Family Camping

Your quick guide to getting your family camping adventures started.

Now, more than ever, we want to encourage our children to spend time outdoors appreciating nature and enjoying life in the wild. To feel the dewy morning grass beneath bare toes, to hear the dawn chorus in the wilderness and to lie under a starlit sky and wonder at the beauty of this wide world.

A family camping trip is the perfect place to make great memories and enjoy happy times together.  But before you pack the car with the marshmallows, the sleeping bags and the spare socks, take some time to prepare your camping expedition and be sure that they will be epic adventures and not miserable disasters!

Here is our quick guide to camping en-famile. Whether you have babies, toddlers, wobblers, petulant teenagers or reluctant spouses… or all of the above… follow our easy steps to making time in the wilderness a wonderful family experience.

Planning

Perhaps in your youth you grabbed a two-man tent, a bag of cans and a few tins of beans and headed to festivals. Fun weekend family camping is the anti-thesis of this scenario. But don’t worry, it is still fun. Family fun. Especially if you have remembered the essential toilet rolls, battery power packs, milk etc.

Take time to research where you might like to camp. Decide first if you are going completely off-road, or if you would like to have amenities, a toilet/ showers and a chip shop nearby.  There are plenty of family- friendly campsites to cater to all requirements.   From beach to mountain, from lakes to rivers, Ireland offers a wonderful selection of picturesque places to set up tent for the night. It is up to yourselves to decide if you want to go it alone, or have civilisation on hand.

Food and Essentials

Lists are your friend here.  Make a list of meals and snacks for while you are camping and shop accordingly. Include all the needful items such as toilet rolls and water.  Over time, you will get smarter at knowing what works and what doesn’t for your own clan. Appetites are usually better in the great outdoors so make sure you bring plenty of food to bulk up on.   At Outdoor Adventure Store we stock a range of exciting instant meals.  The gourmet, Wayfarer range are long dated and easily prepared so work as a great standby for hungry mouths.  Some stalwart campers learn all kinds of hacks for camping.  They bring pre-cooked frozen stews to thaw in time for dinner. They break all their eggs into a plastic bottle at home for easy carrying and easy scrambling. See some Camping hacks here

Equipment

Stoves and Fires: You may have romantic ideas about a roaring campfire but reality often brings nasty weather, damp wood or a camping site that does not permit such luxuries as open flame (If you really want this experience, then include it at your planning stage.)  The likelihood is that you won’t cook for the whole tribe on an open fire and there are many other options available.   Trangia’s are lightweight fast and reliable storm-proof stove systems used by outdoor people all over the world. A Trangia burner is an ingenious original product that is well worth investing in. You can purchase a storm-proof stove system that comprises of a kettle, two windshields that fit together, a burner, a couple of non- stick pans, a non-stick combined lid/fry pan, and a pan grip-handle to make most meal times easy for you.   Most importantly, it’s a safe way to heat food for your family.

Tents:   A family size tent with a canopy is the ideal solution for all families heading into the wilds. The canopy is a godsend when the sun in blasting down on wee bare arms, or when the rain showers halt outdoor play for a while.  It is also a welcome space for chatting parents to escape in the evening, as the tired-out tots snore away the days adventures.  An investment in a state of the art family tent is exactly that!  An investment, which compares favourably in monetary value to every other type of accommodation out there and will allow you to enjoy the outdoors together for many years to come.  Do not be tempted to squash two or four children into one man or two-man tents. It may seem like a good idea, but those shoulders sticking out may cause the tent to touch the fly sheets and this can cause damp, not to mention the claustrophobe inside can lead to arguments.  Tents come in all shapes and sizes and even if you need to borrow an extra one for the teens, it is worth it for all to be comfortable.  You are making happy memories here after all!  Check out the air beam tents with fibreglass poles and ample room for everyone from Granny to the dog. Orava 600xl Tent.Don’t forget to pack extra tent pegs.  Like socks in a washing machine, tent pegs have a tendency to disappear.

