The Smart Prepper

Life is hard, it's harder if you're stupid – John Wayne


July 12, 2016

Beach Umbrella Easy Setup on Sale

This umbrella tent is great for shade whenever you are outside. The number one feature I love about this is the umbrella tent is easy to put up and take down. Whenever my family goes out for a picnic or camping we always throw one in the car. If you are in a windy area you may want to get some stakes to use with it.

November 13, 2015

10 Awesome Small Camping Trailers

A boat and a camping trailer combined into one – The Sealander

What a novel idea! I looked at renting a houseboat on Lake Pal a while ago and the cost for one night was near $1000. This trailer allows you to go camping on land or on the water. You can hook up a small trolling motor and go anywhere on the water you want. When the Sealander small boat camping trailer was released it had a price-tag of $20k. I predict this will go down over time.

Small camping trailers - the boat trailer - sealander

Beautiful homemade teardrop camper

I love working with wood. This person did a beautiful job making a wooden teardrop small camping trailer. The teardrops are neat because the don’t create the same low pressure on the back of the trailer like almost all other campers. What this translates to is when you are driving you don’t have a low pressure pocket behind you creating resistance – ultimately making your mpg higher than it would have been with a normal trailer.

Small camping trailer - beautiful homemade wood teardrop camping trailer

Bicycle camping trailer

A very interesting concept, but if I was traveling any distance on bike I think I would just camp on a sleeping pad with a very light backpack. If it rains there are plenty of places with pavilions or just find a bridge and camp under it. I can’t image this is very light weight and easy to pull by bicycle, but nevertheless it’s pretty cool.

Small camping trailers - go cross country on a bike

A trailer Bilbo should have had on his incredible journey

Small camping trailers - hobbit hole trailer

Small motorcycle camping trailer

My dad had one of these motorcycle pop up tent trailers when he first got married. He and my mom used it to honeymoon all over Oregon and Washington. These types of small camping trailers are great because they are so light weight – making them ultra portable.

small camping trailers - trailer for a motorcycle

Australian UEV 440 Conqueror

The UEV 440 Conqueror is the ultimate in off road campers. From the moment I saw this video I wanted one. They use every possible nook and cranny to conserve space. The price is around $62,000, which is a quite a bit above my budget. This camper is seriously badass!


Happy Camper Van

There are so many variations of small camper vans available on the market. I like vans instead of RV’s because the fuel economy of camper vans can be as high as 22 mpg, whereas a recreational vehicle averages around 10-15 mpg. This camper van is simple, but it has lots of features. It would be fun to travel from coast to coast in one of these and just sleep in Walmart parking lots across the way.

The Prius Tent – The Ultimate Cheap Way to Travel

I bought a Toyota Prius last year. I don’t really care what people say about the car – I ABSOLUTELY love it! My wife and I were planning on taking a trip to Florida and back in our Prius. With a $50 foam mattress pad, one of these tents, and at 50 mpg we could have traveled for cheap. Much to our surprise we had a kid instead. I’m not complaining – my daughter is super sweet, but having kids definitely puts spontaneous trips like this on hiatus.

Truck Campers

couple's pan american 2 year tripI read an article on ksl.com about a couple that decided to take a two year trip driving the Pan American highway. I thought this would be a great addition to my bucket list. I have always loved the campers that sit on the back of a truck. I know they are not the most popular, but if you ever are taking a cross country trip using this type of camper is so much easier than dragging a full trailer everywhere with you. Generally you can park in any restaurant or tight parking with a small truck camper. Even though this is technically not a trailer I count it as one because you can always park this on stilts and drive your truck around if you stay in an area for an extended period of time. A truck can be far more fuel efficient than an RV or an SUV with a trailer. Back to the idea of traveling the Pan American – just throw some solar cells on the roof and take a portable wind turbine with you.

Hallmark Cuchara is an awesome small camper that fits on the back of your truck.

Hallmark Cuchara

Asian Tricycle House

It’s constructed of translucent polypropylene plastic and it retains its strength during folding so it can open up and expand for increased space and connect to other units. This tiny structure contains a kitchen with a sink, a bathroom with a small tub and a water tank, a living/sleeping area with storage and even an attachable outdoor garden. Currently the Kenchikukagu designs are only available to dealers and cost between 7,000 and 10,000 Chinese Yuan or about $1,120 to $1,600.

