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Going tent camping for the very first time - advice please

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  • Going tent camping for the very first time - advice please

    So - I have just booked four nights worth of primitive campsite in a small state park a couple of states south of me for the very beginning of October. It will just be me and my oldest daughter, down there for a well-attended festival. We will basically only be in the park to shower (bathhouse) and sleep. We have never done anything even remotely like this before, so I am asking for your hard-earned advice. Here is what I plan:

    Building my own portable tent platform to keep us off the ground in case of rain, I found simple plans online
    Pitching a tarp over hubby's tent, just for extra rain protection, even tho it has a rain fly
    Sealing the tent before we go with seam sealant
    Practicing pitching hubby's tent before we leave!!

    I will leave my tent up and drive to the festival each day and be gone until past dark, and am getting a bit concerned for the safety of my tent... Any advice on security issues?? Am I being paranoid?? The tent ain't exactly the newest high-tech model. I found homemade trip-wire security gadget vids on YouTube using inexpensive window alarms.

    Egg crate foam under the sleeping bags, an extra warm blanket, and a wooly hat for cold nights - park staff said October there goes down to mid-40s
    I want to buy a Candelier candle lantern for heat and light combo - bad idea?

    Food will be foraged at Earth Fare at the last big town we drive through on the way down, and at the Festival. I don't plan on any campfire meals until after Festival closing, as the fest has late-night happenings and also gets out late enough that dinking around building a fire, cooking, dousing, and wash up will eat at much-needed sleep, methinks.

    Any other advice?? Thanks in advance - I am crazy excited to try something like this, but I just want to be as prepared as I can be for Stuff That Happens When You Are A Noob.
    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

  • #2
    Wouldn't bother with the heater thingee.

    I HATE camping but I grew up with it and I go to things where other people camp and the disturbance of the camp site is super super rare and about vandalism, not about what you own which as you point out is not valuable. Lock your valuables in your car truck and no worries.
    “In God we trust; all others must bring data.” W. Edwards Deming
    Blogging at http://loafingcactus.com

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Crabbcakes View Post
      Building my own portable tent platform to keep us off the ground in case of rain, I found simple plans online
      Pitching a tarp over hubby's tent, just for extra rain protection, even tho it has a rain fly
      Sealing the tent before we go with seam sealant
      Practicing pitching hubby's tent before we leave!!
      Seam seal the tent and practice pitching it. Don't bother with any of that other stuff. If you put a tarp UNDER the tent, make sure it's actually SMALLER than the footprint of the tent. If it is larger, it will collect rain and funnel it to the bottom of the tent. You don't need a tarp over a tent and you don't need a platform. Just don't pitch it in a spot that looks like it will form a puddle in the rain.
      Originally posted by Crabbcakes View Post
      I will leave my tent up and drive to the festival each day and be gone until past dark, and am getting a bit concerned for the safety of my tent... Any advice on security issues??
      The sort of unwritten rule of camping is that you leave other people's stuff alone. You should remove valuables from the tent, perhaps even empty the tent and just leave it there as a sign that the site is occupied. Make sure it's staked so it won't blow away in the wind! If you are truly feeling paranoid, pack everything up every day and set it up again when you return.

      Originally posted by Crabbcakes View Post
      Egg crate foam under the sleeping bags, an extra warm blanket, and a wooly hat for cold nights - park staff said October there goes down to mid-40s
      I want to buy a Candelier candle lantern for heat and light combo - bad idea?
      A candle lantern is not necessary. Get a regular Coleman lantern if you plan to make camping a regular thing. They have electric and gas ones. A candle lantern is a fire hazard and provides little light. The last thing you ever want is a heating source that burns inside a tent. So do not bring a gas lantern into your tent. You can suffocate from carbon monoxide and die or burn up and die. If a tent catches fire it burns instantly into a hot plastic that sticks to your skin and burns you (as does everything else made for camping). So never use flammable anything inside your tent.

      Originally posted by Crabbcakes View Post
      Any other advice??
      Enjoy yourself. Don't worry too much about how clean you are or doing your hair and all that. You are camping!
      Female, 5'3", 50, Max squat: 202.5lbs. Max deadlift: 225 x 3.

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      • #4
        Buy a inflatable matress and forget the platform and extra tarp. Put a tarp underneith the tent. 40degrees is VERY cold when camping so bring some long underwear to sleep in and plenty of blankets. Don worry about tent security. Bring snacks and plenty of water, if its bear country then dont keep food in the tent.

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        • #5
          40 degrees isn't cold at all if you have decent gear. I typically spend 20+ nights per year in my tent; most of my camping is just taking a backpack way up in the mountains away from everything and everyone else. I often camp in snow and sub-freezing temperatures, and I can only think of a couple of times where I've even had to zip my sleeping bag all the way into the "mummy" position. usually it's mostly unzipped.

          Keys are: weatherproof gear, a good sleeping pad (mine is a 1.5" inflatable one the size of my bag and I sleep like a king on it) and a quality bag. If you're camping using your car as a base of operations everything is super easy.

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          • #6
            I agree about temperature, if anything I get hot. The time the cold sucks is when you have to pee in the middle of the night. But that said, nothing wrong with bringing extra blankets etc. car camping.

