We’re in the market for a new tent this year, and the choices can be very overwhelming. Some tents are big, some are small. Some tents are short, and others tall. Some look like mini cabins, while some look like caves or teepees.
How can you know what to pick? Here are some questions to ask yourself to help narrow down the choices.
How many people will be sleeping in the tent?
All tents have a “sleeping capacity,” but our personal experience shows that you can comfortably sleep fewer than the stated capacity (which assumes that you want to sleep like sardines).
I would guess that a comfortable number of people is actually about 50-60% of what the tent description states.
How much gear will you store in the tent?
When we camp, we tend to have a lot of stuff to keep in the tent! Two suitcases, a couple bags, sleeping bags for everyone, blankets and a couple foam “egg crates” for padding, a few teddy bears . . . lots to arrange!
Because of that, we have to make sure to choose a tent that is large enough for us all to comfortably sleep while having space for our gear. We don’t want to be bumping into suitcases all night after all.
Will you be using air mattresses?
Air mattresses make camping more comfortable (unless they lose air during the night . . .) but take up tons of room. In the same space where you can fit four twin-sized air mattresses, you could probably fit six or even seven people sleeping in sleeping bags.
Our current tent claims a 10-person sleeping capacity and has a rectangular floor. We can fit four twin-sized air mattresses in it with their sides touching . . . or we can easily fit five people without air mattresses. We could likely fit a sixth easily, but we’ve never had someone else along to try.
How tall are you?
Jon is 6-foot 5-inches tall, and we definitely have to keep that in mind when shopping for a new tent. Two dimensions to pay attention to:
Keep in mind that the stated dimensions on a tent’s description can often be greater than what the actual dimensions are when a tent is set up. I find it very helpful to read lots of reviews on sites like Amazon before buying a tent. The reviews help me figure out in advance if a tent lives up to its claims or not.
How often will you be getting in and out of your tent?
Some tents are truly designed for crawling into at night to sleep and crawling back out of in the morning. Standing up, changing clothes, or storing more than a small bag of gear is out of the question.
When it comes to family camping, that type of tent doesn’t seem very practical to me. In our experience, there are plenty of reasons throughout the day to return to the tent to retrieve something or to change someone’s clothes. Between the five of us, there are plenty of trips to the bathroom during the night too!
While we can’t go shopping with you, we hope these questions will help you figure out which tent will be best for your family. Let us know what you pick out!
Emergency preparation, disaster preparedness, bug out kits . . . what does all that mean? And more importantly, what’s the big deal?
What is Emergency Preparation?
The definition of emergency preparation is simple – having enough supplies and know-how on hand to safely live through an emergency situation aka a disaster. Disasters take many forms – severe weather, a sudden lack of income and no savings, or a criminal on the loose, for example.
(We once had a murderer and kidnapper fleeing from police in our town. Obviously we wanted to stay home with the door locked until they captured him! They ended up arresting him about five miles from our house near the local Wal-Mart. I was so glad we didn’t need to leave the house that day.)
Your family’s emergency preparation may consist of a 24-hour kit, a 72-hour kit, personal “bug out bags,” or a whole host of other options. It’s a good idea to start small and build on your supplies as you go along.
Why Should We Bother Preparing For a Disaster?
Look around your house, your kitchen in particular. If the power goes out for the next 12 hours, are you going to be able to eat? What if the roads are closed and you can’t run out to the grocery store?
Face it – things happen. No matter where you live, weather can wreck havoc sometimes without warning. Around here, we sometimes have major snowstorms in the winter and severe thunderstorms or high winds in the summer. Other areas experience earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, flooding, wildfires.
At almost any time, we may find ourselves without access to stores, electricity, or even running water because of severe weather.
On a few occasions, we’ve gotten a notice from the water company that our city water was not safe to drink for one reason or another. They may put out a “boil water advisory” or they may say not to drink it at all until further notice. I can’t remember why, but several years ago, our tap water came out a brownish color for a few hours. Yikes!
If that happens in your neighborhood, do you have water to drink? Enough to cook with? How about flushing the toilet?
Of course, we can’t overlook the recent situation in Boston where residents were “locked down” in their homes for about 24 hours. God forbid anything like that should happen again, but it’s not something anyone can predict.
These are all situations that we should think about and be ready for. Not in fear but in a rational “I’ve got this” sort of way.
How Do You Build an Emergency Preparedness Kit?
