story. Take all the essential items for hiking and try and pack your backpack as light as possible without forgetting anything, and this way you’ll be prepared for any situation you face and you’re also more likely to enjoy your hike.

dog camping tips

Camping with a Dog

group of dogs

Top tips for camping with your dog

Camping is one of the best ways to get a break from the daily city life, packed schedules and the hustle and bustle of modern life.

It is a great way to unwind and spend a few days away from home, bond with your family and have some fun.

But in order to make the most of your camping experience, you must choose the right companion to go with you.

For many, this right companion may be their pet dog. Having your dog with you camping is a very rewarding experience. Dogs are low maintenance, good company, easy to please and pretty quiet as compared to humans.

They will keep you entertained and can truly make your trip one to remember for a lifetime. But for those who have never gone on a camping trip with a dog, some of our tips and suggestions could prove useful.

[bctt tweet=”Dogs love camping and the outdoors too!!”]

Best gadgets and tools to bring when camping with your dog.

In order to make your trip comfortable while camping with a dog, there are a few things you will need to bring along with you.

The following is a list of a few essential ones:

Leash and collar

retractable leashYou will need to carry a strong leash and collar which will help you hold your dog if he decides to lunge onto something or go for an unplanned run.

There are lots of things that will excite your furry friend when you hit the woods or trails so make sure you can keep them under control. 

On any camping trip, it is a good idea to keep the dog on a leash when not under your direct supervision to avoid him wandering off into the woods.

Pick yourself up one of these retractible leads for walking.

You give your dog room to move but you stay in control.

Dog carrier/crate

Another essential items to take with you when camping with your dog is a dog carrier or crate.  Dogs have a habit of getting themselves into mischief in the car and creating havoc while you are headed to the camping site. Its an exciting time for all involved and your dog is no different.

Mine tends to sit looking out the window with his tongue dangling in the wind and licks my ear the odd time while I’m driving but if you have a dog that does not travel well then you may want to use a crate or harness will help you keep the dog safe and give you a smooth ride.

Dog Night Light

Here is a superb option to help keep a watch on your dog when it gets dark on the camping site. These handy lights let you find your dog when it gets dark. They even give off enough light so he can see whats n front of him when walking about. These can be attached to the dog’s collar in the evening if you are out walking.

Not sure if you have ever had to go searching in the woods for an ‘escaped’ dog before but these are a great idea and let you find moggy before he does too much damage..

Remember to take them off again when you settle in for the night. Your dog will be tied up, or in my case curled up in a ball right in the middle of our tent so no need for them.

First aid kit.

Accidents do happen and caring for your pet should be treated in the same manner as caring for anybody when you are camping. Besides packing a first aid kit for yourself, you must also get one for your dog.

There are a few items in this Pet First Aid Kit which can help your dog if it hurts himself or has an upset stomach on the camping trip. 

dog camping tipsSafety and Precaution tips:

It is important to take precautions to ensure the safety of your dog on a camping trip.  It is important to check your dogs health before heading out and prepare him well before visiting the camping site. The following are a few of the most important safety and precaution tips for your dog:

Before going camping, take your dog to the vet and get a health checkup. Ensure that all vaccinations are up to date and the dog is fit to travel.

You must try and keep the stress levels of your dog as low as possible before and during the camping trip to ensure that both you and him have a good time out in the wild. If you have a god like our he/she won’t be stressed anyway but will go bananas when he finds out he is going camping. How do you say yee-haa in dog language…

Your dog must be well hydrated during the trip and for this; you must ensure that he has a well shaded rest area for nap time. If the dog appears dehydrated or exhausted, then make sure he gets a lot of water and rest.

Carry dog blankets with you while heading out for the camp to ensure that he remains warm during the night as temperatures tend to drop on several camping sites. You are snuggled up in a sleeping bag but your dog may get cold unless you look after him.

Check out where the nearest vet to the campsite is before you go camping to ensure that your dog can get quick attention if anything goes wrong. You should know the exact location and route to the vet clinic. When injured time is critical as to the outcome.

Other important tips for camping with your dog

The following is a list of some of the other effective tips for camping with your dog:

About Poop: It is important not to litter the camping site and to avoid doing so; you must carry poop bags with you. There is nothing worse than walking along a trail and planting your nice hiking boot into the leftovers of doggy dinner.

When at camp you will have the dog tethered to a tree so the potential mess area is small and easy to maintain, but when you hit the trails keep an eye on you r dog and please make sure to clean up after him.

Trail etiquette: It’s true that you love your dog but you can’t expect everyone else to do so as well. Make sure that while you are hiking or are on a trail, you make way for others rather than letting your dog keep others from having a smooth trail. You must know how to control the dog and should have him on a leash while on a trail.

Training: It is very crucial that your dog is well trained and well behaved before you take him out on a camping trip with you. For this, you must train him in advance by teaching him when to sit, when to fetch, when to get up etc. Dogs need to be trained to behave well and be in control when outdoors and all of this has to be started much before the trip.

Aggressive: Remember that if your dog is an aggressive breed or showcases aggressive behaviour outdoors, then it is better to leave him home rather than take him out on the camping trip. Most camping sites have many visitors and your aggressive dog will not be welcome.

For barkers: If you have dog that loves the sound of his own voice, one who has a loud bark, then it is important to teach him how to stop on command. The loud barking sound will drive all the others on the camp crazy and hence it is crucial that you know how to stop him quickly. They will bank a lot when out camping – there is so much excitement and they will be loving it. Thats fine, but at night time nobody likes constant barking, although it does help to drown out my snoring a bit..

Wanderers: If you have a dog that loves to wander off on little unplanned adventures then its best to keep them on a long leash while at camp. When walking you can use one of these retractable leads to give them some freedom but yet keep you in control

If you follow these tips while taking a dog on your next camping trip, then you both will surely have a great time out in the wilderness.

What are your tips for bringing the dog camping or hiking. These work for me but we are always happy to get tips form our readers. Leave a comment below to help others out.

Cheers and Happy Camping.

paracord bracelet

Paracord and Knots for Camping, Bushcraft, Survival

paracord braceletParacord and Knots for Camping, Bushcraft, Survival

An essential piece of kit for any camping, bushcraft or survival experience is good quality paracord.

Often one of the cheapest items in your pack it is one of the most valuable in terms of its multitude of uses.

The multi strand cord is so versatile that it should be on every kit list on the planet – simply because it does so much.

Now not all cord is equal. Military grade cord MIL-C-5040H for instance must be made from nylon and pass a list of stringent criteria to qualify.

Don’t get me wrong, you don’t need to go for the best quality paracord on the market but for the money involved you are better off spending those extra few dollars and go for a decent brand. You don’t want it to let you down when you are in the field.