Small

November 03, 2015

Primitive Survival Shelters

 

Primitive Survival ShelterIf you are ever in a survival situation you may need to build your own shelter. This is true especially true if you are in a wet or cold area. If you don’t protect yourself from the elements you can put yourself in extreme danger of becoming very ill or dead. As a young boy I loved building forts just like every other young kid my age. I would build forts every time my dad took me camping. As a teenager I built a snow fort and slept in it for boy scouts (see image below). Being an adult gives me more physical strength and more ideas of how to build forts. In a survival situation a fort becomes a shelter. A good strategy of being prepared is to practice. You should practice building a fort. This can also be a great family activity. If you build a fort and sleep in it at least once you will learn from experience things you like and don’t like about your fort. No matter where you go or what happens to you in life you take what you know with you. Your experience is what helps you be prepared for survival situations.  What qualifies a place as a shelter? Here we have some basics of what a shelter should be. Check out these awesome shelters people have built and get some ideas of what you can go try.

primitive survival shelter

What does a wilderness need to be?

In any survival situation the moral can be torn down very easily. There are a few things that help build moral more than others. The biggest moral booster is having a fire. The second biggest moral booster is having a good nights rest, which can directly correlate to having a shelter that meets your basic needs for the night or nights you will be using it.

  • Relatively quick to assemble. Most survival situations you will not have a lot of energy input into your body – AKA food. A wilderness shelter should not expend all your energy to build or you will not be able to continue on with another day’s activities. The decision of how much energy you put into a fort is really determined on a case by case basis. Ask the questions “How long will I stay here?” or “What is the risk of not building a good shelter?”
  • Protect from the harsh elements. In cold areas the wind is going to be your worst enemy. Sleeping in snow is cold, but not as cold as sleeping in the wind on top of snow. A wilderness shelter in that type of environment should block out the wind as much as possible. Alternatively if you in a rainy area you will want a shelter that helps block out the rain. Sleeping in the rain is so miserable. It is like Chinese water torture. I had a tent break on me one time in a freak hail storm and I ended up attempting to sleep in the rain. Needless to say I didn’t get much rest that night.
  • Protect from animals.  Everywhere in the world has insects. Sometimes they are bad enough to the point you cannot sleep on the ground. No matter where you are in the world you will need to protect yourself from some dangerous animal. You don’t need to build Fort Knox, but some type of a fort that creates a deterrent will help you from being easily attacked.
  • Sturdy. If you are above ground because of insects you don’t want the shelter to fall out from under you in the middle of the night, or if you are in the snow you don’t want a collapsed roof on top of you. The last thing you need is to have something go wrong when you are trying to sleep. The frame of your shelter should use the strongest materials you can find.

 

Check out these awesome primitive survival shelters

Lowland Wilderness Shelter

High Mountainous Wilderness Shelter

Simple Woven Mud Hut

Winter Survival Shelter

Long Term Wood Cabin Base Shelter

Basic Wood A-Frame Wilderness Survival Shelter

 

 

October 31, 2015

Best Family Tent

Family camping is an excellent way to build lasting memories. Today there are so many electronic distractions – cell phones, video games, tablets, computers, and etc. Camping in nature is a way to temporarily escape from that world and go back to our roots. Not only is camping a great way to get out and see nature, but it is also a cheap way to travel. A hotel usually costs $100 per night. A campsite with full amenities is usually around $20-$35 per night for tent camping. This means you can spend 3-4 times more vacationing days by camping for the same budget. When traveling with your family you will need a really good tent. The best family tent changes as your family grows and develops. No matter what your family’s situation there are several things you should consider when finding the best tent for your family.