Sleeping Bags:   Choose a sleeping bag for the weather, the season and the type of camping you plan to do.  Like duvets, sleeping bags have tog ratings, making it easy to pick the most suitable bag.   A simple child’s sleeping bag is relatively inexpensive and they pay for themselves quickly.  Not only will they be used in your family camping excursions, but they will be hauled out for sleep overs and dragged in front of the telly on those lazy Saturday mornings.    Double sleeping bags are readily available, so there is no need to go back to the days of zipping two singles together.  Unless you think that is romantic, in which case, off you go and no complaining when there is a zip like indentation on your back in the morning! 

Torches and Headtorches:  A good hand torch or headtorch is indispensable for camping with the brood.  The torch is absolutely essential when searching for bugs under hedges at dusk, or when finding the loo in the middle of the night and seeking out that one favourite teddy in a dark tent.  See our guide to head torches here: Brighten up your world with a head torch!  Make sure you have plenty of batteries or a trusty power pack for recharging. Galaxy rechargeable Lantern

Extras.   Folding chairs are comfortable after a day of hiking in the hills. Hammocks are fun. Footballs and Frisbees find a new lease of life in the outdoors.  

But camping is about getting away from it all.  It is about letting the world drift away for a while and enjoying a simpler time in nature, as a family.  If you can manage to get your teenager off sending snapchat’s long enough to Instagram the happiness being outdoors brings you, you will be instilling in them a love of the wild and a respect for nature.

Happy Camping!

Eating well on the trail – Gourmet Campfire food

A tin of baked beans heated over the portable stove at the end of a day’s hiking could be the best meal of your life.  The silence. Surrounded by nature. That well deserved dinner will taste better than anything a fine restaurant has to offer. No ambiance can top it. No piped music and linen napkin can compare with the hot enamel plate and humble offerings in the wild.

But, you don’t have to eat boring campfire food.  With just a little forethought and a bit of preparation, you can have hearty healthy meals on the trail.

Try something fresh and tasty like BBQ chicken in foil packs.  Pack frozen chicken strips with diced veg of your choice and marinate in barbeque sauce in a zip lock bag.  Secure it carefully in your pack to avoid spillages. When the fire or the stove is heated nicely toss the ingredients together in tin foil cupped to make a nice vessel or in your mess tin and place on the heat.  Twenty minutes later and you should be licking your fingers. Add to this rice or noodles but if you feel like being that extra bit healthy add some couscous with the bonus that it cooks faster too.

Fresh Bread…  Yes.  It is very doable… dough able even (sorry!).  Check out these simple instructions from some outback wilderness heads who really seem to like their food. It’s quiet a satisfying process at the end of the trail, as it involves fire, stones and an old pot. There is the wonderful smell of the baking and the indulgence of warm bread around a blazing campfire. Could outdoor life get any better?

It’s not all about savoury foods after a hike. Your energy levels are low and you’re craving something sweet for a little pick me up. Try this healthy banana sweet treat.

Bake your banana:   Slit your banana lengthwise, but do not peel. Stuff in some goodies like dark chocolate and nuts.  Turn the foil from the BBQ chicken over and use the other side to grill these bad boys and simply dig in and eat with a spoon.

To truly transform the way you eat in the wilderness it is wise to invest in a food dehydrator.  If you simply double the amounts when making chilli, stews and bolognaise, you can freeze dry half for your future campfire suppers. Readymade backpacking meals are often light on the veggies and heavy on the starch.  When making your own meals, you can get that balance right. There is also the advantage of eating food without preservatives. For some great advice on food dehydration and really decent backpacking recipes check out: backpackingchef.com or aforkinthetrail.com

Of course, if you fancy a good meal but don’t want to spend half your trip cooking because, let’s be honest, we do enough of that at home, then opt for the Wayfayrer pre-cooked ready to eat meals. These are the perfect camping companion.  Perhaps you would rather concentrate on the experience of the trail itself and not be bothered with too much fussy cooking. You can choose from a vast menu that will sustain you throughout the whole day, from breakfast right through to dessert; All Day Breakfast Meals, Chicken Tikka with Rice or Sticky Toffee Pudding Dessert, among others. The temptation to take the easy way out is perfectly understandable and delicious. These high-quality trail meals give you all the energy you need, are dang tasty and come in sealed individual pouches. Heat and eat or even eat them cold. Wayfayrer meals have been tried and tested at the ends of the earth and are the top choice for the military, adventurers and expedition teams.  In case you are asking, there are no artificial flavourings, colours or preservatives just tasty flavours. Shop on OAS.ie to get your favourites.