First lets look at the top four popular paracord options online and see if you can find one to suit your needs.

recommended paracord for bushcraft and camping

Paracord Planet Type III

paracord planet type paracord

Titan Military 550 Paracord

Titan Military 550 Paracord

MilSpec C-5040H

Guaranteed MilSpec C-5040H paracord

Military 550 Paracord

Military 550 Paracord

Most useful knots for bushcraft and camping

Half hitch. Both the half-hitch and double half-hitch are probably the most useful of any knots used in Bushcraft or Camping. There great for tying off the loose end of your paracord thats wrapped around a tree or tarp, plus you can set them to be very easily opened for quick release when its time to pack up.

 

Siberian / Evenk knot. This knot is great when you are setting up your hammock or tarp and is most commonly used when you are tying up your ridge line to a tree or post. A simple knot to master and once you are confident I’m sure you will use this every time you head out camping. A simple pull of the loose end releases this knot. If you want additional security with this knot tuck the loose end back through the loop to lock it in place.

 

Adjustable hitch. I use this knot all the time to add tension to tent guylines and to adjust the tension on my tar ridge line. Some people go for the common taut-line hitch but from years of use I prefer the adjustable hitch because it holds better and is easier to tie.

 

Clove hitch. The clove hitch knot is a knot also used to tie up guylines. This knot can be made adjustable as well so you can make slight adjustments to how your tent or tarp sits even after its tied off.

 

Bowline. The running bowline knot is a greta knot for tying paracord to trees or tying off branches. Easy to tie and easy to undue after a weight load this knot some be one of your more used knots on camp day.

 

Figure eight on a bight. If you are looking for reliable loop knot for the end of your paracord or somewhere up the line a bit then you should really know how to tie a figure eight knot. Simple to tie once you get the hang of it, this is a very handy knot for camping and bushcraft alike.

 

Stopper knots. The overhand and double overhand are great knots for tying off one end of a length of paracord when you want to lock the line in place.

 

Jam knot. The jam knot is a great knot it you want to tie off a bundle of branches or tree limbs when you are building your shelter. Popular in Bushcraft this knot is a simple knot but has many great uses.

 

Lark’s head or cow hitch. I use this knot frequently when I’m doing work with paracord.  I use it to tie my knife lanyard onto my belt or to tie support lines to the end of my hammock.

 

Sheet bend. The sheet bend knot is used to tie cord or rope of different diameters together. If you need additional strength in the knot use the double sheet knot. Just remember that the thinnest line is always fed through the bite of the larger rope.


So why do you need paracord in you pack when you are out and about. Lets look into some of the many uses first and then check out the knot tying guide below to see how to put this into practice.

Tarp Shelter with Paracord

camping tarp usesFirst up is slinging a tarp to make a basic camp or shelter. As you know keeping out of the elements in a survival situation is critical to well, your survival. Having a tarp and a length of paracord is enough to build a basic shelter to keep you and your kit dry.

The shelter can be put together in a matter of minutes but can really be a life saver. Sling a length of paracord between two trees, pull it taut, throw the tarp over the top, tie it down and thats it. A simple shelter that would do you for a night in the bush.

The taut-line hitch knot will be good enough to secure your paracord for the ridge line of your tarp and you can adjust it to remove any sagging.

You can find more information on Tarp shelters and the use of tarps when camping on this post.

How to tie a ridgeline for your tarp

One of the most common uses of paracord when bushcrafting or camping is when you need a ridegline for your tarp. Quite a simple setup and this video explains it all for you.

 

First thing we always do when we decide where to setup camp is to rig up our tarp. It gives you a focal point for the rest of your camp and keeps you gear dry in the event of a sudden rain shower.

Essential Items required for bushcraft tarp setup

First up you need some reliable paracord to rig up your ridgeline and tie offs for your tarp.

There are any amount of brands and styles available online.

We use this one all the time that we picked up on Amazon. Great quality and a nice price as well. A 50 foot lenght will cost you about six dollars and thats it.

paracord planet type paracord

You are also going to need to invest in a good sturdy tarp. Again you have any amount to choose from.

 

Lightweight is best in our opinion because we like to travel light and they compact right down into a very small space inside your pack.

Remember when you are loading up your pack to keep the paracord and tarp right near the top as this is the first thing you are going to use when you hit the camp spot.

 

We recommend this one and found it on Amazon for about 70 dollars. Overall a great tarp and its treated so rain resistant.

a frame tarp shelter

Paracord Survival Bracelet

Friendly Swede Survival BraceletA handy way to make sure you always have some paracord handy is to get yourself a paracord survival bracelet. This will mean you always have some available and you never know when you might need it.

This one comes complete with a fire starter and about 17ft of paracord. Enough to do quite a few things in a survival situation.

It also has a small knife as part of the setup so its definitely not for kids.

It is made by The Friendly Swede and as always with this brand the quality is top notch. Makes a great gift for somebody – once you get yourself one first…

How to tie popular Paracord knots

How to tie an Overhand knot

The first knot we are going to look at is probably one of the most common knots used not just in camping and bushcraft but for everyday use. Its called the overhand knot and has a great array of uses.

How to tie a double Overhand knot

Quite similar to the basic overhand knot the double overhand knot is just an additional pass through of the loose end through the knot. A great stopper knot and can come in handy when out in the field.

How to tie a figure eight knot

If you are looking for reliable loop knot for the end of your paracord or somewhere up the line a bit then you should really know how to tie a figure eight knot. Simple to tie once you get the hang of it, this is a very handy knot for camping and bushcraft alike.

How to tie a running bowline knot

The running bowline knot is a greta knot for tying paracord to trees or tying off branches. Easy to tie and easy to undue after a weight load this knot some be one of your more used knots on camp day.

How to tie a granny knot

When you want to make a single loop out of a length of Paracord or join two different piece together you should use a granny knot. Straightforward enough to tie, strong and won’t let you down.

How to tie a sheepshank knot

I often use the sheepshank knot when I want to shorten a length of paracord without cutting it. Takes a bit of getting used to but will save you ending up with loads of short pieces of useless cord. Don’t use it this knot if you are going to be putting a lot of load on as it will slip and let go.

How to tie a square knot

Often confused with a granny knot the square knot is really easy to tie and has a multiple of uses. But use it with caution. If your cord or ropes are different diameters, are wet or will come under heavy load then this knot will slip.

How to tie a bowline knot

Are you looking for a knot you can trust not to slip? A knot that will easily come untied after use no matter how much weight is put on it. The bowline knot is the most common working knot around the world and is useful in every situation where a rope is required.

How to tie a double sheet bend knot

The double sheet bend knot is ideal for tying ropes or cord of different diameters together. Popular in sailing this is a really strong and useful knot. Just remember that the thinnest line is always fed through the bite of the larger rope.