Qualities that make the best family tent

  • Capacity – How many people does the tent need to hold? When a tent says the capacity is 6 people this usually means if you like to be packed in like sardines then you can fit 6 people, but to be comfortable you usually can fit 4 people. Sleeping capacity specified by the manufacturer usually means each person has his or her own floor mat to sleep on and all the camping gear is left in coolers outside or in a vehicle. I personally prefer a larger tent so I can inflate a nice air mattress up for my wife and me. Some tents on the market also have multiple rooms. This can be very nice when you are camping for more than a night or two because it gives some privacy. Adults in one room and children in the other. The walls in these types of tents are not sound proof in case you have any crazy ideas about what you want to do. In my own opinion a single room tent is best when you have infants camping with you. I have a new baby daughter and we take a portable crib with us camping. Having room for our air mattress and a portable crib in a single room is a requirement. As kids get a little bit older having a multiple room tent might make more sense. By the time your kids are teenagers they will most likely just want to camp on their own in a separate tent.
  • Seasons – Most of the tents you can buy are rated for three seasons. Late spring, all of the summer, and early fall. If you are an extreme outdoorsman (or outdoorswoman) and plan on doing camping in the winter then make sure the tent you buy is rated for four seasons or specifically rated for winter temperatures. I have generally found that most family sized winter tents tend to be made from heavier materials to help retain heat and keep wind out. The thicker material does make your family tent heavier. Some tents can have heaters, but just remember that some heaters require good ventilation.
  • Height – best family tentI’m 6’3″. Unless I’m backpacking I want a tent where I can stand fully erect and still stretch my arms a bit. My wife on the other hand is 5’1″. Our needs in tent heights are very different, but in this case the taller person usually wins. If you are in a place where you will be changing your clothes often, like a campsite near water and you will change from your regular clothes to a swim suit and visa versa, then having a taller tent gives you a very easy changing room. If the tent is not tall enough then you will be changing your clothes while on your knees or laying down on the ground. Another benefit of having your family tent taller than you is the ability to hang a lantern at the top of the tent. Before the days where everyone had a personal electronic device like a phone or tablet, there was usually only one light source in a tent. Either way having a camping lantern is a good idea because you can see in emergencies and make sure everyone is ready for bed at nights. The picture to the right is from a camping trip you can take in Thailand. I loved this tent because you can hang your backpacks on the sides and there are nice lanterns hanging from the ceiling.
  • Doors & Windows – Consider how easy it is to get in and out of your tent. Having a door that also has a screen will help with ventilation. Are there windows on opposite sides of the tent that can let a cross breeze through during the warm summer? Does the door seal tight enough to not let insects through?
  • Rain protection – Almost all tents are water-resistant and made from hydrophobic material. However, some tents are more water-resistant than others. If a tent you have doesn’t have a great rain fly there are some things you can do to waterproof your tent.
  • Ease to assemble/disassemble – All tents are going to be a little bit of work to set up and tear down. What makes some tents far better than others is how easy the tent is to assemble and take down. A tent that is easy to put up will have all the poles either numbered or color coated. Sometimes the poles are always attached to the tent. The tent will then have marks that match the numbers or colors showing you where to put the tent poles. Fewer poles is not necessarily better either . . . having more poles that are smaller makes storing the tent easier.  I have used a tent that would setup itself by simply pulling it out of the pack. Even though the setup of the tent was a piece of cake, the tear down was terrible. I had to fold the tent in just the right way and hold it in a very specific shape while I put the tent back into the carrying case. I quickly got rid of that tent. I like my tents to be easy in both directions, not just one.
  • Storage – My parents have a big family cabin tent. When the tent is compressed and bagged up it takes up a lot of space. Three times the space of other tents that size. Although it’s a good tent and will probably last forever, you need to consider the storage space the tent uses. If you are vacationing with your family and plan on camping – a larger tent means less room for other gear or luggage.
  • Accessories – With so many family camping tents available on the market there are also lots of various accessories with each tent. This includes but is not limited to built-in fans, repair kits, broom and dustpan, floor mat, sitting canopy, and electricity.

Top rated family tents

The best family tent is a tent that meets the needs of your family better than any other tent on the market. You need to decide what features are most important within the budget you have. The following are just a few of the great family tents available.

October 29, 2015

Nothing Better Than Free Camping

 

Nothing Better Than Beautiful Free Camping

In the United States there are over 437 million acres of free camping. If it was one giant square it would be 830 miles X 830 miles. That’s about the same distance as walking from Philadelphia Pennsylvania to Jackson Florida just to walk one edge of the square. I don’t mind paying for camping periodically because paid campsites provide at least basic toiletries and a picnic table of sorts. Nicer campgrounds will even have showers available. When my family and I go on holiday (fancy way of saying on vacation) we usually do one night of free camping and another paid night with a shower. However, you can go to almost any truck stop and pay for a shower too.

Where is all this free camping?

There are three main areas where you can go tent camping for free in the United States of America. National Forests, BLM Land, and National Grasslands. Besides these three areas there are lots of free state and county campgrounds, but you just have to know where to look to find them.

