Articles

Our top 5 Camping Food Ideas

We’ve given you a bunch of awesome recipes over the past few months that you can use when out camping so we thought it would be a great idea to give you a quick rundown of some of our favourite camping food ideas in this one summary post.

Idea 1: Curly Dogs

These are a fun family dish to serve up any time or place, but especially when camping.

See our recipe here.

Idea 2: Good ‘ole sandwiches

Aahhh, the good ‘ole sandwich. How can you go wrong with this classic?

We have three awesome camping recipes for you here.

Idea 3: Campers spare ribs

This awesome recipe will go down a treat whenever you serve it up – but make sure you cook enough because the whole campsite will be asking if you have any left over when they get a sniff of this delicious meal wafting across the air!

Idea 4: Potato and sausage hash

Thinking outside the box a little bit here with this one. Check out the tasty recipe on this page.

 

So there we have it, some classics, some ideas that you might not automatically think would be great for camping – but I promise you, give them a try and you’ll be well pleased 🙂

Read More

7 ways for family bonding while out camping

Camping is a wonderful opportunity to escape the noise and stress of the bustling cities most of us live in. However, while we admittedly seek freedom from certain elements of our civilized lives, we can often find ourselves feeling lost without them at our disposal. To give you an example, those who are used to playing computer games on a daily basis will find themselves at loss on how to spend their time in nature. The tips in this article should help engage young and old alike in fun activities that shape human relationships, all in a beautiful natural setting of your choice.

1. Pitching a tent

Turn this principal task of outdoors camping into an opportunity for team building. If you are going to pitch more than one tent, make a competition out of who can set up theirs first. Of course, try to make the teams fair and perhaps turn down your own competitive spirit down a notch to draw a smile on your children’s face when they win the race. If you are just setting up one tent, use it as a way to bond with each other. Numerous studies have shown that people who work together on a task are more likely to feel a sense of belonging to one and other. Involve everyone, so that every member of the team feels important and appreciated. Have a chat about your plans and goals for the camp-out while you work.

2. Cooking food and eating together

Historically, cooking and eating have been a chiefly communal event. Some cultures to this day spend hours dining. Of course, they don’t consume food for three hours straight, but take their time to eat and chatter away whilst doing so. For a body that is used to cramming down food in as short a time period as possible, having a chance to take things slow for once will be a welcome relief. What better than to enjoy a meal together that you have all prepared together? Do not be fooled, literally anyone can be involved in the cooking process. Plus, because you are going to have a nice open field for yourself, you don’t have to worry about the stress of being crammed in a small kitchen with three or more people. Involve the smallest ones with washing the vegetables that you will use. Let the older ones handle more serious tasks such as chopping ingredients or even frying them. Be sure to thank everyone for his or her input during mealtime.

3. Campfire building

Campfires are practically a must-have element of every camp-out. There is just something cozy about sitting in the dark, huddled up by a ring of fire and watch the flames dance away. Of course, a campfire needs to be built first. Go together while it is still light outside to gather fallen branches for firewood. Be sure to stick together, especially if you are in a denser forest. Do not break branches off from trees unless you are certain that the park you are camping in permits this. You can even make a game out of who is able to collect the most amount of firewood with just using fallen branches. Once you have gathered a sufficient amount, return to camp and begin building. Explain to your children the necessary precautions and safety measures associated with campfires. Ask them about how they think a campfire could be best built and try out different designs each night.

4. Campfire treats

Finish the day around the campfire with some super sweet desserts. Don’t worry about serving the treat straight after dinner. It will be best to let the main course settle in everyone’s stomachs before the sweets appear. Remember that not everyone has the same self-control when it comes to eating tangy stuff. Divide the stash of marshmallows, chocolate bars, crackers and other goodies into daily portions and present them like that to the others. This way, nobody will be left craving that “one last piece”. Teach your children how to prepare gorgeously browned marshmallows, delicious Smores and other quintessential campfire desserts. For some ideas, check out our recipes section!

