How To Break Down A Campsite

Camping is one of the most fun activities for everyone during the spring, summer and fall. The problems only seem to start when it is time to break down the campsite. How does a person properly store a tent, how does the canopy need to be stored, what needs to happen to the cast iron before it is stored, and what has to happen to the stoves?

fire pitThe first thing that needs to be done when breaking down a campsite is to check the fire pit. The fire should be completely extinguished and all coals should be cool and no longer able to start a new fire. The best way to do this is to bury any of the still hot coals in a shallow hole in order to keep the coals from reigniting a fire once all the campers have left.  A way to check is simply turn over the ash in the bottom of the fire pit and check the underside of the fire, or having an elevated fire pit can keep the process fairly simple by dumping the fire pit. A good elevated fire pit is the Landmann USA Northwoods Outdoor Fireplace, these elevated fire pits allow a person to simply turn the fire pit over and burying the ashes.

tentOnce the fire pit has been taken care of it is on to check out the tents. The tents need to be properly stored for the trip home. To do this break down the tent then when storing the tent instead of rolling the tent up tight with the poles inside the role simply fold the tent loosely. This is meant to keep any moisture that might be still clinging to the tent from permeating all of the fabric. This requires a tent that is made from a good material and is also able to take a little moisture for a few hours as it is driven home. A good tent for the job is definitely the Bass Pro Shops® 8 Person Speed Frame Tent, even though this tent has poles that are pre attached the durability of the tent makes it ideal for a campout where it might be rainy or just humid. Once the tent is finally back at the house it needs to be immediately set back up, this is why the speed frame tent is so handy, so the little moisture that is left in the tent can be evaporated. The tent can even be set up inside if need be so it can air out. By turning on an exhaust fan and drawing in new air to the house the tent will quickly dry, then the tent can be properly stored in a cool dry place.

canopyNow that the tent is all packed and taken care of it is time for the canopy. These canopies need to be stored in much the same way as the tents, the fabric top needs to be taken off and loosely folded away from the metal body structure. This again is to insure that the moisture from being outside in the rain or humidity doesn’t set in the fabric spurring the growth of mold or other nasty things. A good canopy that is currently on the market is the Bass Pro Shops® Deluxe Straight Leg Instant Canopies, these canopies are able to hold up to the rigors of being outside while at the same time having an easily collapsible design for quick packing and storage. After the canopy has made it home it to needs to be set up for a little while to let the fabric and the metal support structure air out. Once it is aired out the canopy can easily be stored next to the tents. Just as a note breaking down any cloth chairs should be handled similarly to the canopy accept the cloth material should stay on the chairs, but once home the chairs should be set up to dry.stove

Once the canopy, tents and chairs are taken care of it is finally time to deal with the cooking equipment. Before cleaning this equipment make sure to close any propane tanks and unhook all attached hoses to the equipment. Once this is done remove the grates from the cooking stoves or the cooking grate used over the top of the fire. It is a good idea to clean these regularly, preferably after each campout. To do this, use a sponge with an abrasive pad on the top. Add a little water to the sponge as well as a little dish soap, then vigorously scrub with the abrasive pad till the grime and char has been removed. Then simply rinse the cooking surface. If a stove is being used it is a good idea to use the sponge with a little more dish soap to clean around the burners, this keeps the burners from becoming clogged and a danger. A good stove that is very easy to clean is the Bass Pro Shops® High Output Propane Grill and Stove, the grill and stove portions are easily taken apart while the burners are easy to access and clean, making this a great stove for a campout. Now that the stove is clean packing it in a clean cloth bag is best for storage in a cool dark place. The campsite is clean, now the only thing left to do is police the site for any trash, remember that any trash left is a problem for any animals and people that might next call the campsite home! As always happy hunting and good luck! 


The Tent just for YOU

Choosing the correct tent for your next hiking or camping trip can be tricky depending on how big of a tent you need, or if it needs to be stuffed into a relatively small hiking backpack.  The tents that we offer here at Bass Pro Shops will give you a good variety to choose from for your needs.

If your looking for a less expensive option for your hiking trip, I would recommend the Hiker Biker Tent because of the lightweight factor, and does a relatively good job at keeping you warm throughout the night. For the more serious hikers in a colder climate, I would recommend the Ascend H2.2 Two-Person or Ascend H2.3V Three-Person, depending on how many people will be on this hiking trip.  While Bass Pro Shops does offer the Ascend H1.1V One Person Tent as well.

As for the more casual campers with a relatively small party size, such as a family of 3-6 people, there are many tents that can be chosen from.  My personal two favorites being the Coleman Sundome Four-Person Tent and the Coleman Evanston Six-Person Tent.  While we also offer a different style of tent that comes equipped with a screen porch, such as the BPS Four-Person Dome Tent.

Coleman tent at nightAnd of course we did not forget about the bigger parties that go camping.  We offer two great cabin tents that come equipped with indoor lighting and fans.  The first one being the Coleman Prairie Breeze Nine-Person that has six windows and only has a carry weight of about 33 pounds.  The second cabin tent that we carry here at Manteca Bass Pro Shops, is the Coleman Vacationer Ten-Person Tent.  This tent comes with two rooms, with the middle wall being removable if needed, two hinged swinging doors on each side of the tent, and 8 large windows.

Feel free to come on in to your local Manteca Bass Pro Shops for any questions regarding any of the tents listed, or any others that you might be interesting in purchasing. Note: all tents listed above are tents regularly sold in the Manteca Bass Pro Store, with many others as well. Not all tents sold online, may be available in store.Tent in the woods

Tim T.

Manteca Bass Pro Shops


Friday Featured Fan Spotlight

Bass Pro Shops Altoona Facebook fans are among the most LOYAL fans in the world. They come in all shapes and sizes and from all walks of life. Between pursuing a college degree and part-time employment, time can fly. Enjoying outdoor activities become even more appreciated. Uriah Hanson, a management student at Drake University and labor relations specialist at MidAmerican Energy, is a fan who appreciates all his moments spent outdoors.


How Long have You Enjoyed the Great Outdoors? Forever!

Uriah and dogs

Uriah, like many sportsmen and women, got started at a young age...and like many others, he learned from a family member. It was that experience that gave him the bug for the birds.

"I first remember going fishing with my dad and family when I was four or five years old. It wasn’t until I turned 11, and we started pheasant hunting together, that I really got hooked on the sport. It was my first hunting experience and the game that kick-started my love for the outdoors. There is nothing more exciting than the flush of a rooster right under your toes and seeing good dogs in the field. Training my own dogs and being able to see them work and learn right before my eyes, as we’re hunting, is another reason I love hunting upland birds. Being able to see all my hard work and effort pay off for the dogs and for me is one of the best feelings there is."