National Forests

In the United States there are 155 national forests that are composed of 188,391,233 total acres. National forests are owned by everyone who pays taxes. These forests are maintained by the United States Forest Service. There are paid campgrounds in national forests, but you can camp anywhere. The reason you are paying is because someone is maintaining that campground and the campground usually includes some basic amenities like toiletries, trash bins, fire pits, and picnic tables. To have these amenities usually costs between $5 to $25 per night. Camping in national forests is technically free and there is no admission charge to national forests. This free camping is called “dispersed camping,” and the rules vary a little in each national forest.. In most national forests, you must pitch your tent at least 100 or 150 feet from the nearest road, trail, or official campground. In popular areas sometimes this distance can be up to half a mile away from everyone. You can have fires in a pit, but you should check the fire restrictions for the national park you where you are camping. If there is a drought and no fires allowed – then DON’T have a fire. Some places also require you to have a permit to have a fire. Most national parks in California require fire permits. These are usually free to cheap and can be obtained online.

BLM Land

BLM stands for Bureau of Land Management and is an agency within the United States Department of Interior. The purpose of the BLM is to preserve land for the enjoyment of people in the United States. BLM’s managed lands are mostly in the western states and consists of 247 million acres of land.. You can go to any of the BLM offices and purchase detailed maps of public land. Because these lands are public you can go hunting, camping, practice using firearms, and almost anything else within reason. Some places do have restrictions so you will need to check with the BLM office in the area. When on BLM land you need to make sure that you follow the local states laws and ordinances, especially when you plan to use firearms or go hunting in any variety. I love to go to BLM land because it is a great place to practice shooting my guns. Just remember as it is public land other people have a right to be there as much as you do.

National Grasslands

National grasslands are under the same category and group as national forests. The only difference is 20 national grasslands in the United States, which is about 1,028,000 total acres, are all prairie. The majority of the prairie land is in North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado, and Kansas. There are places outside this belt that have national grasslands, but they are magnitudes smaller in area. I am from South Dakota and have often camped in national grasslands. The biggest drawback to grasslands is there are no wind blocks and sometimes the wind can be ferocious. When the wind is bad it is not safe to have a campfire either. The prairies have their own beauty. One reason I love national grasslands more than forests is in the winter you can go snowmobiling across the vast plains. You can go really fast and generally don’t need to worry about going off a cliff or crashing into trees.

Conclusion

free camping beauty

There are so many beautiful public places to go camping in every state. Just remember to be responsible. Character and integrity take a lifetime to build and don’t let it go even when nobody is watching. Don’t leave your trash or waste byproducts behind. Most national parks don’t have trash facilities or toilets unless you’re in paid camping. You will need to pack out your own trash and bury your feces. Bucket toilets are a very comfortable way to use the bathroom for women and men that need to go number two. The first time my mom ever went backpacking with my brothers, dad, and I she ended up with tons of pine needles attached to her butt. She had no idea until we got back my aunt’s house and she took a shower. She wished she had something besides old logs to use as a toilet seat lid. As camping in national forests are very primitive make sure you take plenty of water or a way to filter water. If you like RV camping you can usually just pull off the road and camp in most national forests. Freecampgrounds.com is another great resource for free RV camping. There was a law suit between KOA and Walmart a few years ago. KOA was suiting Walmart because Walmart was taking business away by letting people sleep in the Walmart parking lots. Needless to say Walmart won and you can also just camp your recreational vehicle in a Walmart parking lot for free. You have food 24/7 and toilets that flush.

October 26, 2015

10 Best Lanterns for Camping

Lanterns for Camping

There are so many lanterns for camping available on the market. What qualities do lanterns need to have to be considered in the list of 10 best lanterns for camping. Unfortunately you can’t just take the best of every attribute because some attributes are inversely proportional to each other. If you increase one attribute another will decrease. For example if you want the brightest lantern then you can’t have it battery powered.

Brightness: The brighter the camping lamps the better you can see at night – that’s the reason to have a camping lantern in the first place. Camping lantern LEDs can be very bright, but the most lumens are generated by fuel based lanterns. Lumens are a standard of measurement to talk about how bright the light emitted from the lantern is. Today with LED and halogen lights that use very low watts compared to standard traditional light bulbs you can’t use watts as your measurement of brightness.

Energy Source: There are two types of energy sources for most camping lanterns. The first is a traditional fuel source, which is normally propane. The second is an electric battery. You can either buy and replace the batteries or have a camping lantern rechargeable battery. A battery is measured in milliamp hours. The larger the capacity the longer the lights usually last, or the brighter you can have your light bulbs.

