We're back from our short camping adventure from the weekend, and I promise a trip report and photos are coming soon. In the mean time, I'll do my usual gear lessons learned post. The setup for this last trip was different than our usual backpacking weekend. We were in a campground, yet the campground was only reachable via plane flight, followed by a ferry ride. That meant this in many ways this was car camping, yet all the gear needed to be stored in an easily transportable form. (Incidentally, the only item that gave us pause was the stove, and that was solved easily enough.)
Oh, and there was one more wrinkle to this trip: we'd have our friend's 5 year old along for the ride. Last year we did backpacking, this year it was campground camping.
The gear list we used can be found here (and is embedded below). It may be a useful starting point for you if you plan to do any sort of destination camping.
Yes, I really did schlep a 2 person inflatable boat to the campground, all because we were going to have beach access. I could say that it was for the 5 year old, but that would be lying. In fact, it was a fantastic beach toy and I can't wait to put it to use again. I also brought along a kite which flew effortlessly on the beach.
Toys aside, most of the gear was stuff we bring on all our trips and has more than proven its worth. The Neorest air mattresses are heavenly, and the Eureka Timberline 4 Man Tent may be a beast, but it's spacious and came through one of the worst thunderstorms / downpours I've ever been in without a hint of a problem.
Ever trip though, I learned something new, and this trip was no different. Here are 3 new pieces of gear that we'll be taking on every camping trip from now on:
Glow Sticks (one per night in the woods) - We originally brought these as a toy for our little camper friend, but Shira and I both quickly fell in love with them. As soon as it got dark, we deployed one of these lights. They were plenty bright in the tent, easily bright enough to find stuff by and do a general welfare check. At the same time, they weren't so bright that you'd lose all night vision by using them. Of course, unlike a candle lantern, they play great in the tent. Shira was able to sleep with one at hand, stashing it under her "pillow" when it wasn't in use. They're also valuable for marking our site, which I did when I went to go wash up for the evening. Once it gets dark, our obvious campsite was anything but obvious. As the night wore on, our eyes got more accustomed to the light, so the fact that they dimmed wasn't a concern. And we're not talking about some fancy shmancy glow stick technology, I think the pack above was $1 or $2 at Target.
By the way, speaking of lights: I'm still in love with my Photon X-Light. It was plenty bright enough to navigate the trails (and bathroom) with, and I love that I can hold down the switch to have it start up in a dim mode. Other lights often have you cycle from bright to dim, which defeats the whole purpose of using a dim setting in the first place.
Keychainize It - After fumbling for the Mini Bic Lighter I a few times it occurred to me that I should just attach it to my keychain. I busted a paper clip and a small length of duct tape out of my Altoids Urban Survival Kit and made a field expedient attachment for the keychain on the lighter. The rest of the trip, as long as I had my keychain on me, I knew I had my essentials (in this case: knife, light, lighter, compass and whistle. House key and USB thumb drive were probably less useful in the woods. But out of habit, they stayed attached). And most importantly, I didn't lose the lighter.
Legos - Of all the toys I brought along for our little camper, the winner by far was a zip lock snack bag filled with Legos, including 4 mini figures (one of which was wearing lederhosen?!). Whether it was at the camp ground, during a break on a hike, or at the restaurant after the trip was over, the Legos were the go to toy. They weren't even an official set, just a hodgepodge of pieces I'd had lying around that I brought. They proved to be an instant escape, and a chance to play make believe anywhere, anytime. Plus, I enjoyed playing along.