I grew up camping my whole life. It was what I call “car camping.” I clarify it for people who “backpack camp” out in the woods because that is a whole other beast that requires special gear and even more special bathroom skills. I mean, I’m a trail runner, I have done plenty of business in the woods. But I always know that a bathroom is VERY VERY VERY CLOSE BY if the run was no longer a priority. I need a safety net made of indoor plumbing, THANK YOU VERY MUCH.
So! Car camping. Or I sometimes call it “KOA camping” because we have hit up a lot of KOA campgrounds over the years.
When E was about 2 years old I met a guy who sold Kelty tents on the side of the road and bought a “family size” one from him which said “sleeps 6” but everyone who has ever bought a tent knows that means “6 sardines” or “4 comfy adults.” E and I took it camping with my Dad in Big South Fork and trying to put that thing back in the stupid bag it was designed for brought back flashbacks from my childhood camping days and Dad constantly saying, “It has to be folded up EXACTLY RIGHT or it won’t fit back in the bag.”
SO! As soon as I could I said, “Screw this stupid too-small tent bag!” And I bought a large rolling duffel bag from Wal-Mart and it was the best decision I have ever made. The tent bought in the late 90s was replaced a few years ago but the bag is STILL IN USE. Not only does it make packing up the tent SO MUCH EASIER because there’s no stressing about getting all of the air out as your roll it up or fold it up, but there’s also room for extra stakes, a tarp and a mallet! AND THE BAG HAS WHEELS!
This is the bag sitting in my garage. It’s definitely much bigger than the original bag but the ease it brings my life makes camping (and packing up afterwards) so much easier. If you’ve ever dealt with trying to get a tent in it’s INEVITABLY FLIMSY BAG, you know my pain. We unpacked the tent to clean it off this weekend as we’re doing a camping night at our botanical gardens in a few weeks. I cleaned/dried every thing and then put the tent, the mallet, the tarp all back in the bag easily and I just thought, “DAMN. I AM GOOD.”
Because if that tent bag had even lasted the years I’ve owned the tent, I would have screamed multiple curse words every time I tried to put it all back together.
I just wanted to share my camping hack.
Also? My dad use to save yogurt cups and use them as drinking cups on our camping trips. I didn’t continue that trend in life. My kids life it up fancy style and drink out of running water bottles. They’re spoiled.