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  1. Default Tenting Equipment

    Embarrassingly i was in the scouts as a kid yet don't remember an ounce of what i had learnt!

    I'm just wondering what other essentials i need to have a pleasant tenting experience, in terms of weather proofing it etc. Any other tips and advice would be useful :)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Keithville, LA
    Posts
    638

    Default Sticky in this Forum

    Check out this thread which has links to lots of other threads on camping and camping equipment.

    I've never actually camped, so can't help you there too much.

    Laura

  3. #3

    Default

    I always take my camping stuff with me when I go on a roadtrip in the US. Because I'm flying I am forced to travel light and I have to prioritise. Therefore the most important things are:

    Decent 2 or 3 man dome tent. North Face is what I will be getting next but any brand will do to be honest. This is one area where, generally, the more you pay the more you get. Look for the tent to have an inner tent and a water proof outer tent which, ideally, you can leave attached when packing it up. This speeds up putting the tent up no end. Also, if going to hot areas, look for a tent with zips front and rear which you can leave open to get a bit of a breeze through (obviously make sure they have flyscreens!) I would recommend putting this up in your garden at home before you arrive on the campsite and make a tit out of yourself trying to figure it out with a dozen amused campers watching on. This will also give you a chance to turn a hose pipe on it to check it is waterproof. If it is not then you can take it back and remand a new one.

    Tent pegs and mallet. You will get tent pegs when you buy the tent but the first thing to do is throw these away and buy some decent ones. I have had most success with metal pegs. You will want the to be lightweight yet strong as tent pegs bend like you'd not believe as soon as these sniff hard ground. I managed to find some great pegs which were thin (ie lighweight) but strong - they have very sharp points on the end and are v shaped. Look for these. Also a rubber mallet and, ideally, a 'peg puller' which you'll find on the same shelf in the shop.

    Sleeping bag. If you're going to be camping in anything other than the height of summer I would suggest a three season sleeping bag (ie suitable for use in Spring, Summer & Autumn/Fall). I have a 'mummy' sleeping bag -- hated it at first but eventually got used to it. Look for this to come with a bag that allows you to compact it down to a fraction of its size. If it doesn't then you're gonna fill your baggage allowance with that alone. Even if it's hot I always take my sleeping bag as it can get cold at night. If nothing else you can unzip it and sleep on it. Saves you lying on plastic tent floor or roll mat all night and sweating ewww

    Roll mat. I have a 'self inflating' roll mat which has the benefit of rolling up quite small when you let the air out. It is a cheap one and doesn't actually self inflate but it doesnt take much to blow it up manually.

    Torch. Do not forget a torch - vital - yet I always managed to forget it until I bought myself a nice small little mag light which I now keep with the camping kit.

    Bug repellant. Trust me, you'll not appreciate how valuable this stuff is until you are trying to put the tent up and are being attacked. I also change into long trousers as soon as I hit the campground and have never had too much trouble with being bitten since I started doing that.

    Flip flops. Some of the showers can be a little grim. Not that often but, when they are, it's nice to have some waterproof flip flops that you can wear in the shower.

    I usually pack this all in to a back pack (comfortably) and pack my clothes in the other. Keeping them seperate proved invaluable when it poured with rain on the last night of my trip to Atlanta last year. We dropped the bag onto the check-in scales with water pouring out the bottom. Got some odd looks but my clothes were perfectly dry when I finally got home.

    One of my first ports of call on any trip is Walmart where I pick up an ice chest. They sell really cheap disposable polystyrene ice chests which cost only two or three bucks and, so long as you replace the ice each day, will do you just nicely. They also do camping equipment for a song at Walmart so you may choose to buy it there as well? I'd recommend visiting a proper camping shop for the tent at least.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default Don't discount discount prices!