5. Teach each other some new skills

Take advantage of the fact that you all enjoy each other’s undivided attention. Use some time to teach one and other new skills. You can begin by showing your kids how to tie some typical knots that are useful for campers to know. However, don’t monopolize the role of the teacher and let the others teach you something too. It can be anything: a song, a card trick, a cool recipe or a game. This is a great way to find out new things about each other and bond as a family in general. If you come across something all of you really enjoyed, make a point of doing it again in the future. For example, if you discover that you all really like to sing, make that one of your special family moments and sing songs either in-group or solo around the fire.

6. Play some games

Don’t think that you are too old to have some fun by playing games. Rediscover your inner child by engaging yourself in having some trouble-free time with your family. If the weather is good and you have enough space, go for something physically active rather than the usual sit-down board or card games. If you all enjoy ball games, play some football, volleyball or dodge ball. Try to make the point of the game you play teamwork. For instance, you can set it as a goal to try and keep a ball up in the air for the longest period of time without it touching the ground. At night, you can play some games like flashlight tag.

7.   Go on an adventure

Whatever destination you chose for camping there is likely to be some kind of natural landmark that is especially worth seeing. Take along a compass and a map and organize a daylong trip to discover the place. If your kids are young, give them each a disposable camera so that they can each take pictures of whatever they find interesting. Do make sure that you give each kid a separate one, because children hate sharing gadgets. If you are with older ones, engage them by asking them to read the map and help you find directions. After returning back to camp for the night, share your views of the experience with each other. What was the highlight of the day, and what was the most challenging part?

Read More

How to camp with a boat

Next up in our series of specialized camping articles is camping with a boat. Do not think of a large yacht or anything of this sort, camping with a boat is best done with a canoe or a kayak or another small sized vessel that you could fit on top of your car or on a trailer. Boat camping allows you to access seldom discovered territories through canals, waterways and lakes. In this article, we will introduce the basics of boat camping and we hope that we can spark your interest to try it out yourself.

How to choose a boat?

Choosing the right boat is the foundation of a successful boat camping trip, regardless whether it is a rental or a purchase. Do try to rely on the expertise of the store assistant and tell him or her exactly how you plan to use the boat. How many people will sit in it, how much weight do you want it to be able to carry, how long and how wide can it be in order to fit on top of your car or onto your trailer. After you have said your own conditions, the assistant may suggest a few options. Now it is time for you to consider some of the following factors. A shorter boat is better for navigation on narrow and curvaceous rivers while a longer boat is easier to turn with on a larger body of water. Be sure to have life vests available (one for each passenger) along with an extra paddle in case the original one falls into the water. As you gain more and more experience with each trip, you will be able to appreciate the difference of using different boats. For this reason, rental may be a better choice in the beginnings.

How to prepare for using the boat?

A kayak, a canoe and a vessel all have their own special techniques by which it is possible to move and navigate. A kayak for instance will usually require you to use a double-ended paddle, propelling its alternating left and right sides through the water to move forward. A canoe on the other hand is usually stirred by a shorter, single-ended paddle. Most smaller vessels will have a paddle on each side, requiring you to perform a rowing motion. Consider which movement you are most comfortable with. If you plan to start with a big adventure straight away, you may want to hit the gym and have a go at the rowing machine. Some gyms now even have machines that replicate the exercise that paddling a canoe would require you to do. Alternatively, start off with smaller trips so that you can get an appreciation of the difficulty or ease of the movement sequence. Needless to say, never ever go on a boat trip if you do not know how to swim!

Planning

By planning, we mean specifically considering the various steps of the camping trip. How long is the river you plan to travel on? How strong is the current? How wide or narrow can the canals get? Will you be able to stop somewhere even if you do not reach your target campsite? Please consider these details very carefully, as there will be little chance for you to do research once you are out in nature. From then on, you will just have to rely on your own good judgment, and hopefully the plan, which you have made in advance.

