It's Worth Investing in Quality Camping Gear

I just realized that my Boy Scout brand sleeping bag (made by Coleman) is now 30 years old! My grandmother bought it for me when I graduated college and was living without furniture. It's in like-new condition, except that the elastic bands for keeping it rolled up have lost some of their spring. In fact, all but one (the newest) of our sleeping bags have held up really well. That one is only ten years old but the synthetic fill has gotten somewhat compacted.

These bags are, L-R: 30, 13, and about 17 years old!

A Little Campy: Top 5 Non-Essential Camping Essentials for Kids

There's a useful post over at the blog "A Little Campy," on things that aren't "essential" in terms of camping gear, but that are almost essential for camping with kids. Top 5 Non-Essential Camping Essentials For Kids. Every one of these items is a must-have in my experience, except perhaps the checkers or playing cards.

Another "Best of" List: Top 10 Apps for Taking Technology Outdoors

It's that best-of roundup time of year, all right. Here's another one that's interesting. The Top 10 Apps for Taking Technology Outdoors list comes from National Environmental Education Week, but I couldn't actually find it on their site (I got it in their email newsletter), so I'm linking it via Mother Earth News.

You Never Know What Will Come in Handy

We happen to live near the highest point in Brooklyn and were virtually untouched by Hurricane Sandy. A couple of trees came down nearby, and of course no school all week. Top Kid and Tree Kid's grandparents weren't so lucky and are without power indefinitely out on Long Island. We gave them our propane stove and a couple of battery-powered lanterns to help tide them over. Of course we have them as camping equipment, not as survivalist gear, but it's always nice to be prepared.

Basic Food Packing List

Cooking Equipment

Coffee maker (drip filter or Lexan French press)
Charcoal (if using grill)
BBQ tools (if using grill)
cutting board
decent knife
dish/all-purpose soap & scrub pad (in ziplock bag)
oven mitt/hot pad


coffee (premeasured, ground)
tea (teabags are easiest)
instant cocoa
s'mores stuff: graham crackers, marshmallows, chocolate
Jiffy Pop
snack bars (granola, Clif, etc.)
pancake mix (box or homemade)
salt & pepper

Cabin Camping Gear & Packing List

Cabins range from extremely rustic (wood stove, no running water or electricity) to yurts to "cottages" with full amenities. You'll need to modify the list depending on the type of cabin.

Before Packing:

cabin reservation info
check weather forecast

Essential Gear

Lighter/matches/fire starters (non-chemical)
Flashlight (good quality)
Extra batteries for all battery-powered equipment
Sleeping bag/bedroll per person (unless linens provided)
Mess kit per person (bowl/plate, cup/mug, fork, knife, spoon) (if not provided)

Practice Hike in Prospect Park

I'm alternately excited and a little nervous about our upcoming family backpacking trip. This will be Top Kid's first time; Tree Kid did a Trek week at Ten Mile River Scout camps, the Tarpmaster is experienced, and he and I did some bits of the Appalachian Trail together before we had kids. The excitement is about spending time in nature and with my family and introducing my boys to a new experience. The nerves are in case anything doesn't go well or anyone doesn't have fun. Will the food be enough/too heavy? Will the weather be reasonable? (We don't expect perfection!)

Backpacking Gear & Packing List

trail guide
trail maps
check weather forecast
ID, health ins card
leave info with someone where you are going & where/when you expect to end up

Food - separate list

Essential Gear

Tent (with rain fly) - lightweight
Tent stakes (+extras)
Tarp (lightweight)
Rope (natural fiber or nylon not stiff plastic) (enough for hanging bear bag)
Carabiners (for hanging bear bag)
Lighter/matches/fire starters (non-chemical)
Headlamp/flashlight per person
Extra batteries
Sleeping bag per person
Sleeping pad per person
Backpacking pillow case per person