How to tie a sheet bend knot

The sheet bend knot is used to tie cord or rope of different diameters together. If you need additional strength in the knot use the double sheet knot. Just remember that the thinnest line is always fed through the bite of the larger rope.

How to tie a double carrick bend knot

Also known as the pretzel knot the double carrick bend knot is a great way to tie two pieces of cord together. This knot is often used in the construction of paracord bracelets so you should definitely know how to tie it.

camping, bushcraft and survival knots using paracord

OK now that you have geared up with some paracord you will need to understand how to put it to good use. Below is a very handy infographic from http://www.blackpointoutdoor.com/ that shows you the main knots you are going to be using when out camping or in a survival situation

 You have plenty of strength in the paracord itself especially if you went for the military grade cord so make sure the knots you use are up to scratch.

camping knots guide

10 great paracord bracelet projects

We grabbed a few videos from youtube on paracord projects you can make today with just a length of paracord, a lighter and a few miscellaneous bits and pieces. If you are looking for a great paracord tutorial on weaving paracord braid to buckles or handles, making a strap for your watch out of paracord braid or just want to try something different then check out the videos below and have a go yourself.

fishtail/switchback paracord bracelet

Single Strand Trilobite Buckle Watchband

Cloverfield Paracord Bracelet

Bones Bar Paracord Bracelet

Thin Blue Line Paracord Bracelet

Mated Solomon Bars Bracelet

Paracord Handle Wrap

Reflective Paracord Dog Leash

Tarp Shelters For Family Camping

use a tarp for camping

Tarp Shelters for camping

In this post, we address the most versatile item of kit on the campsite: The tarp.

The tarp is waterproof, opaque, and handy for absolutely everything. Need a sun-shade over the lunch table? Use a tarp. Pitched a tent? Tarp above, tarp below, you’re staying dry no matter how hard it rains. Forgot your tent? No biggie, the tarp is here to save you.

Tarp materials for camping

There are a bunch of different options when tarp shopping. Treated Canvas is the great-granddaddy of tarps. Moisture resistant, until it gets packed away, canvas is tough material that will last a long time. Make sure it’s absolutely dry before storing it. That might mean hanging it in the basement for a few days after getting home.

Poly tarps like this one are probably the most common. Woven polyethylene layers make for a durable, waterproof layer. Not readily susceptible to moisture like canvas, poly tarps are available in a multitude of patterns, colours and sizes. Good value and excellent protection, poly tarps are notoriously difficult to refold after using. They’re also quite noisy in the wind.

Silicone tarps like this one are newer and more flexible than their predecessors. Silicone impregnated nylon makes for a quiet, waterproof, easily packable tarp that has excellent durability and versatility.

camping tarp uses

 

But how big should this tarp be?

A great question! sized to your needs of course. A tarp that’s 20’x30’ doesn’t fit well on a small campsite where the trees are 10’ apart. Similarly, a 5’x7’ tarp won’t fully cover a 14-person tent. (more on tents here). Each campsite will have different objectives and needs. Have a variety of tarps on hand during the packing phase of a trip. When deciding on what to pack, consider these three basics:

1- dining shelter tarp

Eating in a dry, shaded area is more pleasant than in direct sun. Added bonus: stuff from the trees won’t fall into your food. Keep the cooking appliances well away from the tarp so it doesn’t melt.

2- over each tent

Even the best rain flies have their limits. Add a tarp for better rain and dew protection. Bonus: your tent won’t get as dirty or hot.

Pro Tip: In the rain, put the tarp up a few feet above the highest point of your tent. Then set up your tent under it. Tent stays dry through the whole process, and ends up exactly where it needs to be under the tarp.

 

3- inside each tent

The best way to keep a tent dry in the rain is to assume it will get wet. By putting the tarp inside on the floor, and folding the corners up (keep some clothespegs handy to keep it in place) water can run in and out as needed without getting the gear inside wet.

Depending on the weather, keeping firewood dry might be another priority for your tarps. Their use is limited only by your imagination.

The Trusty Tarp – It’s in the bag

Each tarp comes in a factory package. Ditch it as soon as possible. Put each tarp in a stuff sack with its own accessories:

 

Guylines are adjustable, and need to adapt to their surroundings. Braided poly rope (any kind will do, this is one example) will secure the tarp to a tree or pole, or to stakes in the ground. Bring lots. Don’t cut it if it can be avoided. Fewer pieces are better. Guyline tensioners like these keep the tension on to keep the tarp taught and avoid flapping.

 

Pegs keep the free-ends in the ground when not tying off to a tree. These are one example. Keep lots of pegs on hand. 6-8 per tarp is a good number.

 

By keeping a ‘kit’ for each tarp ready to go (mark the outside of the bag with the tarp material and size instead of unpacking it every time) it’s one item that doesn’t need a lot of thought in the haste of packing for a camping trip.

 

So now what?

 

Now that the size, material, accessories and locations are chosen, it’s time to set up a tarp. First rule: always set up a tarp with an angle. Moisture will build up on the top from dew or precipitation and it’s important to give that moisture somewhere to go. Put the ‘down’ edges of the tarp away from where people will gather, and downhill if needed. Face the ‘up’ edges into the prevailing wind if possible. Ideally, a ridge-line will keep the tarp taught. A ridgeline runs between two trees or poles. The tarp is folded over it (not always in half) to add tension. Tensioning the fabric in all directions will keep the wind noise and movement to a minimum.

 

For a tarp dining shelter, add a few inches above the tallest person in the group for hanging height.

 

When putting a tarp over a tent, consider the weather. In cool weather, the extra layer above will help trap warm air from the campers inside. Keep it close to the top of the tent (even sitting right on it) and stake the ends down low to the ground. In warm weather, allowing air to circulate between the tarp and tent will help keep it cooler. Get the tarp up as high as possible to shade the tent but not trap heat.

 

In the right climate, a tarp can take the place of a tent. A triangular tube with one end going to the ground makes a quick one-person tent (use your trekking pole or hiking staff at the high end to keep it upright). This will keep the inside mostly dry, but not free of bugs nor especially warm. A wind/sun shelter at the beach is another great use for a tarp. A 6 foot ish pole driven into the sand with guylines coming off in all directions and a tarp stretched against them will quickly provide shade and a little privacy, while blocking the wind.

 

The use of tarps is limited only by your imagination. By having the right size on hand with the right accessories, campers will be comfortable, dry and ready to play all day.

kids daypack for camping

Kids Backpacks for camping

kids daypack for camping

Kids Backpacks for Camping

The great outdoors awaits. Getting outside with the kids is one of parenting’s great pleasures. Showing the kids your favourite trails, discovering new paths and parts of the world unknown. Getting away from the daily grind, seeing the natural world and bonding as a family is simply one of the best things a family can experience.