Preparation

Preparation makes for the perfect camping trip, and a boat camping trip is no different! Think of the fact that you will be sitting for hours in a boat. What would you want to have in there with you? Our personal suggestion of a list of must have items can be seen below:

  • Waterproof cushions to sit on
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Hats
  • Insect repellent
  • Rain coat
  • First aid kit
  • A whistle / horn
  • A small bucket / bailer
  • A large sponge

Now…it is unlikely that the first couple of items need any explaining. Maybe, you are a little more puzzled about the last three. Having a whistle is a good idea in order to have something at hand that you can use to alert other water vehicles about your presence. This is something that several states require by law (please do check the laws for water navigation in the state you plan to visit). The bucket or, using boating terminology, a bailer will be handy to scoop out some of the water that fill fall into the body of the boat while you pedal. And water will fall inside. The sponge is great to dry up the small puddles of water that you can no longer scoop up.

Consider that an accident can always occur and the boat may capsize. If possible, leave the smartphones, laptops, tablets and other valuable gadgets where they belong as far as camping is concerned: at home. This will allow you to be able to focus on enjoying yourself without having to worry about losing a valuable personal possession.

What to do on a boat camping trip?

First of all, enjoy the fact that you can get away from civilization and just enjoy having a peace of mind in the middle of a large, beautiful lake. If you are confident about your boating skills or if you own a waterproof camera, take the opportunity to snap some shots from an unusual perspective. Usually, people make photos of a lake, from the edge. Be the one who makes pictures of the edge…from the middle.

Perhaps, using a boat, you can have access to land such as a tiny island that you could not have otherwise visited. Minding the local flora and fauna at all times, you may take this special opportunity to discover this unchartered territory. However, keep in mind that unchartered territories often hold unexpected surprises, so be very careful, especially if the ground is covered by thick and high grass. You can never know where a marsh, quicksand or an intimidated animal may hide!

Games, musical instruments, good food, plenty of drinkable water and a set of clothes for all climate conditions should allow you to enjoy the trip tremendously.

When it comes to setting up camp, consider that since you will be traveling with a small, light boat, there should be no reason why you could not take it out of the water for the night. Turn it upside down to let all the water drip out. A dry interior will be much better to sit in the next morning than a clammy one.

Summary

We sincerely hope that we could whet your appetite for some exciting boat camping. It is an adventure every camper should try out one day, as it allows access to areas that may otherwise be hard to get to. These will tend to be less impacted by humans and thus you may have an opportunity to discover a little piece of intact paradise!

We are interested in your input. Have you ever gone boat camping? Do you have some tips, fun stories, anecdotes or questions? Share them with us in the comment box below!

Read More

How to camp with an RV

Next up in our series of specialized camping articles is camping with an RV. An RV is an abbreviation for a recreational vehicle. This ambiguous term can cover a unit ranging anywhere in size from being a trailer to a bus-sized, four-wheeled living unit. RV camping can be a lot of fun because it combines the essential element of a long distance road trip with a mobile home. In this article we will introduce the concept of RV camping and we hope you will be inspired to try it out one day!

To Buy or to Rent, that is the question

Firstly, we recommend that you rent an RV instead of actually jumping head on into buying one. Try out the concept first before you make serious commitments. Besides, try to be realistic and calculate how many days a year you are likely to spend RV camping in the coming years. Compare the cost of renting a decent unit with the cost of buying one. Which way would you benefit the most financially? There is a tipping point from whereon it is more economical to buy a unit instead of renting, but it is tough to find where that point is. Whether or not you are not troubled by such trivial financial concerns that buying an RV invokes in the minds of most ordinary people, it is time to move on to the next step.

How to choose your RV?

Choosing the perfect RV, whether for rental or for a final purchase is a tough decision. Try to let your lifestyle make the choice for you. Obviously, for the majority of us, financial constraints are the number one filter that all choices must go through. Then come preferences and lifestyle factors. Do you go with a big family? Rent a bus. Are you going with your sweetheart for a weekend getaway? Get a smaller, lighter unit to fully enjoy being close to each other. Do you own pets? Check whether the rental agent allows pets to be carried in the vehicles before you take them onboard.

