How to Choose the Best Camping Tent

Camping Tent 1

By Mitra Cazaubon

Whether you are going hiking, camping or just enjoying a day outdoors; a tent is a must have. But before you go buying the latest tent, there are some important tips you need to know. In this article, we will look at the features you need to be mindful of when buying a sturdy, reliable camping tent.

Before we go into the features, make a list of the activities you want your tent for, the environment you will most likely encounter and whether you are going to be backpacking or driving to an established campsite.

#1 Camping Tent Size/Capacity

Camping Tent 3First, establish whether you will be camping or glamping. Decide on how many persons you want to house in your camping tent. A comfortable square footage for camping is between 16 to 25 square feet, which includes space for gear. Another aspect of the tent size you should consider is sitting and standing room. You should have enough room to at least sit in your tent. Depending on what type of camping (survival or backpacking) standing room may not be necessary.

#2 Shape and Design

Camping Tent 2Tents come in all shapes and sizes, literally. A-frame, umbrella, and dome are the typical tent shapes. Umbrella tents make great family tents since they have standing room. A-frames are simple tents to set up but are not very popular these days. The dome and umbrella designs are the more standard tent shapes. For light weight camping or hiking, I would recommend a bivy tent which usually has one to three tent poles and uses stakes to keep it stable. They are small and can weight under 5lbs.

Camping Tent 4If light weight is your top priority, this is a great shelter. The dome shape tent is a better choice for everyday camping and glamping. If you will be in a windy environment be sure that you have an aerodynamic design, sturdy tent stakes, and poles.

#3 Tent Fabric

The recommended tent fabric is one that let’s air through but not moisture. Breathable nylon and polyester do just that, but the water resistance depends on the coating the manufacturer applies. Canvas is the best waterproof tent material for long term camping on established drive to camp sites. But they are heavy and usually require help to set up.

Camping Tent 5

Acrylic, polyurethane or silicone are the most popular coatings used on tent fabrics. Tents coated with acrylic are cheaper since it’s a thin layer applied to one side of the fabric. They may be waterproof when new but after some use the thin layer tends to break around to seams. Acrylic coats tend to look glossy compared to the polyurethane which is a thicker layer than the acrylic coating, and is applied to the inside of the tent fabric, unlike the acrylic. The polyurethane coated tents are more expensive than the acrylic as a result, yet in rainy conditions the fabric gets soaked since the polyurethane seal is on the inside. Thus, these camping tents take longer to dry.

Polyurethane lasts longer than the acrylic coated tent since the seal is on the inside where it protects from abrasions and the elements. If this is where your budget reaches a good rainfly can solve this problem. On the other hand, silicone is rated as the best not only because it is more flexible than the others but also because it applies to both the inside and outside of the tent. Silicone coated tents are more expensive than the previously listed coats.

The material for your tent floor should be durable, and the seam connecting the floor to the walls should be at least 4 inches above the ground to avoid water seeping inside. Ensure that your rainfly overlaps the seam to make sure water doesn’t drip inside the tent.

#4 Tent Poles and Stakes

Camping Tent 6Aluminum and fiberglass are the most common tent poles you will find. Aluminum has replaced fiberglass in most tents since they are light weight and are strong considering their size. Fiberglass would need to be much thicker to hold the same amount of weight as the aluminum poles. One reason I wouldn’t recommend fiberglass is because it shatters when it breaks making it a bad choice for freezing conditions since this can make a hole in your tent. Fiberglass poles are also harder to repair when damaged.

Camping Tent 7Pay attention to how your tent poles are attached to your tent. Are they clipped on or do you have to pass them through loops? Tents which have clips on the outside to hook the tent poles make for easier setup.  Poles linked with elastic code can help prevent you from losing your tent rods since they hold together.

Stakes should be made of durable material to avoid bending when anchoring your tent to the ground.

#5 Ventilation

Camping Tent 8A tent needs to allow for proper air flow in humid and/or hot conditions. Bug netting for doors and windows allow for air flow without bugs getting in.

I recommend you get a camping tent with windows/doors on opposite sides to allow for proper air flow.

#6 Vestibule

Camping Tent 9A vestibule is a porch for gear you don’t want inside your tent but intend to keep out of the elements such as muddy shoes, wet socks, and clothing. A vestibule without floor can save on weight. It is usually an extension of the rainfly over the door.

#7 Rainfly

Ensure your rainfly doesn’t make contact with your tent when setup. It is a good practice to prevent water from seeping into your tent in case your seams aren’t sealed properly.

#8 Weight

The weight of a bag packing camping tent should be no more the 6 pounds. You need to consider the weight of the other items you will be carrying.