To do it safely, plan plan and plan some more. keep skills in mind when packing and don’t push too hard. Proper equipment is the key to a successful hike. A good rule is to plan on getting lost and having to spend a night on the trail. By having enough supplies in each person’s pack to allow for that, a family of hikers will come out with a great story instead of a tragedy.

When choosing equipment, go for the brightly coloured items. Dropping a dark coloured tool on the forest floor in fading light usually means that tool is gone until morning (if it’s ever found again). Wrap EVERYTHING in duct tape and paracord. Both duct tape and paracord are indispensable tools when getting stuck for the night.

 

The Pack

A day pack needs to be properly sized to every child. Take them shopping and try on all the packs. The biggest mistake parents make is getting a pack too large for their child’s body. A large pack tends to accumulate extra ‘stuff’ and become heavier than you would otherwise want. Adjustable straps, padded waist belt and chest harness keep the pack properly adjusted and help distribute the weight. Here is one that has all the right features including outside pockets, external compression straps and ventilation. The more reflective material on the kids backpack the better.

 

Weather Gear

An extra hat for the sun, sunscreen, rain gear are all essential. Check the forecast before setting out and plan for the worst case. Each pack should have a bag large enough to cover it to keep contents dry. Commercially made pack covers like this one keep the contents dry. Get the right size for the pack. An orange garbage bag with slots cut in it for the straps, installed with the sealed end facing up will do the same job. In cold weather, add an extra pair of everything.

 

The Contents

A day pack should plan for an emergency overnight wherever you get stopped. The basic needs for spending a night in the woods can be found here, but shelter, fire, water and food are important things. Kids under 8 likely won’t know about lighting a fire. That’s the parents responsibility. Teaching kids to stay still, blow their whistle in groups of three and keep warm is far more likely to stick.

 

Warmth

Foil blankets (mylar sheets) are the pinnacle of outdoor warmth. Like these ones here, a foil blanket will keep anyone dry (keep the top open to allow for evaporation), insulated from the ground and waterproof. Their reflective surface makes finding a lost hiker easier. Lightweight, taking up almost no space, two or three of these should be in every pack (as well as your vehicle emergency kit).

For fall/spring hiking, consider adding a warm toque and a pair of mittens to the pack if overnight temperatures fall below 40ºF. Dry socks are a must regardless of the season.

Hand Warmers are great for keeping fingers and toes from becoming frostbitten. They stay warm for about 6 hours, so overnight requires two for each extremity.

 

Water

washing hands campingA water bottle that holds 20oz or so is a good size. While hydration packs are handy, they don’t allow the cleaning of contaminated water. A stainless steel water bottle can be suspended over a fire to boil water for drinking. A wide mouth bottle, such as this one will allow ice and snow to be added as well.

Pro tip: ice produces more water for less heat than snow and never ever underestimate the amount of water you should bring when you go for a hike or a wander off into the woods. You can do without many things for a period of time but water (clean drinking water) is essential and you must be prepared for the worst.

Food

mountain house beefGranola bars, nuts, jerky, dried fruits are all good to have on the trail. Plan for snacks, and one full meal more than the intended hike duration. Dehydrated meals such as these from Mountain House provide a warm, nutritious meal without much preparation.

They do, however, require boiling water. Not a bad idea to keep one on hand in case of an unexpected overnight. As always be prepared and make sure you have the essential with you at all times – no matter where you go. You never know when things could take a turn for the worse.

It is no harm to stick a few of these into your pack before you head out anyway. They weigh little or nothing but could be vital in times of crisis to give you a much needed energy boost.

 

First Aid

A small first aid kit makes the hike more pleasurable. Blisters can be prevented with a little duct tape over the hot-spot to stop the friction. Bandages (bandaids) of various sizes, alcohol swabs and a couple of triangular bandages will address the common injuries. 5 years old is a good time to start talking about first aid measures.

 

Rescue

When hiking with kids, most families won’t go into uncharted territory. Know your area. In most cases, a lost hiker will be stumbled upon by other hikers accidentally. To increase the odds of that happening, have a plan. It is generally accepted that groups of three signals mean ‘help’. Three whistle blasts, three fires, three shots from a firearm (mostly pertaining to hunters) mean that someone needs help. A whistle is absolutely essential safety equipment, no matter where the trail takes you. The Fox 40 Classic classic is the gold-standard of emergency whistles. Its piercing tone can be heard for miles, over just about any other sounds and with no moving parts it’s unlikely to fail. Anyone can use the Fox 40 without over-blowing it.

Light sticks are another great way to be seen at night. A couple of these strung from a tree or hiking stick make a lost hiker easily visible.

 

The most important thing to do when lost is to stop. Stay still and get help. Teaching this to kids, and teaching them to use the equipment in their packs is the most important. Test all the gear in the backyard, run through the what-if scenarios.

 

Tailor each child’s pack to them. An avid hiker that knows how to use a map and compass should have both in their kits. a diabetic should have extra insulin and the right kinds of food. Winter hiking should have more food planned as the travel is harder through snow.

what to pack camping checklist

Packing For The Family Camping Trip

Camping with the family is a time-honoured tradition. Getting away from the city recharges batteries, bonds the family together and creates memories that simply can’t be recreated elsewhere.

The key to any successful camping trip is preparation. Knowing what lies ahead is central to having the right equipment. Proper equipment makes camping fun and easy. There are three overriding principles to make a camping trip a success: Dry, Fed, and Warm. Each of these principles needs to apply to each aspect of the trip. Every camping trip has a basic structure: Site, Shelter, Food, Water, Heat, and Fun. Once these get sorted, the packing becomes self-evident.

what to pack camping checklist

Click to download a copy of our handy camping checklist

Getting to know your campsite

Know as much as you can about the site before you go. In a campground, find out where the washrooms are as well as the amenities. Many campgrounds have a family-oriented section intended to keep the partiers and the kids who want to sleep separate. Knowing how far away the water source is will determine how many jugs you’ll take. the farther it is, the more you want to bring back with you to avoid trips. Firewood is another important amenity. Most campgrounds won’t allow removal of trees. Again the distance from the woodpile to the fire pit is important. When packing the car, Put the firewood in last. It comes out first and gets out of the way. Next the tents and tarps. Dealing with those critical elements first will ensure that no matter what happens, everyone will have a warm, dry place to sleep and there will be a fire to sit around and roast hot dogs.

