If you are not sure how to choose a tent, set your tent up or set up a camp kitchen and keep your camp clean, here are some tips on where to start.
CAMPING / HOW-TO'S
Learning how to set up camp gets easier the more you do it and if you are new to camping, make sure you arrive at your location early so have you plenty of daylight to get everything ready.
Choose a tent
It’s important to choose the right tent for your requirements. There are a number of factors you may want to consider such as:
What size tent do you need?
The three room tents may look great in the showroom and seem good value for money but do you need such a big tent? They can be cumbersome and time consuming to set up and you will require a large, flat surface to erect them. Remember that tents are not ‘generous’ and if it says it sleeps six people, it will most probably sleep four people comfortably.
Where will you be camping?
Will you be at a caravan site or somewhere with a large flat area to set up a big tent? Do you think you might like to go bush camping in the future or where your tent may need to be a bit smaller to fit in tight areas?
How long will you be camping for?
If you are planning on spending only one or two nights in one place or moving every couple of days, think twice about large multi-room tents which take more time to set up and pack away. Aim for tents that are quick set up or a ‘turbo’ or ‘instant’ tent that are designed for an easy and fast set up.
What is the packed size and weight of the tent?
Do you need a roof rack to transport it or will it take up half your boot or is it too heavy for you to lift? Sometimes you may have to sacrifice a bit of speed for a smaller or lighter tent.
Do you need multiple tents?
Our boys have been sleeping in their own tent for a few years now and we set it up right next to ours. We have two smaller tents so it easy to find small areas when we are bush camping and the boys love having their own ‘fun tent’. It works for us as they can drag as much sand as they like in their tent and I can keep mine clean. We have just purchased a lightweight tent with colour coded poles and it is only 1.5m high so the boys can set it up themselves and they are now one step closer to independence.
Are you camping in the heat or the cold?
Some tents repel moisture better, they are warmer and designed for cold climate camping whereas others have better ventilation and are designed for a warmer climate. It is good to purchase a tent that will suit the style of camping you prefer or find a tent that can do both.
What is your budget and how much do you camp?
Tents are much cheaper than they used to be and when you wait for a sale, you can pick tents up for a great price. Think about how much you are going to use a tent as if it’s only once a year then you may not need to pay for a premium high quality tent which is designed for heavy use.
SET UP A CAMP KICTHEN
A camp kitchen is pretty easy to set up and you don’t have to go and buy everything new. You might have a picnic set or some plastic plates and cups or a frypan you are happy to use. I like to put everything in a couple of clear plastic tubs to keep it all together and I can easily see what is inside. I pack utensils, can opener, knives and cutlery in one tub and a second with plates, bowls, mugs, saucepans, detergent, dishcloth, tea towel, glad wrap and foil in another. That way I just have to put the tubs in the car and it makes packing a breeze.
The main elements to a kitchen are a table, gas cooker and gas cylinder, water, cooking utensils, a frypan and saucepan and a kettle or billy for boiling water. A light is helpful at night and there are some great LED ones available and even solar charged lanterns. If you have a head torch that will also suffice but if you plan on camping a bit, you may wish to invest in a good lantern. Don’t forget the matches and a small tub to wash your dishes in.
If it is your first time camping, you may not need to go and buy a camp cooker as depending where you go, camp kitchens may be provided. Most tourist parks as well as some national parks may have a camp kitchen. Generally these consist of a gas cook top, kitchen sink with water, undercover preparation bench and if you are lucky, even fridges and freezers (most likely at Caravan Parks or Holiday Parks). This keeps things very simple however call ahead first to check it is available and in good working order as the last thing you want is to find they are out of gas or you cant light a fire to cook your meals.
KEEPING A CLEAN CAMP
The best thing about taking kids camping is letting them get as dirty as they like and not having to worry too much. There are a few things to consider when you are camping such as how best to minimise our impact on the environment.
This video gives some tips on keeping a clean camp, hygiene and camp etiquette.
SET UP A TENT
All tents are different and once you work out how your tent functions, it generally gets easier each time you use it.
If you are buying a new tent, get the store to show you how it sets up and packs away. This is beneficial not only so you learn how to do it yourself, it might help you make your decision if you are choosing between two tents. Practice at home before you go camping and look up video clips on the Internet if you are unsure. It is much better to iron out any issues before you leave home.
If your tent poles are not colour-coded, use nail polish or paint to differentiate between the poles if they are various lengths. It makes it much quicker when you set up if you have them marked. For example put some red nail polish on just your long poles so you know which ones to grab first.
When you get home, if your tent is a bit damp or dirty, make sure you dry it and clean if need be as tents can go mouldy if they are packed away wet for a period of time.