Basically, the larger the party you are likely to travel with, the more we recommend that you rent or buy a larger RV. The more you prefer hard-to-access, extreme locations and adventures, the more likely you are to be in need of a lighter, four-wheeled vehicle.

Different units have different comfort additions. Some RVs come with sophisticated kitchens and fully equipped bathrooms while others will cram only the most basic of amenities in as little space as possible. The price is usually strongly in correlation with these comfort factors so be prepared to pay more for a moving palace!

Preparation

Now that you supposedly selected your RV, it is time to prepare for the big trip. The two principal factors that you must take into consideration are the location and the length of your stay. This should help you in planning ahead with food and clothing.

As for preparing your RV unit, which is the real task here, there are number of steps you need to go through before setting off. First things first, make sure that the water tank of the RV is filled, the batteries are loaded, the gas tanks are filled up and that you have loaded everything inside as planned. Next, it is important that before you begin driving, you secure every door, flap and latch that could possibly swing open by itself. You do not want things falling out and making a mess behind your back. Finally, it is highly recommended if not required that you do not have any passengers in the living area of the RV while you are driving. Every passenger should be seated with a seatbelt on to maximize road safety.

Driving an RV

First of all, always make sure that you have the adequate licence and qualifications required to drive an RV by the states you drive through. Sitting in the driver’s seat of an RV can be a very daunting task even for an experienced driver. The cars are usually massive, heavy and not at all easy to navigate. When you drive an RV, please make sure that you drive below the speed limit at all times at a pace that is comfortable for you (without obstructing traffic of course). An RV is significantly heaver than your normal car and thus has a higher inertia. It will be harder to stop the vehicle and it will be harder to make it change the direction of its motion. Always follow the car ahead of you in safe breaking distance since you will take more time to slow down if the vehicle in the front breaks suddenly. Also, remember that there are a number of blind spots in your field of vision when driving an RV that would normally not bother you in a smaller car. Take care to look around carefully as you navigate, especially in residential areas. Try to park your RV on a flat area (most camp sites offer specially designated parking place for RVs).

How to make the most of an RV trip?

The benefit of the RV compared to other forms of camping is that you are practically carrying half your home with you. Make the most of this opportunity! Take with all the things you could have not brought along otherwise. RVs are great to carry bikes, small grilling units, pets, sports equipment and inflatable pools. Get creative and have fun! Be sure to hook up your RV to the local electricity and water supply so that you don’t run out of the necessary resources!

Ending an RV trip

Usually, our articles end at the point where you have fun. However, with the RV, you have some additional responsibilities at the end of your trip. You should always empty the wastewater tank. This should always be done at a designated area, which most campsites conveniently offer. For the exact steps of emptying your septic tank, refer to the manufacturer’s guide. You should also make sure that you clean the unit thoroughly so that no food or other material stays behind to rot. For other maintenance tips, refer to the user manual of the RV!

Summary

We sincerely hope that we could whet your appetite for RV camping. It is a lot of fun and represents a sort of lifestyle. It is certainly not for everyone, but everyone is encouraged to try it at least once. The experience is unlikely to be forgotten!

We are interested in your input. Have you ever gone camping with an RV? Share your tips, experiences or anecdotes below in the comment section!

Read More

How to camp in the desert

Next up in our series of specialized camping articles is desert camping. They say that when you lay your head to rest in the desert, you will never wake up to the same sight. The landscape is forever changing, sand dunes spreading endlessly in all directions. To visit such a place with a rather magical atmosphere can be great fun, especially if you take the time to learn a little about how to make the most of your camping trip to the desert!

Pick Your Desert

First things first, you need to pick out your desert. Surprisingly enough, North America is full of these sandy places, so all you have to do is to choose one of the many. There are deserts with special colored sand, deserts known for special rock formations and deserts known for their strange climates. You can do a little background research on the Internet for more information.