Extra Features: Not all lanterns for camping are created equal. You will have to decide what features are the most important to you. Some camping lanterns are waterproof whereas others may have a compass built into them. One lantern is meant for hanging from a ceiling and others have a rechargeable battery you can tap into for charging usb devices. In the list below each lantern has at least one unique feature.

Number 10:

Number 9:

Number 8:

Number 7:

Number 6:

Number 5:

Number 4:

Number 3:

Number 2:

Number 1:

 

October 22, 2015

Best Small Flashlight

tk120 tactical best small flashlight
There are so many flashlights available for sale. What qualities exactly make any flashlight the best small flashlight. Growing up my dad collected so many flashlights. We were never more than a meter away from a flashlight in our house. We had a flashlight for every occasion. Such occasions included going camping, walking in town, emergency kits for the cars for winter and summer, flashlights to fit in backpacks that I would take to school, hunting, and so many other situations for which my dad would prepare. Over the years we have gained a little bit of experience for various situations and learned what we need in a flashlight for those situations. The following is a list of requirements any flashlight we buy needs to have in order be be considered the best small flashlight:

  • High Lumens – There are plenty of flashlights that fit on keychains or plug into USB drives. These run off a single low voltage LED. A good flashlight needs to have enough brightness (lumens or candlelights) to be useful. The more focused the lumens are the farther the light can travel.
  • Small (obviously) – Needs to be small enough to fit in a pocket. A flashlight that barely fits in your pocket means that it does not easily go in or come out. A flashlight needs to be small enough to be loose inside of your pocket so you can retrieve it with ease and speed. A small flashlight should also be easy to use in one hand and not be a two hand size.
  • Battery Longevity – The flashlight needs to either have rechargeable batteries or the batteries need to last a long time. Having to replace batteries often is really a crappy attribute for a flashlight. If the flashlight uses rechargeable batteries the flashlight should be able to charge without having to pop the battery out of the flashlight to recharge the battery and after it’s charged put it back in the flashlight. The flashlight needs to have some type of a removable power chord to charge the small flashlight.
  • Lifetime – The light needs to last a lifetime. This is suppose to be the best flashlight right and to be the best means you will never need to replace the flashlight because the bulb dies. Along with the bulb the actually flashlight needs to be made of high grade materials. A small flashlight is easy to drop. The best small flashlight needs to be very durable in various situations.
  • Weather Resistant – Often times you will be in situations that are damp or wet. The best small flashlight should not die under damp conditions.
  • Other Extra Features – Does the flashlight have extra features? For example some flashlights have magnets to attach them to cars or refrigerators. Other flashlights have extra lights in the handle to use as a light bar. Sometimes you can discover features you never knew you couldn’t live without.

 

880 34

October 20, 2015

Lightest hiking water filter

When you go hiking or backpacking your are really just exercising with style. The average person needs to consume eight glasses of water every day when you are not exercising, and even more if you do work out.Water weighs 8.34 pounds or 3.78 kilograms for every gallon. Having to carry the amount of water you need when hiking is heavy and makes the hike seem to take longer than it normally would. A great alternative to having to carry all the water yourself is to take a water filter you can use at any water source on your hike. I have used several water filters  for hiking and backpacking over the years. Some can output high volumes of water without needing to change the filter often, but the flow rate is very low. Other hiking water filters output water faster, but the filters need to be changed more frequently. Filters are often expensive – almost as expensive as the original unit in some cases. The downside to most of the hiking water filters I have used over the years is they are bulky and don’t fit easily in a pocket. Finding the lightest hiking water filter will make hiking just that more enjoyable as you don’t have to carry so much extra gear or added water weight to go out and enjoy nature.

October 19, 2015

Must try camping games

Going camping is not only a great way to get away from all the modern distractions of life, but it is also a great time to build family memories. It doesn’t matter who you go camping with – family, friends, scouts, church members – you can can build memories that will last a lifetime (especially if you photograph them) by playing camping games. My family loves to go camping. For some reason the food always tastes better when camping. Often times my family will play various types of games. Camping games are awesome because they get you outside enjoying nature and entertain you at the same time. This list of camping games is not every possible game you can play when camping, but rather several games that I play with friends and family when I go camping. These specific games are very popular and everybody involved usually loves them.