#9 Cost

If the price is not an issue the best camping tent around is the 4 season tents. As the name suggests, they are designed for all seasons and tend to be more durable.

My principle for outdoor gear is “Better to cry once”. I prefer spending money once to have reliable gear rather than inferior gear that fails me when I need it most.

You don’t need to break the bank to buy a tent. Depending on your activities and how often you plan on using the tent you can spend under $200 for a good tent. If hiking and camping are major parts of your life, then save up for a reliable tent.

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Important tips

1)    Allow your tent to dry before folding it away.

2)    Placing a tarp or ground cover before putting your tent up helps keep it clean when folding and can also protect from abrasions.

3)    Practice setting up your tent at home. Check the color coding instructions to make setup easier.

4)    Visit outdoor trade shows to get a feel for the different camping tent variations. You can also ask a friend to check out his/her tent for you to understand what tent is best for you.

 

A camping tent is a necessary shelter for any outdoor activity. Go through the features that are important to you based on your environment and needs.

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Hiking and backpacking when it’s wet

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By Lynley Joyce

You’ve organised a walk with friends. It’s been months in the planning and the weather forecast is for heavy rain. What do you do?

Consider your options

wet 6The colours can be more intense just after rain, and hikers can get that extra sense of being out the in the elements.  Life would be sad we only went out when there’s 100% chance of fine weather. Still, some people like hiking in the rain, but most of us don’t love it.

One option is to choose a shorter or less exposed walk and then have the more social parts afterwards in a cafe, pub or another type of shelter.  Take some spare clothes to change in to, and a hairbrush.

For longer walks, choose a less exposed walk, for example, a valley walk rather than a mountain climb.  Unless you’re a serious peak-bagger, a good motto is: “If you can’t see it, don’t climb it.”

Sometimes there will be showers or rain where you are walking and there is no way around it. If you are going on a multi-day backpacking trip, there may well be some wet days.

Keeping dry

wet 3Wear layers of clothes that easily dry out. Jeans are a no-no, as is most cotton.  Dress for the temperature to avoid sweating too much when walking. Take short breaks so as not to get cold.

A decent raincoat is an obvious must-have.  If you can, it’s worth investing in a gore-tex jacket or something similar that breaths.  Cheap raincoats might keep the rain off, but they keep the sweat in. Waterproof leggings are important anywhere exposed, windy or even just slightly cold.

A backpack rain cover is effective but is not essential.  Wrap everything in sturdy waterproof bags if you have them or two layers of ordinary plastic bags, especially sleep bags and spare clothes.  A strong garbage bag or pack liner is a good idea. Remember some food packaging can turn to mush when wet.

Pitching camp in the rain

wet 2When pitching camp in the rain, try to get the tent out and set it up without having to take out everything else. Most pack the tent near the bottom of the pack as it’s heavier.  Use the so-called separate sleeping bag compartment for the tent.  If you don’t have one, pack the tent near the top so you can grab it and leave everything else protected.

Be careful not to camp in depressions in the ground or any area that could become flooded.

A decent waterproof tent is a must.  Preferably it’s one with a good annex for storing stuff out of the elements. If it is bucketing down for a whole day or more, most choose to stay put and have a rest day.  Take a pack of cards, a book, some light knitting or other handcraft to pass the time.  It’s times like this that you will be glad if you have taken a tent you can sit up in.

If it is wet, be sure to keep one set of warm clothes dry all the time for wearing in the tent.  Getting back in to wet clothes is not one of the great joys in life, but it is important to keep some dry clothes. Aim to keep wet stuff outside the tent, and only allow dry things inside.

Never use a camping stove in or close to a tent, no matter how wet it is outside. Tents are flammable. Wangle it so you can stay in the tent while the stove is an arm’s length away.

At night make sure there is enough airflow through the tent, even if the air is moist.  Enclosed tents trap condensation, especially if it’s cold.

Hypothermia

wet 5Hypothermia is a real risk when hiking in the wet.  Even experienced hikers have been surprised how quickly someone can become too cold when they are saturated.

If someone is suffering from hypothermia they may not feel cold themselves, but could be drowsy and perhaps confused.  Get them warm in whatever way you can.

Find shelter, and perhaps use others’ body warmth to help them heat up.  Most hikers take extra warm things and an emergency silver “space” blanket for times like this.

Wet underfoot

wet 4Some hiking trails are known for bogs and water.  The United State’s Pacific North-West, the Kokoda trail in Papua New Guinea are notorious for mud, as are many hikes in Western Tasmania, Australia and the Fiordland region in New Zealand.

Gaiters help keep feet just that little bit drier and make it easier when travelling though wet and boggy areas.