Shelter from the elements

Shelter is the most important part of a camp. A good tent (what makes a good tent? Find out here) with the right tarp rig (there are tarp rigs? Sure, here they are) will withstand whatever weather comes at you and keep the inside dry. When the kids think they’re ready to sleep alone, their tent should be close so if they change their minds, parents aren’t too far away.
Sleeping bags and pads are the next item. Season-appropriate is a must. Pack a liner just in case the nights get cooler than expected. Lots of ropes and pegs (don’t forget the mallet) will give you lots of choices for rigging your tarp(s) properly. Tarps also make for great shade. A tarp angled over the dining table will help keep the table clean as well as provide respite from the sun.
When weather allows, hang sleeping bags on a line, inside out and unzipped for the day. This will refresh the bag and get rid of any oils/sweat/condensation from the night before.

washing hands campingFood and Water

Keep it simple. Lots of snacks tend to be best, but a big breakfast and dinner are a must. When planning meals, be specific. Find the recipes you want (our favourite camp recipes are here) and bring that amount. By grouping meals together in bags (ditch the cans and boxes, but keep instructions if needed) and labeling them, mealtime becomes quick and easy. Even pre-cracking eggs will make for a faster meal time.

Cooking can be done on the fire, on a camp stove, or both. If planning to cook solely on the fire, make sure the fire pit is deep enough for a good bed of coals. Bring a grill to keep pots and pans out of the fire. Camp stoves are another great heat source for cooking (more about camp stoves here), provided they don’t run out of fuel.

All fuels have a shelf-life. Check them before heading out. Bring a basin for washing dishes. Wooden utensils do the least amount of damage to cookware, and if damaged can simply be disposed of in the fire. An old scout-trick was to carve spatulas at camp. That can be a fun activity if the mood strikes.

Another note on fires: Leave the axe at home. Family time usually involves kids, and axes are inherently dangerous. A folding saw will make quick work of most dry wood. A fixed-blade knife and good baton technique (tools and techniques here) will split wood down to usable sizes. With kids around, keep it safe.

Water is important for everything. Drinking enough water avoids dehydration, which means more play time. Water douses the fire as needed, it washes dishes and hands, it rinses feet before turning in. If the local water source is clean to drink, enjoy. If not, plan on boiling water for 10 minutes before drinking. Covered vessels boil faster than uncovered. Keep clean containers and untreated containers separate to avoid contamination. Follow the local rules for gray-water dumping.

Heat

Staying warm in the cooler weather (early spring and late fall camps are fun, but require different preparations) isn’t hard. Prepare with extra layers (thermal undergarments are great for keeping the body warm. See here for more). More firewood is a must, as is a heavier sleeping bag. Proper layers are essential (rain gear on top, insulating layers next, moisture-wicking base layers against the skin and at the bottom of the pack) as well as lots of activities to stay warm.

Pro-tip: Just below boiling water in a couple of water bottles, tossed into a sleeping bag 20-30 minutes before bedtime will warm the bag nicely. Remove them before crawling in or they’ll suck heat through the night.

Fun

Sitting around the campsite isn’t much fun. Any campground will have lots of things to do. Hiking, fishing, activities etc. Find out what’s there before packing and plan for it. Fishing gear, hiking boots (always break in your footwear before heading out) and other games/activities will help make a trip more fun. If the terrain is right, a volleyball and net are great. as are badminton, soccer, baseball and football. Never camp without a frisbee (bring one for each family member to use a paper plate holder around the fire). Books and travel-size games are good for down-time activities or tent time if it rains. Decks of cards will always pass an hour or two, whether it’s playing a favourite game, learning a new one or trying to build a house.

What to pack for the camping adventure

what to pack camping checklist

Click to download a copy of our handy camping checklist

The list below is not inclusive. Each family, after a few trips, will realize exactly how little they need to be comfortable and have fun. Be sure to make your own list, and have two check boxes- one for when it’s packed at home, and the other for when it’s packed away at camp. Nothing left behind.

  • Tarps: two per tent, one per dining shelter, one spare
  • Tents: one for adults, one for kids, or one for boys one for girls
  • ropes and pegs for each tarp
  • clothesline
  • mallet for pegs (get a plastic one that’s small and light)
  • sleeping bag and ground pad for each camper
  • sleeping bag liner
  • Cooler and ice
  • meal packs/food stores (An extra few days’ worth just in case)
  • camp stove and fuel
  • grill and roasting sticks for the fire
  • large pot
  • large pan
  • two wooden spatulas
  • wash basin
  • dish soap
  • dish cloths
  • cutting board
  • kitchen knife with sheath
  • cutlery
  • water jugs
  • weather appropriate clothing (one extra change for every camper)
  • rain gear
  • extra hats and warm items (scarves gloves etc)
  • two extra pairs of socks for each camper
  • games and books for campsite time
  • activities for daytime
  • hiking packs (see hiking pack essentials here)
  • fire starting materials

 


Try this packing order for the car when getting ready for the off:

  • Clothes, games and toys in first.
  • Food second
  • Kitchen third
  • Tents and sleeping gear last

This makes the removal order: Tents and sleeping gear, kitchen, food, things for the next day. Spend the first day travelling, arriving and getting set up and unpacked. Then deal with the rest. When breaking camp, packing order is less important.

how to camp with your kids

Top Ten Tips For Camping With Kids

Camping with kids can be a challenge. More tents, more space, more sleeping bags, more food, all your favourite recipes now need to be doubled and more time will be spent looking after them than normal. It can also be the most rewarding experience of your life. Seeing the outdoors through their eyes gives you a whole new perspective on the world around you. Watching them navigate through a woods and picking up sticks and other bits and pieces to examine brings out ancient hunter/gatherer traits in all of us.

30 years of camping has taught me many things. What I learned the first time I took my kids for a hike in the woods surpasses all of that.

how to camp with your kids

Being outdoors with them has come down to this: preparation makes it easy. A little bit of though prior to any camping trip or hike will pays dividends when you get to your destination. Its a bit like most things in life – a good plan makes things go a lot smoother and helps avoid disappointment and even injury.

So without further adieu, here are The Top Ten Tips for Camping with Children.

10 – Water: Lots of water

Kids get thirsty. More than they think they do. Make sure each child has enough water (relative to the heat and activity level). Best measurement of fluid intake is output. Monitor how much and how often they pee. If it’s only once a day, it’s not enough liquid. You should get everybody a good quality drinking bottle – light weight but sturdy enough to cope with a few knocks and bangs. Different colours for each person so there is no mix up. We found this one on Amazon which fits our requirements perfectly. It clips onto your belt when out hiking or rambling but can be rolled up and put into a pocket when its empty. You can also use it for other activities outside of camping.

9 – Weather: be prepared for everything

Adults can handle bad weather much more readily than kids. Be prepared for heat, sun, rain, cold weather, whatever mother nature may throw at you. It’s better to over pack than under pack and risk hypothermia. A good kit-list for a day hike with kids can be found here.

