Plan To Pick The Perfect Campsite

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The weather report looks good for an incredible camping trip full of fun and memories.  Don’t stop your planning there.  Getting some things out of the way just before you go and right after you get there can mean the difference between laughing and cringing later when you’re telling your campsite tales.

Packing Pointers
If nothing else, your laser focus should be on packing.  You know what your group needs on a day-to-day basis, so get those on the list.  But don’t forget some of that stuff you might not think about until you’re wishing for it later.  A poncho isn’t just rain protection.  It also works great as a windbreaker, ground cloth or mosquito shield.  Trash bags can also double as ponchos, so pack your clothes in them because they will also keep everything from getting damp in the humidity.

Think in layers when you’re packing clothes.  Temperatures change so much from morning to afternoon to evening, make it easy on yourself by peeling them off or piling them on.  Also, think about grabbing a  pair of polypropylene long johns.  They’re even great in the summer because they dry quickly and pull sweat away from your body.  Pack them as PJs, but keep them close just in case you flip your canoe and need something while your pants dry.  And shoes.  They’re probably the most important.  They don’t have to be stylish, but they do need to be comfortable.  No one wants to nurse a blistered foot (or feet, ouch!) on the way down the hill, no matter how short you thought the hike was.

You’ll want some good food to keep your energy up for those beautiful hikes, so plan your meals at home.  Measure out dry ingredients, like pancake mix, in insulated cups.  Leave room for the wet ingredients so you just have to add, shake and pour.  Those containers will pull triple duty by keeping hot things hot, cold things cold and insects out of everything.  Remember to label those cups, or you may end up serving up a far different meal than you intended…

Always throw in an extra bundle or two of firewood, just in case it’s tough to find it in the wilderness, or illegal.

Perfect Pitch
Plan to arrive at your campsite early.  You’ll have the time you need to search for the perfect place to call home for a few days,  pitch your tent, make an incredible supper and relax before the sun goes down.  When you’re making that all-important choice on campsites, try to stay at least 200 ft. away from the nearest body of water.  There are also some places you’ll want to avoid: narrow canyons (flash floods), open fields (lightning), clay soil (more flooding), cliffs and ledges (nighttime falls) and stagnant water (insects).

Campsite Cleanup Code
The most important thing to remember: clean up everything you bring in, making it look even better than when you arrived.  Set aside enough time to get it all done.  It always takes longer than you think.

Why Buy Coleman® Tents

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When families head out to look for a new tent, many only consider those with a Coleman® logo.  They’ve used Coleman® products before and know why they’re the best.  This blog is for people who haven’t had the chance to spend a night in the comfort of a Coleman® tent.  We’re here to explain why you’ll never want to sleep in anything other than Coleman® product again.

The most important aspect of a tent to pretty much all campers is that you’re going to stay dry, even in a windy, rainy storm.  The secret is our patented WeatherTec™ System.

For rain protection, we start with weather-resistant fabric with taped seams; however, you may still want to add some seam sealer each season for added protection. The inverted floor seams hide needle holes which help to eliminate leaks, and welded floors tightly seal the tarp floor.  The fabric attached to the poles’ pin-and-ring systems is also made of material that repels.  Coleman® rainflies are designed to keep water away from mesh areas. And we have even paid special attention to the zippers.  They’re inverted and come with a cuff to keep the water out.

For wind protection, we start with strong poles that together provide a sturdy frame design; however, the secret to a truly wind-resistant tent is perfectly placed guy lines.  Our engineers have spent years developing some of the most effective on the market.  Coleman includes attachments to the underside of the rainfly to keep it in place when you guy out the tent.  You’ll also find adjustment clips that allow you to get all your guylines just right, day after day even when rainy weather may force others to sag.

We know all these elements work because we’ve tested them.  Our rain test room simulates any condition, from a light shower to a heavy downpour, and our wind tester is attached to a 350-horsepower, small block engine and generates hurricane-force winds.  If we don’t put those tester tents through enough abuse in our test rooms, we also leave them outside for days and weeks at a time, just to see how they hold up under normal conditions.  Making us confident that the Coleman tent you buy will stay up and keep you dry, whatever you put it through.

This is  why Coleman® tents should be your only tents.

