Camping Tips

When it comes to Camping, we've been there, done that, now serving 210 tips in 15 categories ranging from Beach Camping to Sleeping Bags.

Is there a checklist for taking a dog along on a camping trip?

Things to Take for Your Dog on a Camping Trip

When you go camping, you want to take your family dog along! He/she doesn't want to be left at home, and you don't want to miss their company out in the great outdoors.

Here are a couple of things to take along with you to make your camping experience pleasant for everyone.

Make sure you have a good flea collar for your dog to wear in the 'wilderness.'

Be sure you take your dog's supplies, including food and water bowls, his leash, a favorite toy or two, and of course his usual food.

Take your dog's bedding with you, and make sure you have a way to elevate his bed off of the ground.

Take some doggie treats to try to keep him/her calm, and for rewards.

You also might want to have a practice run at sleeping in a tent, say, in your back yard, before you try a real overnight camping trip with your dog.

What are the "comfort ratings" for sleeping bags?

Sleeping Bags and Comfort Ratings

All sleeping bags used outdoors are rated by a "comfort rating" according to how warm they can keep you in low temperatures. Every bag for outdoor use should conform to these ratings, which is why cheap girl's sleeping bags meant for indoor use simply won't work outdoors.

Here are the comfort ratings you should look for:

  • Summer weight will keep you warm in temperatures 35 degrees or higher.
  • 3-season will keep you warm in temperatures of plus 10 degrees to 35 degrees.
  • Cold weather will keep you warm in minus 10 degrees to plus 10 degrees.
  • Winter/Extreme will keep you warm in minus 10 degrees and below.
Many campers choose a 3-season bag just to ensure they are ready for most situations. These ratings apply to all sleeping bags, from children to adults, so you can make sure the whole family is comfortable on the coldest of camping nights.

I'm too tall to fit in a normal sleeping bag, what should I do?

The Long and Short of Sleeping Bags

If you're over six feet tall, you might think sleeping in a sleeping bag is an uncomfortable, even confining experience. However, sleeping bags come in two sizes, "long" or "tall" and "short." If you're over six feet, long sleeping bags should be your bag of choice. These bags are meant for taller campers, but know that all terminology is not the same.

For example, the Coleman sleeping bag called "tall" fits a person up to 6 feet tall, while a "long" bag by Moonstone fits a person up to 6 foot 4-inches tall. So, before you buy one of these sleeping bags, check the specifications to make sure it's big enough for that tall camper in your family.

Do I really need to buy a kid's sleeping bag for my child?

Kid's Sleeping Bags

Many sleeping bag manufacturers make kid's sleeping bags, too, in a variety of styles and shapes. These bags are just like their adult sleeping bags, but shaped to fit smaller campers perfectly.

Kids can be even more attuned to changes in temperature, and so a cheap cotton kid's sleeping bag simply won't work on most overnight camping trips. They are usually only meant for indoor sleepovers and such, not rigorous use.

In addition, the outer cotton shell can get very dirty and will not repel water and stains like a nylon outer shell will. Kid's sleeping bags are usually big enough for your child to use for several seasons as they grow into the bag, and they are more lightweight so your child can carry them in their own backpack. A kid's sleeping bag just makes sense for just about every camping situation.

What's a baby sleeping bag?

The Baby Sleeping Bag

If you have a newborn baby, chances are you're already familiar with the baby sleeping bag. This sleeping bag keeps baby from kicking off blankets in the crib and getting feet caught in crib bars, and if your baby is used to sleeping in one of these sleeping bags, it could be a great camping bag for baby, too. A baby sleeping bag looks like a cross between a sleeping bag and a garment. The bag slips over baby's head and is sleeveless, so baby can't roll inside the bag and suffocate. They are great in cribs because they keep baby from getting too cold, and some are heavy enough for outdoor use, too. Most baby sleeping bags aren't comfort rated, so you'll have to watch and see how warm your baby sleeps in one of these bags. Most experts don't advise placing your baby in one of these bags until they are at least four months old.

Why should I buy mummy sleeping bags?

Why a Mummy

The North Face is one of the best known names in outdoor gear, including mummy sleeping bags. In fact, most of the North Face sleeping bag line is made up of mummy sleeping bags. Mummy sleeping bags are the choice of many campers and backpackers for a number of reasons. Mummy bags, shaped to fit your body, keep you warmer because they conform to your body shape and conserve more heat. They also weigh less than rectangular bags, so they are easier to carry on a backpack.

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Carol Sponagle