Uriah is very involved with the North Polk Pheasants Forever Chapter, which has seen tremendous growth. As a public lands hunter, he Uriah Hansonrelishes being involved with an organization that can do so much good to extend the life of those hunting grounds.

"I really enjoy being a part of the chapter, not only for the great board members that I work with and have become friends with, but also to see all the good that the chapter is able to do. Just in the past year we have spent over $15,000 on local habitat restoration at public hunting areas such as Paul Errington Marsh and Big Creek State Park. I hunt and spend my time almost completely on public grounds, so it's a pleasure to be a part of an organization putting so much time, effort, and money into making those grounds the best they can possibly be. The other aspect I love is being a part of our youth involvement, youth events, and contributions to youth shooting initiatives. Whether it's donating money or supplies to the Ankeny trap team, or sponsoring a mentored youth hunt/education day that we do annually, seeing those kids light up, when they shoot their first clay pigeon or pheasant, is a feeling that you can’t help but be proud of."

What's Your Favorite Outdoor Activity? Hunting

"I try to get outside and do something as often as possible between work and school!  One of my favorite things to do is get outside with Uriah and friends at Drake University stadium!my girlfriend and our dogs. We enjoy taking them for walks and runs on many of the public areas throughout the metro in the evenings. I also enjoy being able to get the dogs out in the fields in the fall and actually hunt with's great being able to watch them grow and learn right before your eyes.

"I am an avid hunter and go after numerous species but my main targets are pheasants, ducks/geese, deer (both gun and archery), and turkeys. Normally, if there is a hunting season going on, I am going to be out after something!  In the off season I fish occasionally, but not a ton. Instead, I normally spend my time outdoors during the summer at the lake or working with the dogs."

Go-To Gear? Knife

"I always have a good knife handy...when I don’t I usually wish that I did. There are tons of times where you’re in the middle of a hunt or climbing into your stand and realize there is a loose cord or string that needs cut, and that’s when you hope that the knife is still in the pack where you last saw it. On top of that, when it comes time to clean the animals after the hunt, it tends to be hard to do without the knife.

Words of Wisdom?  It's not the kill of the hunt, it's the experience.

"Take advantage of every opportunity you have to get outdoors. Whether it’s a walk on a trail or hunting elk out west, it’s not about the kill or achieving something that matters in the end. It’s just the ability to get out, take in the fresh air, and enjoy the surroundings. 

"I think all too often we get so busy in everyday life that we forget to take a step back and enjoy the simple things like a timber in the fall, or a fresh snowfall in the middle of January.  The simple things are sometimes the things that can make life the happiest.

"In September, I had the opportunity to go on a DIY elk hunt in Colorado with a good friend. We spent a week in the mountains, sleeping in a tent and eating granola bars and soup, only to come out a week later with no elk. The trip was still a success. For me to have the ability to see parts of the country and wilderness like that were priceless. It’s trips like that where you really get to see the beauty of the outdoors and understand that hunting isn’t about the killing or harvesting, but rather spending time with good friends and family and seeing nature at its purest form."


the North Polk Pheasants Forever hosts its 25th Annual Banquet in February 2014! 

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Chilly Weather Calls For A Buddy!

We just got in our newest Buddy....Buddy heater that is.  Take a look below at what we have here in the store, then we'll walk through them one by one.

Let's start with the Mr. Heater Little Buddy. Everybody needs a little buddy...the human form and the warming form. This Little Buddy is only $69.99 and is FULL of great features! Actually ALL of the Buddy Heaters we have in the store have almost the exact same features no matter how big or how small. The only differences are the BTU's and runtime.Talk about convenience.

Little Buddy puts out 3,000 BTU's per hour and heats up to 100 square feet with a runtime of 5 1/2 hours of continuous heat. This heater is great for workshops, tents, campers, etc. because it is indoor safe. How can that be you may be asking me. Let me tell you how; it has low oxygen and accidental tip over shut off features. Runs off of a 1 lb propane cylinder or a 20 lb bulk tank. However, the 20 lb tank MUST stay outside so the fumes can't get to you.

Moving on to the Portable Buddy. The Portable Buddy is priced at $99.99 and like it's smaller counterpart, it's full of those same great features! BTU's are at 4,000 on low and 9,000 on the high setting and you can heat up to 200 square feet for a nice 110 hours. This particular heater has a single control for starting and heat adjustment. Again, this heater will run off of a 1 lb propane cylinder or a 20 lb bulk tank as well. Lighting this baby is easy with a built in Piezo lighter and the fuel connector swivels out for easy access. As always, there's the low oxygen and accidental tip over automatic shut off.

Our newest addition to the Buddy line is the Hunting Buddy. Priced at $129.99 is a great deal especially since it's CAMO! 2 heat settings give you either 6,000 (low) or 12,000 (high) BTU's. Perfectly safe for those small hunting blinds, tents, campers or wherever you want to use it at. There's storage on one side of it for an extra 1 lb cylinder or anything else small enough to go in there. Electronic ignition, heavy duty burner guard and all the fittings are included to take it from a 1 lb propane cylinder to a 20 lb bulk tank. Whatta deal!

Last, but certainly not least is the Big Buddy. The Big Daddy!  This heater gives you so much heat, you won't believe it! 4,000 BTU (low), 9,000 BTU (medium) and 18,000 BTU (high). Heats up to 400 square feet with a continuous runtime of 220 hours. Just like the other heaters, there's the low oxygen and accidental tip over shut off feature. The Big Buddy runs on either 1 lb propane cylinder (or 2 if you prefer) or a 20 lb bulk tank. The big difference between this heater and the others? Big Buddy has a fan that blows the heat.The fan runs off either an AC adapter or 4 D cell batteries (neither of which are included).

Any one of these heaters would be a great addition to your Emergency Preparedness package you may have. During the winter months, who knows if and when or for how long the power will go out.

Come on in know you want to check them out! And I will be super excited to show you each and every one of them myself!


Stay warm and as always, thanks for letting me share my goodies with you!


Deedee Smith
Camping Team Lead
Sevierville Bass Pro Shops


Staycations Iowa Style - The Rathbun Area

So often I hear people gripe about driving across Iowa and, in their opinion, how boring it is. I encourage people need to get off Interstate 80 (after they've stopped at Bass Pro Shops Altoona, of course!) and experience a bit of our state. In our staycations series we asked our Facebook fans for some recommendations - where would you suggest people visit in our state? One area that received several mentions, and that I visit regularly, is the Lake Rathbun area in southern Iowa. 

