Be Ready for Anything
There's nothing like a camping trip to help you re-think how you live everyday.
If you ever want to see the most excited children in the world, take a group of them camping.
I just returned from a trip with my son’s school and now know exactly what I would want to take next time...and what I’d leave at home. And...I noticed how many products that are thought of as being just for camping are really great for everyday use....like a solar flashlight that is always ready!
So, here are my top picks for innovative, eco-friendly, sustainable products for camping, pad crashing, unexpected visitors, emergencies, etc.
1. The Tent - The award-winning Big Agnes Salt Creek 2 Person Tent is a “beacon of sustainability for the outdoor industry” according to Backcountry Magazine. They gave it their prestigious Editor’s Choice Green Award. It’s a 3-season tent made with 100% recycled materials and the first tent to eliminate toxic dyes--which is why it’s white.
2. Sleeping Bags - choices here will depend on where you’re headed. But the best tip is to select a bag with a temperature rating slightly lower than what you expect to encounter. Top brands with eco-friendly bags are Big Agnes, Sierra Designs and Marmot Eco-Pro.
3. The Air Mattress - Have you ever tried filling up an air mattress? On our camping trip, I saw dads hauling Queen-size air mattresses back from their cars (where they used the lighter connection to blow them up). With gusty winds, some were almost flying...a viral video in-the-making.
Contrast that with the eco-friendly, quick-inflating Pak-Mat. Here’s why it’s my top pick:
- 100% Phthalate-free material. Most air mattresses are still made with PVC...but, breathing PVC and phthalate-fumes all night long is not a good thing....ever.
- Inflates in about 60 seconds with its own manual pump. No batteries, motors, cables or other contraptions
- Portable...this airbed stores in the pump! Ingenious!
- Weighs 5 lbs and One Size Fits All
4. The Water Filter - Unless you can confirm that the water at a campground is safe to drink, you’ll want to use a purifcation method. There are 3 types: filter, chemical tablets or boiling. A great choice is the First Need filter by General Ecology. It’s been independently certified to EPA Guide standard protocol for microbiological purifiers against bacteria, cysts and viruses.
5. The Flashlight - Everyone at camp was fumbling with flashlights...most just don’t give enough light and batteries always wear down more quickly than you expect. Not true of the solar-powered BogoLight that illuminates about a 4 square foot area. It’s rechargeable batteries last for 750 to 1000 nights of use at 6-8 hours per night...that’s a lot of camp stories.
6. The Cookware - Cast iron cookware lasts forever, is inexpensive and now comes pre-seasoned. It’s smart to get the handle holder to prevent anyone accidentally grabbing a pan when it’s hot.
7. Containers, Plates and Utensils - Although there are plates and utensils made for camping, try thinking out-of-the-box to what you could use more often. I use these stainless steel LunchBots for everyday snacks but they would be great to use outdoors instead of a plate and/or bowl....plus leftovers have a ready-made place to go.
8. Clean-Up - For cleaning up, washing hands or showering, use biodegradable soaps. Keys-Windsurfer Soap is chemical-free and can be used in the most pristine environments as well as with salt-water if you’re on a boat.
9. Insect Repellant - For any insect problems, use chemical-free products. Keys Redicare Spray is a universal healing solution for scrapes, burns and rashes, repels over 200 insects and will stop the itching if you do get a bite. Now, that’s a multi-use product!
10. Trash Bags - Leave your campground better than you found it. In fact, carry a trash bag with you on hikes and pick up litter...hopefully, others will follow your example.
Bonus Family TIp - For some fun camping ideas and songs, take The Kids Campfire Book along.