Shortcutting… Camping

10 Jul

I’m back! Did you miss me? What’s that? You cried yourself to sleep every night, and could barely get out of bed every morning, due to the gaping hole in your life left by the absence of my words? N’awww you’re too kind! I’m blushing! I didn’t realise I meant so much to you! Gosh, I suddenly feel a great weight of responsibility on my shoulders, as though the existence of mankind depends on my daily blogging. Well never fear, earthlings, you’re safe with me. I will use this opportunity to guide you through the darkness, and towards the light. Okay, that’s enough b.s. for now. On to the post.

As you will no doubt recall, the reason for my absence from the blogosphere was a camping trip. So let me share with you the wisdom I have gleaned from the experience.

1) Tents. A home built with your own hands could potentially be a highly rewarding place to live. When the walls and floor are little more than waterproof (thank God) sheets of fabric, and there’s barely room to swing a tent-invading midge (we’ll get to those later), let alone  a cat, it’s somehow strangely lacking in rewarding-ness. Nevertheless, as long as you make sure to get one that can be put up pretty quickly, and folded pretty small, and isn’t very heavy, you’ve done alright. It’s probably worth testing it out at the shop, putting it up and down and carrying it and all that (I know it’s a bit awkward but it beats standing in the middle of a field in the pouring rain trying to figure out which pole goes where). Also, don’t think you’re being economic by using a tent designed for fewer people than you are. ‘A two-man eh, that’ll be enough for us three won’t it now? It’ll be nice and snug…’, you might think. Fool! You will be tired and muddy and most certainly not in the mood for ‘snug’. You will want all the room you can get. Don’t compromise.

2) Food. If you, like me, will be carrying your own supplies, small and light is the key. If, on the other hand, you have some kind of automobile to transport them, then knock yourself out. I will say, however, that you should never underestimate the value of fruit and veg. Sounds kinda lame, but trust me, there is nothing better than a can of tinned peaches to wash down a dayful of hotdogs and pasta and bread and other dry, savoury things. I imagine if you’re bringing your own food you’ll be using some kind of portable stove-type device for cooking, so I’d suggested either those Uncle Ben’s rice things or fresh pasta of some kind, as they cook pretty quickly. And don’t forget the hot chocolate!

3) Sleeping bag. Find out the weather. And no, not just the daytime weather. In the day you can put on or take off jumpers at liberty, and either drink water or do star-jumps to acclimatize to whatever weather has been thrown at you. At night, things are different. You are trapped in your sleeping bag, which will determine whether or not you get through the night. Cold is definitely more of a problem than hot, as you can always unzip your sleeping bag a bit if you need to cool down, so if in doubt, go for a sleeping bag for really cold temperatures. But if you do find yourself shivering at 2 a.m., there are a few little tricks to make it that bit warmer.  Firstly, you’re not meant to pile on the layers – just stick to one set of thermals and a fleece. I know it’s virtually impossible not to wear every single item of clothes you’ve brought with you, but my sources tell me that more layers just mean your body heat gets spread among all the layers, making you colder (or something like that :s), so you’ll have to resist! What you can do with those extra jumpers is put them inside your sleeping bag and kinda stuff it so that you trap the heat in. You may not be toasty but you’ll get through it! (Actually, sleeping bags tend to have both ‘comfort’ temperature ratings and ‘extreme’ ratings. Basically, comfort temperatures are when you’ll be comfortable, and extreme is like what you can cope with. So if the nighttime temperature is lower than the extreme temperature rating on your sleeping bag, it might be a good idea to reschedule…)

4) Mat. Your mat is essentially what separates you from the hard, rocky ground. So choose it wisely. There are basically two options: one of those roll-up, foam mats, or an inflatable one. Supposedly, the inflatable ones are more comfortable. Here’s how I see it: foam mats are much cheaper, much quicker to ‘set up’ (i.e. you just unroll it, as opposed to any kind of inflating), impermeable (I think that’s the word – basically, if you drop it in a puddle, no biggie), and I’ve borrowed a friend’s ‘self-inflating’ mats twice and still haven’t figured out how to make it inflate, so it’s essentially a piece of cloth. Not to mention the fact that these inflatable mats are virtually impossible to put back in their little bags – you have to keep sitting on it to push the air out as you roll it up and it’s somehow always too big to fit back in. Basically, go for the foam mat.

5) Method of transport. I imagine most people will either take the *cough* cheating *cough* route and use a car, or, if wanting to use their own steam, will do the most orthodox method: hiking/ trekking. Being a highly unorthodox person myself, this weekend’s trip was meant to be a canoeing trip. There are many advantages of canoeing – you don’t have to carry your bag, you don’t have to walk, you keep moving forward even when you aren’t doing anything, it’s pretty difficult to take a wrong turn – but one major disadvantage is than, in a rain-heavy country such as dear England, flooding risks etc. could potentially rain on your parade, which indeed they did for me. As a group of, it would be fair to say, inexperienced canoeists, we were advised to steer clear of the river at all costs, lest we be, all jokes aside, up shit creek without a paddle. So if you do wish to take to the river, try and choose a time when it probably won’t be raining in your timezone; in England for example, try July. Oh wait.

I hope these tips will make you a happy camper!

Keep shortcutting,

Zoe

P.S. That was super-long, hope it makes up for everything 😀

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2 Responses to “Shortcutting… Camping”

  1. mamagirlsaysitall July 11, 2012 at 4:49 pm #

    Ahaha! Having been an avid car-camper for years, this was an amusing read for me. =) I’ll have to write a blog post sometime about how to get the inflatable mat (we call it an air mattress in the States) back into the bag, as well as how to make it inflate, so that you can finally enjoy the true comfort of them! LOL! But you’re right in that the mat is easier to deal with, and if your hiking in more practical all around. Sorry you got rained on, that’s always a bit misreable, but usually part of camping no matter what. Glad you made it back to the computer alright! =)

    • shortcutting July 11, 2012 at 5:27 pm #

      Yes, I would certainly find that useful! Thanks, there were moments when I wasn’t sure I would…

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