Rathbun area map

Lake Rathbun is one of the largest lakes in Iowa, located about seven miles north of Centerville in Appanoose County. If you're coming from the north, say down highway 5, the stretch from Knoxville to Centerville is one of the prettiest drives in our state, as is much of the driving headed east or west out of Centerville on Highway 2.Honey Creek State Park

Rathbun is a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers facility with over 700 campsites available at eight parks at the 11,000 acre lake. It's also home to Honey Creek State Park and Honey Creek Resort, both operated by the state.

The state park has 149 campsites, but another unique feature is its "camper cabins."  The rustic pine cabins are great for those who don't want to tent camp, don't have an RV, or simply want more of a roof over their head, while enjoying the great outdoors. I met a woman at our Family Summer Camp this year who has two sons, both with severe medical issues and confined to wheelchairs, and she loves the camper cabins because they have electricity and her sons can better enjoy the camping experience.

For those who want something even more comfortable, Honey Creek Resort is available. This state-operated resort has a hotel, cottages/cabins, an RV Park, and a water park. 

My two favorite things about the resort are things YOU can enjoy, too, without actually staying there:


1. Their naturalist programs and activities are open to the public. It is the resort's goal to connect people to nature and the outdoors, whether they are staying at the resort or just visiting the area for the day. Some activities do have limited spaces available. You can check out their continuously updated list of activities on their web site.

2. The Lakeshore Grille has amazing their bacon-stuffed jalapenos. First-class food in a relaxed atmosphere with a great view!

While you're in the area, here are some other suggestions:

  • Rathbun OHV Park - If you have an ATV, then you might enjoy the Rathbun OHV Park located on the southwest arm of the Lake off Highway 142. It's a 120-acre riding area with a variety of skill-level trails.
  • The Rathbun Fish Hatchery - Open ever day for tours, the fish produced here are use to stock farm ponds, rivers, lakes and reservoirs around the state. According to the DNR web site:

Annually, more than 200,000 large fingerling catfish, 100,000 small fingerling catfish, 50 million walleye fry, 225,000 two-inch walleye fingerlings and 175,000 eight inch walleye fingerlings are produced at Rathbun.

More than 75,000 four- to six-inch catfish are provided for county conservation boards and cities each year for their caged-catfish rearing programs. 

  • Sharon Bluffs State Park is just south and east of Centerville – You can either go south of Centerville or east on Highway 2 and you’ll see signs for it….then it’s about four miles on gravel. Nice little park for picnics and walks.

If you're enjoying the area for more than just a few days, take a drive east to Van Buren County and discover the way life used to be 150 years ago in the Villages of Van Buren. That county has 110 ghost towns!  Scenic highways, hiking trails, gravel, mike, and pedestrian trails, and canoe, kayak and boat accesses provide plenty of ways to enjoy the scenery and history.

Facebook fan Rachel is an avid horse person. She says if you like horse camping head to Stevens State Forest to the west of Appanoose 
River Valley
County. Parts of the 15,000 acres have primitive horse camping available. She also suggests River Valley Horsecamp by the Shimek State Forest. Located south of the Villages of Van Buren, the camp has miles of trails and borders on 40 miles of established horse trails in Shimek State Forest. 


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Have a Safari Inside

You just got back from vacation.  Great camping trip and now reality hits.  Work, kids back to daycare or youth activities.  They long for another vacation as well as you.  Well - with a little imagination you can bring that back, and have fun with your kids.

Start off with the Insect Lore Campfire Kids Log Cabin Tent.  This tent is easy to set up and great for a bed or a floor.  Now what camping night is not complete without  a fire.  Insect Lore Campfire is cool to the touch and fan powered with a flickering flame.


















Don't forget the Mini Lantern by Backyard safari.  Exploring at night can be fun and safe.  To make things interesting you have to try the Backyard Safari Bug Vacuum with laser light.  Great for ants or cheerios.  Need to call the wild animals or at least the dog?  Check out Bass Pro Shops North American Animal Caller.  This caller makes 10 realistic sounds and is great fun to use.



























Top it all off with some smores done in the microwave and you have a mini vacation done nightly with you kids.  They won't forget the time you spend with them as you go over all the fun times you had on vacation.

Robin Piedmonte - Events Coordinator 
























Camping Prep Done Right: Inspecting Your Gear

Camping In Tents BPS

We're entering prime family camping season and its time to start getting ready to get outdoors. There are a few steps you need to take before you're first camping trip of the year to ensure that you have a trip that isn't marked by problems with your gear.

First, take the time to set up your tent in your yard at home or somewhere close by. You will need to inspect for damage, i.e. ripped seams or frayed edges, check all the zippers as well, the last thing you would want to happen is get all the way to your destination only to realize your tent isn't up to the challenge. A few things to remember about your tent:

  • Size
  • waterproofing

The tent you select must be appropriate for the group you plan on bringing. Chances are if you are in a family the group camping could range due to every ones activities and schedules lining up.  Being crammed into a small tent is no fun, but spending all your time setting up a circus tent for two people is no walk in the park either. Remember to plan on some extra room to spread out gear, food & dirty shoes. A good rule of thumb is to buy a tent that is made for one person more than you plan to sleep. Some tents designed for extended stays even have the ability to store shoes outside the tent, hang lights or even battery powered fans, as well as store hiking or fishing gear. Once you decide your old tent will accommodate your group and be up to the challenge you must address the all to familiar menace in camping, RAIN!

You'll need some seam sealer and waterproofing spray for tents, and take the time to apply it to your seams and the bottom portions of your tent, both inside and out.

Gear Aid Seam SureRed Head Waterproofer

 Waterproofing breaks down in sunlight and with time, so making sure you do this every year will keep you dry in case of that spring thunderstorm. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and no-one enjoys trying to sleep when wet.


Next replace all the batteries in your flashlights and/or lanterns, if they haven't been used in a while they can still die down. Its not a bad idea to always have extra batteries in case yours die or someone else is unprepared. If you have a gas lantern make sure to check your mantles, these can become brittle and break leaving you in the dark. Another good idea is to always have a spare pair, just make sure to get the right size for your model lantern. A small investment know can ensure that you aren't left in the dark.

BPS Clip on Mantle


Another Item to check is your propane/gas lanterns and stoves you need to make sure they all fire up and don't leak while at your home. Its hard to replace a seal or pump when your in the woods, and odds are you won't have the replacement parts.

If you have a leak just ask the experts in our camping department for the part that you need, like this Coleman kit pictured below. Fuel left in a lantern during storage can cause the rubber parts of your pumps to deteriorate. Fuel leaks in the great outdoors are not only a nuisance but can be a dangerous fire hazard.

Pump Kit


Make sure to check your first aid kit to get it full of the items you need such as band aids, neosporene, moleskin, and ace bandages.