Food on the camping and hiking trail is not just about keeping up the energy levels. Its not just about filling yourself up. For even as the great outdoors feeds the soul, so too, a variety of delicious, gourmet camp food feeds the body.  Mix it up and ditch the trail mix for something more delicious. Our experienced staff at Outdoor Adventure Stores will be only too happy to assist you in finding the best food in store for your next adventure.

Bon Appetit and Happy Trails .

Camping Disasters – Cautionary Tales for Happy Campers

Camping is tremendous fun. It is one of the best ways to commune completely and whole heartedly with nature. Immersing yourself in nature to watch small rabbits nibbling grass in the dewy morning or lambs skipping in a spring meadow. Camping, when it is well organised and approached with calmness and sensibility, is a real joy. There is nothing more memorable than a sky full of stars in the silence of a remote campsite. It’s a unique way to enjoy the wonderful natural world that surrounds us.

However, there are those campers who have had a totally different experience. The secret to good camping is good organisation. Sorry to be nerdy, but that’s just the way it is! Almost every adult has had at least one camping disaster.

Tent Calamities:  Forgotten tent poles and tent pegs will contribute to making your camping expedition totally intents… get it??… intents!! Seriously though, a badly packed tent with the ensuing mildew and lost tent pegs is a real disaster. Modern tents pop up easily and there should be no need to jostle about trying to access an internet signal to watch urgent YouTube videos on tent erection. But it still happens. Savvy campers have a practice run with the tent at home but those courting drama leave it to the universe and the universe laughs. The wrong tent is the start of most camping calamities. Choose from a wide range here https://outdooradventurestore.ie/category/adventure/1

“Hours were spent erecting our tent, so large and complicated it required a degree in engineering”  

“We bought a tent. Didn’t know how small it would be. We’re both tall, 5’10 and 6’0 we were in a tent for midgets.”   Reddit.com

Weather to Travel or Not:  Flash floods! Sideways rain! Howling winds! Sleeping outside brings the weather just a tad closer than we are used to. Camping in a snow storm is only fun if you have sub-zero gear and the experience and drive of the veteran camper. For the rest of us, it’s no fun at all. Check the weather before you leave home.

Woke up after a night of puking up my guts to find myself submerged in an icy river winding its way through my tent. It had snowed, in August. I was 8.”  Reddit.com

Beasties and Creatures of the Night:  The tiny midgey can destroy a camping trip (bring midge nets). If you are afraid of creepy crawly things, flying things, climbing things and clawing things, don’t go into the woods. It’s where they live. You are the visitor and it’s their home. Thankfully in Ireland a nosy sheep is probably as wild as it’s going to get and grizzlies are only in your child’s imagination.

“Look mommy! Look at the big butterfly! “Yeah. Not a big butterfly. A bat had gotten into the tent and was flying around in a panic because it couldn’t get out. I think I’m still partially deaf from my mom’s screams.  Buzzfeed

Fire Fire!:  A shocking amount of novice campers set fire to their tents. Not deliberately, we are not talking about lazy music festival campers who cannot be bothered to pack up properly. No, just the regular camper trying to get the sausages cooked will frequently set the tent alight. In all honesty, most fires will not cook your food. (See our range of well-priced camping equipment to successfully heat the alphabetti spaghetti). Check out the local rules for setting fires, before you pour petrol on the campfire… 

“We kicked a flaming gas canister (the whole canister had caught fire) into the centre of the campsite field before it could set fire to our tent, car and children. Finally, we managed to put the fire out, but that didn’t impress our angry fellow camperWanderlust

Camping disasters make good stories. So, if the great outdoors becomes to be too much to bear, simply, throw the tent on the fire, horse the rest of your gear in the boot of the car and head for the nearest high stool. On the upside, you have a great story to tell the entire pub.