Australians love the great outdoors. There’s something special about sleeping under the stars and being immersed in nature. When I was young the family would pack the car boot with all things camping and we would spend weekends in the bush, outback and at the beach, depending on the time of year and Dad’s work commitments. The best thing my brother loved about camping was all the gadgets Dad and he would get to play with… oops, I mean utilise.
Camping is done in different ways. Some people carry their tents and supplies to a camp site, others have their tent fixed permanently to the top of their vehicle and climb up to it at night to sleep. Some have purpose-built vehicles with all the mod cons of home on the vehicle, and even a trailer that converts to a tent and kitchen.
Novice campers could start off by having a trial run in a tent for two nights in their backyard. Pretend you are far away from anything and try not to access the house, which means taking all your supplies with you. This way, you work out very quickly what is needed and what is not. Sometimes, you may have to carry all supplies for some distance before you reach your camp site. Other times, you may decide to carry your supplies by weatherproof backpack, which makes you even more frugal about your choices. In the end, you might find its just plain fun camping in the backyard from time to time.
First things first. Plan ahead – choose your favourite weather app. and check the weather report. If you forget to check, you might be rudely awakened by a storm that converges on you around 3am or worse still, that lasts for days!
Talking of weather, unless you are protected from the elements both day and night with appropriate clothing and sleeping bag, you will not enjoy the experience and your health might even suffer because of it.
Buy the best sleeping bag you can afford. It is absolutely essential that you get a sleeping bag that is rated for the temperature that you are camping in.
Don’t take any chances and take clothing for all types of weather and purpose including a change of clothes for the return home. There is nothing worse than sitting in wet clothes from that sudden downpour that no one predicted because you have no dry clothes to change into. Wearing layers of clothing is the best method. Going to the bathroom in the wild can be a bit of a nightmare, so consider pants with a zipper that runs the entire length of the crotch region, which allows you to go without having to undress.
Wrap all items in waterproof materials. Take protection from sun, even in winter you can get burnt.
If you prefer to sleep in a tent/swag, you are spoilt for choice – go online and in store.
Do not leave home without drinking water and get refills on the go. A water filter is a must for anyone who goes camping. Some manufacturers use a 2-stage filtration process to remove bacteria, protozoa, chlorine and bad taste; whilst helping you get safe water on the go. There are many different brands of refillable water bottles that work with a replaceable activated carbon capsule, leak-proof lids and flexible detachable food-grade silicone mouthpieces.
If your style of camping means you will be walking some distance either to get to a site or for day walks from camp then you will need a waterproof backpack. Look for durable exteriors with two strong shoulder straps, heavy-duty plastic hardware, as well as side pockets, natural leather lash tabs for additional attachments and a handy zippered top pocket, roomy enough to store your electronic gadgets. Ensure its lined inside with a coated pack cloth as one big compartment, plus an additional sleeve for your devices.
Camping is always about compactness. The accessory world of camping abounds in different products for different uses with weight and compactness at the forefront of design. For instance, there is a water/ puncture resistant foldable blanket for two, tiny enough to fit in your pocket!
The calming crackle of a campfire does us all good. Take along a waterproof case that floats, has strikers as well as windproof and waterproof matches that light up in driving rain, heavy winds and even snow. However, if a child is too young to understand what being burnt means, then campfires might be unsafe. Something else to consider is wood smoke. Smoke from a wood fire can get into your eyes and respiratory system, where theymay cause burning eyes and runny nose. One way to combat wood smoke inhalation is to invest in other devices. There are compact stoves that grill, boil, cook and charge your devices. They can generate electricity and create smokeless wood flames.
Keeping food and drinks cold for hours is a challenge. There are numerous designs,styles, sizes and brands to choose from. Two important points to consider when choosing a storage container: an interior which is fully lined with food-grade antimicrobial material to prevent mould; and an ergonomic shoulder strap with a variety of handles on the top and sides to provide plenty of carrying options for one or more persons.
Having your own shower when camping is priceless. Solar showers are made from PVC, equipped with strong handles and have an on/off valve connected to the shower head; ensuring a hassle-free shower experience. Additionally, they use solar energy to heat the water, which is enough for multiple showers.
The compass is a survival tool that can really make the difference between life and death in many situations… and the best part? No batteries! Think about taking a waterproof topographical map. This type of map shows physical features such as rivers, hills, ridges, mountains and walking tracks. Otherwise, always follow the route signage and don’t take shortcuts because you could easily get lost.
A good lantern is essential and a compact solar-powered device is what you need. Many provide over 75 lumens of LED light and can run for up to 24 hours. Look for ones that are made with durable TPU plastic, waterproof, shatterproof, and that float on water. Think about using portable battery chargers.
If you love your coffee, you’ll absolutely love a handheld espresso maker. Brew your high-quality espresso anywhere – just add water and your favourite coffee beans.