Mom On The Run

Happy Campers

The weather is warming up, so it’s a perfect time to unplug your children and get outside for some camping.  It’s an inexpensive way to build family bonds, get some exercise, teach your kids an appreciation for nature, and give your family a much-needed break from technology.

The key to camping is packing efficiently. Find products that do more than one job..so you are lugging around less. The Garmin Oregon 550t GPS has both a 3-axis compass, and a 3.2 megapixel camera.  It will also automatically geotag your photos..so you can remember and navigate back to the same spot again if you want.  It’s also waterproof, and has a touchscreen that can be used with gloves..and still read in direct sunlight.  Coolest thing…it has a 3D screen so you can actually hold it up and match it against the horizon in front of you.  This really helps you “feel” your location and makes finding your way easier.

When you’re camping..you sometimes have to split up as a group to find a campsite after a day of canoeing or hiking. Two-way radios come in handy for this – to avoid back-paddling, or just to find out who’s getting the most fish. Motorola makes both the MR350RS version with a built in flashlight, 11 weather channels and 35 mile range..and the less expensive MC220RS which is weather resistant and rugged and perfect for kids.  They’re fully compatible..and reasonably priced. Starting in July you can also customize your radios with different faceplates.

Cooking can be both fun and challenging.  Nothing beats a campfire for atmosphere..and a trick, if you are planning to cook right over the fire.  Rub a lot of biodegradable dish soap onto the bottom and sides of the pot before cooking, and the soot will wash right away. Or, avoid the soot problem altogether with a lightweight gas stove, and save the fire for atmosphere.  The Jetboil Helios cooking system is slick.  It uses revolutionary technology to boil water in just two minutes. You can find it at Amazon.com in their Outdoor Recreation store and it even qualifies for free shipping. It’s just a little over $100. Meals are always a centerpiece of a camping trip and Mountain House freeze dried camping food is easily the tastiest, and you may be surprised by the meals you can make by just adding water.  From lasagna to Buffalo chicken wraps.

You may also want to heat up a pot of water at the same time you’re cooking dinner…so when you’re done eating, you’re ready to wash the dishes. Granite Gear’s portable kitchen sink comes in handy.  It weighs just ounces, but holds 2 gallons of water – remember, washing dishes in the lake is bad for the environment, even with biodegradable soap. 

When it’s time to sleep, make sure you have a sleeping bag that’s both weather-appropriate, and as light as possible. The Field & Stream MT 40 degree bag is comfortable down to 40-degrees, and weighs just one pound.  It’s also machine washable..and flame retardant.. both things you want to look for.  You can find it as Dick’s Sporting Goods and it’s very reasonably priced at under $40.

And to carry everything around..be sure you choose a waterproof bag if you’re planning to be on or near the water.  Wet clothes can ruin a trip. This Granite Gear Immersion bag packs a huge amount of stuff, and is designed for canoe camping.  It has no frame to get hooked on the sides of the canoe, and it rides close to the shoulders so bigger campers carry it and a canoe at the same time, yet it has straps that will hold it to your hips like a frame pack.   and it is extremely light as well as waterproof – huge for canoe camping. REI carries it. It’s not quite as effective, but you can also make any bag water resistant by lining it with a garbage bag…and to keep each family member’s clothing and personal gear separate and extra dry, you can use giant Ziploc bags.  Be sure to bring along a couple extra for the dirty clothes.