Tent Camping is one of the summer activities my family has been involved in for many years.
Camping is something we all enjoy by combining fishing, hiking, and swimming with the regular campsite life of cutting wood, starting a fire, food preparation, cooking, eating, games, and just relaxing. We’ve made a lot of good memories from our camping trips. We’ve always gone up in the mountains and found great camping hiking spots either at designated campgrounds that offer water for washing, some type of restroom (outhouse or rest-stop type), and garbage cans or places, where there was no creature or comforts at all. We always camped by streams, lakes, or rivers during the summer months.
Planning is critical to a successful camping experience. As a retired military man, who has had to live out of a ruck (backpack) for many days, having the right camping gear when you’re camping will make the experience that much more enjoyable.
The best camping tents for families are tents that have separate rooms. Since we have two children our tent has three rooms — my wife and I slept in a room, the kids slept in a room, and the entrance room was the dressing and storage area. We use a combination of foam and inflatable mattresses. We used rectangular sleeping bags that you can zip together for the wife and me, and the kids had their bags. Bring extra blankets for chilly nights. We also used poncho liners for the kids to use inside their sleeping bags. We’ve had our tent for over 15 years and average 2-3 camping trips each summer.
We take a couple of tarps. We use one tarp on the ground under the tent and make it long enough to have about 8 feet in front of the tent door. We take our shoes/boots off outside to keep the inside of the tent as clean as possible. We bring a small folding stool to place outside the tent door to help with putting shoes on. The second tarp is used to cover our kitchen/cooking gear if it rains.
We use a couple of camping stoves – one uses propane (which we mainly use for heating water for hot drinks and washing) and the other is a 2-burner stove and uses fuel, which does not burn as hot. We use this one for cooking bacon, pancakes, eggs, etc. Bring a couple of frying pans, and camping pots/pans – remember to bring a spatula if you’re going to cook pancakes or eggs.
We always start a fire in the morning – for warmth and in the evening, for cooking. Bring a collapsible grate to put over the fire if you plan on laying anything on it to cook or heat up. We make pointed sticks by cutting small branches from nearby trees for the polish dogs or bratwurst – so bring a couple of knives. We cut our wood from the dead branches and logs you find near the campground. We bring an ax and a small saw with a folding blade.
Here are the basics of camping gear to bring:
Tent with a rain fly, tarp, tent stakes, and hammer
Sleeping gear to include mattresses – inflatable or foam, blankets (poncho liners), and pillows
Cooking/kitchen equipment – camping stoves, folding camping table, frying pans, pots to heat water and cook in, paper plates, bowls, and utensils, napkins, paper towels, wash rags, towels, cutlery, large spoons, tongs, can opener, lighters, tin foil, plastic wash basin, scouring pads, disposable wipes, detergent, plastic storage bags, and trash bags. We pack this in see-through plastic tubs with folding lids. We pack most of our non-cooler food in these types of containers, too.
Fire pit necessities – if you plan on scrounging your wood from the forest floor – an ax, folding saw, gloves, a newspaper for fire-starting, a lighter, a folding grate (campfire tripod), and a folding shovel.
Personal hygiene – soap, washcloths, towels (dark in color), shampoo and shower shoes (if your campground has a shower), toothpaste, and toilet paper.
Safety equipment – flashlights, lanterns, spare batteries, cell phone with car charger, map of the area, first aid kit, compass or GPS, and plenty of drinking water.