*Originally published on 30 November 2011*
Many people scoff at the idea of camping imagining something quite unpleasant like sleeping outside on sloping, hard ground on one of those thin blue hiking foam mattresses in a sleeping bag that isn’t warm enough. They also picture a tiny “two” person tent – you know, those tents that claim to be for two adults, but if you examine the instructions more carefully, you’ll notice that they are either made for children or two very tiny and unusual adults that can only sleep like sardines with no space whatsoever on either side of or between them. They also assume that they’ll be obliged to give up their non-negotiable morning cup of coffee either because the morning fire won’t get started or your friend only drinks Ricoffy. Perhaps they fear the absence of their fancy and are afraid to be forced to sip their barrel-fermented chardonnay out an enamel mug…
You can camp like this, but it is certainly not advised or pleasurable. And it certainly is avoidable!
Here is our opinion on what makes camping okay and comfortable, if not extremely pleasurable:
Admittedly, we have no desire for a 5-roomed tent with an extended porch and built-in kitchen area. Why not? Because we have no desire to spend 40 minutes in the dark trying to remember which pole goes where and scouting around for a large enough piece of flat ground to pitch it on. We also have no need for 5 rooms, let alone 2 for that matter, and if we did, it would make more sense to rent a cottage for the weekend.
Our new tent is perfectly adequate and remarkably easy to pitch.
These are non-negotiable. A solid camping chair with a pouch for a drink and we’re happier than we would be on a spongy couch any day. Something like this is slightly tempting, but is admittedly also a tad extravagant.
We have two Campmor 3 Division single mattresses. They rock. They are also a necessity. We care absolutely nothing about the extra space they take up relative to a blow-up contraption and frankly, we’d rather sacrifice a few packets of Nik Naks, my wine and some clothing for something firm and comfortable that doesn’t twist your back in its stupid gullies and that doesn’t get punctured when you decide to camp under an Acacia tree.
We’ll spend the premium on these without blinking. Just do NOT offer us a blow-up mattress instead and try and convince us of their ingenuity. We firmly believe that most people refuse to camp because of discomfort and hence, because of things like these.
Sleeping bags should be reserved for hikes, climbing Mt Everest and kids. For the best experience, sleep in style you are used to.
The truth of the matter is that the more you pay, the more and better you get. A good old regular beach-going Coleman might be quite adequate, but let’s be honest, it does not keep ice cold the whole weekend and it really doesn’t fit much inside. Admittedly, I own one of these, which now gets used solely for ice and perhaps drinks. My man has a fancy car fridge that works perfectly. However, if you’re worried about your battery, I’d opt for something like this. It’s similar to the industrial style cool box my sister owns and it rocks. It’s solid, food and ice do not compete for space and ice stays cold for more than two days.
This needs no explanation.
Cutlery and Crockery box:
Instead of packing all those painful little things each time you go camping, we suggest investing in a plastic box of sorts and stocking it with everything you may need to prepare/eat food. Ours contains the obvious knives, forks, spoons, serving spoon, wooden spoon, spatula and things like a corkscrew, can opener, bread board, salt, pepper, sugar, spices, serviettes etc. All you need to do is pack it in without thinking. It does take up space, but you’re at no risk of having to beg from your strange camping neighbours.
That completes the must-have list.