    Decent 2 or 3 man dome tent. North Face is what I will be getting next but any brand will do to be honest. This is one area where, generally, the more you pay the more you get. Look for the tent to have an inner tent and a water proof outer tent which, ideally, you can leave attached when packing it up. This speeds up putting the tent up no end. Also, if going to hot areas, look for a tent with zips front and rear which you can leave open to get a bit of a breeze through (obviously make sure they have flyscreens!) I would recommend putting this up in your garden at home before you arrive on the campsite and make a tit out of yourself trying to figure it out with a dozen amused campers watching on. This will also give you a chance to turn a hose pipe on it to check it is waterproof. If it is not then you can take it back and remand a new one.
    I agree with everything Craig is saying except for the need to spend more. Over the years, I've had two expensive tents ($200+ back in the 80's and early 90's). I now have a $35 Hillary tent purchased from Sears. It's better than the more expensive tents I owned in the past. Puts up quicker, is just as if not more waterproof, and packs down small and light. Shop features, not price. But I agree with his idea to test it out first so you know you're satisfied with it.

    Tent pegs and mallet.
    Pick a tent that doesn't need pegs and you solve this issue. I camp in some high-wind areas and the items inside the tent (sleeping bags, etc.) usually weigh it down enough to keep it from getting blown around. Of course, if you're doing some extreme mountain camping, I'm thinking this shouldn't be an issue for you to be concerned with.

  5. #5

    Default

    That's a fair comment about the tent. I guess you need to weigh up how much you're likely to use it and what features you need then go shopping. I would still be wary of buying a cheapo tent but, so long as it meets your requirements, I'd say give it a shot.

    My current tent cost me £40 ($80) in 1999. Back in the day, I used to travel to a different race circuit every single weekend and it got severely hammered. I still take it with me all over the place and it's still going strong; the only reason I wanna replace it is because I stuck a rod through the side of the damn thing in the Smoky Mountains and I don't need rain coming through! Given the inflated prices we have in the UK it was probably the equivalent of Judy's $35 tent... so, she's right, don't automatically discount a cheapo tent.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default re tents

    I estimated I've used my cheapo tent, purchased in 2000 when I discovered my expensive tent had some fabric that was virtually rotting away, at least 200 times in the last 7 years. I estimate I average about 30 days camping per year.

    The expensive tents were used less than that because, at the time, my kids were very involved in many sports so we actually got away for camping far less than I can get away now. And, during those years, most of our camping was actually done in a truck/camper so the tent was only used for sporadic backpacking trips. When we would come home, we would hang it in the attic to fully dry out before rolling it up for storage. Those tents were treated carefully.

    I've been far rougher with the cheap tent. I've used it far more and have been far less careful with it just because it is a cheap tent.

    So, yeah, I'm soured on the claims of the more expensive tent-makers. I will say that if someone is doing serious mountaineering, then there are valid reasons for springing for a more expensive, 4-season tent. But for most of us, the reasons for buying such a tent doesn't exist.

    I just want to add that my tent is very waterproof as I've camped in it in rainstorms. But be careful about sprinklers depending on how much of your tent your rain-fly covers. My rain-fly only covers the open-vent area at the top of the tent. This has been fine even in sideways rain. But last July we camped at campground that actually had a sprinkler come on sometime in the wee hours of the morning. In the tent site area!!! What the heck? With the water coming up instead of falling down, it found it's way inside the tent. We woke up in a little lake inside the tent. Thank goodness it was a 100 degree day and we weren't planning on moving that day until check-out time at 1pm so things could dry out. It was really kinda funny.

    Another thing to watch for in a tent, irregardless of what you pay for it, is the ground portion's materials. My cheap tent has a thicker flooring material that goes up about 4" on the sides that acts as a built-in ground cover. With my other tents, we always had to travel with a separate ground cover to protect the floor. This is very convenient and doesn't really add any weight or bulk to the tent. It's something I'll definitely try to find if/when I have to replace it.

  7. Default Tenting materials..

    A couple of comments..

    Bring tent stakes. I've gone camping and not used them, and then ended up on Catalina Island. Even with everything in the tent, the sea breeze was sufficent to roll the dome tent off its base, down a hill and almost into the water. We ended up lining the inside of the tent with rocks from the beach to weight it down -- smelled like a tide flat inside. So.. bring tent stakes.

    Get a cheap tarp to use as a ground cloth. You can buy the more expensive "footprint" tarps that are cut to fit exactly under yout tent. But I've found a good quality cheap (<$10) tarp from the local big box hardware store does the job pretty well. It's also thicker and more durable too.