Must Try Camping Games

 

  1. Snipe hunting – A great activity to help haze or initiate people who are unfamiliar with camping or being outdoors is to have them go on a snipe hunt. The basic idea of snipe hunting is to convince someone to look for an animal that isn’t real and watch that person act ridiculous in the pursuit. I remember my first encounter with the elusive snipes was the first campout I had as a youth with my scout troop. All of the older scouts tried to teach me what a snipe looks like and how fun they are to catch. They tried so hard to convince me that it was legal to hunt and they were worth a fortune – pretty much say anything to make the sale. A snipe can have any description you think will help convince someone to go catch them. A snipe I guess is a metaphor in life – sometimes we chase things that we think are real but are not and we waste our time chasing fools errands. I have seen snipes be described as everything from a friendly furry cat like animal to a water fowl with a furry tail. Not only do you need to describe what a snipe looks like, but also how to track them. Teach the unsuspecting victim about to embark on a snipe hunt about the trails to follow. Make up some absurd mating sound or whistle, and tell the snipe hunter to make that sound as it attracts snipes fast. Hazing can easily go south, but this is something most outdoor enthusiasts have been persuaded to do at some point or another. We would hate to see someone miss a golden opportunity to join our club of snipe hunters.
  2. Capture the flag – We all know one variation or another of this classic game. The idea is you split your group into two teams. Each team takes a flag and puts it in a designated territory. The object is Team A is going to try to capture Team B’s flag, and visa versa. If you get tagged you need to go to jail. The jail is usually some area in enemy territory. A teammate can rescue you from jail by tagging you and running back to your teams territory. The overall premise of the game to capture the enemy’s flag and return it to your teams territory. This game can be a lot of fun if you go to dollar tree and pick up several glow sticks of two different colors. Take the glow sticks and make a bracelet or some other way of attaching it to clothing to help designate teams. Playing in the twilight or night makes sneaking around that much more sincere. Capture the flag usually requires a larger group to play.
  3. Laser tag – There are several places near my house where my family and I go to play laser tag. We usually just go rent the equipment and play a couple of games because the arenas are all set up and the equipment is very expensive. If you are interested in purchasing commercial grade equipment laser-tron is a good place to start looking. This can easily lead you into spending thousands of dollars for all the vests, guns, base stations, charging stations, and etc. A cheaper yet still slightly expensive option is to buy Hasbro’s laser tag guns. The game is a bit less complex then a commercial laser tag arena because they don’t have base stations to protect and you don’t need to wear a laser tag vest. You simply just aim at the opponents gun and fire. Playing laser tag outside, especially in the dark, is super fun and great exercise. I always work up a sweat when I play with my friends. The fun part about playing outside is the arena is huge and it’s up to you to be able to camouflage from your enemy.
  4. Flashlight tag – A very cheap alternative to purchasing laser guns is to play flashlight tag. The biggest drawback is trying to keep people honest. If you tag a person and he or she disputes your claim, it’s only your word against your opponent’s word. You can spin this off into kind of a hide and seek style so only one person has a flashlight. When the person who is ‘it’ tags someone they get one minute to run away and hide before the new seeker goes out trying to tag people. We usually have flashlights that look like lightsaber handles because it makes it more fun for kids when they are the tagger. They just pretend they are a jedi or sith trying to tag people.
  5. Story telling – Almost all campers have either heard or told ghost stories around the campfire at some time or another. One of my favorite experiences was going on a campout with all the boys and their dads in a youth group. We sat around the campfire in the backwoods near where we live. One of the dads that came had a full gorilla costume. Another adult proceeded to tell the story of Bigfoot and how he saw him up there when he was a kid. He then proceeded to take the group to where he saw him 10 years ago. After walking a few minutes down a trail we came to a spot where the guy in the gorilla costume came out and gave everyone a fright. Good story tellers know how to engage their audience. You can pretty much make up any story you want. Try and put yourself in the story somehow – like you experienced the scaring factor for yourself. If you want to get some ideas there is a book that comes from a podcast about campfire stores that is really good – True Ghost Stories by Jim Harold.
  6. Fire starting – A camping game I usually do with boy scouts or anytime I go camping with my family is try to see who can start a fire without using matches. There are several ways this can be done. Some are easier than others. I love this game because it turns knowing how to be prepared for emergency situations into a game that encourages participation. Camping just isn’t camping without a good fire.
    • Magnesium stick with flint and steel. Magnesium, flint, and steel is probably the easiest method to start a fire without matches. Magnesium burns at 5,610 °F. The flint and steel usually comes with a stick of magnesium. You take the steel and scrape shavings of the magnesium stick onto your tinder. Then with one spark you can light your tinder on fire even if it’s wet because the temperature of the burning magnesium is so hot.
    • Magnifying glass. Having a larger magnifying glass is easier to start a fire than a smaller magnifying glass. Also the darker the tinder you are using the more light it will absorb. Remember that black does not reflect much light, which means it is taking all the energy you can give it. Black newspaper works well. This approach can take a little bit of time so don’t get discouraged.
    • Bow drill. Using a bow drill can take time, but it’s not as hard as some of the other drill methods. Innerbark Outdoors has a great video with step by step instructions.

