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10 Must-Haves for Camping, Pad Crashing, Emergencies and Everyday
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10 Must-Haves for Camping, Pad Crashing, Emergencies and Everyday

Tags: solar, water

Posted April 27, 2013 by maryzakrasek

 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 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
Note -The Pak-Mat can be pumped up to 5”, but if you have a slick sleeping bag, you’ll be sliding leave it a bit less firm.

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 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.