Planning the Perfect National Park Vacation

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So you’ve made the decision to visit a national park—or maybe you’re still just thinking about it.  Either way, go on and start planning a memorable trip.

You may want to start at the National Park Service’s website.  It has a tool to help you find the perfect place.  Maybe it’s got lots of amenities to ease you into the rugged life.  Or perhaps you’re looking for the best hiking trails, fishing holes or other recreation areas for you and your group.  Others might just want the park closest to home.

Now that you’re at the site’s…umm, site, click on the “Plan Your Visit” tab.  What just happened?!  Your whole world just opened up!  There it is—information on lodging, camping, fees, directions, sites, restaurants and just about anything else you’ll need.

As you peruse your park, think about what kind of trip you want to take.  If it’s just a day visit, click on the “Things To Do” link.
We’ve got some links to just a handful of outdoor adventures available nationwide:
Horseback riding at Yosemite
Cell phone tours at the Grand Canyon
Fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains
Picnicking in Yellowstone.

Just remember to wear appropriate, comfortable clothes and shoes.

Of course, you get the most out of the parks by staying a night or two.  If you’re not quite ready for the tent and sleeping bag, check out the park’s lodging.  The Grand Canyon has hotel rooms, some of them are even swanky suites.  You can also choose from a hotel or a cabin at Yosemite.

If you’d rather drive your bedroom into camp, that’s fine too.  National parks offer RV camping sites.  While we had a tough time finding ones that offer hookups, they do have dump sites.  Before you go, take a look at the food rules for RVers.  Many allow you to keep goodies in the camper, but ask you to seal up windows, doors and tents tight to keep those savory smells away from the wildlife in the area—especially when bears are nearby.

If you’re ready to sleep closer to nature, plan to tent camp.  First, get a camping list together and pack up everything you’ll need.  Remember to keep the temperature, terrain and weather conditions in mind when you’re gathering your gear.  The individual park sites have extensive information on where the sites are located and what amenities they offer.

Next, figure out when you want to camp.  Some areas of the parks can start to look like rush hour traffic during some of the most popular times of the year, so ask yourself what kind of experience you want to have.  Check out this link to Yosemite’s list of what you can expect during each season and when the busiest times to visit are.

So now that you’ve got the when, where and how figured out; it’s time to reserve your spot.  Don’t assume one will be open when you get there.  National parks are popular places, especially in the summer.  In Yosemite, most reserved sites fill up weeks in advance from April through September.  Costs to camp are based on peak season and vary from park to park.  You can find some tent camping sites for as low as $6/day, but during the summer it can go higher.  RV owners will pay a bit more, $18/night on the lower end. Make your claim now at the reservation site.  If you plan to bunk up in a hotel or cabin, you’re going to pay hotel prices.

Don’t forget the cost of admission into the park when you’re figuring your budget.  It’s $25/car.  If you plan to go several times a year, invest in an annual pass.  A national one will cost you $80, but it will get you into any national park.

If the fall and winter creep up on you, think forward to warm thoughts in spring and summer.  Spend those cold nights getting lost in all that the NPS sites have to offer.  By the time the birds start chirping again, you’ll have the perfect plan for a perfect trip to a national park.

Camping: The Best Medicine, Even When You’re Feeling Good

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One of the best motivators to getting out and exploring our national parks is to remind ourselves what we have to gain.  While it’s impossible to measure all the benefits of getting away from home to camp for a few days, scientists are studying some of those bonuses.

There are the oldies but goodies like taking in some sun to help get that Vitamin D flowing for strong bones.  But did you know that same vitamin may also help keep your blood pressure down and help prevent some cancers?  (Mayo Clinic, 2010)

Most of us have had those days when new focus is just a short walk outside away.  Now research shows spending time in naturally green areas helps melt away symptoms of ADHD in kids.  Yeah.  The scientists say all those little things going on around the youngsters helps get the right mechanisms in their brains going like they’re supposed to.  (Frances E. Kuo, 2004)

The outdoors is even helping kids see better by cutting down on nearsightedness.  The scientists who researched this say the sunlight helps exercise the pupils and that allows children to focus better on things far away. (McBrien, Morgan, & Mutti)

