Camping Newbie Questions Answered By Kit Deslauriers, (The North Face Skier/ Ski Mountaineer)

INTERVIEWS | | June 29, 2010 at 11:52 am

When I was approached by the kind folks at The North Face to talk about June being camping month and host a giveaway as well. I felt I needed more. Truth is I have never camped. Ok, when you pick up jaw off the floor, I want to admit I don’t know why either. I felt weird writing about camping, well, when I have never been. I then realized I can’t be the only one who hasn’t (oh, I hope I am not the only one) so I decided to take this opportunity to ask questions that have been boggling my mind.

Since The North Face is known for their quality and durability I knew they were the best to answer the questions. Kit Deslauriers, who is a The North Face sponsored Skier/ Ski Mountaineer was kind enough to indulge my questions. In the off season, she is an avid camper/hiker so you see she is perfect for my questions.

You can read more about Kit here on The North Face website, or visit her personal site and catch this post about her hiking with with her kids.

What are the basic essentials I would need for camping, as in equipment or devices?

Kit: A tent, sleeping mattress pad and sleeping bag. From there it depends on if you are camping in your backyard or at a campground with your car right next to you for supplies or if you are carrying everything on your back to your camp site because if you are simply in your backyard or car-camping at a campground you don’t even necessarily need to have a sleeping bag as you can make do with blankets from home and in fact this makes some people feel more comfortable in the early stages of learning to camp.

How should I choose a beginner camping ground?

A beginner campground would ideally have running water available somewhere on site as well as a restroom because people who are new to camping may not be comfortable going a night without washing their face in the sink before going to bed or having a toilet nearby for when nature calls. Another consideration is to find an area in the campground that is far away from noisy campers such as RV’s with generators that can detract from the peace and quiet that should be associated with sleeping outside.

When camping with children, what else should I be taking note off?

Children are sensitive to their parents’ energy so make sure to relax and have fun. Try not to obsess about every little bit of dirt they get on themselves! Beyond that, consider equipping each child with their own headlamp so they can feel more comfortable in the dark.

When is the best time to camp?

Any time is good for camping! As far as time of year it obviously is more comfortable for beginners to camp in weather that they will most enjoy which usually means summertime. As to the time of day, make sure you arrive at your chosen spot with enough time to explore a bit before having to tend to the very real camp chores such as making dinner and cleaning up.

What type of clothing is ideal for camping?

Usually a pair of long pants and shoes with closed toes and socks are important because they protect you as you wander around exploring and keep things cleaner in your sleeping bag when you take them off to go to sleep at night. For the upper body you will want to have a few choices to make sure you can layer and adjust to the changing temperatures that come when the sun sets or an evening rain cloud passes by. Ideally a short sleeve shirt, long sleeve shirt, some type of synthetic or wool warm mid-layer and a rain jacket or wind shell. You may even want a light down jacket depending on the temperatures. Make sure to dress warmly as it is more difficult to get warm once you get cold. If your location is hot and sunny, bring a hat and consider clothes with UV protection.

What is the average camping fees at camping sites?

There are many places to camp that are absolutely free such as most National Forest campgrounds and BLM (Bureau of Land Management) Lands. Others charge anywhere from $10-$25 per night.

What are some activities to do while camping?

Depending on your location there may be hiking trails nearby or wildlife and birds to look for, you can also take a book along and learn to identify certain kinds of plants or trees. Reading a book is a pleasant way to spend time camping as is writing in a journal or drawing and painting the scenery. Remember that camping itself is an activity so treat the ‘chores’ around camp as fun and enjoy the process of cooking your meals and eating them in the outdoors. Don’t forget the s’mores around the campfire but be aware of fire dangers and regulations as fires may not be permitted in some areas and even if they are you may want to plan ahead and bring your own firewood because gathering firewood may be tricky or even illegal at your campsite.

I hear the tent pitching is the roughest, or so the television allows me to believe. Is this true?

Tent pitching is actually very simple and many people can do it in a New York minute with the help of a tent mate and a little practice. If you are concerned, try pitching your tent at home in your yard or driveway first, especially if you will be in the dark when you get to your campsite.

How do you deal with bugs?

There are some great bug repellents out there that are all natural and safe for children. Some come in the form of wipes, others as spray or an oil based liquid but the common ingredients are natural herbs and oils. Bring and use these if there are bugs in your area. It is best to prevent bug bites rather than try to treat them once they happen, especially on kids.

What if you fear snakes, still worth camping?

There are a lot of different fears out there like snakes, or the dark, or running out of food, or spiders, or …. Insert your own here! If that fear is keeping you at home instead of camping you are missing out on a really great experience. Even if no one sleeps much because of their fear (which is most likely not even going to manifest on your camping trip) you will have loads of memories to carry you through winter while you can’t wait to go camping again because it was so much fun!

Thank you Kit and don’t forget that you can still Win the Ultimate Backpacker kit From The North Face, right here on MommyNiri.com

Also I asked specifically for some help choosing equipment and here are some suggestions.

The Double Headed Toad ($329)

Perfect for your average family of four, this tent is lightweight and easy to pitch with a color coded “clip” system. Getting in and out is easy with a door and either end and storing your belongings  is a cinch with its convenient overhead pockets and abundant gear loops.

Dolomite Sleeping Bag ($89) or the kid-sized version The Great Smoky Bx

These bags are both completely unfussy and allow new campers to experiment with how they are most comfortable sleeping. Both the Dolomite and Great Smokey can be used like normal sleeping bags or can unzip and open up to lay flat, which is great for campground versatility.

Terra 65 ($149)

This pack has the capacity to handle a trip several days in length. It fits A LOT inside, but is also engineered to keep the carrier comfortable and supported. This is especially important for new campers as they may not be used to carrying such a weight. If no one person wants to take one for the team (dad!)… you can always use multiple packs like the Interval 25 pack (from the prize package) and split  up the supplies, having everyone in the family carry them evenly.

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2 Comments

  1. 1
    Hannah says:

    Great beginner tips! My family camped a lot when I was growing up, and now we really enjoy taking our kids camping. It’s just so good to get out of the house and be immersed in nature.

    I just wrote up some tips on family camping:
    http://www.mulberryspot.com/2010/06/tips-for-family-camping.html

  2. 2

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