We also recommend having a few roll up waterproof poncho’s to hand. They don’t take up any space and you will all be glad of them if the rain starts to come down before you reach the camp.

8 – Stars

City kids don’t see the stars. The first time they get away from the urban glow and see the night sky lit up with more twinkling lights than ever seen before, they’re going to demand to know what each and every one of them is called. A star map will help you point out constellations and planets. They’ll never want to see the sun come up again. I have spent many warm nights staring up at the sky with the kids. We found this guide to the night sky online and it should do the trick nicely.

how to spot poison ivy7 – Plants

Two items regarding plants: One is that there are lots in your area that are dangerous. Poison Ivy, poison oak and thistle are just a few of the potentially dangerous plants you may encounter.

Get a good field guide for your area and learn to identify them. If in any doubt then avoid touching them and make sure the kids do the same.

With a bit of training and experience it will become second nature to all of you but don’t take any risks until you are fully up to speed.

Secondly, there are many plants that are edible. These include fungi, berries, root vegetables. Teaching kids to identify these, pick them (with permission) and cook them helps to foster a love for the outdoors and respect for nature’s ability to care for us. It will give the kids a greater appreciation of the fact that we all came from the land and survived for a long time without processed or pre-packaged food.

6 – Games

There are a ton of camp games to play, whether there are four kids or 40. Scavenger hunts, time capsules, orienteering and rope games are just some ideas that build skill, confidence and love for outdoor adventure. Be sure to pack travel-games for tent-time or if you are going to a big camp ground then ring ahead and see if they have some already on site. It will save you some space in the car. If it’s too rainy and you’re stuck under cover, cards, books and mini-board games will help pass the time.

You could also promote the reading of some quality Survival Kit Books so they can skill up on their outdoor survival skills. Put them to the test when the rain stops. You will be amazed at how quickly they can learn when they put their minds to it. This one comes complete with a compass so they can practice navigation, plus knot tying and loads of other child friendly survival tactics.

cooking fish on a campfire5 – Fire

Fire is central to camping. It cooks food, provides light and a gathering place where songs are sung, stories are told and memories are made.

Of course fire can be dangerous to little ones who haven’t yet learned that a hotdog stick gets hot below the part that was in the fire. The best advice is to keep the fire small, and don’t make it off limits. Children are like moths to the flame. If they’re prohibited they’ll sneak around until they can touch it. If introduced slowly and calmly, it’s no big deal. Teach kids about fire before they learn the hard way like so many of us did.

Exotac-nano STRIKER-Ferrocerium-Fire-Starter--250x2If you want to be the real deal when it comes to lighting a camp fire then you should get yourself a fire starter for camping. The kids will think you are some sort of a magician once the fire gets going…

You could also try catching some wild food like trout or similar if you have a river near by. Cooking these on an open fire will make you a real hero in front of the kids.

Plus if they catch them and cook them they will be talking about it all year

4 – Snacks

The great outdoors is a never ending wonder. It’s easy to forget to eat, and to not recognize hunger while excited. Make sure every day is filled with snacks that will give them the energy they need to explore. Raisins and Peanuts is a long time staple and is as simple as it sounds. Beware of course of allergies within your group. Jerky is another good source of protein and fats to keep kids on the move. Fresh fruit doesn’t transport well in a pack. Avoid refined sugars as they lead to a crash shortly after consuming. Some great recipes can be found here.

camping notebook3 – A picture tells a thousand words

Give kids a sense of ownership over their camping experiences. Buy each child a notebook (4×6” or 5×7”), some pencils and a cheap waterproof Waterproof Digital Camera. They’ll start by taking pictures of every tree, rock and mushroom they find.

Eventually their attention will turn to wildlife and unique flora. Before the sun goes down each day, take a few minutes and record the day’s events. After the camp, print two or three of their favourite pictures and put them in the book. This will become a scrapbook of their time outdoors and will make for amazing memories in the future.

Each camp, start by reading about the last one. Refreshing memories regularly will improve the time spent outdoors.

2 – Safety

There is no bad time to instill the sense of awareness and safety in kids. First hike, find them a walking stick and teach them how to use it safely (for tips, see how and why to use a walking stick). Negotiating difficult terrain becomes easier with a walking stick. As they get older, they can carve their own images into them and make it personal.

These become part of their outdoor identities. Scouts have been doing this for more than a century now. Teach kids to identify when a fire has become dangerous, and how to put it out quickly and safely. Every child should have a survival pack with their own weather gear, food and water, and an emergency whistle.

Teach them to stay still and blast in threes if they get lost. Nine or ten years of age is generally appropriate to teach kids how to lay and light a fire if they get lost and have to spend the night alone. Safety near water and on ice are also important skills.

1 – Time/fun

The most important part of any camping trip is to have fun. Spending time with the kids, away from the TV, technology, homework, hustle and bustle of life is why we camp. Take the time to see the world through their eyes. Don’t forget how much fun it is to go rolling down a hill, or to watch your marshmallow catch fire and flame out into the coals. To unwrap a foil meal or a pie-iron and dig in while it’s still too hot.

Getting away from home is the absolute best place to connect with your kids and make lifelong memories. No video game can replace that. Stop and smell the flowers. Listen to the birds. Watch the fish jump. Count the stars. Have fun.

camping with family

Camping with the family

Camping with the family

Is the anything more enjoyable than bringing your family on a nice camping trip. The great outdoors, adventure, wandering through the forest on a sunny afternoon or just sitting by the campfire at night singing songs and telling the odd ghost story.

Camping parks and camp sites today are so much better than they used to be. I can remember times when hiding behind a bush or tree stump was the toilet, Dishes were washed, well sort of washed in a basin of cold water and clothiers cleaned themselves after a few days of the kids dragging them in and out of the tent. There was no source of electricity – still not a bad thing with all the mobile phones, tablets and portable game consoles kids have these days. I have very fond memories of camping as a child and would not change one second of it.

camping with the family

We love camping because it really is a great way to bond with your family. There is something about the fresh air and lack of charging points for the devices I mentioned above that brings everybody closer together for at least a few weeks of the year.

If you are new to camping or seasoned campers then have a look at our guide below and see if there is anything you can take from it to make your next camping trip that bit more enjoyable. Comments are always welcome and any advice you can give us would be greatly appreciated.

Camping with Kids..

First up are the Kids. The first few days can be a bit of a nightmare sometimes until they settle down. Make sure that when you are booking your site that you check the proximity to entertainment areas. While being close to the camp kitchen and facilities are great there will be a certain amount of noises that comes with it.