Trust us; you’ll feel the benefits of camping once you get out there.  People who spend a lot of time enjoying themselves outside rated their health at a 7.5 on a 10-scale, compared to the 6.6 from people who tend to stay inside.  And the benefits are something you’ll feel.  Those same outdoor enthusiasts gave their fitness a 6.4 when others felt more like a 4.9.  (The Outdoor Foundation, 2010)

More people are experiencing the benefits because they’re finding things to do outside.  Last year camping, both tent and RV, saw more people taking part.  Activities that often accompany a stay outdoors like bicycling, kayaking and running also saw a jump.  (The Outdoor Foundation, 2010)

It’s up to parents to get their young kids involved in this kind of stuff because moms and dads influence kids most when it comes to picking up these healthy hobbies.  Don’t believe us?  A poll of outdoorsy kids ages 6-10 shows 75% took part at their parents’ urging.  That number drops to 30% when tweens turn to teens and their friends have more say in their decisions.  (The Outdoor Foundation, 2010)

So come on, dig out that tent and get back to nature.  If you haven’t been before, find some buddies and make a go of it.  Your mind and body will thank you—along with your family and friends.

If you still need more motivation, here are the top ten reasons campers tell us they just have to schedule a meeting or two…or five with nature every year.
Top 10 Reasons People Go Camping  (The Outdoor Foundation and The Coleman Company, 2010)
1. It’s fun.
2. It’s relaxing.
3. It gets them out of their usual routines.
4. It’s a chance for them to discover and explore.
5. It gives campers an opportunity to exercise.
6. It offers new experiences.
7. It’s part of a healthy lifestyle.
8. It’s a chance to spend time with friends.
9. It’s an opportunity to participate in outdoor activities near home.
10. It’s full of challenges.

 

Frances E. Kuo, P. a. (2004). A Potential Natural Treatment for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: Evidence From a National Study. American Journal of Public Health.

Mayo Clinic. (2010, 7 8). MayoClinic.com. Retrieved 10 26, 2010, from Vitamin D: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/vitamin-d/NS_patient-vitamind

McBrien, N. A., Morgan, I. G., & Mutti, D. O. (n.d.). What’s Hot in Myopia Research-The 12th International Myopia Conference, Australia, July 2008. Retrieved 10 26, 2010, from http://journals.lww.com/optvissci/Fulltext/2009/01000/What_s_Hot_in_Myopia_Research_The_12th.2.aspx

The Outdoor Foundation and The Coleman Company. (2010). Special Report on Camping. The Outdoor Foundation and The Coleman Company.

The Outdoor Foundation. (2010). Outdoor Recreation Participation Report. Boulder: The Outdoor Foundation.

Can’t Camp Without Coffee!

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So many campers have no problem leaving modern conveniences at home: air conditioners, TVs, even beds.  But the one thing so many people can’t do without—even deep in the wilderness—is that morning cup of coffee.  Whether you’re a comfort camper, a high-adventure camper or even a basic camper, we’re laying down the brew voodoo that’s perfect for you.

Drip Brew
We’re going to start off easy with the machine that does just about everything for you, except pour it into your cup.  The Coleman® 10-Cup Portable Propane Coffeemaker works like the drip machine most people have in their homes.  Just throw in a coffee filter, scoop in as much coffee as it takes to get you going in the morning, pour the water into the top and let the coffeemaker do the rest.  The higher you set the temperature, the faster the coffee will brew.  When it’s done, turn it to low or shut it off completely to keep the coffee from burning.

If you’d rather use your Coleman® camp stove to get your drip-brewed coffee, pick up a coffeemaker accessory for your gear.  It works just like its propane-powered brother; it just gets its heat from a stove burner.

 

There are campers who would rather pack less, much less.  For them, a percolator, French press or classic cowboy coffee is the way to go.

French Press
A French press will brew a great morning pick-me-up, but you have to do it just the right way.  First, the easy part: boil some water, either on your camp stove or on the campfire.  While that’s heating up, scoop a tablespoon or two of coffee grounds, depending on how strong you want it, into the press pot.  Once the water is boiling, pour as much as you want into the pot and gently stir it about a half dozen times, just enough to get a frothy bloom on the top.  Snap on the lid and let it brew.  Don’t wait too long, something like two to four minutes, depending on how much coffee you’re making.  Then slowly plunge the filter straight down to the bottom and pour.

