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!

Brighten up your world with a head torch!

Light up your life with a reliable, durable and practical head torch.

Choosing a head-torch

Running down a dark trail.  Your heart rate is pumping. You’re in the zone with legs pounding and headphones thumping as you follow the beam of light from your head torch, when suddenly, disaster strikes. The lamp goes out!

A good head torch is an essential asset for hiking, camping or running.  It’s the difference between an easy experience and a potential disaster. A good headlamp is especially needed if you enjoy sleeping under the stars and/or expeditions in deep damp caves and other dark places.   So much more practical than a hand torch, a head lamp is truly a godsend when dusk turns to an early night on your adventurous hiking trip or when camping in the wilderness.  Also, it has to be said, they are absolutely amazing if you read in bed, but your partner prefers a black out bedroom!!

For the great outdoors you need to choose a head torch that won’t leave you in the dark at a critical moment. One that is easy to wear and shines its light just as bright as you need it. 

Enjoy our short but essential guide to buying the best head torch to suit your needs.

Light Output

The light output of your torch is measured in ‘lumens’.   So, the more lumens of power, the brighter the beam. The higher the lumens, the higher the energy consumption so this needs to be taken into account when choosing your headlamp. If you need, or like, a really powerful light beam, then an extra battery pack or one of our rechargeable head torches might suit your needs. The Light output can vary on head torches and some are even smart and can tailor the output to your needs.

Beam Distance

Hiking and running need a long beam while pottering about the campsite is best suited to a short beam. After all, there is probably no need to shine a full light on tents camped a few miles away while you seek the can opener at your own fireside.  Choose an up to 50m fixed beam when running in urban partially lit streets, and an up to 150m focus if hitting the unlit trails.  Some reasonably priced headlamps offer a wide beam, which is also useful for nocturnal outdoor adventure. The Tikka head Torch offers two lighting modes that cleverly adapt the quantity of light to each situation.  Maximum brightness is 80 lumens over a distance of 50 meters, which is pretty adequate for most activities. Or upgrade to the Tikka plus, with 140-lumen, this headlamp offers both spot and flood beams, a one-touch boost for quick access to max brightness and red LEDs for night vision without eye fatigue. It also features several lighting modes suitable for long-range lighting, proximity lighting or rapid movement.

Battery Time

It’s best to make sure you have power in your torch, than lighting candles and cursing the darkness… or something like that!   For the average runner or hiker, a standard head torch will offer anything from 6 to 15 hours running time before it needs a new battery or a hook up to a power supply.  If you want long battery time, with recharging options, then choose a top of the range head torch.  Consider your options carefully before purchasing as there is little point in having excellent beam distance and massive lumens at your disposal, if the equipment is lying sad and out of power at the end of your rucksack.  If your head torch projects 10,000 lumens over 500 meters, then your battery will last a whole ten minutes!   However, that is a helluvalot of lumens and your average torch will probably beam somewhere between 60 and 750 lumens so battery life should be much more practical than this.  Our trained staff at Outdoor Adventure Store will be pleased to advise on the best choice for your needs. 

Brightness Level

All of our headlamps offer at least two lighting modes to adapt the brightness to each situation. There’s also a new breed of head torches that use a Managed Light Output. These torches use light-sensing reactive technology to monitor the incoming light and adjust brightness accordingly. The top end of this market even allows users to monitor and adapt the light output via a Bluetooth app for maximum control of output and battery management.

Keeping it Light

 Keeping it light is essential for your neck muscles!  A heavy head lamp will become uncomfortable on a long night run or as you hike long distances.  There is a head torch to meet your specific activity and it is worth considering an ultra-compact and ultra-light headlamp if a heavier light will bring you down.  

State of the Art

Among the best of the best rechargeable head torches on the market is the ACTIK CORE headlamp offering 350 lumens of power, which, combined with its mixed beam, makes it ideal for outdoor activities like mountaineering, running, hiking and backpacking. Red lighting preserves night vision and prevents blinding any other members of your group. Its reflective headband helps you to be seen when a light is shone on it, and is equipped with an emergency whistle for rescue situations.   

So, whether you are using your lamp to navigate lonely damp mountain caverns, to get an early start on the hiking trail or aid with the spring lambing, there is a head torch suited to your needs.  Weight, functionality, durability and power sources are the things you need to keep in mind and as always, Outdoor Adventure Store have a range to suit all needs and at great value too.  Lighten up with a great head torch.

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 .

A guide to the perfectly packed rucksack

Before you take to the highways and byways for your grand adventure, you may be faced with one last dilemma.  No, it’s not how to say goodbye to the dog nor is it anything to do with missing Mammy’s Sunday dinners.  It concerns the growing pile of clothes, toiletries and equipment on the floor. How do you get all this stuff into one rucksack?  The challenge is packing it all so that you are comfortable as you walk, so that you can find things easily and being efficient with space so that you won’t be leaving essentials behind.  Yes, packing a rucksack is a skill.