      The only word of advice is don’t get discouraged. I failed the first several times I tried this. I usually took the ember that was made too early or I would let it go out because my tinder wasn’t dry enough.
    • Hand drill. A hand drill is a very similar principle to the bow drill. I have found the easiest way to do a hand drill without completely killing your hands is to cut a slit in the top of the drill so that you can run a small rope or string in the slit attached to your thumbs. The picture to the right shows how to do this. Using the rope will help put a vertical force down for you without having to push harder with your hands. This also helps so you don’t have to use your hands so tight to the drill. Without the cord or rope you can still start a fire, but it will cause you to have blisters unless your hands are like cement already.

    • Battery and gum wrapper. You can also do this fire starting method with iron wool. Quick Clips has an awesome video showing how to start a fire with a gum wrapper and a battery. Every person should go camping with a flashlight – meaning you get a battery by default. Keeping a small package of gum is very lightweight and fits in a pocket without a problem (comes in handy if you don’t get a chance to brush your teeth). This is very fast and works well. As always you need dry tinder to make this work well.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_LAunryCu9c
    • Any other creative methods. There are several ways to start a fire, far more than exists in this list. You could make a game where everyone has to try a new way of starting a fire they have not tried before. Let your creativity run wild.
  7. Scavenger hunt – There are several types of scavenger hunts you can play. The traditional scavenger hunt game is to make a list of items that can be found in the area you live. For example your list can include an unopened pine cone, blue water smoothed rock, specific leaves, a weed, various animals, and etc. Another fun list is to make everyone find an item that begins with a different letter of the alphabet. An alternative to traditional scavenger hunts is to make a photo scavenger hunt. Make the same type list but instead of just making a checkmark, you take photos of the items. You can even rate the items in the photo scavenger hunt worth different amounts of points  – i.e. make a doe and fawn worth a lot of points and a person drinking water worth few points. Having a photo scavenger hunt is also a great way to help your photo album grow.
  8. Glow in the dark camping games - water bottle ring tossGlow in the dark – Go to any local dollar store like Dollar Tree. Glow sticks are so common and cheap. They come in various sizes and colors. Any game you can think of is fun with glowing sticks. A very common camping game with glow sticks that a lot of people play is a glow in the dark ring toss. Having both the pole that you toss the rings on to and the rings themselves glow in the dark is best. Usually when I go camping I also have lots of extra water bottles hanging around at the end of each day. Design Dazzle has an excellent idea of dropping glow sticks in the bottles and using those water bottles as the poles for the ring tossing. Having different colors is fun and having each person have their own colors helps keep the uniqueness. Kids love this game mostly because you have to crack the glow sticks to start the glowing chemical reactions.
  9. Archery – Shooting arrows with a bow is targeted for an older audience of adults and teenagers. As with any shooting game safety should be your highest priority and concern. Everyone involved should know how to use a bow and arrow and have respect for them. Most outdoor stores sell great compound bows and reusable targets. Compound bows can have a lot of force to them and if you are not as familiar with archery get a bow that you can disassemble and store easier. Also having a wrist guard will be your friend if you don’t shoot regularly.
  10. Telephone – A game most of us have played at some point or another, mostly in elementary school. Just because it’s a game we most likely played as children doesn’t mean this is not a really fun game to play. Telephone only works well when you are in a larger group of people. The more people the funner this game becomes. My wife is from Vietnam and they have a version of this game called Chinese Whisperers. If you have never played telephone the rules of the game are quite simple. Everybody who wants to play forms a line. The person at the begging of the line whispers a word or phrase to the person next to him or her. That person in turn whispers it to the next person. This process repeats until the last person in line receives the message. The person at the end then shares what he or her herd. There is no winner and everybody takes turns being the head of the line. Try to use longer words or phrases. Words that are harder to repeat for some people like deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) can get very malformed by the end.
  11. Hide and seek – I love this game. Hide and seek is not only a classic game but an excellent camping game. As an adult who is 6’3″ I have a hard time hiding like I did when I was a kid. I still love playing this game with others and I look at playing as an opportunity to work on my camouflaging skills.
  12. Geocaching – As your kids grow a little bit older or you’re going with a group of people who are all older than twelve this game can be a lot of fun. Everyone will need a smart phone (or some other IOS or Android device with GPS). The whole idea of geocaching is to participate in the largest treasure hunt outside in the world. Once you sign up for an account you use GPS and go locate hidden caches. Once you find the hidden cache you can sign the log found within. There are a few variations of this game you can play when out camping. The most common is to see who can find the most hidden caches. Another is to see who can find the first one. If there are no hidden treasures in the area where you are camping then you can create geocaches for others who will camp in the area in the future.
  13. Make up your own game – Bring out your inner creative child and go make up some fun games depending on where you are at. If you are at a beach or near the water come up with some fun water games. If there is a playground develop a new type of tag where nobody can touch the ground unless you are the tagger. Developing your own games helps build lasting memories and can even become traditions for the people involved.