Some things that you’ll need in a disaster preparedness kit are obvious: food, water, a flashlight. But there are plenty of things that you may not think of right away, and there’s always the question of “How much of this stuff do I need?”
In our opinion, the most important kit that every family should have is a 72-hour emergency kit for times when the electricity goes out and/or it’s impossible or inadvisable to go to the store.
We want to help you build this kit and others for your family, so we’ll be doing a series of posts on emergency preparation kits over the next several months. Because we’re always working with a limited budget, we’ll help you build your kits in a budget-friendly manner too.
Please come back next week for information on getting started with your 72-hour emergency kit. Be sure not to miss a single post – subscribe to our monthly newsletter and join us on, Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.
Does your family already have an emergency kit? Tell us about it!
Well, we’ve had a very long hibernation here at Camping for Families. Almost seven months to be exact, my oh my!
We certainly didn’t do any camping during that time – except our sons did spend one night camped in our new aluminum shed last October. They’ve also ‘camped’ in the living room a few times because, for some reason, they like sleeping on the floor.
(If there are any brave winter campers out there, we’d love to hear from you. What’s it like camping in the cold wind and snow?)
We hope that your family had a blessed holiday season and didn’t get a terrible case of cabin fever this year. If you’re like us, you’re glad spring has finally arrived! The daffodils have already come and gone here, and the tulips are in full bloom. It will soon be warm enough to go tent camping again. We have some ideas for places we’d like to go this year but haven’t scheduled anything definite yet.
A little news to share . . . we’re expecting a new baby in October! Of course, we’re hoping pregnancy doesn’t keep Cindy from enjoying some camp outs this year and that we’ll get some good tips for other moms who find themselves in the same situation.
We’re busily writing articles with fun ideas & practical advice for all your camping adventures. Look for those to start appearing next week!
If you have any questions about camping or wonder how to get started, drop us a line. We’re here to help!
Are you planning to make your kids’ Halloween costumes this year? Check out these super cute camping-themed costumes.
Happy Camping Costume – made from an old sleeping bag and various camping items
Campfire Costume with a Marshmallow Roasting – sized for ages 12+
Are your kids going trick-or-treating this year? What costume will they wear?
Not long ago, our family received a Safe Glow Dog Collar to use with our dog Max. I hadn’t even heard of glowing dog training collars before, and I couldn’t be more happy with the way this one works.
Why Would You want a Glowing Dog Collar?
Having a glowing collar might seem like a strange idea, but it makes perfect sense for anyone who takes their dog. . .
Imagine playing fetch with your dog at a campground around dusk. Suddenly, he runs off into the woods or down the road. The sun is quickly going down, and you lose sight of him almost immediately. How long will it take you to find him? How will you even know which direction he went?
Being a typical, high-energy dog, Max has run off so many times – not running away, of course, just running . . . and running . . . and running. The scenario above is unfortunately very familiar to us.
With a Safe Glow Dog Collar, no matter how dark it gets, the light from the collar stays visible and makes it much easier to keep track of him (or find him again if he’s run off).
Another benefit is that the glowing collar makes it easier for other pedestrians and drivers to see you and your dog. Very, very important for safety!
How Does the Safe Glow Dog Collar Work?
The collar is made from a strong woven black fabric and has a colored “sleeve” that extends along about 2/3 of the length. A very strong plastic clip secures the collar closed, and it’s very easy to adjust the collar’s length for a perfect fit.
The “sleeve” holds a long flexible plastic strip that lights up when the button switch is pressed. The light can be set to flash quickly or slowly or to glow continuously. We’ve found the we prefer the continuous, non-blinking, light.
The LCD bulb uses a lithium battery and has a 100,000-hour life. That’s a lot of walking and playing!
We’ve been very pleased with the collar. Even when walking Max after dark (on our street that has very few street lights), we could easily see the glowing collar. Many times, we couldn’t see Max’s outline, but the collar still glowed brightly.
If you ever find yourself trying to keep track of your dog in a low-light area, the Safe Glow Dog Collar is the way to go. It comes in several colors and sizes so that you can pick the best one for your dog. (The website lists only Small, Medium, and Large, but the collar is also available in Extra Large.)
Safe Glow Dog Collar Giveaway [Closed]
Want to win a Safe Glow Dog Collar for your furry friend? One Camping for Families reader will win a collar in the size of their choice. Contest is open to U.S. and Canadian mailing addresses and closes October 12. Good luck!
Enter here . . .
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