Posts Tagged ‘tips’

5 Uses for Camp Containers

Plastic boxes with lids have a ton of uses in the home and they’re very useful in camp as well. Here are my top five uses for plastic containers. These tips are good if your car camping, tent camping or have an RV. They also work for day trips!

When buying your plastic box, keep in mind how it will be used. Does it need to fit in a certain cupboard in your RV? What about in the trunk? Between a pickup truck’s wheel wells? When I’m buying more plastic boxes, I also look to see how well they stack on top of each other. If you’re camping with kids, you may also want to figure in how easy or difficult it is to remove the lid.

To quote The Queen Mother, “Don’t worry that you look dorky when you’re standing in Wal-Mart with your tape measure, measuring Rubbermaid boxes. It’s worth looking dorky knowing that they’ll fit in your RV or truck!” Plastic storage containers are sized by volume (quarts, gallons, etc) but there can be inches difference in footprint size or height for the same volume container.

1. Corral like items: batteries, games, tea, etc. The picture shows our game box- a Rubbermaid shoebox that holds our cards games, Scrabble dictionary, and other small games. In the trailer, I also have a box for all my teas, one for batteries, clothes pins and string, and another for pre-packaged seasonings like meat marinade.

Some things fit better if you take them out of the original packaging!

2. If you’re car or tent camping, a good sized plastic container works perfect to hold boxes of dry food mixes like ‘Quick Mix Baking Mix’ or packages powdered hot chocolate. It can stay outside or under the picnic table or trailer, and I don’t have to worry about rain or items blowing away. We still do this in the trailer because we can carry the entire box out to the camp kitchen at mealtimes.

Be sure to bring any boxes of food in at night- either into the RV or in the car. Squirrels are great at getting into things or, even worse, attracting a bear! Just because you don’t think there are any animals near by that might bother your food is no reason to tempt fate.

Measure your space before you buy containers! You need to make sure everything fits.

3. Pack your clothes in a plastic box instead of a duffel bag or suitcase. The plastic containers can stack in a corner of the RV or tent for more room. When we used to tent camp, we’d actually put all the clothes boxes outside at night. Of course, before you do this, you want to make sure that they are waterproof!

4. My favorite is an empty container by the front door of the tent or RV to hold shoes. That way, if your shoes are muddy or wet, or even just dusty, you’re not bringing that mess inside. Line the bottom with several layers of newspaper to keep the mud or wetness off the plastic. Snap the lid on to keep out rain and bugs, of course. I like to sit on the trailer step to put my shoes back on.

5. Create a separate ‘Grab-It-And-Go-Box’ for day trips, either from home or from the campsite. Ours has extra batteries, water bottles, dry jackets, a flashlight, large garbage bags, and snacks. The idea is to pre-pack anything that you might need in case of an emergency or sudden weather change. With a ‘Grab-It-And-Go-Box’ you know that if you forget sweatshirts and it gets cold, you’re covered. Just be sure to replace any supplies you used when you get home.

A variation on the ‘Grab-It-And-Go-Box’ is to have a box for specific purposes. We have one that has all our digital camera stuff (batteries, lens cleaning, memory cards, a pen and notebook, etc) so we can get out the door faster, knowing our gear is ready to go.

The need for tight-fitting lids:

ESP Boss was out hunting one fall when he was caught in a torrential rain storm. (The type where you can’t get the RV out and have to come back for it when the road dries out.) His containers were flipped over from the wind and bobbed around in the standing water but his stuff stayed dry- thanks to the tight fitting lids!

Readers Weigh In:

  • What do you use to corral your gear when you’re camping?
  • Do you have a favorite size or type of plastic container?

Buying a Sleeping Bag

3 Things To Know Before You:

Ah, sleeping bags! A good sleeping bag is the difference between enjoying your camping trip and heading home at 3 am. (Okay, so there’s a BIT more to it than that, but sleeping bags play a major part.)

Sleeping bags work when your body heats the air inside the bag. All of these types of bags should be available in both child and adult sizes.

If you’re in the market for a sleeping bag there are 3things you want to consider:

Shape

Sleeping bags come in three shapes: mummy, rectangular, and semi-rectangular.

Mummy Bag

Mummy: This sleeping bag is narrow at the feet and wider at the shoulders. The bag tapers again around the head. Most mummy bags also include a hood that would be drawn around your head.

Advantages: Light weight since it uses less materials. That makes it a favorite of backpackers when space and weight are at a premium. Mummy bags are considered warmer than other bags since there is less air for your body to heat.

Disadvantages: This is NOT a good choice if you are claustrophobic since the bag fits your body pretty tightly. The bag also might be uncomfortable for a side sleeper.