Preparation

Now that you have chosen the desert you wish to visit, it is time to prepare for the trip. The primary concern, as with most nights spent without a proper roof under your head, is how the climate will be like. US deserts are usually relatively warm in the daytime (think above 100 degrees) and can cool to about 70 degrees in the nighttime. Be careful, as some deserts are notorious for being extremely warm while the sun is up, only to drop to rather cold temperatures in the dark. The best is to read about the climate specific to the desert of your choice. You should then pack clothes and equipment such as sleeping bags and tents appropriate to the foreseeable conditions.

Next, it is time to determine how many nights or days you intend to spend out camping. Food and other supplies must be prepared accordingly. Be sure to stay close to a reliable supply of water at all times as you will need to rehydrate often in order to prevent severe headaches or a heatstroke.

Survival tips

Here is a quick note on clothes for those who have never been to a desert before. It may seem intuitively obvious to bring as short and thin clothes as possible in order to spare yourself from boiling to death, but in fact we advise you to bring long sleeved and long legged tops and pants, preferably made of linen. Not only will this protect your skin better from the harmful rays of the sun, but also it will actually keep you a little cooler than if you had been exposed directly to the heat.

When you think of a desert, what may be the first thing that comes to mind? Hopefully, it’s sand. When you think of sand, think of tiny little grains that will stick to your body, go inside your shoes, go into your eyes and just cause you a great deal of discomfort in general. That is, if you don’t dress appropriately. Shade your eyes with a pair of sunglasses for protection not only against sand but also the sunrays reflected off the hills and try to wear a good shoe that you can tie tightly onto your feet.

Again, a little counterintuitive advice: try to drink warm drinks such as green or fruit tea in order to cool your body. Not intending to go into the science behind it, simply put, drinking cold drinks in the heat will just confuse your body and can actually make you a little sick. Eat mostly after the temperature has gone down, it will feel much better. Try to limit your consumption to light foods to avoid unpleasant dizziness.

It goes without saying that those body parts not covered by clothing should be covered with sunscreen. This is probably not the location you would want to get a tan, so do be gentle to your skin and apply a protective lotion with a high factor rate.

The wildlife in the desert is indeed beautiful, but the creatures can also be dangerous. Scorpions, snakes, you name it. If you are able to obtain a vacuum suction device that can be used to suck away poison from a sting wound, do bring it along just in case. Of course, professional medical help must be sought immediately if an animal has attacked you or one of your fellow campers.

Speaking of fellow campers, never ever go camping in the desert by yourself. Why? Because getting lost amongst the sand dunes is just so much more fun when you have company. Plus, you can always eat your friend if you run out of food. Jokes aside, having company is a safety requirement that we recommend for all types of camping. If anything happens to you, it is always good to have another person nearby who can help you out.

Things to do

As for the fun part of being in the desert, for those whom we could not scare away with our previous section, there are plenty of opportunities for having a good time. The desert is a place with a long ecological history and special wildlife, so those interested in zoology can go on a little discovery tour to get to know the species that inhabit the land. For those passionate about photography, there could hardly be a more romantic subject than capturing the sunset or sunrise in the desert. Mind the sand though, and store your camera in a white container bag if possible, to avoid overheating.

Horseback or, if the location is such, camel riding tours can be great fun and a lot less exhausting…for you, not for your four legged carrier. Exploring the terrain on four wheels is also a popular and rather modern form of desert tourism. For those crazy about extreme sports, trying desert dune skiing or boarding is an absolute must. As you can see, the desert offers numerous sources of entertainment. Just about the only thing you cannot do is to go fishing.

Summary

Desert camping, despite our efforts to make it appear dreadful, is a lot of fun when it is done right. Definitely bring along a camera to record some of your most special experiences. Also, it could be fun to collect a little glass tube full of sand and take it home with you as a physical token of your stay in the desert!

We are interested in your input. Have you ever gone camping with in the desert? Share your tips, experiences or anecdotes below in the comment section!

 

Read More

How to Camp With Bikes

Last week, we launched our series of specialized camping articles with the topic of “How to Camp With Horses”. This week, the focus will be on a vehicle that is a lot less complicated than a four-legged animal, allowing you to venture even further in the wilderness. Ladies and gentlemen, meet the bicycle!