It is tempting to try and go around patches of bog but be careful not to damage the surrounding area.  We are there because we love our natural environment, right? Let’s try not to destroy it.

Embrace the mud and just go through it.  Feet are going to get wet on a boggy walk anyway, so get in to it earlier and make your life that little bit easier. Sometimes a bit of judgement is needed to not go in too deep, but it’s all part of the adventure.  Just make sure your spare clothes are dry so you can get changed in to them later, and watch out for a stream or lake to rinse off in.

Common First Aid Treatments Needed by Hikers

First aid treatments 1

By Stephanie McHugh

Hiking is a robust activity that frequently results in injuries. A wide range of injuries are common among hikers. Anyone going on a lengthy hike could benefit from packing basic first aid supplies for the journey. Carry your first aid hiking equipment in a clear plastic bag, to minimize the added weight.

By keeping a handy first aid kit packed and ready to go on your hiking excursions, you don’t have to worry about forgetting something important that could lead to a painful outcome.

Sunburn

First aid treatmentsSunburn avoidance is an important consideration when preparing for a hike. Include sunscreen in your first-aid kit, to protect against painful sunburn. There is more to good sunburn prevention for hikers than wearing a reliable sunscreen, however.

A hat that provides shade for the ears, neck, and face is standard for many hikers. Sunglasses can also be important, depending on where you are hiking and the level of sun exposure on your trail. Clothing provides added protection. Clothes created just for hikers often include UV blockage. Simply wearing long pants and a long-sleeved shirt can accomplish the same goal.

In case of sunburn, pack burn ointment in your first-aid hiking kit.

Bug Bites

First aid treatments 3Dealing with pesky insects such as gnats, mosquitos, and wasps is a normal part of hiking. If stung by a bee, wasp, or hornet, remove the stinger. A cold pack, anti-itch creams, and pain relievers can help with insect bites.

In the event of a severe reaction, such as difficulty breathing, seek immediate medical attention.

Blisters

First aid treatments 4Painful blisters are commonly suffered by hikers. Moleskin bandages are very effective at helping to prevent blisters and protecting blisters that have developed. Moleskin is a heavy, durable cotton fabric that provides a cushion against painful rubbing. Your first aid kit should include a pin or small knife, to prick the blister. Use an alcohol swab or flame to sterilize the point or edge.

Carefully massage the blister to drain the fluids, keeping the overlying skin cover in place. Apply antibiotic cream before putting on a moleskin bandage. Adding an additional layer of protection with athletic tape is also helpful.

Twisted Ankle

First aid treatments 5The terrain on hikes can become challenging, which is why it’s important to wear hiking boots that protect the ankles. Even with the added support, however, a wrong step can result in a twisted or sprained ankle. If there is swelling or discoloration, immediate first aid treatment is needed.

First, elevate the ankle to at least the height of the chest. Rest for as long as possible. Do not put stress or weight on the ankle. Include an ankle wrap in your first aid kit, to supply pain-relieving stability.

If walking to get medical treatment is unavoidable, create a makeshift splint that supports and protects the ankle. This can be done using the injured person’s hiking boot. Remove the laces from the boot but keep the sprained ankle inside of it. Use the laces but tie them above the boot. In case of this type of injury, it’s also good to pack Aspirin or some other type of pain reliever in your first aid kit.

Exposure to Poisonous Plants

Poisonous Plants - Stinging Nettle
Stinging Nettle

There are often poisonous plants on hiking trails, such as poison ivy and stinging nettles. Prevention is best. Become familiar with the types of poisonous plants you could encounter on your hike.

If you become exposed, wash off the affected area within 10 minutes or as soon as possible, but do not use warm or hot water for rinsing. If water isn’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer or alcohol wipe. Clothing, shoes, and anything else that comes into contact with poisonous plants should be washed because it can cause further exposure.

Calamine lotion usually provides relief for the severe redness and itching that can develop. Emergen-C tablets can provide topical relief if applied to the affected area because they contain ascorbic acid.

For more information on identifying poisonous plants, check out a more in-depth article by clicking here. 

Snake Bite

First aid treatments 7If a snake bites you while on the hiking trail, do not try any of the treatments for snake bite that are widely represented on television. It has been proven, for example, that it is of no help to try to suck out poison, to apply a tourniquet, or to use a suction device. You could make things worse by applying a cold pack.

According to experts, the only effective treatment is a dose of antivenin.

First clean the wound with antiseptic wipes or soap and water and then bring the victim for medical treatment as quickly as possible. If unable to be carried out, have the victim walk slowly without the burden of a pack. Every 15 minutes, mark the edge of swollen areas with an ink pen, which will help a doctor determine the extent of envenomation.