I love a good singalong at the best of times but when the wine mixes with a full day in the hot sun the singing can get a bit noisy and off key. A good nights sleep is more important for the kids that being close to the cooking area..

Most good campsites nowadays have babysitting facilities but be warned, you need to book these well in advance. You might not be going far but just to know that you have the option available if needed can make or break a holiday when you need some breathing space.

how to pack for a camping tripDo we really need all that

I have seen time and time again cars parking up at a site and they are loaded up to the roof with tennis sets, scuba gear, canoes, kayaks and all sorts of games and entertainment for the kids. Most of the time it either gets unpacked and repacked twenty times because it is in the way or never leaves the car.

All good campsites will hold a stock of things to entertain the kids so ring ahead and check before you wedge the car full of stuff you will never use.

Safety First Always

I will always carry a good first aid kit with me when on a family camping trip. Most, if not all of the time it actually stays in the car but bring one nevertheless. Check the campsite once you get there and find out where their first aid office or hut is located. You won’t need it unless there is an emergency but familiarise yourself just anyway.

Nothing worse that seeing somebody running frantically around a campsite looking for medical aid and having no idea where to go. I will be signposted but again, check it out for peace of mind. Location of local doctor etc will be posted on the camp website so read that as well.

What Food To Bring Camping

I love to cook when I am camping and actually put a fair bit of thought and planning into this well before we set off in the car. The reason behind this is so I can stock up in advance on supplies I need for the duration of our stay. It also saes the shock of the huge grocery bill the day before you go on holidays.

For some trips I may even write out a rough menu for each day. This might seem over the top but it really helps with the planning and saves on waste. You can pre-cook a few of the meals and have them to hand for the first couple of days on camp. I have seen people freeze pancake batter and stick it in piping bags.

A great surprise for the kids is having pancakes for breakfast – not the healthiest option but great all the same. I always pack plenty of fresh fruit on each trip. You can stock up on some of this and it will last the whole trip. It is really healthy for the kids and will be a welcome change for everybody. Plus buying in advance will be much cheaper that purchasing on site or from the local store.

camping with kidsEntertain the kids when camping

Another thing worth checking out is if there is a kids club on the site. This can be a great distraction for the kids and they will meet and bond with new friends every summer. It also gives them a sense of independence and builds character over time. The other advantage of a kids club is it gives mum and dad a chance to catch up and just relax for a while.

Read a book or just chat, whatever you do enjoy the peace and quiet anyway. Check with the club if they feed the kids at lunchtime and also take note of how many kids there are to each staff member. Staff will always do their best but if they have too many kids to mind they can get overrun and things start to happen.

Always go with your kids the first day or so and drop them off. That way you can briefly get to know the staff and fill the kids in on exactly what is going on. Explain the rules a few times and leave it at that.

what to cook campingMum, Whats for Dinner

Dinner time for me on a camping trip can mean many things – it just depends where you are. High end campsites will have every imaginable cooking requirement covered off for you but if you are ‘in the wild’ you may have to rough it a bit. This for me is the best form of camping – lighting a camp fire and cooking over it. I could write all day on fire safety and cooking tips for a camping fire but will cover those off in separate posts at a later date. Either way dinner will be a breeze because if you are still reading this you will remember from earlier that a bit of planning pre trip means you have everything planned out for meal time. Bring something that can be roasted on the fire for dessert and the kids will love you for it – remember you are camping and not on the moon so some creature comforts are allowed.

Sleeping at a Campsite

At bedtime things can always go a bit pear shaped. Kids are used to their comfortable beds and familiar surroundings. The first few days can be a bit of a challenge but after that they will be so tired from running around all day at kids club or adventures with dad in the forest that they will fall into bed. I like to bring things like proper pillows for the kids and maybe even throw a few duvets into the car. Sleeping bags are great but duvets are so much better. Pack a small camping light for each of the kids and don’t forget teddy if he still features in their bedtime routine. Try to get them in the habit of going to the toilet before bed – seems like a normal thing to do but when camping schedules and habits go out the window. It will save you roaming around the campsite with a terrified kid in the middle of the night looking for the toilet armed only with a flashlight with worn out batteries.

Camping with a Dog

If you have a family pet such as a dog then you will need to make sure the campsite you book is animal friendly. You can buy camping dog kennels these days that are perfect for the trip. Chances are the dog will end up in one of the tents with the kids but no harm in having one if you feel the need. Make sure you follow the camp site rules regarding animals and please always clean up after you pet.

Your kids and plenty of other young kids are running around so you don’t want any nasty accidents. If you cannot bring your family pet with you then let the kids know well in advance so they can get used to the though of being without them for a few weeks. Let pet minders know and book them in plenty of time in case they let you down.

Make Camping Fun

cooking fish on a campfireCamping is great fun for all the family and if you do a bit of planning it can be even better. Do a bit of research into the surrounding area. Let Dad take the kids on a wild adventure into the forest and show them some of his camping and survival expertise. How to light a fire without matches – make sure it is in a safe area and permitted. Catch a fish from a fresh stream or river. Even better if Dad then cooks it for supper over an open fire that he lit with a flint and some twigs.

The pace on a camping trip should be relaxed and easy going. The whole idea is to escape into the wild and have a break from the 9 to 5 daily grind. Nothing is done in a rush and you need to remember that. It takes me a few days to unwind when I arrive but after that it is pure bliss. I spend far too much time working so when I go camping its family time.

Kids first then everybody else second. We have another post on the Top Ten Tips for camping with kids that you should check out. It will give you a few great ideas to keep them entertained and wow them with your expert urban survival skills.

Camping with the family not your smartphone

I also try an unplug from everything electronic while I am away and encourage the kids to do the same. You will get a bit of push back at the start but stick to your rules and things will work out. I bring a mobile phone for emergencies but turn off email otherwise I would be tapping away all day. There is so much to do outdoors and you and the kids will miss out if you are glued to your phone, tablet or games console. Teach the kids some old bushcraft tricks or how to forage for food in the wild. Make sure you know what to look for yourself before you start giving advice but it will give them a sense of reality when they find that we could all live without processed and canned food if we had to.

The final point I want to make here is to have fun. and lots of it. You will create memories that will last a lifetime so enjoy every second of it.

We would love to hear your camping stories and things you do to make things more enjoyable while at the campsite or out in the wild. We are by no means experts, we just love camping and want to share what we have learnt over the years in the great outdoors. We will recommend camping equipment in some of our posts but thats because we have either used it and can recommend it or because one of our readers has done similar and its a must have when camping. We hope you will leave a comment here and share some of your thoughts on camping and what you do when you head out.

Thanks for stopping by and see you around the campfire.

washing hands camping

7 Things To Bring Camping For The Family

7 Things To Bring Camping For The Family

I like to look on camping as the art of blending in with nature, use all that is available to me on the land and leave nothing behind. It is my chance to leave the gadgets and technology behind and go turn into an adventurer.