First Aid Kit

 And its not a bad idea to get a new first aid kit each year, just in case it wasn't stored properly. This is one item that is better to have and not need than to need and not have.

If your sleeping bags have been stuffed in closets hang them up or lay them out and let them air out to spread the insulation around so it isn't bunched up. Also check to make sure the sleeping bag you are taking is rated to the proper temperatures. Its hard to get a good nights rest if you are too cold or too hot!

Its always good to make sure you have some sort of sleeping pad, either an inflatable mattress or a foam pad, you don't want to try to sleep on the hard ground all night without one. If you have an inflatable version make sure to test it out, its not fun to go to sleep and wake up on the ground with no padding.

If smores are your thing, and you're looking to have a campfire, but you're not an expert at fire making pick up a fire-starter, these are great to get fires started, even with wet or moist wood. Coghlan's has this pack that will light even if your fire stick gets wet.

fire sticks


Preparation is always key, like the boy scouts motto, Be Prepared; that way you can be a happy camper!

For more helpful tips and advice please stop by your Bass Pro Shops camping department and ask the experts!

Stay tuned for more blogs on Camping!

David Bryant

Receiving Manager / Camping Enthusiast







Look What's in Camping!

Last month, I gave you a little bit of information about our gifts department. I hope that you read and enjoyed "It's All About the Gift"  ( published on January 16th. This month I would like to focus on our camping department.

Bass Pro Shops camping department has it all! Whether you are gearing up for a camping trip, planning an outdoor barbeque, processing your own meat, or simply looking to accessorize your vehicle, our camping department can help you with any task. If you haven't had a chance to take a stroll though our camping department, let me tell you what all you are missing! You are missing hundreds of items featuring various name brands at bargain prices. Now, in order to see them all, you will have to come into the store and stroll isle after isle, but, I will try to highlight what I can (until you can make the trip)!


Our camping department has a vast selection of your basic camping needs. We feature a variety of tents to fit your needs including cabin tents, backpacking tents, and dome tents. Whether you're looking for a tent to fit just one person or a whole family, I am sure we have one that is sure to be the right size. We carry great name brands such as Boulder Creek, Ascend, Coleman, and (of course) Bass Pro Shops.  We also carry all of your tent accessory needs including, but not limited to, extra stakes, tent fans, tent lights, and replacement poles. In order to sleep in your tent, you must make a decision about a sleeping bag. Come check out our hugh selection of sleeping bags from Ascend, Bass Pro Shops, Coleman, Redhead, and North Face. If a sleeping bag is not in the cards for you, we have other alternatives including cots, sleeping pads, and air beds.  


   First aid kit               

After the decision of what type of tent and sleeping bag suites your needs, don't forget about all of the other camping accessories. We offer a variety of toilets and showers. (Which my daughter believes are the absolute must-haves for camping!) We also have various sunblocks, repellents including ThermaCell, water treatments, vacuum bottles, and heaters.You definitely do not want to leave home without a map and a compass. Our camping department has a variety of maps available for you! One thing I know is a must have on my check list, when we go camping, is a first aid kit. Our camping department has an assortment of first aid kits to fit your needs.



Coolers are also a must have for the camping trip. We offer a variety of sizes and name brands of coolers, including the indestructible Yeti! Camping stoves, camping cookware, camping tableware, and flashlights should round out your list of supplies. We have a vast selection to choose from including our extensive collection of Lodge cast iron cookware. If you are in to the simple side of meals, check out our freeze dried meals. They are lightweight and easy to pack.



If your camping trip takes you into an area of rugged terrain, try picking up a couple of trekking poles to help you make the climb. If you do plan on taking a long hike while you are camping, don't forget to check out the backpacks that are available in our camping department. If your walk leads you to search for treasure, don't forget to take a metal detector with you. Regardless of whether you are taking a short trip or long one, don't forget to get a camel back to help you with your hydration. If you find that hiking is not on your list of things to do, maybe you would be interested to know that we sell a variety of canoes and kayaks.



Did you know that our camping department is more than just camping supplies? We also offer a large variety of grills. Yes, I realize that the two are connected but, you don't have to go camping to use a grill and you don't have to own a grill just to go camping. Our grill selection includes names such as Brinkman, Browning, Char-griller, Coleman, and Masterbuilt. We have grills that are made for propane, charcoal, or both. We sell flavored wood chips and lump charcoal, along with marinades and seasonings. We offer fryers, as well. We have deep fryers, fish fryers, and turkey fryers for all your wild game cooking needs.



Along with our selection of grills and fryers, we have all your essential needs to process your own meat. We carry meat grinders, meat slicers, wild game processing kits, food savers, and dehydrators. We have all of your processing needs including sleeves for sausage and seasoning mixes. Once the meat is processed, you can freeze it using one our our food savers or get it ready to fry by using a breader.




Last, but certainly not least, our camping department offers a variety of accessories for your vehicle. From floor mats to seat covers, we have the vehicle accessory that you are looking for. We carry steering wheel covers, key chains and air fresheners from names brands like RedHead, Browning, and Bone Collector. Don't forget to check out our decals, license plate frames, and car covers. We also have deer alert sets for your vehicle. While you are here, check out our GPS selection in the marine department.

Well, I hope that the next time you are in the store, you will check out our camping department. Until next month.... Enjoy the outdoors!


Georgia State Parks: High Falls

The state of Georgia, located in the heart of the southeast United States, offers two of the most diverse geographical regions found in any state. The northern part of the state lies in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, while the lower half of the state is a coastal plain located on the Atlantic Ocean. Over 60 state parks can be found across "The Peach State," highlighting this topographical variety, a rich Civil War history and monuments to indigenous Native American tribes

HFLocated northwest of Macon, High Falls State Park is named for tumbling cascades on the Towaliga River.  Boat rental, ramps and fishing docks provide easy access to the park’s lake, known as one of Georgia’s top fishing spots for hybrid and white bass. Overnight visitors can choose from a spacious campground or lakeside yurts, which are like canvas and wood tents.  Each yurt features a small deck, picnic table and grill outside, plus furniture, electrical outlets and a ceiling fan inside.  During summer, guests may cool off in the park’s swimming pool. 
Visitors can hike along the river’s edge and through hilly forest to the remains of a power plant foundation.  In the early 1800s, this area was a prosperous industrial town with several stores, a grist mill, cotton gin, blacksmith shop, shoe factory and hotel. High Falls became a ghost town in the 1880s when a major railroad bypassed it. Today, the park is a popular camping destination and a relaxing side trip for travelers on I-75.


