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Camper experts help us, please

 
 
Linkat
 
Reply Mon 23 Mar, 2009 10:36 am
I have not been camping in almost 20 years. We decided the kids are old enough and really enjoy things like fishing, hiking and swimming so we figure we are going to get all the equipment and start camping again. We looked at some tents and other equipment and thought jeepers for how much we planned on spending to go away for 4 day weekend, we could buy all this crap and go away for a whole week. Then we could go away for several weekends during the summer as well " we could go to Maine, VT, NH and western MA. And with getting a dog, we could bring fido along too.

Sounds great, huh? Seeing I haven’t done this for a while " any suggestions will help. What sort of equipment should we buy? What is a waste of money? And how do know what are good campsites/prices? I started looking up some because we want to go over 4th of July and figure that will fill up quick. I saw prices ranging about $175 - $250 week. All we really want is a site that provides showers and an area safe to swim in like a lake or river. Many of these sites have pools, activity centers,etc. Although nice is not needed.

Please let me know or I’ll end up spending a fortune (when I’m trying to find alternatives to expensive trips).
 
hamburger
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Mar, 2009 11:20 am
@Linkat,
linkat :

we used to do a lot of "tent camping" in the late 60''s and the 70's .
we usually stayed at provincial(canada) or state (U.S.) campbrounds .
fees in those days fees were around $5 a night - including all the firewood you wanted - but ususally NO showers - so every few days we'd check into a cheapo motel for a scrubdown .
i see that in maine the rates are $20 and up now .

http://www.state.me.us/doc/parks/reservations/fees.html

we had only the basic equipment : good tent , air-matresses , sleeping bags and coleman stove and icebox - a spade for digging a rain-trench and plastic sheets and extra ropes . we had a VW-BEETLE so no room for excess baggage .
it was a great way to meet people and see the country .
enjoy it while you can !
hbg

0 Replies
 
McGentrix
 
  4  
Reply Mon 23 Mar, 2009 11:23 am
Your tent will be the largest investment. Decide if you want a roomy tent for all of you or if you want 2 tents so kids can have their own. Look for a 3 season tent as I doubt you are going to be doing any winter camping, right? Go for a name brand if you'd like it to last beyond a year or two. You don't need a north face tent, but Eureka and Kelty make some nice midrange, affordable tents.

Sleeping: Comfort=fun. Air matresses are good, but I have yet to find one that doesn't leak and become like a crappy waterbed. Not sure how big you and the family are, but a good closed cell foam pad and some blakets are good. I use a big 6" open cell pad that I believe came from a bed at one time. It's very comfy. Gett decent sleeping bags. Go to Gander Mtn or Bass or some other camping place. Avoid walmart and target etc. Some of the camping stuff you will buy there, but avoid the getting the tent and sleeping bags there.

Creature comforts: Buy a couple big plastic bins to hold your camping supplies. You will want a lantern (LED lanterns are very good now. I'd avoid the propane ones anymore.), perhaps a tarp, camp chairs (the $12 walmart chairs are good), a table cloth and blanket to sit on, toilet paper, paper towels and plates, a couple of towels, fire starting stuff, a good cooler for food, another good cooler for beverages, flashlight or 2, bug spray, suntan lotion, an axe or saw, some kind of entertainment in case it rains (yahtzee, uno, etc).

Cooking: Decide on open fire cooking vs. camp stove cooking. Open fire leaves your utensils black, rub the outside with dish soap before placing them over the fire. Camp stove, get a coleman propane stove. a 2 burner should be enough. You can use you home pots and pans on a camp stove. be sure to plan your menu ahead of time and read up on foil dinners you can make ahead of time. Made right, they are wonderful. Hotdogs are a perenial favorite for camping. All you need is a stick.

Remember that it's better to take something and not need it then it is to need it and not have it.
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Mar, 2009 11:28 am
You might be able to find a used pop-up for a song right now.

Or even a new one, considering the state of the economy.
0 Replies
 
Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Mar, 2009 03:42 pm
@McGentrix,
Wow - great ideas!

What we did was go visit REI - then did a search for the exact same items on amazon - we found a great colman fold up propane stove for significantly less than REI; I saw some great tents they did run a bit - about $199 - $300; we want one big one - I figure a 6 person (even though it is four of us because I hate to be enclosed. We have good camping type fold up chairs already.

We were thinking of getting a fold up table and chairs, but I noticed many campsites have picnic tables.
aidan
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Mar, 2009 04:05 pm
@Linkat,
If you can find a pop up - they're great. I grew up camping and camped all my life in a tent, sleeping on the ground, mostly without even an air mattress or cot and it was fine - but when we got a pop up - oh my goodness- I hadn't known what I was missing.

I liked sleeping up off the ground - if it was pouring rain - so what - you didn't wake up in a puddle. And when you open the flaps and the breeze washes over you - you feel like you're sleeping in a screen porch. Sometimes I'd put the pop up up and sleep out in it in my back yard just because it was so nice. I like the outdoors.

