Towing and Setting up a Camper

By Marian Black

The full responsibility of towing and setting up a camper alone can be intimidating for a woman. Don’t let it be. Cast out fear and take your time. And if all else fails, don’t be afraid to ask a seasoned camper for guidance.

Here are a few pointers to make things go a little smoother.

Hitching up your camper

A good friend or neighbor with experience in campers can help a lot. Most skilled campers are excited to pass their wisdom to a new camper. It doesn’t matter if you think you look inept, ask them to direct you or just stand there and watch to make sure you don’t get in a bind. You may need to a friend to call a second (or even a third) time when being shown how to back into your driveway. The release on the tongue could also be jammed up from lack of regular use (e.g. over the winter time) and might not release easily from the hitch on your vehicle. If so, then lube up everything you can with WD-40 before using it and store WD-40 in your camper’s compartment, along with a hammer to loosen up any jams.

Hooking up your hitch to the camper tongue is a process made easier by another person directing you, as you cannot see the ball from the driver’s seat. When you pull reverse up to the camper with your vehicle, it is nearly impossible to hit the correct spot. A trick to do this effectively is to place a piece of tape dead center of your vehicle and, taking a long flag (like what would be used to mark a gas line), attaching this temporarily to the trailer hitch. This will allow you to get much closer with much less effort.

Camper tongue released
Camper tongue released
Camper tongue locked in
Camper tongue locked in

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Towing

It is recommended that you practice backing up and maneuvering your camper in your driveway or in a large parking lot after-hours. A parking lot will give you plenty of space to make mistakes and figure out how to manipulate the camper into a spot.

When backing a camper, turn the steering wheel the opposite way you want the camper to go. If you want the camper to move toward the right, turn your wheel left until the camper turns enough, and then slowly follow it with your car. Don’t get frustrated, this is hard for everyone at first. Take it slow and you will get the hang of it.

Camper tongue - Camping for Women
Camper tongue – Camping for Women

One of the most important details to know about pulling a camper of any weight is to take your automatic transmission vehicle out of overdrive. Keeping a transmission in overdrive under a speed of 60 mph will create extra heat in your engine and transmission and produce heavy wear. Hauling your camper in D3 will use a bit more fuel but should keep your thermostat closer to normal. When on the expressway you can switch back to overdrive to save on fuel.

Before leaving on the trip

Two of the most important things to have are working lights and good chocks. Check your taillights, brake lights and turn signals before each trip. Purchase your chocks from a camper store. The chocks they sell in variety stores are geared toward a trailer parked in your driveway. A good chock made specifically for a camper will give you much peace of mind when your camp site ends up jutting out over a large hill.

At your campsite

Leveling your camper is another challenge. The jacks at each corner are designed for support and stabilization, not leveling. Once the weight of the camper is upon them you won’t be able to crank them much higher. You can level your camper from front to back by placing one inch boards on the ground then backing the camper onto them. You can use several if the campsite slants to the back. Boards should be cut long enough to allow for chocks to sit behind or in front of the wheels. Be sure to store them where they are easily accessible before set up. Small boards or small concrete squares or blocks can also be used under the corner jacks to add height when there is a dramatic slant at one end.

Like most things, it takes some practice to get the hang of it.  Again, don’t be afraid to ask for help if you can’t get it right. Most campers are of the friendly sort and more than ready to help a fellow camper in need.

 

How to Build a Campfire in 5 Easy Steps

By Shelby Kisgen

Follow these steps and you can’t go wrong…

Tool Time: First, before you even head out to camp, pick the right tools to start your fire. If you are bad at lighting matches (remember to buy water proof), take a handheld lighter. If you are worried about getting the fire to catch, take a pack of fire sticks; these are highly flammable, waterproof sticks that burn for a long time at high heat. They can be found in most store’s camping sections. Store your fire starting tools in a waterproof case or sealed baggy to prevent moisture or spills. Remember, two is better than one. Never skimp on fire-starting tools. Lighters break, matches are lost. Bring a back-up set of whatever method you choose.

Location: Remember that fire safety is of the utmost importance. Pick a location that is sheltered from the wind to prevent too much spark jumping. Do not build a fire in the midst of dead trees or grass, as they are highly flammable. The more alive the vegetation, the slower they catch fire. Make a ring of rocks to give a visual marker for the fire. This mentally shows you where the fire should be, and leads to immediate action if the fire leaves its designated area. Rocks are also not flammable, so that helps to keep it from spreading to leaves and twigs beyond the reach of the rocks.

Stockpile: One of the worst feelings in the camping world is to spend the time to build a beautiful little flame, and then let it starve and die. Make sure you have enough matches or lighters, sticks, leaves, and wood on hand to not just build the fire but maintain it. Do not pick wet, soggy, green, living or moldy wood. Find dead, dry sources for the best fire.

Pick the Fuel: You need three types of flammable materials: tinder and kindling to get the fire started, and wood to keep it going. Tinder should be thin and highly flammable; this lights a fire quickly. Kindling should be thinner twigs and sticks. The wood is harder to get going, but keeps the heat and burns for a long time. Good tinder options are leaves, pine needles, scraps of newspaper or journal paper, and even a marshmallow if you have trouble lighting the pile of lighter stuff. Tinder will smoke and burn out quickly, so have enough of it on hand to keep “feeding” the fire. Gradually add the kindling: smaller stickers and twigs onto the pile to get a longer lasting burn. Do not pile huge pieces of wood atop a small pile of kindling; the fire will be snuffed out from lack of oxygen.