  • Hiking - 4.5 miles of trails
  • Fishing
  • Boating - 2 ramps
  • Kayak and Canoe Rental
  • Pedal Boat Rental (seasonal)
  • Swimming
  • Geocaching

Stay tuned for a closer look at additional state parks found throughout the State of Georgia!


Outdoor Cooking Primer - Garden Grilling Part II

Our Outdoor Cooking Primer continues with Part II of Garden are a couple more ideas for getting through your bountiful crop!

Fill ' Em and Grill 'Em!

Having never been huge fans of green bell peppers, we plant orange and red bells. In our never ending quest to NOT use the oven during hot weather, we decided to stuff bell pepper halves with...well, whatever we could think of...and bake them on the grill.  Here are some easy ideas for making your own filled and grilled peppers!

Venison Pizza Peppers
One bell pepper
1 small can tomato sauce
1- 1 1/2 C Cooked Venison Italian Sausage (or your meat of choice)
1/2-1 C Italian Blend Shredded Cheese (or your cheese of choice)
Smoked Paprika and Garlic Powder

Halve and core the bell pepper. Mix oregano and basil into tomato sauce to taste. Stuff each half with a healthy serving of meat...amount will depend on size of the pepper. Make sure to get meat into all crevices inside the pepper. Cover each half's meat with cheese. Sprinkle smoked paprika and garlic powder on top to taste. Stuffed Peppers

To cook - Place halves in an 8 x 8 foil pan (or make an heavy-duty aluminum foil boat). Add just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan to help with steaming and reduce sticking.  Loosely tent pan with aluminum foil so it doesn't stick to cheese. Place over indirect heat (on our Weber it's the back burner off, middle on medium and front on medium to high. Close lid and cook for about 20 minutes. Remove foil cover and cook until top is browned to your liking.

Other stuffings
Garlic Mashed Peppers - Stuff each half with leftover garlic mashed potatoes, or use pre-packaged garlic mashed potatoes. Add diced Cajun Bell Pepper (it's a small, red pepper, with a bit of kick). Cover with shredded Mexican blend cheese, sprinkle with Cayenne pepper and Hungarian paprika.

Run Rabbit Run
Mix leftover roast rabbit, 2 Tbs salsa, about 1/4 cup corn (it's Iowa, use sweet corn!) and 1/3 Shredded Colby/Monterrey Jack Blend Cheese. Stuff pepper halves, put more cheese on top, sprinkle with Smoked Paprika.



The Ultimate Camping Checklist


  1.  Tent - With shelter being the top thing I could think of when I would go camping, there are many different tents a person can choose from depending upon the activities they are planning/doing or how many people and how comfortable you would like to be while you are out in the wilderness.  A person who is biking or hiking could go with the Ascend Ultra-Light 1 Person Backpacking tent.  This tent is lightweight, easy to carry around, quick with set-up and perfect for someone who is out alone and making quick stops.  For a large family, or someone who would want to stay more comfortable, I would suggest the Coleman Prairie Breeze 9-person Cabin Tent.  This tent features LED lighting, a fan, and it is compatible with the CPX6 Coleman System.  It has a lot of space, which is perfect for a growing or larger family.
  2. Sleeping bag – When deciding on a sleeping bag, you will want to think about when you typically go camping.  For someone who primarily camps in the Summertime, you won’t need a sleeping bag that is typically for winter (think 0 degree bag), but one that is more for warmer climates such as the Ascend 55 degree Rectangular Bag.  Coleman also has a sleeping bag that is good for most times of the year - it's called the Signature Outdoor Gear 20-70 degree multipurpose sleeping bag.  This bag should bring your comfort throughout the year.
  3. Self-Inflating Air Mattress - This isn't something that you HAVE to have, but it will bring you comfort when lying on a ground that is hard and normally not completely flat.  Self inflating mats are great because they are easy to pack and don't take up much space.  With air mattresses, you are going to have to pack the bulky mattress, and also the air compressor.  A self inflating air mat is going to fold up or roll up much like a sleeping bag.  The Therm-a-Rest BaseCamp Self-Inflating Air Mattress can provide everything I described above.  It comes in many different sizes and lengths to best suit your needs.  If you are working on a tight budget, you might look into the Texsport Pack Lite Foam Pad - it doesn't have the self inflation, but at a fraction of the cost, you can easily roll up and roll down this mat - weighing only a total of 8lbs, 2oz.
  4. Coolers - This is one of the most important things you need to make sure your food you bring along with you doesn't spoil.  One of my personal favorites is the Igloo Marine Breeze 28 Wheeled Cooler.  It's very easy to transport on the ground with the handle and the wheels and often one person can do the job.  If you are looking for something that will hold a lot of food you can try the Igloo Marine Ultra 94 Cooler - holding 94 quarts, you are sure to be able to pack enough food for your family camping trip!
  5. Wood - This is a must have for your campfire.  Make sure you pack plenty of wood and fire starters to last you throughout your trip.
  6. Lantern/Light Source - If you would like to go the old school way, you can get a Bass Pro Shops Two Mantle Propane Lantern.  These lanterns run off of Propane for their power source, so no need to pack extra batteries.  It is a very good light source, producing up to 600 candle power.  My favorite lantern is actually the Coleman LED Quad Lantern.  I really like this one because it can separate into 4 different lights off the actual lantern, which is perfect for late night trips to the restroom (and you won't have to search for a flashlight).  It is powered by reusable batteries and can run for 75 hours.
  7. Dutch Oven - These are great for cooking.  I suggest getting a large one for cooking a family meal, and a smaller one for some yummy desserts. 
  8. Skillet - On the topic of cooking, a skillet is a must for campfire (think sizzling bacon on a fresh crisp morning).  I suggest at least taking 1 12 inch or larger skillet.
  9. First Aid Kit - One of the most important things you can take with you.  The Bass Pro Shops First Aid Kit - Family Kit is great for camping.  There is enough supplies in this kit for 6 days.  For someone who is going out hiking or backpacking on their own, there is a smaller kit available that would be more suitable.
  10. Camping tableware and cutlery - The Light My Fire Outdoor Mealkit includes everything you will need for a good meal out on the firepit.  It includes 2 plates, cup, spork, colander/cutting board and a waterproof cover. 
  11. Roasting Sticks - It's not camping unless you have your roasting sticks for late night roasted marshmallows, or afternoon roasted hot dogs!
  12. Water Bottle - Having a good water bottle can make all the difference on an outing.  The CamelBak Eddy .6L Bottle is a good place to start.  It is spill proof and very tough.
  13. Outdoor Chairs - If you don't have any good stumps or logs nearby, you are going to need some good quality outdoor chairs.  The Bass Pro Shops Basic Camp Chair will provide plenty of nice relaxing evenings.  It has a water resistant polyester fabric and a durable steel frame.
  14. Bug Spray - These nasty critters are things we cannot seem to avoid, so it is always best to come prepared.  A good can of bug spray is always packed in our bags.  Repel 100 Insect Repellent Pump Spray is a good spray with 100% deet.  If you are outside and looking for a good candle to burn to keep those nasty bugs away, I suggest bringing along a Repel Insect Repellent Citronella Candle.  This 10 oz. candle can burn up to 20 hours.
  15. Tent Fan - It can get awfully stuffy inside a tent, so it is always good to have some air circulation inside.  Coleman has some excellent tent fans available - including the Cool Zephyr Tent Window Fan.  The blades are foam so they are soft to touch and it is held up with a magnetic plate.  Run on batteries, it can run on low for nearly 40 hours before you will need to replace the batteries.  Coleman also has another fan called the CPX6 Lighted Tent Fan.  If you get into the CPX6 system, these battery cells can be recharged, thus saving you money on batteries.  Runtime on light and fan in high setting for this fan is 10 hours, however you can run 30 hours with light and fan on in the low setting. 