            We car camped out west for a few weeks and it is 100x easier than backpacking to work out of a car. We had a cooler with food and a cooktop. I enjoy cooking on camping trips, so it was nice to get up and have eggs etc. and coffee every morning. Making simple stuff that is easy to clean up works best.

            As for "stuff", a flashlight is helpful, and I like a real chair (as opposed to a log). Some kind of stove or fuel based cooktop with fuel makes life easy if you want food and don't want to mess with a fire.

            Mostly at campgrounds, people are nice and don't mess with stuff. I'm not saying leave your purse, fine jewelry and cash on the picnic table, but it's unlikely someone will walk off with your cooler, tent and sleeping bags.

            http://maggiesfeast.wordpress.com/
            Check out my blog. Hope to share lots of great recipes and ideas!

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            • #7
              Make sure you have a plan for getting up in the middle of the night to pee. Mostly, bring flip-flops and put them and a flashlight in a handy location before you go to bed.
              The Champagne of Beards

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              • #8
                Originally posted by RichMahogany View Post
                Make sure you have a plan for getting up in the middle of the night to pee. Mostly, bring flip-flops and put them and a flashlight in a handy location before you go to bed.
                I don't think this helps the girls, but when I'm camping in sub-freezing temps I keep a nalgene or similar type water bottle in the tent. You can pee in it while still in the bag, and then seal it and stuff it down by your feet for more warmth if you need it.

                Two recommendations:
                1) This bottle needs a very good and reliable history of not leaking
                2) It needs to be VERY identifiable by feel as being NOT your actual water bottle

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Mr. Anthony View Post
                  I don't think this helps the girls, but when I'm camping in sub-freezing temps I keep a nalgene or similar type water bottle in the tent. You can pee in it while still in the bag, and then seal it and stuff it down by your feet for more warmth if you need it.

                  Two recommendations:
                  1) This bottle needs a very good and reliable history of not leaking
                  2) It needs to be VERY identifiable by feel as being NOT your actual water bottle
                  But then you'd miss all the fun of trying to put on and lace up your boots in pitch dark while doing the peepee dance.
                  The Champagne of Beards

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                  • #10
                    1. Call nearby motels and make reservations.
                    2. Cancel campground reservation.
                    3. Come October, thank Joanie for saving you from sleeping on the cold ass ground and peeing in jars.

                    "Right is right, even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong, even if everyone is doing it." - St. Augustine

                    B*tch-lite

                    Who says back fat is a bad thing? Maybe on a hairy guy at the beach, but not on a crab.

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                    • #11
                      I've camped since I was a kid and still camp regularly. I live in the Pacific Northwest so cold and rain are both considerations although not usually in July in August. I use a self inflating mat and a good quality sleeping bag that is rated for about 20 degrees. A 40 degree sleeping bag is a slumber party bag and will leave you freezing your tush off. I've camped with snow on the ground and woken up to frost. Long underwear or fleece unders are good if it is going to be cold. Fleece booties are very good if you get really cold feet like me. A hat is good, no strings though if you don't want them wrapping around your neck while you sleep. A little battery lantern is probably safer and our house rule is absolutely no flame in the tent. We have a household of five and when it's cold we bring thermoses and put coffee, hot water for tea or hot spiced cider in them. Most relatively new tents are usually pretty good on their waterproofing.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by RichMahogany View Post
                        But then you'd miss all the fun of trying to put on and lace up your boots in pitch dark while doing the peepee dance.
                        Plus the pure joy of the giggle walk to the bathrooms or bush with daughter in the middle of the night. Better than any church laugh.

                        Sent from my SGH-T989 using Tapatalk 2

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                        • #13
                          And don't wait to pee at night until it is really urgent if you are in a small two man backpacking tent, with a dog and another person because it's the equivalent of executing an advanced yoga pose to get out of that tent without stepping on your partners face, waking up the dog and spraining your ankle.

                          http://maggiesfeast.wordpress.com/
                          Check out my blog. Hope to share lots of great recipes and ideas!

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by RichMahogany View Post
                            But then you'd miss all the fun of trying to put on and lace up your boots in pitch dark while doing the peepee dance.
                            oh you guys, (Rich & Anthony) this was entirely what I was thinking as I read the OP -- "tell her where/how to pee!!"

                            Agreed on the smaller-than-the-tent tarp for keeping your tent bottom dry from rain. No need to build a platform BUT make the time to give the ground a hard, long look before pitching and staking the tent down. How many times I've not done that and then realized I hadn't seen the tree root that was now under my sleeping bag and you're too damn sleepy/lazy to unstake and move the tent. Make sure it's level and don't mistake that teeny tiny rock as no problem. It WILL be a problem once you're laying on it.

                            Bring flip flops for shower. Bring any fave proteins in ziplocks for packability (dried meats, etc).

                            Have a lot of fun and don't freak out if you catch a squirrel making love to the side of your tent in the middle of the night.

                            “you aren't what you eat - you are what you don't poop.” Wavy Gravy

                            Today I am Fillyjonk. Tommorow I will be Snufkin.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by magnolia1973 View Post
                              And don't wait to pee at night until it is really urgent if you are in a small two man backpacking tent, with a dog and another person because it's the equivalent of executing an advanced yoga pose to get out of that tent without stepping on your partners face, waking up the dog and spraining your ankle.
                              That's exactly what it's like. Let's just go with Mr. A's plan for those of us who are appropriately equipped.
                              The Champagne of Beards

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