Abrasions

First aid treatments 8If you suffer scrapes or other types of abrasions on the hiking trail, remove debris as soon as possible by scrubbing the affected area with soap and a gauze pad. This could be painful.

After rinsing, apply antibiotic ointment and a gauze pad held in place with medical tape.

 

List of First Aid Supplies

This list of first aid items isn’t very long, but bringing recommended supplies can make a huge difference on a hike.

  • Sunscreen
  • Burn ointment
  • Cold pack
  • Anti-itch creamFirst aid treatments 9
  • Pain reliever, such as aspirin
  • Moleskin bandages
  • Alcohol swabs
  • Straight pin or small knife
  • Ankle wrap
  • Calamine lotion
  • Emergen-C tablets
  • Ink pen
  • Gauze pad
  • Medical tape
  • Antibiotic Cream
  • Athletic tape

You never know when one of the common hiking injuries will require first aid treatment. Get your first-aid kit packed and ready for your future hikes. Chances are, you’ll be very glad you did.

You can also get your very own copy of Camping for Women’s Camping First Aid Guide which has more in-depth information covering many more scenarios in nature.  Check it out by clicking here or on the image below.

Camping First Aid Guide Cover

 

 

Here’s the Skinny on Skinny Dipping

Skinny Dipping 1

By Phoebe Hodina

Picture this: You’ve been hiking a long, arduous trail. You’re tired, but the sun is shining and the view is gorgeous. You come across a crystal blue lake, sparkling in the summer sun. Perhaps you are with some adventure-seeking friends, and other than your companions, nobody is around. It’s the perfect opportunity, it’s your moment.

Do you bare all and take the plunge?

Skinny Dipping 2“Not my style, I’m good thanks!”
You admire the view, then continue on your path. The thought crosses your mind that you may have unknowingly missed out on an experience; but you are spared the risk of chaffing later down the trail.

“Heck yes!”
You (and possibly some friends) strip off your shirt, shorts, undies, and thick hiking socks. As you hop across the rocky beach to the water, the ground tries to pierce your feet. But the water is perfection, and the experience is near-spiritual. You have become more alive on the inside from the shock to your outside. It is the perfect way to help you remember the day.

But, as you are leaving the water… you hear a man-made noise. Instant fear leeches through your body. You feel exposed… you are exposed.

Was it worth it?

Probably. In all likelihood, you are able to dash for your clothes, or back into the water. The danger passes, and things come out just fine in the end. It’s a good story to share… in ten years.

Skinny Dipping: what’s the real story on the nude dip?

Skinny Dipping 3Swimming in the nude obviously dates back to the dawn of humanity, but it was a staple of health during the Georgian period, and continued throughout the Victorian period. Even American President Theodore Roosevelt commented in his autobiography about stripped swims with his “tennis cabinet” when he said “If we swam the Potomac, we usually took off our clothes.”

The admiration of skinny dipping is prolific in the art world, especially with painters before the 1800’s. Georg Pauli and Anders Zorn are two Swedish artists to note specifically for their work on nude swimmers. Although, it should be noted these pieces were not free from controversy. The 1911 work of French artist Paul Émile Chabas’ Matinée de Septembre caused quite a dispute in its time.

Skinny dipping is well documented with Guinness World Records as well. At the time of this article, the current world record for the largest skinny dip consisted of 786 participants at South Beach in Perth, Australia in March 2015. That’s a lot of naked bodies in water.

Is the exposure worth the risk?

Overall, current public opinion on the practice throughout the world is mixed, and statistics are limited. In one completely scientific and accurate poll, 25% of American adults said that they have gone skinny-dipping with mixed company at least once in their life. Depending on your perspective, you may find this high or low.

If you plan on taking the plunge: make sure to check local laws, and asses the risks of the situation before baring your derrière. In some areas of the U.S., exposing yourself in public can land you on the sex offender list for life. Bathing nude is also not recommended in places like Egypt, and more conservative areas of the Middle East. However, in places like Spain, France, and New Zealand, you may not receive a second glance. Only you can make that decision.

Skinny Dipping Tips:

Above all, common sense and judgement is important. Skinny dipping is most appropriate at night, or in highly secluded areas. Unless you’re on a nude beach, it probably is not a good idea to bare all in heavily populated public places with possible onlookers, and especially at religious sites. Avoid skinny dipping with minors.

Whatever your personal convictions are, make sure to stick to them. If your group is partaking and you feel uncomfortable, it’s perfectly acceptable to politely decline. Just make sure not to stand around awkwardly gawking…

What are your thoughts on skinny dipping? Do you have any stories?  Share if you Dare!

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