Think Teepee: When you are arranging your campfire, start with a base or pile of tinder. Arrange twigs and sticks on top of your flammable base. Then arrange the wood in the form of a teepee. Angle the logs so that the logs reach a point over the top of the kindling. This will allow oxygen to flow over the inside of the fire and keep it from snuffing out. It also allows the hot kindling to catch the twigs to catch the bellies of the bigger logs to create a lasting burn. As the logs collapse from burning, add more on top to keep the teepee growing.

You have done it! You have created a beautiful campfire, but now you must feed it. Keep a stack of wood on hand and small pile of kindling and tinder. If the fire burns low or cools, add some twigs to revitalize the flames and then more wood. Enjoy your cozy masterpiece, the scent of pine wood burning, and pat yourself on the back, you fire-lady.

Check out this video from an expert…

 

5 Things to Consider When Picking Your Campsite

By Shelby Kisgen

Picking the ideal campsite for your needs is vital to an enjoyable camping experience. Once a tent is set up, it is never fun to move it. Here are the essential things to consider when picking a spot to pitch your tent and roast your marshmallows.

Safety First: Never, never pitch your tent in a flash-flood prone area. Basically, make sure you do not put your tent at the bottom of a ravine, or any place where natural water run-off flows. Use trees as wind shelter, but watch for trees that are decaying or dead and give them a wide berth; heavy winds topple rotten trees and you want to be out of reach.

Drink Up: Camp near a clean, easy access water source. Each park has various regulations on how close you can camp to the water, so keep those area specific rules in mind. Also, remember that the wildlife needs the water too. Do not camp so close to the water that animals coming in to drink will explore your camp on their way.

Comfort Matters: Maybe you brought a mattress pad, maybe you are sleeping on the dirt; either way, clear out the space where you are putting your tent. Find a level piece of ground to pitch your tent. Hills and angles make for awkward sleeping positions. Make sure there are no ant hills or animal holes where you place your tent. Finally, clear the ground under the tent of all sticks and rocks. Make the sleeping surface as smooth as possible for a nice night of rest. Side note: Prank your fellow campers by placing rocks under their sleeping bags…but only if you are prepared for whatever retaliation they cook up.

Proximity: There are two main ways to look at camping close to other campers: safety benefits, or aggravation. Camping in a designated location with other tents and camp vehicles discourages wandering predators, both human and animal. The adage safety in numbers almost always rings true. Some people however, are not comfortable sleeping so near to strangers, and that is okay too. Camping farther away from other people provides more peace, quiet, and privacy. Choose whatever proximity to other people as you feel comfortable with, but try to choose wisely so you do not have to pack up your site due to changing your mind.

Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My: Know what wildlife lives in the area you will be camping. Do not keep food in your tent as that can attract predators. Use bear poles or bear boxes if provided. Do not leave food lying out, uneaten and unattended. Make sure to pack up or burn all food containers as well. The smells linger on packages and still attract animals, so keep them in a designated area with the food and separate from the heart of camp.

Keep these five tips in mind when you pick your next campsite, and you should have an enjoyable experience making memories!

Here is a video from an expert woman camper on this very topic:

 

First published Camping for Women eBook offered free to subscribers

By Nicole Anderson

At the same time as producing its first publication, the Camping for Women website (www.campingforwomen.com) also launches its free subscription service today, open to all interested campers across the globe!

The website now has a self-explanatory sign-up area to receive the eBook free together with future updates on blog entries, news, offers and other information of interests to us lady campers.  All people have to do is spend 10 seconds maximum entering their details and hey presto…they are automatically registered as a subscriber and receive the eBook!

The new eBook is an information resource entitled ‘Attention Women Campers: What you will never be taught about camping’.

Attention Women Campers: What you will never be taught about camping

Written by a fellow woman camper, this is the first tailored eBook written for the site and will only be made available free to subscribers.

The main contents of the eBook include the following broad areas, all presented entirely from a woman’s perspective:

  • Before you Camp
  • Shelter and Bedding
  • What to Bring
  • Activities
  • Cleaning up

The Author of ‘Attention Women Campers: What you will never be taught about camping’ is Amanda Parent who is a woman camper, writer and researcher from France.  Whereas most camping information is written by men, here is something written by a woman camper focused on the needs of women campers.

This eBook is the first in a series that will be created utilising the skills, knowledge and talents of fellow women campers who have so much to share with their counterparts.  There are so many areas that women campers can look forward to sharing with their counterparts.  Camping for Women is about creating a platform and a number of resources from this information, aimed at enhancing our nature experiences.  Whether this is a single recipe, campfire, hiking, kayaking or photography tip – or you feel you would like to publish something more substantial with us, drop us a line and let us know.  You can do so publically by commenting on this post, or privately by dropping us a line on the ‘contact’ page.

Articles written by women campers will be regularly published with subscribers receiving these straight to their inbox.  These articles will be added to by a range of other information over time, without overloading anyone with too much information at once.

So sign up as a subscriber, get involved and enjoy delving into your passion of the great outdoors!