Percolator
Some campers would rather go old school and take along a stovetop percolator.  These can be tricky beasts, but they can be tamed if you brew the coffee just right.  First, always clean it thoroughly before you head to the campsite.  We’re talking getting-a-pipe-cleaner-or-long-thin-brush-into-the-stem-and-scrubbing-hard-until-you’re-sure-it’s-clean kind of clean.  Now that you’re ready to get the java going, make sure the stem is in place and fill the pot with water.  Just don’t let it go over the line on the stem.  Slide the basket onto the stem and add a tablespoon of coffee grounds for each cup of water you have in the pot and then snap on the lids.  Put the pot on a low heat, either on a camp stove or a campfire, and watch for the first splash of coffee on the glass top.  That’s when it’s time to reduce the heat.  When the coffee stops perking—it will stop hitting the top—grab a potholder, take the pot off the heat and remove the filter system.  Leaving it in there any longer than you have to will cause the condensation to work its way through the spent grounds, and that’s when it starts to leave a bad taste in your mouth.

Cowboy Coffee
If you really want to rough it with your morning java, try brewing up some cowboy coffee.  You won’t need any special equipment, just a willingness to try something new.  First, put four to six cups of water on the camp stove or campfire.  Once you’ve got a rolling boil, add a tablespoon of coffee for each cup of water in there.  (Don’t worry.  You’re not going to end up chewing what you’re brewing.)  Let it simmer there for about three minutes, then turn down the heat or move it to a cooler area on the campfire for another two minutes or so.  Now it’s time to filter it.  Just set some cheesecloth or a coffee filter inside the top of a thermos or coffee pot and pour in the coffee slowly.  You should be able to catch all the grounds in the top and enjoy the taste of a good caffeine breakfast with what’s left.

Camping Advice From Someone Who Knows

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Working at a campsite, you see a lot of memorable successes and defeats among families and groups.  Just ask Julie at Kampgrounds of America (KOA) in Terre Haute, IN.  She’s seen just about everything—good and bad—and offered some suggestions for tent and RV campers.

 

Do:

-Make a Checklist– It sounds simple, but people still forget even the basics, like personal items and even towels.  Start with one of our checklists.  We’ve got one for tent campers and one for the RVers.  Your friends may even have one they’ll share with you.  Forget what your first grade teacher told you, this is a time when it’s OK to copy off your neighbor.

 

-Be Reservation Ready– When you call to reserve your spot, have your credit card ready.  Many places need one just to hold your spot.

 

-Check Pets– Some campgrounds limit which breeds they’ll allow on the grounds.  If you have an animal, you’ll want to know if it’s OK to bring it.  If you or your kids aren’t fond of certain breeds, you’ll want to know before you get there if you might encounter one.

 

-Have Enough Hose– Sometimes a 10 ft. water or sewer hose for your RV won’t reach the hookups.  To be safe, invest in lines that are at least 20 ft. long.  It’s just not a gamble most people want to take.

 

-Ask Questions– Campers are some of the friendliest, most helpful people you’ll meet.  If you don’t know something, ask someone who does.  You don’t want to be like the person Julie met who thought the water meter was a sewer dump.  Folks who have dinner on the BBQ and are relaxing in their bag chairs just 20 minutes after getting to the site are usually the ones with the answers.

 

Don’t:

-Let One Person Do All the Work– Camping isn’t a spectator sport.  Julie says the best groups get everyone involved.  When each person has a role and knows it well, the campsite gets set up faster so everyone can relax sooner.

 

-Drive Too Much Camper– Before you get to the campsite, make sure you’re comfortable maneuvering your fifth wheel or RV, especially when you back into your space.  Setting up too close to the trees or on the camp’s landscaping can tear up your stuff and the camp’s property.

 

-Litter– One of the first things you should set up after the tent is a place to throw away your trash.  Encourage everyone to pick up garbage, including the messes pets leave.

Pet Preparations Before You Head To The Campsite

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For many of us family camping means loading up the pets, along with the people.  Just like we prepare for our meals, sleeping arrangements and activities, it’s important to do the same for the animals.  Few campers make the kind of preparations Sandy Rusinnak does when she wants enjoy nature.