These are just a few of the suggested larger items I would take with me on a camping trip.  Of course, you will want to pack your clothing, some foil for cooking, toiletries, extra batteries, food, and anything else that is a must need for your family to make your trip fun, enjoyable and comfortable.  Camping is a great activity for folks of all ages.  Make sure you are safe and enjoy the great outdoors!


Indoor Camping

Are you looking for something fun to do with the kiddos this summer, but you hate the heat?  Why not go camping.....INDOORS.  Bass Pro Shops has a full line of Insect Lore Campfire Kids gear.

Set up this Insect Lore Campfire Kids Log Cabin Tent on your bed or floor for a true outdoor experience! Showcasing a rustic design, this durable Log Cabin Tent boasts a locking Velcro doorway and see-through mesh windows.

Young outdoor enthusiasts can set up camp in their own bedroom with this Insect Lore Campfire Kids Campfire! Featuring a safe, fan-powered flickering flame that is cool to the touch, this simulated fire casts a soft glow wherever you put it. Shimmering ember detailing and a realistic log design add to this Campfire’s appeal.


The camping experience would not be the same without This Insect Lore Campfire Kids Roasting Sticks Set.  It features two sticks, two hot dogs, and two marshmallows. 


Don't forget to pickup the Insect Lore Campfire Kids Lantern.  It provides an authentic outdoor experience! Featuring cool, bright LED lights, this Lantern has special glass that casts nighttime shapes against the wall. And with the flip of a switch, real nighttime nature sounds transport you to the middle of the woods! You’ll hear the chirp of a cricket, the howl of a wolf and the croak of a frog.

Stop by Bass Pro Shops Pearland and visit the general store to pick up all your indoor camping needs.  Have fun and enjoy the great indoors!

Shanna Burton

HR Clerk

Pearland, TX


Backyard kids camping and your imagination

Remember being a child in the past, our imagination in the forefront? All games and activities were all based on letting our imagination run wild! Well in our gifts department at Bass Pro Shops we’ve done just that.

There is a new children’s product assortment in the gifts department that has everyone’s interests and imagination sparked, “Camp Fire Kids Products”. These toys and items give children a camping experience without even having to leave their backyard. In the assortment, a battery operated fire log with a fan that blows the flickering flames, 2 plastic sticks that hold toy marshmallows and wieners for roasted over the fire log! For those days you can’t be at the camp ground or the cottage, this line is bringing that experience to your children with the use of their imagination, at the comfort of their own home!

We carry lanterns that light up and emit nature sounds like frocks crocking, wolves howling and crickets.

Don’t forget to check out our log cabin play tent and other items to make your playtime back yard camping experience a hit!

Only in the gifts department at Bass Pro Shops


Let's Talk Tents: The Prairie Breeze by Coleman


Looking for an A-W-E-S-O-M-E tent, well look no further.  The Coleman Prairie Breeze is a 9 person cabin tent, it offers campers a home away from home feeling.  This tent is a easy set-up tent, taking about 45 minutes to hour to set-up and with color coded pole sleeves, its even more of a breeze.  My favorite part of this tent definitely has to be that it is CPX-6 compatible and you can use the whole floor space for exactly that floor space and utilize the whole tent with a spacious open floor plan.  Other cool features of this hybrid cabin-style tent include; rainfly, room for nine all your friends can go and have a great time in the great outdoors, six windows, fiberglass poles, one full sized you don't have to duck or crawl to get out, PE floor, vertical walls for more space inside, composed of 75D/185T Fabric, back-lit wall mounted switch, measures 14' X 10' X 7', runs 40 hours on high, fan and lighting system, portable battery pack to run fan and lighting system, a bright 5 LED light with high/low settings, and an integrated LED lighted fan system.  So no matter if your headed to the backyard, out in the woods for a family vacation, an amazing weekend or week getaway with friends, or to head to Nags Head or Disney World come visit your local Bass Pro Shops  Outdoor World and let our knowledgeable camping associates help you with tents.  


Struggling to get that Spring Turkey? Then Try This.

turkey It's that time again, Spring Turkey Season is quickly approaching and with this right around the corner it's time to get the must have's that will help you in getting that turkey quickly.  Let's start planning our next big hunt and let Bass Pro Shops Outdoor Wold help you. For starters, where will we be hunting and will we be hunting alone? Now for the smaller details.....what will we need.....bug repellant, camo, decoys, and calls.

Insect Repellant

  • Sawyer Permethrin Insect Repellant: Odorless repellant for clothes, shoes, tents, outdoor furniture, and gear THIS PRODUCT SHOULD NEVER BE USED ON SKIN!!!, offered in a 24 oz. spray bottle or 7 oz. aerosol can, Permethrin is non-toxic to humans, Repels and kills ticks, mosquitos, mites, chiggers, and 55 other insects
  • Sawyer Maxi Deet: Triple distilled deet for low odor, Effective against ticks, chiggers, mosquitos, and other insects, Controlled release, 2 oz. pump spray bottle
  • Thermacell Mosquito Repellant: Handheld unit, Silent, Portable, Covers up to a 15' Diameter, Runs off of butane, DEET FREE.....uses allethrin, U.S. Army tested and approved


  • RedHead Bucklick Lounger Turkey Vest: Large pocket with waterproof zipper, adjustable game/decoy bag, made from tough waterproof microfleece fabric, box call pocket with a waterproof zipper, easy access shell loops, double slate call pocket with waterproof zipper, mesh dual mouth call pocket, adjustable padded shoulder and sternum strap
  • RedHead turkey vests for youth: Adjustable waist, shoulder, and sternum straps, Built in fold down padded seat, crisp camo pattern, two large pockets for shells and calls
  • Ol' Tom Dura Lite Time & Motion Essentials Camo Vest: Bloodproof game bag, two locater call stretch cords, map pocket, padded rear seat, box call pouch, five shell or chocke divider pockets, slate call pocket, essentials pouch for face masks, bug spray, gloves, etc.


