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Going tent camping for the very first time - advice please

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  • #16
    The only places we've used a tarp on top of the tent (tied up a few feet above it) were Alaska and Boundary waters where it rained almost every day. If rainy weather is likely it really helps keep the tent dry. Otherwise it isn't needed. Security had never been a problem for us - like other posters said - don't leave valuables in the tent and make sure it is well staked to not blow away. Also make sure you have a fleece hat, gloves, and long underwear. You can sleep in all of them on a cold night and be toasty,

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    • #17
      Also, keeping a folding stock AK-47, a handgun with extended magazine, or a large fixed blade (or, preferably, all three) in the tent is good insurance for bears or other animal or human predators. If you're camping with other people, it's good to have a standing rule about NOT shaking someone else's tent at night.

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      • #18
        I always neglect effectively labelling/sorting of all of my camping gear, and then when its time that I need something, get all angry and make a mess trying to excavate it.
        "Ah, those endless forests, and their horror-haunted gloom! For what eternities have I wandered through them, a timid, hunted creature, starting at the least sound, frightened of my own shadow, keyed-up, ever alert and vigilant, ready on the instant to dash away in mad flight for my life. For I was the prey of all manner of fierce life that dwelt in the forest, and it was in ecstasies of fear that I fled before the hunting monsters."

        Jack london, "Before Adam"

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        • #19
          Also, how do you propose to deal with fuckin raccoons? They are like 'raptors, executing awesome planned flanking maneuvers and shit, decoys, feigned advances.
          "Ah, those endless forests, and their horror-haunted gloom! For what eternities have I wandered through them, a timid, hunted creature, starting at the least sound, frightened of my own shadow, keyed-up, ever alert and vigilant, ready on the instant to dash away in mad flight for my life. For I was the prey of all manner of fierce life that dwelt in the forest, and it was in ecstasies of fear that I fled before the hunting monsters."

          Jack london, "Before Adam"

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          • #20
            I definitely agree with the tarp going under the tent, no platform required. However, I would get a tarp that larger than the base of the tent, and after the tent is pitched roll the exposed pieces of tarp up tightly and stick under the edge of the tent. Too-small tarp equals wet edges of the tent, and if your gear/bed is there that can be a pain. Keep your clothes and what-not either in the tent or car. If they are outside, line your bags with heavy-duty plastic garbage bags to keep your clothes from getting wet in case of rain. If the place has bugs, make sure the tent flap is always zipped tightly after entering/exiting. Don't leave it open, even if you are in and out frequently. Bugs WILL get in, and that is a nightmare come bedtime. Put the tent in a flat area, avoiding tree roots and slanted ground. If you plan on a fire, bring wood with you or make sure the camping location has a store where you can buy it. Also, don't forget a lighter and some paper or kindling type stuff. No food inside the tent, leave it either in the car or in a wannigan that is strapped shut. Flashlights are also must for nighttime bathroom trips, you won't want that whole big lantern thing if there is another person in the tent trying to sleep. I might think of more, but that's all I have at the moment. Bring plenty of dry clothes, and dress warm!

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            • #21
              I recommend a small headlamp. Much easier to have that with your hands free while trying to do stuff in the dark.

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              • #22
                I got one of these at REI and it came in really handy out in the bush in Africa where there might be leopards between you and the restrooms.

                eGear PICO LED Zipper Lite at REI.com

                Very tiny yet amazingly bright.
                You can snap it onto the zipper pull of your favorite hoodie and then you will always know where it is.

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                • #23
                  I am a camping lunatic, so I will itemize

                  1) LED headlight, like mentioned before, trumps anything else. An actual lantern is not necessary unless there are many of you and you can't make a fire.
                  2) For fires, bring a sterno or a propane torch. If you get wet and it's 30 outside, or any other emergency, you can light soaked twigs with one of them. Gotten me out of jams a few times.
                  3) Raccoons: Take a hike about 100 yards from your tent. Find a pole or tree. Coat it with cheap peanut butter, just a little. Diversion Go over there after dark and see the HUNDRED EYES staring back at you for just a little PB.
                  4) Get a big sleeping bag rated to 4-season. Bring your daughter with you and be sure you can BOTH fit into it. An adult will prob be fine on a cold night in a mummy bag. A little one doesn't produce that kind of heat, so you will want her next to you. Take my word for it....
                  5) For rain protection, get a spot under a large tree. You will still get big drops through, but there is unlikely to be pooling there. Don't put a tarp over your rain-fly. It won't breathe at all and you will wake up soaked from your own breathing condensation.
                  6) Pick a wet corner and a dry corner of the tent. Cover the wet side with your pack cover or a sheet. Nothing sucks more than everything being wet!

                  Have fun. Kids love camping. If they don't, repeat. They will eventually
                  "The soul that does not attempt flight; does not notice its chains."

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                  • #24
                    Hey all - thanks for the responses!

                    The headlamps are a good idea - we already have a couple in the house.
                    It looks like I might need to look into better sleeping bags - mine have been with me since I was in my early 20s (they get light use)
                    Long johns are an excellent idea! We sometimes use what we call "bed socks" in the dead of winter here, they will come along as well
                    Potty is all the way on the other end of the rv/tent campground section of the park from our spot - I'm thinking of using my yet-virgin luggable loo that I got a few years back as part of my household emergency stash, outfitted with a trash bag and kitty litter for absorption

                    I like the peanut butter trick, Laz - gotta try that here in my woods

                    According to the park website, the tent spot is level, but I do have a telescoping rake of the mini kind that the kids use here in the yard - I might bring that with me to get rid of nut shells and stones and the like. The site has a view of the abutting river - I did ask if the campground had ever flooded before, and his answer was "no ma'am"
                    Last edited by Crabbcakes; 08-09-2013, 07:31 PM.
                    I have a mantra that I have spouted for years... "If I eat right, I feel right. If I feel right, I exercise right. If I exercise right, I think right. If I think right, I eat right..." Phil-SC

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