Kim’s Experience: I’m NOT a fan of mummy bags. I didn’t find my mummy bag to be warmer, frankly. I know that you’re supposed to roll the entire BAG over when you’re switching positions, but I always just rolled inside of it so by morning I felt like I was a fork wrapped in spaghetti!

Semi-Rectangular or Barrel-Shaped Bag

Semi-Rectangular: (Also called barrel-shaped) This sleeping bag is somewhere between a mummy (form-fitting bag) and a rectangular bag. It can be a good compromise for a lot of folks.

Advantages: A semi-rectangular bag isn’t as constricting as the mummy bag and has more room for the shoulders, hips, and feet. Not as heavy and bulky as a rectangular bag if space or weight is an issue.

Disadvantages: You give up some of the warmth efficiency of the mummy for extra sleeping room. Barrel bags weigh more and are bulkier than mummy bags.

Kim’s Experience: This is a nice compromise bag. My first “adult” sleeping bag (after I had graduated from the one with Snoopy on it!) was a semi-rectangular bag. It was find for tent or RV camping.

This is the bag I have. Made my Coleman.

Rectangular: Rectangular sleeping bags are exactly what they sound like: a rectangle. They are usually used as warm weather sleeping bags or for recreational campers.

Advantages: Rectangular bags are roomy so you’re less likely to feel claustrophobic. You can buy oversized bags that are wider and longer for anybody who wants more space. Many rectangular bags can zip together to make a larger sleeping bag for two people. This style is a must if you think that a kid might get cold in the middle of the night and crawl into the sleeping bag with Mom!

Disadvantages: They are usually not suitable for backpacking and hiking campers since they are bulky and heavy. Rectangular bags take up the most room of any of the styles. They also may not be as warm because the wide top opening allows more warmed air to escape.

Kim’s Experience: This is my favorite type of sleeping bag. Since I’m usually in a RV or tent, I don’t need to worry about size or weight. There is plenty of room for me to turn over without getting tangled in the bag.

When I was little and would go camping, a rectangular bag was a must. At about 1 am I would decide I was FREEZING and crawl into my mother’s sleeping bag. If you’re camping with small kids, the size of a parent’s bag might be a consideration!

Fill

There are two basic kinds of materials that are used to fill (stuff) a sleeping bag: down or man-made synthetic. The fill of a sleeping makes a big difference on how a sleeping bag will keep you warm in different weather conditions.

Fill is designed to catch and hold air between its fibers. The more air the fill can trap and hold, the warmer the sleeping bag will be. Manufacturers use a variety of different methods to fill the bag, including enclosed channels, layers, and baffles, all of which effect how the fill will settle during storage!

Down: This means goose or duck down — the soft fluffy feathers. Down fill usually is warmer than man-made synthetic. Down is very light weight, warm, compressible, and expensive. And, you have to be able to sleep in a bag that has feathers in it — might not be a good choice for people with allergies.

Synthetic: Constructed with man-made fibers. This costs less, is easier to clean, and is a choice of people with allergies.

Kim’s Experience: My bag is synthetic fill. I’ve only borrowed a down bag so I don’t have a lot to share. Just know that which ever fill you choose, you need to consider proper cleaning and storage.

Next week’s article will be about care and storage of your sleeping bags!

Materials

When buying a sleeping bag, you want to take into account the OTHER materials that are used in its construction.

Zippers: the bigger the teeth, the better! Look for a vinyl zipper as it is less likely to jam. Make sure it has a guard on it so you don’t zip the liner of the sleeping bag into it! If you are getting a rectangular bag, you want a zipper that allows the bag to lay completely flat. That’s perfect for when you want to zip two bags together or use it more like a blanket than a bag.

Liner: Nylon, usually in mummy bags, is lightweight and durable but doesn’t feel very warm against your skin. Cotton flannel is soft, warm and durable and feels good against your skin on cold evenings. Cotton bi-blend isn’t as warm as flannel but feels more like a bed sheet.

Shell: A nylon is lightweight will be very light weight. Ripstop nylon is the most durable and might be a good choice if you have kids or pets that might snag the shell of the sleeping bag. Cotton is rugged and a good choice if weight is a nonissue.

Kim’s Experience: Any form of nylon will be slippery so you might slide around on your sleeping bag or RV bed in the night. I’ve also found that nylon can be noisy when sleepers roll over or adjust position. The bag I own now has a cotton shell. The bag prior to that was nylon — I slid around a LOT with that bag and prefer something that will stay put a bit better.

I also use a separate sleeping bag liner. These come in a variety of materials (adding warmth or not) and really make a difference in keeping the inside of a sleeping bag clean. This can be really important after an evening around the campfire!