  • RedHead Reality Series HD Turkey Decoy Upright Jake: Lightweight, mobile decoy, aggressive head color, short beard, "proud" head posture 
  • RedHead Foam Turkey Decoy 3-Pack: Includes one upright hen, one looking back hen, and one relaxed jake, HD Foam construction, Ultra-lifelike painted feathered detailing  
  • Carry-lite Pretty Boy Turkey Decoy: Set of strutting tom and submissive hen, uses ultra lite artificial fan or you can dry down yourself


  • Hunters Specialities H.S. Strut, Raspy Old Hen Slate Pen Friction Turkey Call: Includes free diaphragm call, includes easy to use carbon striker, realistic sounds of a mature hen
  • M.A.D Calls Bang Box Box Turkey Call: Long narrow box design, large range of vocalizations, Louder, Higher pitched cackles, yelps, and cutts
  • Hunter's Specialities H.S. Strut Premium Diaphragm Turkey Call L'il Strut: Triple reed, angled and split top reed for more rasp, moisture resistant for longer life, More realistic sounds, retains shape for long term perfect calling pitch

So no matter what you are looking for, for your next BIG hunt visit your local Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World and let one of our knowledgable Camping, Camo, or Hunting associates help you find everything you need to get your Spring Turkey.



Camping: Then and Now

In 1869, the New York States Adirondack Mountains were overrun with people for the first time. Author, Preacher and Sportsman William H.H. Murray convinced these people that spending time in the great outdoors was fun. For the majority of them it wasn't because they didn't know where to go, what to take or what to do. Up to this point, families didn't do this. Only the men would spend time out in the wilderness without their families, hunting for food. It wasn't until Murray had laid it all out for them that it caught on and became a fun thing to do. So in essence, William H.H. Murray invented camping.

30 years ago, the ideal of camping consisted of sleeping in a tent on the ground in a sleeping bag. You would take the food you would be eating from your kitchen (or maybe even caught it after you got there) and cooked it over an open fire on a cooking grate. You wore the same clothes for the duration of your trip and if there was any hygiene to be done, you did it in the nearby creek. There were no electrical hook-ups, bathrooms/showers and no nearby stores or fast food joints. For entertainment, you played in the creek, played in the dirt or ran through the woods. Imaginations were plentiful!

Today, for some, camping hasn't changed all that much. Sure people prepare better because they are more knowledgeable about what they will/will not need to take. Some just prefer to keep it simple while others want to make things a little more challenging and have the same luxuries as home. People today have the option of having a tent that has a light and fan, a table to put their lamp on by their bedside, a porta-potty ( so you don't have to use a log and a leaf) and even wi-fi accessible areas. If you don't want to cook, you can always go to a nearby store or even down the road to get fast food. There are even GPS and personal locator beacons for those that want to do a little hiking but are afraid they'll get lost. For the adventurer who wants to keep it simple, there's decomposable toilet paper, trowels, several different fire starters, lanterns, camp stoves, grates and dehydrated food, to list a few.

A few years ago, my husband and I wanted to take a weekend camping trip. So, we loaded up the bass boat with a tent, sleeping bags, food, a cooking grate and a fire starter and headed to the middle of the nearby lake to an island. For entertainment, we swam in the lake, we cooked our food over an open fire on a grate and later on we fought off a raccoon who desperately wanted our food. There were no bathrooms and showers or even a store or fast food joint and it was one of the most enjoyable times I have ever had. To me, that is what camping is all about.

At Bass Pro Shops, we have everything you could ever want/need for your camping adventure. Whether you want to rough it or have a home away from home, we have it all including equipment and a knowledgeable staff to answer any question you may have. Bass Pro Shops offers top notch brand equipment that includes Jansport, Kelty, The North Face and of course our newest brand, Ascend among others.

Hope to see you soon.

Happy Camping!

Deedee Smith
Camping Team Lead


Camping Gear Guide

By Tim Allard

Even minimalist and "primitive" campers can enjoy some comforts of modern camp accessories. 

Camping out in nature doesn't always have to equate to roughing it.  Whether you're a car camper or a backcountry minimalist, there are a variety of items you can purchase to make camping more relaxing.  This guide will cover a range of items you can add to your camping gear to make trips more comfortable.


Tents and Sleeping


Having a restful sleep is important regardless if you're camping or not.  There are varying sleeping pads and mats available to help you sleep comfortably in the outdoors.  Mattress pads also elevate and insulate you from the ground, helping you stay warm on cold nights.  Foam and inflatable mattresses come in several lengths and thicknesses, and in lightweight to extra thick mats.  If using inflatable mattresses, consider purchasing a 12V or rechargeable air pump; they'll save you time when setting up your sleeping quarters. 


For those with room to spare, a cot can be an excellent add-on.  You can even get organizers to hang off the cot's side to keep personal items within reach.  Don't forget a pillow.  Camp pillows feature a soft casing (often flannel).  Small models are available with the space-conscious camper in mind and can be compressed when packed.


Small accessories can help make your tent more comfortable, especially in rainy weather.  Portable, battery operated lights and lanterns, small radios, and fans are some examples.  Look for these accessories in models that can be hung from the tent's ceiling or suspended another way so you're not forced to hold them.  A deck of cards, a small board game and a book are good to have too in case you get caught in a day-long downpour.


It's a good idea to bring some extra supplies for your tent, especially tent pegs.  A mallet for driving in and removing stakes is another timesaving device.  Finally, a spare piece of carpet, or an actual mat, is handy to leave outside your tent door to hold footwear and wipe muddy feet.


For the romantic, there are Lexan wine glasses.  Food and Camp Cooking


I find everything tastes better outdoors, from strawberries to bologna sandwiches.  Consider expanding your camp kitchen accessories and treating yourself to a little outdoor luxury.  One of my priorities camping is a reliable coffee maker.  Percolator models are the norm at many camps, but I've had success too with paper filters and a kettle.  Drip style, portable models are also available.  You can also indulge in a specialty coffee with a portable, espresso maker. 


You may be surprised what's available to add a little class to camp drinking.  For the romantic, there are shockproof wine glasses.  A quality stainless steel, travel mug and/or thermos can be a real perk to keep drinks insulated and at the right temperature (either hot or cold) for several hours.  Flasks are also useful for other adult beverages.


