Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
A simple pleasure of life is waking in the night to hear a spring rain pattering the roof.
It’s more of a delight when that rain beats its drum on your nylon tent fly. You’re snug as a bug in your cozy tent, dry and curled up in a warm sleeping bag listening to the rainy music. So much the better if that shower ends by morning.
Camping season is here, when folks pull that fabric home away from home off the shelf and head for their favorite campsite. Six years ago, we asked readers to send us their favorite camping tips and dozens obliged.
The tips were so helpful, we’ve run many of them again over the years. A lot of the tips have to do with tent camping and getting the most out of the gear folks take on tent-camping adventures. Here are some tips from readers.
• If you’ve purchased a new tent, practice setting it up in the yard a time or two before taking it on a camping trip.
• If you use a ground cloth, make sure the edges aren’t sticking out beyond the floor of the tent. When it rains, those edges will funnel water under the tent’s floor. Not good.
• Don’t use a ground cloth. It’s not necessary. If the floor or your tent wears out, it means you’ve camped in it a lot and the tent has lived its life.
• Take two lighters, one to use and one to lose.
• Before taking kids on their first camping trip, schedule a night or two sleeping in the back yard. This will help children gain confidence in the tent, sleeping bags and sleeping outdoors.
• Take books, board games or (gasp!) video games to keep kids occupied if it rains.
• A portable camp table is handy for camping at any site that doesn’t have a picnic table.
• Put coolers and trash inside the car before going to bed. Critters can’t bother them there.
• Camp during the week if possible. Campgrounds are almost always crowded on weekends.
• Cut re-bar into 16-inch lengths to make industrial-strength tent stakes. Make a bend at the top of each stake so each has a J or L shape. These aren’t light but hold better in sand or gravel and on blustery days.
• Sleep with the same number of pillows when you camp as you do at home.
• If you use an air mattress, carry a spare. It will be worth its weight in gold if the primary mattress goes flat in the middle of the night.
• Don’t take a radio. No one wants to hear your personal preference of amplified noise.
• Leave your campsite cleaner than you found it, especially when camping with kids. When a child sees an adult picking up trash someone else has left, it teaches a lasting lesson about taking care of the environment.
• Make meal components at home and freeze them. They help cool an ice chest and will last longer. Camp cooking will be easier.
• Don’t scatter ice in an ice chest. Ice will last longer if you keep it in the bag.
• Rinse plastic milk jugs, fill three-fourths full of water and freeze. Use these instead of bagged ice in your cooler. The ice becomes cold, refreshing drinking water as it melts.
• Keep duct tape and parachute cord in your kit. Both have many uses in camp.
• Always take rain gear, even if dry weather is forecast.
Flip Putthoff can be reached at email@example.com