How to Camp with your Family Before Winter

Camping is a polarizing topic. When I shared my plan to take my 9 and 6 year old daughters on a camping trip, I had two very different reactions from people: “Great idea!” And “I hate camping.”

To be honest, it had been a long time since I took out the camping gear, although I was a little unsure of how I felt. I have many memories of past camping trips (some until childhood), including difficult to install tents, a heavy backpack and difficulty sleeping on hard surfaces, combined with beautiful sunrises.

It does not have to be this way. I argue that with some pieces of modern equipment for camping, camping is for everyone. Destroy some myths so you can understand where I come from.

Myth # 1: You need a big car to pack all these things

Not true, I traveled with my children in my Mazda 3 hatchback that can carry two tents, two sleeping bags, an inflatable mattress, a chair and two bags of clothes for the family. The modern equipment for camping is very light and can pack very hard (see animated gifs below).

Myth # 2: camping is very uncomfortable

Again, it is not true. Part of the attraction of camping is “to draw”. But let’s be honest, nobody wants to share a day with me when I did not sleep well the day before. Then, with some equipment, you can be almost as comfortable as in your new Casper fantasy mattress.

I recommend these three pieces of equipment:

1. A good sleeping bag: there are many good options out there. I would stay in lighter bags, 3 seasons if you only go camping from time to time (and not in K2). From REI to North Face ($ 244.20) to Marmot ($ 179). Or you can try this awesome Big Agnes double bag for couples! ($ 369.95)
2. An inflatable mattress: I used the Big Agnes Q-Core SLX 40 “x72” ($ 249.99) and it was very comfortable and very light. Whether you sleep on your side or on your back, this is the way to go, comfort for a very small additional weight. Keep in mind that these mattresses are not always the easiest to inflate on the fly. I recommend that you plan this before you leave, either by getting the pump that accompanies it ($ 34.95) or by building your own DYI version.
3. A chair: we can discuss it. If you are flexible, an avid yoga practitioner, etc. (I am neither), that sitting on the floor is probably your choice. For all those who are not there, something like the GCI Outdoor Firepit Rocker ($ 59.99) is excellent. It is very light, easy to fold and carry. He also swings and has a drink holder. Should we say more?

Myth #3: You have to camp in a camp site

Not true. You can do it in a backyard to start. Whether you stay with friends or rent a house for the weekend, it can make the adventure more exciting to set a tent in the yard for one of the two or three nights you spend there.

Myth #4: The Tent is so hard to set up

Modern tent are incredibly easy to set up. I had the chance to test two tents on this latest trip and both of them were a stark departure from the tent set up memories I had.

Myth # 5: True camping is a multi-day commitment

Not true. One night is the way to start, especially if you have young children. The question is not so much their taste for adventure, but they will have fun and not sleep as much as they should. You can handle this for one night and the next day. A few nights in a row could be difficult.

If you do not have children, the logic can still apply to your civilization needs (especially a proper bathroom). I found that alternating nights of camping with regular nights, hotel or otherwise, works well.

Some things never change though: you wake up very early. We were all awake at 5:15 in the morning. The sunrise and the birds are big awakenings.