Four excellent reasons to go bike camping

If you are a little skeptical about this whole bike business and prefer to stroll down the trail on your feet, let us try to convince you with some of the merits of cycling. Firstly, you will be able to travel a greater distance in a shorter period of time on wheels than on foot. Secondly, you will do this without having to pay for any fuel. Thirdly, you will not pollute the environment with any poisonous fumes when you bike. Last, but not least, biking will work out your leg muscles like nothing else!

Locations for a bike trip

Cascade trail Mountain BikingNow that we got you all excited, undoubtedly you will want to rush outside and set off to your bike camping adventure. Not so fast though, it is important that you plan ahead first! In order for you to make the most of your trip, you will need to choose an appropriate location. Visit the websites of National and State Parks, read some of our articles for camping destinations or do research using any method that you wish to find out where you can make use of your bicycle.

We recommend that you first pick a location near your home so that you can practice how far you can go at your current fitness level. You may find that you can bike all the way to the next state, or you may find that you seriously need to hit the gym. At any case, do not take off unprepared and unaware of the workload that awaits you.

What to bring along

Imagine that you are sitting on your bike, past the 20th mile of the day. What would you like to see yourself carrying? Without doubt, a bike camper needs super lightweight gear that does not take a lot of space. The things you will bring along will depend on the distance and the method you travel by. If you travel far, you will need more supplies. If you plan to use a car to get to the campsite and just take day-trips on two wheels, you can bring a lot more with you. However, if you are committed to commuting solely by bike, you will need to be smart. Try to plan such trips for the summer season when you automatically need fewer clothes and a very thin and light sleeping bag or just a thin tent.

You can carry all these items in a backpack or a pair of smaller bags that can be attached to the back of your bike. Make sure to distribute the weight evenly so that you don’t tip over if you ever slow down. Depending on where you will keep your bike for the night, perhaps it is a good idea to carry a light but strong lock chain with you.

How to prepare your bike

The bicycle you will use should always be checked thoroughly before you depart. Make sure that the parts, especially the chain are well oiled and not rusty. Check the breaks and ensure that the tires are pumped up to a good level. Adjust your seat and stirring handle to the optimal height so that you can maintain a comfortable posture throughout the ride. Be sure to include a basic repair kit with a few patches and glue for the tires and the essential screwdrivers that may be needed to fix up the bike.

Health and Safety

Definitely carry ample supplies of water and food so that you can rehydrate and recharge your body with nutrition as often as needed. Do not try to drink anything else than water or maybe a mixture of water and lemon juice. Sugary energy drinks or soft drinks will only make you thirstier; don’t even bother carrying them around. As for food and snacks, you will need to have items that are light but have high nutritional value and preferably last long without being refrigerated. A good example is Japanese rice balls with canned tuna filling.

Mountain Bike Scharnitz To Achensee, AustriaA first aid kit with the usual disinfectant, gauze, tape and whatever else you deem necessary. Bring your allergy medicine if you will bike in a valley full of hay. Take some mosquito repellents if you know you will spend the night near a riverside. This is why it is important to be aware of the particular features of your destination! Finally, always carry with you a slip of some sort with your personal information such as your name, your address, emergency contact number and any other medical needs that the ER should know about before treating you in case you get into a serious accident.

For your safety, never set off for a bike camping trip on your own. When you bike with a group, try to maintain a single line while making sure that nobody gets left behind. A good method of ensuring this is letting the slowest member of the group be in the front. If you bike next to each other, do this without obstructing the traffic on the road in any direction. Make sure to keep a safety “breaking distance” from the person ahead of you, in case they need to stop abruptly.

Summary

Bike camping is a fun and physically challenging way to spend time in nature. It is great for families or groups of friends to spend time together, work out their muscles and see a lot of scenery in a shorter time period.

We are interested in your input. Have you ever gone camping by bike? Share your tips, experiences or anecdotes below in the comment section!

Read More

www.camping-essentials.org is a member of the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com