Camping is super fun to start with, but there are some ways to make it extra fun for you and your family. Here are a few items that we found have added that little bit of je ne sais quoi to make our car camping weekends that much more enjoyable.
Tentsile Flite ($350): There is nothing like sleeping under the stars suspended between trees. While hammocks are nice, they aren’t completely comfortable to sleep in through the night. By contrast, this tree tent creates a flat surface where you can stretch out and sleep in whatever position you want, all while being lightly cradled from beneath and surrounded by mesh to keep the bugs away. Not to mention it’s just plain fun to crawl up into your tent at night with an unencumbered view of the sky above. Our tree tent is always the talk of the campsite, with many families coming over to check it out.
Setup is pretty straightforward but you do need a pretty wide tree spacing for the top two points in order to create a flat surface. With two doors and 40-square-feet of floor space, this is technically a two-person tree tent. With the super narrow foot end, however, you will be a little jammed getting two non-mummy sleeping pads in there and if the pitch is not super taught, you will end up rolling into each other in the middle of the night. I absolutely loved it for solo camping, however, and know many people who use it as a two-person tent. You can sit up inside for changing or hanging out and admiring the view.
As you are suspended in air, it’s best to use a sleeping pad for warmth underneath you — I paired the Flite with my favorite car camping pad, the Therm-a-Rest MondoKing 3D ($180). As awesome as it sounds, this self inflating mattress offers four inches of dream-inducing comfort and with an 11.4 R-value, you won’t get cold even in the dead of winter. In place of a sleeping bag, I upped the fun factor and comfort level with a Nemo Puffin ($100) microfiber insulated blanket. I was snug as a bug in a rug.
Therm-a-Rest Quadra Chair ($120): You need a place to sit and share campfire stories or to roast marshmallows for s’mores. The new camp furniture from Therm-a-Rest delivers the comfort of a much larger chair in a tiny, lightweight package that stores inside its own base. The four-legged Quadra is available now, with the lighter three-legged Treo and table-cum-festival chair Uno available early next year. The Quadra sets up in a flash and the mesh side pocket is the perfect storage spot for a book, phone, or beverage.
Therm-a-Rest Honcho Poncho ($130): When the sun drops behind the mountains, nothing beats hanging around camp in a Honcho Poncho. Thanks to the moisture- and heat management of the 37.5 insulation packed inside the water-resistant shell, the poncho keeps you comfortable in a variety of temperatures. A cavernous kangaroo pocket warms your hands with a zippered front pouch where you can squirrel away absolutely everything you need for the evening. When you are done wearing the poncho (which you never will be), it simply packs up into its own pouch for easy storage. Call it the outdoor snuggie if you will.
Priority Classic ($429): For cruising around large campgrounds or for places you want to get out and explore like Yosemite National Park (without getting back in the car), cruiser bikes are an absolute must. Whenever car camping, I always bring along my Priority Classic. With only 3 speeds and an easy-to-maintain, grease-free belt drive, it’s just a fun bike to ride. Coaster brakes and a kickstand bring you back to your childhood but don’t worry — there is also a single hand brake in case you forget what you are doing. I am in the process of adding a large front basket so I can use it to haul firewood and groceries when camping.
What gear do you bring camping to add an extra bit of fun?