Monday, 21 April 2014

How We Camp

I suppose you either love camping or hate it.  I was first introduced to it by Himself a few years ago.  We slept on thin bed rolls, cooked kneeling down over a little gas stove and listened to the sound of the wind and rain outside pounding the tent.   I should have hated it but there's something liberating about being outside in the elements overdosing on fresh air which I can't explain and now we camp as many times in a year as we can.
Things have progressed since that first soggy trip.  Now we have electric hook up and a small heater which means we can start camping around Easter and keep going till Sept.  We have 3 tents. The one below is a very splendid Outwell Bear Lake 4 for family trips.  It's heavy, being poly cotton, but stands up to all types of weather, keeps us cool in the sun and warm in the cold, has any number of variations for windows, mesh screens and entrances and is very comfortable for all of us for a couple of weeks. 
Two years ago, Himself and I decided we wanted a touring tent just for us with room to stand up and a separate bedroom area.  So we have a Coleman Instant 4 which pops up in 2 mins, has good head height (I can't reach the top) and has provided shelter for some fellow campers who got caught in a massive rainstorm and needed rescue. 
We bought a carpet with the Bear Lake tent and we adapt it (ie fold it!) to fit each tent and this makes a big difference to how comfortable the tent is.  It's an extra layer protecting you from the ground if it's cold and makes the tent feel a bit luxurious.  I don't like walking on cold plastic!

Finally we have my favourite because it was our first joint tental purchase, a Coleman Celsius Duo. It's lightweight, easy to put up (only 3 spring loaded poles) and versatile for touring.  We've pitched it half way up a Swiss alp, cooked scrambled eggs in it in Luxembourg and sheltered snugly inside while monsoon rains poured on us in Belgium.  You can't stand up in it and it's really only good for 2 people but I love it!  And to prove you don't need a big car for the kit I've described, next to the neat green Celsius Duo is my little Renault Clio we used for several years of buzzing around Europe. 
Other improvements which make camping a pleasure rather than a pain include an aero bed which is a comfortable as our bed at home and lifts you a good way off the ground, a double sleeping bag, normal pillows AND a cheapie duvet.  That duvet can make a big difference on chilly nights at the extremes of the seasons.  
We use a big cool box which works as a general food store, freezer box and table.
We take an electric lamp and cook with a single electric ring and a Foreman grill which is neat enough to pack away easily and means we can have sausages, burgers and toasties!
Altogether we fill perhaps half the boot of our (current) car which leaves ample room if we want to take walking boots or surf boards and wet suits.  And we do it all because it means we can spend more time enjoying this...