We met this animal lover at one of Yellowstone National Park’s many campsites.  She first caught our attention tending to six birds outside her RV.  But after you talk to her for a bit, you’ll find out there are three other not-so-well-behaved birds inside the camper and two dogs.

It may surprise you that Sandy finds it easier to travel with nine birds than a third as many dogs.  Preparations for her feathered friends began with a complete overhaul of the RV’s master bedroom.  Sandy’s husband took out the bed and bolted nine cages to the walls.  They added a baby gate to the doorway just to make sure the dogs can’t get inside.

Once that was done, it was time to figure out what they needed for their two-month long trips.  Sandy learned a tough lesson about packing enough food once when she ran out of birdseed.  When Sandy couldn’t find a brand she was comfortable giving them, she had the company send more to her campsite.  Now she makes sure to bring three 20 lb. bags with her each time she packs.  And that’s just the bird food.  She packs just as many meals for her two dogs.

Getting the living arrangements ready is the next pre-travelling task.  She throws in some doggie beds for the barkers and plenty of newspaper for the birds.

Before you leave for any campsite, head grab your pets’ medical records, including shots.  It’s better to have them and not need them than to wish you had them when you do.

Getting your Coleman® Cooler Like New

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You’re home from your latest camping trip, tailgating party or backyard BBQ.  It’s time to clean the Coleman® cooler.  But how?

Start with a mild dish soap—one without additives—and add it to a bucket of warm water.  Wipe down the cooler, inside and out.  If your cooler has a faucet or plugged drain, get your sponge in there and then drain the cooler completely.  Let the whole thing dry with the lid open.

If you’ve got a tough stain, try some baking soda with water to scrub it away.

If your situation is more of a stinky one, wipe it down with a warm water/chlorine bleach mix.  If that doesn’t kill the odor, wipe the inside with a cloth soaked in vanilla extract.  Then leave the cloth in the cooler with the lid shut overnight.  Just be sure to rinse it out before you use it again.

Hot Tips to a Cold Cooler

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The life of any party is the ultimate gathering place—your cooler.  Whether it is the bench at the tailgate party where two sports fans think back on the all-time biggest referee blunders, or the rolling campsite refrigerator where meats meet and become a meal, it’s the hangout where everyone’s drinks come together at a backyard BBQ.

Our celebration of insulation sent us to the ice chest authority.  Coleman’s chief cooler expert, engineer Mike Brockel is dedicated to designing and studying all things cold.  He says the way to get the most out of your cooler is all about getting the most out of your ice.  It begins before the big event by refrigerating the stuff that will go inside the cooler.  The reason is seemingly simple: cool food and drinks won’t warm up the cubes as much.  The colder the ice, the longer it lasts.

Those cubes will stick around longer with a dual attack.  Start by filling a couple of two liter bottles almost to the top with water, freeze them for a few days, throw them in with the drinks and the meat and then sprinkle a bag or two of ice over everything.  If your dad did this and you thought the old guy was just cheap, you were wrong.  It turns out it was because he was smart.  Mike says the bottled ice actually keeps the cubes cooler, the cubed ice keeps the drinks cooler and the drinks keep you cooler.

When it comes to packing everything you pick up at the grocery store, there is no real formula.  Just remember the ice will eventually become the freezing bath you’ll have to fish through to find the last soda.  Make sure it’s OK if the stuff on the bottom gets wet.  Keep things like meats isolated in watertight bags or sealed containers so they stay dry.  If you have the luxury of using two coolers, Mike says do so.  Separate the stuff into two categories by things you may need more often, like drinks, and things you may need less often, like meat.

And don’t forget to keep the cold water in the cooler, even when you add more ice.  That super cold H₂O will keep the new ice frozen longer.  The ice will melt faster in the drink cooler you are in and out of a lot.  The cubes you pour over the steak and dogs will last longer when you leave them alone.

Keeping the outside of the box as cool as possible is as important as keeping the temperature inside it down.  By placing a tarp, sleeping bag or white, wet towel on top of the cooler and setting it in the shadiest part of the campsite will usually do the job.

That’s it. That’s all you need to remember to keep the party inside your cooler going until you’re ready to head home.