Do Your Research

Be sure to read the weather ratings for each bag before you buy it. You want to match the temperature rating of the bag to the expected temperature when you’re planning your camping trip. ESP Boss has different sleeping bags (warm weather, cool weather, cold weather) depending on what season it is.

Sleeping bags will also have length and width sizes. It is important to notice that when buying a sleeping bag — too large and you get cold; too small and it’ll be uncomfortable so you won’t use it!

I don’t recommend buying a sleeping bag just because of the price. Do your homework to make sure the bag you pick will make sure you sleep comfortably on your camping adventure!

My last bit of advice:

If you have kids that like to take a sleeping bag for slumber parties: buy a cheap on! You don’t want them taking the high-dollar camping bag to a party with six other kids who play sack-races in the sleeping bags! Or spill orange soda on Dad’s down sleeping bag!

To make life easier for you, here’s a link to some sleeping bags so you can start the research and shopping process!

Next week’s article will be about the care, storage, and cleaning of sleeping bags so be sure to check back!

Experienced Campers:

  • What type of sleeping bag do you like the best?
  • Have you ever had a sleeping bag you hated?

5 Ice Chest Tips

Camping and ice chests just go hand in hand. The big question is: when you’re living out of an ice chest instead of a refrigerator and freezer, what can you do to make life easier? Here are five tips to help!

Look over your ice chest before you head out. Is the drain cover still attached? Are there any bubbles or cracks in the sides, bottom or lid of the chest? Does the lid still fit tightly? If your ice chest looks worn it won’t keep your food cold. That makes it a good ice chest for drinks (cans of soda pop won’t spoil if they get warm), but you should invest in a new ice chest for perishable food items.

Block ice will last longer than cubed ice. Just make sure that it is cooling the entire chest and keeping foods at an even temperature. Of course, you’ll still need a bag or two of cubed for drinks.

All items in your ice chest should be packed in watertight bags or containers. Who wants soggy lunch meat? Gross! Also, don’t put items in your ice chest that could be left out or stored in large plastic containers, like peanut butter or mustard.

Freeze some camp cooking ingredients to help chill the ice chest. Good examples are meat and cans of frozen juice. Just be sure that your dinner will be thawed by the time you want to eat it!

To remove odors from your cooler, wipe it with a water and baking soda solution. You can also leave it in open in the sun for a few hours. Make sure that it is 100% dry on the inside before you close the lid for storage.

The ice chest of choice.

As for me? Yeah, I totally recommend going for the one of the Coleman Xtreme® Coolers. You lose a bit of internal storage space, but the cooler will keep ice a lot longer than a conventional ice chest. This is the exact ice chest that the EatStayPlay.com “Royal” Family uses when we’re out for adventures.

How do you use your ice chests? What tips can you share?

Keeping Your Camp Dog Clean

As you know, your pets must always be kept restrained when visiting developed areas, like campgrounds, in the MOST public recreation areas. This is especially important in a campground where there are people walking, kids on bikes, cars and trucks with trailers, etc.

However, there is always the question: How do I keep my dog clean when I’m camping? (Okay, okay, it’s a DOG- How do I keep my dog cleanER? Cleaner!)

When I go camping with Lily, the EatStayPlay.com dog, Lily sleeps in the trailer at night. She’s crate trained so she sleeps in her “box.” But about 2 am, when the temperature really starts to dip, she always wakes me up with her “I’m cold!” cry.

And, being the dog-sucker that I am, I wait about all of thirty seconds before snuggling her into my sleeping bag with me. Of course, if she’s in MY bed, that means I want her as dust-free as possible!

To that end, I’ve discovered that putting heavy duty utility rugs under her playpen has helped a lot. Not only is Lily not as dusty, she doesn’t get stickers in her coat or scratched pads. Plus, I can easily see and pick up any spilled food before it attracts ants, skunks, or other unsavory critters.

Lily (needing a hair cut!) in her playpen on a rug.

Lily (needing a hair cut!) in her playpen on a rug.

So, the camping tip of the week: when camping with pets, bring a heavy duty outside rug for them to lie on. Luckily, in my case, the rug is just the right size to completely cover the area below her playpen.

Here’s a rug that you can get from Walmart.com. It’s the right size and should be heavy-duty enough to stand up to most camping adventures. I’d recommend the brown color (shown, although I don’t think it looks like much in the photo!) since it’ll show the dirt the least.

Brown rug from Walmart.com. Perfect color for camping!

Brown rug from Walmart.com. Perfect color for camping!

Here’s a question to all you people out there who camp with pets:

What are YOUR tips to keep your pet cleaner? Do you ever try to groom your pet while you’re camping?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...