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Great Tips for Car Camping Enjoyment
by Chuck Fitzgerald

Camping is one of my favorite activities and my favorite type of camping is car camping. However, there are many other types of camping such as base camping, canoe camping, RV camping, tent trailer camping and back yard camping. Regardless of how you spend your time out of doors or how much time you spend out of doors, there is always more to learn. I have compiled an extensive list of camping tips and this installment is for car campers. Here are my favorite tips for getting the most out of your car camping experience.

Organize your gear before you go. The basic principle is to organize or categorize your gear by "when" and "how quickly" you will need it. When I get to the campsite, the first thing I do is prepare shelter. So my tent and shade awning are the easiest pieces of gear to get to.

Plan your campsite. Understand how vehicles, wind, sun and rain will enter the campsite. For example, if the wind is coming out of the west, you’ll probably want your tent and kitchen west of any campfire to reduce smoke nuisance.

Always have a first aid kit in camp. Everyone in camp should know where it is, have access to it and know how to use it. I keep mine in plain sight in my kitchen. If it’s locked in my truck, no one can get to it except me.

Every camp needs a shovel. I believe a shovel is the most important tool in camp. You’ll use it to manage your campfire, leveling sleeping spots and countless other uses. Don’t leave home without it.

What tent should you use? I recommend a tent that is bigger than you think you’ll need. If inclement weather sets in, you’ll have a spot out of the elements for reading and playing games. My tent is big enough for two people, two cots, two chairs and two dogs.

There is nothing wrong with having a checklist. Things frequently forgotten are: extra batteries, trash bags, kitchen towels, hats, reading material, sleeping pillows, hiking boots and pet food.

Your most important camping gear should always be on your body. Not in your pack, not in your tent or in your vehicle. Whenever you leave camp always have a watch, a whistle, a cell phone, a flashlight and a knife on your person.

Some neat tidbits I’ve picked up over the years are: a golf towel is perfect for hanging in your kitchen because it comes with a grommet, you can never have enough zip lock bags, you won’t find me camping without a flare – it’s perfect for lighting wet firewood, my camp chairs have side tables attached to them, I pre-cook baked potatoes at home and warm them up in the camp fire, in good weather my hammock gets lots of use.

Car camping allows you to take virtually anything with you when you camp. But the most important of all is good company. Take along good friends and family. When you do, it doesn’t really matter if you have the best gear or the best techniques, the one thing you will have is the best of times. Use this information and you’ll Get It Right The First Time. Get Outdoors!

About the Author
Chuck Fitzgerald is the owner of Arizona based BackCountry Toys, an online specialty store with the “Best Gear Out There” and dedicated to helping outdoor enthusiasts to “Get It Right The First Time” with timely educational information. Please visit www.BackCountryToys.com to find great gear and to receive the Fact & Tips e-newsletter, "FreshAir.” (800) 316-9055.

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