In times gone by people could tie all sorts of knots, feed off the land and survive on pretty much nothing except clean water and some food. Yep I used to think I could do that but then the kids arrived and things changed dramatically.

You see their idea of adventure is getting to a new level on a video game or perhaps eating their lunch in the garden. They would never think of heading out into the wild on an adventure – no longer safe for them to do it on their own anyway. When we head off camping there are a few things I bring camping along with me and the family and things that I do that help make each camping trip that little bit more comfortable.  Some may find them unnecessary and others will do it by default but its what I do and hope that this list may help out some of you the next time you pack up and head for the wild.

tent mosquito net

Natural insect repellant for camping

First thing I always pack is Bug Spray. You can use nature as a source of insect repellant and this is preferable but you gotta get the kids protected before they step out into the woods or open land so sometimes a bought product is the best option.  A mozzie bite can be a painful experience at the best of times but when your kids have gathered up a few bites it turns into a new level of pain for both you and them.

If you want to go the natural route you can grab a handful of elderberry leaves, mash them up and rub the pulp into your skin.  This will act as a suitable deterrent against getting bitten.

There are other natural options available as well and Catnip is another great example of using nature to your advantage – that is if you can find some of it growing near you.  It is said that Catnip is ten times more powerful that your standard Deet based sprays.

Light a fire and eat the kindling

Next up on the list is Fire.  Now you might think that fire is the most important element of any camping trip.  Try explaining that to your kids who have been chomped by mosquitos while you are getting the fire ready.  In times gone by fire would have been the lifeblood of any camping adventure but nowadays with all the modern gadgets and gas powered stoves etc.. fire has taken a bit of a back seat.

light a fire with corn chipsI like to think of fire as something we all sit around at night and well, just talk to each other.  No handheld devices of any description unless its a guitar or a tin whistle…

A quick tip I always apply here is to throw a tub of corn chips into my bag.  This tasty snack is also great for starting a fire and while your kindling or twigs etc may get damp from morning dew or a sudden downpour the chips will be dry and will absolutely produce enough heat and flames to start any fire.  Plus you have the added advantage of eating a few of them while you are sitting around your nice warm campfire.

Remember to pack a safety lighter with you or else you will just be eating the corn chips in the cold and rubbing sticks together.  You could also pack a fire starter and there are many to choose from.  We like this one from Amazon because its top quality and comes complete with a safety whistle.  Its lightweight, hangs around your neck and seals up to keep dry so no harm in bringing one alone for the trip.  The kids will be amazed when you start a fire with it so you get a few brownie points for being a cool dad who can make fire like a caveman.

Neat camping hack for light

While we are on the subject of fire you are also going to need some sort of light at the campsite and kids especially like to have one when it gets dark just for comfort.  Take your pick of camp lights, torches and head torches because there are many. Don’t bother with electrical ones because you might find it a challenge to find a plug socket for it…

A neat little hack I like to use is to get a head torch and tie it to a jug of water.  This will extent to light given off by the torch and provide enough to keep everybody happy in the tent.  Some of the bigger lights provide more light but will chew through batteries. By using this method you can save a few dollars but still produce enough light to keep the kids happy in their tents and you will be amazed at the reactions when they see it in action. You will get the ‘My Dad is a mad scientist’ look which is quite amusing.

things to bring camping - first aid kits

First Aid on a family camping trip

Something I always pack for camping is a good camping Family First Aid Kit.  It doesn’t have to be camping specific but I find they are better equipped and lighter than your standard ones. Pick one that carries the right sort of equipment without going over the top.  Throw in a small whistle on a lanyard for each member of the family and train them to use it in the event that they walk off and find themselves lost.  It is an adventure remember and kids like to ramble at time.

You should also throw a few bandanas into your camping bag. You can use these on hot days to keep the sun off the kids heads but also on fresh morning to keep yourself a bit warmer. In the event that somebody has a nasty trip or fall and hurts their arm you can use them to tie the injury up in a supporting position until such time as the appropriate medical attention can be sourced. Plus the kids will think they look cool wearing them so more brownie points for you and mum.

How to spice up you camping food

If like me you love your food then bringing along a few items to spice things up a little bit is a must. While I am no master chef by any stretch of the imagination I like to think I can cook a good steak, burger or chicken and find having a few extra spices and flavourings in the rucksack helps keep the palates happy.

For this little trick I use old tic-tac boxes to store up my spices. They are small and compact, very light and near enough waterproof.  Bring a few along next time you go camping and wow your guests with tasty spicy food.  Nothing wrong with five star camping food if you ask me..

You might feel this an unnecessary thing to take camping but hey it works for me and takes up little or no room anyway.  WE are not talking about extreme survival here just an enjoyable camping trip with the family.

camping toiletWhen you need to go you need to go

You have to remember that when you are camping you will not have all the creature comforts that you have at home and eventually you will have to use the big restroom in the forest. If you are lucky you will have the facilities available to you and if so happy days.  Other times you may not be so fortunate and may have to improvise.  The single biggest frustration for me is toilet paper – annoying when it gets damp in the tent and even worse when there is none.

To overcome this challenge I like to pack it in an airtight tin of some description – an old coffee can is perfect for this. It helps keep it dry when stored in a tent and also means you have some with you at all times. If you want to provide the complete package when you are out camping then you are going to need something like a Camping Travel Toilet.  This might seem like a bit of overkill because you are supposed to be camping but the shelter can be used as a changing area or somewhere to hang you portable shower if you have that luxury.

washing hands campingKeep yourself clean when camping

The final point I want to cover here is personal hygiene.  You teach your kids to wash their hands all the time to avoid infections and well, just to keep clean and healthy so a camping trip should follow some of the same rules. Ok I understand we are trying to be at one with nature but still clean hands make for happy health kids so keep that in mind.

As a minimum you want to bring some soap for washing your hands and dishes.  Remember that you are out in a natural environment so chemical free natural soap only please. We found this one on Amazon. It is environmentally friendly and can be used to wash you, your gear or your clothes.  It is odour free as well which is important if you are in Bear country.

There is no art to camping. It is what it is, but there are things you can do and things you can take along that make things that little more comfortable for you and the family. These are mine and sometimes there are more. It just depends where we are going and what facilities are available when we get there. As pointed out earlier this is not meant to be a must have list of camping essentials – there are a thousand other well documented lists available so why re-invent the wheel.

Thanks for stopping by wildgetaway.com and we hope to see you again some day. Either here our out in the wild.

Why not join the conversation and tell us what you bring on your camping trips. We would love to hear from you and share the tips with the rest of our readers.