Don’t panic! Here is a quick and easy guide to the perfectly packed.

The whole secret to the task is to evenly distribute the load evenly and in order of importance/ access.

The topple test – A properly packed pack can be tested by setting it down on a flat floor. If the bag falls to the left or right, then the weight is not distributed correctly, and the load will need adjusting. If the bag falls onto the front, then you have packed a bit top heavy and need to adjust the gear at the front of your bag or the load will drag you back as you walk.  So weight distribution is very important when packing your bag, but bear in mind that the important and essential items need to be accessible.  More about ‘the topple ‘later…

Before your big expedition, it is useful to practice the packing and to do it the same way every time. That way you know what fits and where everything is. Remember that you should not carry more than 25% of your own body weight, so dump some of the non-essentials now.

Start by packing the tent.  It’s the biggest item so place it in vertically and near your back as this keeps the weight close and easier to manage.  Slide the sleeping bag (snug in its waterproof case) beside the tent. Cooking items and bulkier stuff should be added next.

Place them to the front so you don’t have a pot handle sticking into your kidneys for the day. Clothes should be rolled and placed in the spaces between. Rolling is the best way to save space. Toiletries are next… Food items go to the top of the rucksack, alongside your first aid kit, waterproofs, hat and gloves and any other things which you may need in a hurry (toilet paper and sun cream!). If you are carrying liquid fuel, pop it in one of the side pockets, where it is less likely to spill on your gear and balance the weight with water bottles on the opposite side.

Now try the floor test. Once it passes the topple test, it is a good idea to trek around the room a bit and be sure that all is perfectly packed for your adventures.

A well-packed pack is something you don’t notice when admiring the astounding views and vistas of your adventure. A poorly packed one is very obvious to you and to your travelling companions.

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.

A Survival Guide to Stress-Free Festival Camping

It’s the height of summer festival season!

There is nothing more exciting than popping your tent up in a crowded field alongside thousands of other excited festival goers! The mood on that first evening is of cheerful expectant happiness. Throngs of cheerful revellers arrive, hauling their camping gear, food, drink and essentials across the muddy terrain. Only a hardy, well prepared few will look as fresh and cheerful on Sunday evening.

In our survival guide to stress-free festival camping, we offer some practical tips for pre-festival organisation and preparations that should see you warm, dry and fully functioning in terms of shelter for the weekend. How you organise the rest of things…well, that is entirely up to you!

What should I bring? 

Basics:  Some people literally bring the kitchen sink and some just arrive with the cursory bag o cans.  The best idea is somewhere right down the middle. You will need a tent, a roll mat, sleeping bag and a rain mac. Everything after that is a bonus. If you picture yourself sitting at the tent chatting into the wee hours with new found friends, then camping chairs are a real godsend. Thankfully, all of these items are now lightweight and easy to carry. A torch will reduce the number of tents you stumble into as you return in the wee hours with your happy head still bopping to the beat. Torches light the way to the loos (Don’t look down!! Whatever you do, don’t look down!). They help you find the paracetamol before it’s light outside. Head torches are the best, as they leave hands free.

Loo roll, sun-cream, insect repellent, first aid kit and wipes are basics too, for all the obvious reasons.  Keep it simple and keep it light. A lot of good camping stores offer festival camping deals. Check out these amazing offers:

Extras:  Consider a light weight, portable cooler for the beer and the water. Nothing like a cold one in front of the new canvas home. Portable power is also a good idea. If you don’t feel like queuing for the mobile phone providers to charge your phone, then bring along a good power pack. Forget about the solar powered options, even in countries with a lot of sun these are way too slow. Pack Bluetooth speakers if you fancy a private party!

Food at festivals is part of the fun experience. But, if you feel like making your own, there are simple folding stoves to heat the beans or make the tea. This option will add to the weight of the gear and it is worth remembering just how far away the bus stop or car park is. A wheeled cart or trolley will get many jealous glances from other festival goers.

A Light Footprint:  New technology in the structure and production of tents has made them simpler to erect. There is better rain proofing, wind proofing and they are so much easier to store. Resist the temptation to leave it behind on your last day. You are throwing away Sunday afternoons spent playing house with nieces and nephews. You are discarding somewhere pleasant to change your clothes on busy beaches. You will use it again, once fatigue and hangover have worn off. The space taken up in storage is small enough to warrant the effort of bringing your gear home.

Enjoy the Chilled Vibe:  Festivals are all about the craic. So, love life in your tent city. Frisbees, hula-hoops and giant bubble kits are a bit naff at other times but are totally on point for the festival scene. No doubt, your blue tent looks just like all the others in a sea of blue tents. Fly your flag!  Place a distinctive marker of some kind, church fete bunting, a flag or a giant flashing red arrow on the top of your tent so you can find your way home. Stay hydrated, stay patient and keep that chilled vibe to the forefront at all times. Rock on campers!

Crowds Enjoying Themselves At Outdoor Music Festival