What are some of your favorite camping games? This list of camping games is a very small subset of all possible games people can play when camping? Go ahead and comment below what some of your favorite games to play are when you go camping.

 

October 17, 2015

Dog camping supplies

Man’s best friend

Camping is an excellent chance to get away from the normal day to day grind of computers and working. When you plan your next camping trip plan on taking your dog. Most camping sites allow dogs on leashes and almost all hiking trails allow pets. When I go camping I make sure I have prepared everything for my family (including our little shitzu Kola). Having an emergency and not being prepared is one way to really tarnish a vacation getaway. In order to make sure my dog and family have a good memorable time I make sure I have the following list items when we go camping.

Dog camping supplies

Do I really need all this stuff?

Dog camping supplies list

  • Poop bags – Left over plastic shopping bags work the best. Most hiking trails and campsites are dog friendly. Just be polite and pick up your dog’s poop.
  • Dog food – Pack your normal dog food in a bag. Your dog will eat this plus any leftovers from your camp cooking.
  • Backpack for dogs – There are several type of backpacks you can put on your dog when you go hiking. Some of the dog backpacks have lots of extra pockets and room, ranging from sizes from small to extra large depending on your dog’s size. Having your dog carry its own food and water helps lessen everything you need to carry when hiking.
  • Long leash – A longer leash is used when you are at your campsite to give your dog a larger radius of free roaming. These longer leashes can be something as simple as a rope cut to a desired length and tied to a bench or tree.
  • Walking leash – You will want a shorter leash for going on hikes or walks. All dogs love hiking and are great at it. You will just need to keep them under control because they will want to run everywhere and mark their territory with every chance they get.
  • Feeding bowl(s) – One bowl can be sufficient for your dog’s food and water (just not at the same time). One item that my wife and I love for our dog is a portable bowl set that goes flat and stores easily when we aren’t using it.
  • First Aid for Dogs – We have first aid kits for our families – dogs just need a few extra items.
    • Tick Medication – Ticks are very easy to contract in tall grasses.
    • Flee medication – Being around other pets your dog can easily contract flees.
    • Deworming pills – Dogs can pick up worms in public areas very easily. If another animal in the area has had worms and your dog decides to roll through it’s feces there is a chance your dog will contract worms.
    • Dog probiotics – For diarrhea or dog allergies. Ultimately helps digestive problems.
  • Old towel – Often times if you take your pet out hiking or walking it will get very dirty. When you are done camping and on your way home it will be nice to have an old towel or blanket for your dog to sit on, thus preventing the dog’s dirt from getting everywhere. Also if you go hiking anywhere with water you will need something to help keep your dog dry and stop it from spreading mud and filth to everything else.
  • Dog snacks – You are out to have a good time, why not your dog? Any small snacks or chew bones are an added bonus for man’s best friend.
  • Clothes – Sometimes in the high mountains the temperature gets cold fast at night. My dog doesn’t have a lot of insulation on him and we take a few extra dog clothes for him to help keep him warm.