    Rain flies -- most tents today have a separate rain fly which clips or hooks on to the top of the tent. If the weather is very good, or warm, you can pull this off and sleep without it. But as a rule I put it on every time -- keeps the dew off during the morning and makes it easier and faster to take the tent down in the morning. In colder weather it acts a little bit as to trap an insulating layer of air.

    "Bathtub bottoms" -- Really good tents have a waterproof bottom cut from one piece of material, that then is folded and and tacked so it surrounds the bottom fo the tent. This provides a good waterproof base, even if your tent ends up in shallow standing water. (Dont' laugh -- I've seen it happen.). You want to protect the bottom of the tent to keep it from having holes poked it in, hence the tarp or ground cloth under the tent.

    The most common problems with tents are:
    1) Waterproofing and rain fly coverage. Get factory seam-sealed waterproofing if you can. I've not had to waterproof a tent in years. Also check the coverage of the rain fly -- I've seen some that didn't even extend down the length of the mesh windows on the tents.
    2) Bottom material. You want a bathtub bottom, and fairly durable material.
    3) Zippers. Look at the zippers and run them back and forth a couple of times. This is the part that will most probably break the fastest.
    4) Tent poles. Heavy duty works better -- lasts longer. I've had fiberglas tent poles last up to 20 years on good quality tents, and others last 2 days because they were flimsy material and could not take the load of the tent material and a light breeze. Snap!

    And most definitely, set it up in your back yard or living room, and take it down before you go camping. Then you'll have some idea of what you're doing and be confident you have all the parts included. Doing it in the dark, and finding that you're missing something (like tent poles or the rain fly) is not a good way to start a trip.

  8. Default A couple more things...

    I'm going to add a couple of other things, I've found works well for me camping..

    - A folding/ collapsable camp chair. (I've heard these referred to as "umbrella chairs".) Definitely more comfortable than a picnic table bench, and collapses down so it stows really well.

    - A LED Headlamp. I have one that cost about $20, and gets about 100+ hours of light on a set of AA cells. Not the most focused beam, but its really useful to have your hands free at night to do other things (like setting up tents.)

    - A teakettle. Mine is an ancient swedish-made aluminum .9 liter kettle that I use to heat up water in. Easy to fill, easy to pour and heats up fast. Use it to heat hot water for everything from hot coffee in the morning (Coffee Singles!!) to oatmeal to instant soup for lunch or dehydrated food for dinner. Or, to make a hot water bottle for cold evenings. This, a cup and a spoon are pretty much my total backpacking cooking equipment, other than a stove.

    - A handtowel or big handkerchief. You can use it as a towel, a wash cloth, a hot pad for hot items, a bandage, a head covering, or lots of other things. Very useful....

  9. #9

    Default I can vouch for that

    The first time I used my tent was late, very late, on a Friday night in October. I'd finished work at six, gone home and showered then made my way up to Notting Hill where I was meeting a mate and staying overnight before heading up to Oulton Park the next morning. When I arrived we decided to head up that night and crash in the back of one of the team's race trucks. It was a horrible journey and we arrived after 1am to find the security guard on the gate asleep. After we woke him up he let us in and we made our way to the paddock to find we'd had a good day and the team had left and taken the keys to the garage and the race trucks with them... panic! Ah, no problem, I thought... I have my new tent in the boot. Well... you really don't need the aggravation of trying to figure out how to build the damn thing when it's pitch black, raining and you're tired. Just trust me on that one :)

  10. #10

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Larrison View Post
    - A folding/ collapsable camp chair. (I've heard these referred to as "umbrella chairs".) Definitely more comfortable than a picnic table bench, and collapses down so it stows really well.
    Only problem is that englebert is, like me, flying in from London so will have limited capacity for bringing bulky items like this. If he manages to find a chair that packs away suitably I would love to know of it... so I can get one!

    - A LED Headlamp. I have one that cost about $20, and gets about 100+ hours of light on a set of AA cells. Not the most focused beam, but its really useful to have your hands free at night to do other things (like setting up tents.)
    This is a good idea, like it.

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