I wouldn't buy a folding table, unless there are more than four of you. What we always did was set up one end of the table for cooking - for your stove etc. and one end of the picnic table for eating. But if you have a lot of people to eat at the table - it might be worth it to buy a little card table with folding legs so that you can cook and put your dishpan for washing dishes on it.
hamburger
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Mar, 2009 05:19 pm
@Linkat,
Quote:
We were thinking of getting a fold up table and chairs, but I noticed many campsites have picnic tables.


don't think we ever had a campsite that didn't have a picnic table . in ontario provincial parks many campsites have TWO tables .

about extra gear : remember a couple that brought their champagne glasses - wouldn't consider drinking the bubbly without proper glasses ever - any cup will do for us .
hbg

mismi
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Mar, 2009 05:22 pm
@hamburger,
I am wanting to do this too...I am reading along...plus we are in boy scouts...we need this stuff anyway - but I am dying to go camping down at the beach...

thanks for starting the thread Linkat
0 Replies
 
hamburger
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Mar, 2009 05:38 pm
1974 : camping near TANGIER - nova scootia - not far from the ocean

our "house" all packed up - ready for travel
.....................................................our "house" set up - ready for relaxation


http://triton.imageshack.us/Himg18/scaled.php?server=18&filename=campingv.jpg&xsize=640&ysize=480


0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Mar, 2009 09:52 pm
@hamburger,
I've been reading along..
the people who brought champagne glasses make me smile.

Meatime, this all sounds good, Linkat and Mismi.
0 Replies
 
roger
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Mar, 2009 11:38 pm
@Linkat,
If you're looking at tents for 6, to actually hold 4, you should look long and hard at the Eureka brand, as someone has already mentioned.
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Mar, 2009 11:51 pm
@roger,
how far into bear country will you be?
Mame
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Mar, 2009 07:38 am
Ooooh, I love camping!

Be sure to take large jugs of water - you never know when you might need them. And lots of flashlights for going to the bathroom (there are usually decent bathrooms in campsites these days) at night. And an axe, matches or lighters for starting your fire/stove ... as others said, take more - you never know.

And when you plan your menu, think about cleaning the pots and plates later - you'll have to boil water to do your pots, etc, and you'll need a plastic bucket for washing up. J-Cloths are great for camping.

Spaghetti is amazingly easy (two pots) although the water takes a long time to boil, esp without a lid. Chili is easy, too, for those cold nights. And don't forget about coolers - you can buy those blocks of ice to keep everything fresh or just pack them with frozen food and layer them throughout with no-frozen perishables (cheese, for example).

Coolers take up a lot of room in your vehicle, so I'd mainly buy stuff that doesn't need to be chilled, ie. take frozen burgers and chicken pieces (freeze your own) so they'll thaw over the weekend and you don't need to keep them frozen. Apples and other fruits don't need to be kept in the cooler, buns, crackers, peanut butter, juices, etc are good for snacks that don't need to be chilled. I'd put all the non-perishables in a large box and the perishables in the cooler. You can get away with not having milk for a long weekend - less mess. Get a Bodum if you want coffee...

And don't forget your deck of cards for those nights!

As for air mattresses, I wouldn't bother. You can get really decent thinsulator pads that are comfy and keep the chill off your bod (really a necessity because the ground gets COLD) and are lightweight and roll up very tidily. When I camp and drive, I always take a pillow Smile

Have fun!!

Edit: Oh, and corn on the cob and potatoes are good wrapped in foil and placed in the embers in the fire - fantastic, actually.
Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Mar, 2009 11:24 am
@aidan,
A pop up sounds great - but we don't have any where to store it - we live in a condo association and I highly doubt it would be allowed to be kept there.

Besides the kids love the idea of the tent. And unless I've used a pop up, I won't know the difference.
0 Replies
 
Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Mar, 2009 11:25 am
@hamburger,
Yeah - I can see myself even camping wanting a glass of wine with my hot dog. And I'm not kidding. I usually wine from my nice crystal too - it tastes so much better. I may have some old wine glasses though - I cannot imagine drinking my wine from plastic. I need to dig out those old glasses.
0 Replies
 
Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Mar, 2009 11:26 am
@roger,
thanks - I think I might have spotted one for $199 that seems do-able for price.
0 Replies
 
Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Mar, 2009 11:28 am
@farmerman,
Well I don't know - I'd like to keep the travel time from 2 - 3 hours from Boston. With two kids shorter distances are always better.

One thing I noticed doing a search is I can't believe how non-rustic many of these camp grounds are - pools, community rooms, water parks in the camp grounds! I just want swimming in a river or lake and fishing and hiking. I don't want a "resort type."
0 Replies
 
Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Mar, 2009 11:30 am
@Mame,
Spaghetti! We plan on getting lobster! Especially as we will be in Maine.
hamburger
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Mar, 2009 01:05 pm
@Linkat,
linkat :

instead of bringing "everything and then some " from home , we also used the local suppliers - couldn't have stored two weeks supplies in a VW BEETLE anyway .
church , firemen's and local village suppers always made a nice change from "campfie" diet .
it also gives you a chance to try local bread , cheese , jams ...
how far are you away from adirondacks ? some beautiful state parks up there .

btw make sure you are aware of any TICK dangers - usually posted at park entrances - but always good to ask !
HAPPY CAMPING !
hbg


ADIRONDACK STATE PARKS
http://visitadirondacks.com/home/park.cfm
Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Mar, 2009 01:36 pm
@hamburger,
Yes ticks are a problem even in my own back yard so I am fully aware of that!

We are right outside of Boston. I thought about driving to VT near Lake Champlain - but it might be a bit long for my kids.

We plan on one week long trip over 4th July and then just weekend trips. The week long one I would be willing to drive longer.

I thought maybe going some where in southern NH for Memorial day weekend for our first camping expediation.
 

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