A variety of dishes are available for serving your meals.  Utensils are items that can add some refinement to outdoor dining without cramming your pack.  Make sure you pack the necessary utensils on a trip.  It may be fun to pan-flip the odd flapjack over a bed of coals, showcasing your cooking talents to friends, but when your food supplies run short it's better to use a spatula and not risk ruining a meal.  Also, pack a sharp, fillet knife if you plan on eating the occasional fish on your trip, but clean fish well away from your campsite. 


There's a variety of collapsible tables on the market for eating and cooking on.  These can come in handy if suffering from a sore back.  They prevent you from needing to lean over to cook or eat your food.


The lines between outdoor and indoor cookwear can really become blurred for the individual with enough room to transport whatever they choose.  Cast-iron gear comes in many models, such as: pans, Dutch ovens, griddles and pots.  For pack-weight conscious campers, lightweight, stainless steel cook sets are available.  In most cases, cast-iron is intended to be used over a fire, while stainless steel is for cooking over a camp stove as steel tarnishes if used over a wood-fire. 


Don't forget an outdoors cookbook.  They're filled with great meal ideas for the outdoors, that can be both entertaining to prepare and delicious to eat.  Plan your meals before you leave, so you can pack the necessary spices and ingredients.  Treat yourself to some specialty sauces in the backcountry and purchase small, carrying containers for them if tight on space.


Finally, you'll solicit a lot of attention from scavengers of all sizes, from ants to bears, when you bring food to a campsite.  To discourage unwanted wildlife guests: keep your camp clean and properly hide your food.


Campfire Comfort


Sitting around a campfire during the evening is a classic camping image.  Yet outdoors temperatures can quickly cool and sitting on a log can become uncomfortable after a while.  So why not be prepared to enjoy an evening blaze? 


The new camp chairs come in many configurations, including this camp rocking chair style. 

Sturdy, portable chairs have replaced aluminum lawn chairs.  The new models feature durable materials, stronger frames, and some even have headrests and drink holders.  Better yet, many are collapsible, folding into their own carrying case for easy transport.  To stay warm at a fire, a small fleece blanket can block out a night's damp chill. 




Without listing all the clothes to bring camping, some are worth repeating in this guide.  Carrying a vest camping can help regulate your temperature, whether you're stationary or active.  Convertible pants are also extremely useful, letting you easily switch from pants to shorts.  A hat keeps you warm and provides protection from the sun.  A bandana should accompany you on every trip.  These simple squares can serve numerous functions from head protection to a washcloth.  Sunglasses are also important to provide protection from UV rays.  Round out your list with long and short sleeve shirts and pants, and carry clothes you can layer.


Personal Hygiene


For those willing, you can transport some washroom related luxuries to the outdoors.  Freestanding shelters provide privacy for either toilet use or showering.  A variety of portable toilets are on the market, from the most basic to fairly sophisticated models.  Warm showers can also be had in the outdoors thanks to portable units.  Some showers are large bags with hoses that hold water.  The bag is hung and exposed to the sun which heats the water.  Larger solar heating units will contain a stand and tubular shower curtain for privacy.  A final option is a device that heats water using either single or double propane burners.  Biodegradable hand soap and shampoo, along with other toiletries should also not be overlooked. 


Small but Important Items


Up to this point I've discussed some add-ons that make camping more comfortable.  Yet, the items above are less effective if you forget some important, but basic, supplies. 


For skin protection, bring bug repellant and sunscreen.  You should also carry a compass and a map of the area where you are camping.  A first aid kit should also accompany you at all times.  An adequate supply of water for each person, water treatment devices, and some emergency non-perishable food should also be packed.


Your camping gear should contain some basic tools.  Multi-tools have a variety of useful accessories, including: scissors, blades, saw blades, pliers, screwdriver heads, and so on.  A hatchet can be used for cutting fire wood or driving in tent pegs if you don't have a mallet.  Extra rope always seems to get used when I camp - whether it's a temporary clothesline or holding a canoe to shore.  Waterproof matches, a lighter and fire starters are good to bring as well.  Finally, don't forget duct tape.  If you can't carry a large roll, wrap some around another piece of gear, like a water bottle or pencil.


When camping, some of us enjoy a minimalist approach to backcountry exploration, while others prefer spending time with family in a safe, outdoor setting.  Whatever your tendencies, there are always items you can bring to make your outdoor experience more comfortable.  Just make sure you don't overlook your basic needs when adding a little luxury to your next outing.


Four-Season Family Camping

By Robert Loewendick

Winter Camp Site
Four-season camping introduces the family to new adventures. Winter camping takes some extra planning and gear, but if you like solitude, you can't beat pitching a tent this time of year. 

The 12-year-old boy stared out the window with a depressed look on his face. The overnight low temperature had left a fine coat of frost on the scene outside his window. Even though the morning's weather was normal for the season, the youngster's desire to go camping was not. 

"Have you ever gone camping in the winter, Dad?" he asked his father. The question not only surprised the dad, but also excited him.

"Yes, I have, Son. Why do you ask?" 

The boy continued to stare out the window for a few seconds more and then answered, "It's too bad we only get to camp in the summer. There's a lot going on out there that we could explore while camping."

Camping continues to grow in popularity and participation across the nation. Even when the economy slows, numerous families continue to set up camp. Shorter trips -- both in miles traveled and time spent -- are becoming the norm these days, though, and the hustle-and-bustle world is taking its toll on families already fighting to find non-interrupted leisure time to spend together.

Taking advantage of unexpected opportunities can increase your time together in the great outdoors. So wipe clean the traditional camping calendar that focuses mostly on summer; come explore the potential of four-season family camping and the great benefits that come with it.

Everyone has a preferred style of camping. From Class A motor homes to two-man backpacking tents, all forms of camping abound. While this article focuses mostly on tent camping across America's center latitude, all campers -- further north and south -- can adjust these tips to fit their 12-month camping calendar.

Spring Fling

Some of the best camping occurs during the spring. Flora and fauna are awakening, displaying entertaining antics and beautiful arrangements. Pitching a tent amongst the regenerated natural world can be very rewarding at this time.

Four Season Camping
Family camping remains a bond-building activity for all involved.

Tents used for summer camping will suffice for most spring campouts. Springtime usually brings spring rains, which creates the need for a superior rainfly and ground tarp to ensure tent dryness on top and bottom. The rainfly should be a secure one that extends well past the tent entrance. This will keep mud trailing inside the tent to a minimum.

Tent ventilation during this season is nearly as important as during summer outings. Any dampness in a tent takes away from the warming process. A dew-covered sleeping bag will not perform nearly as well as a dry one.

When selecting a sleeping bag for spring outings choose one that will dry quickly (not down filled), just in case the tent happens to leak. A sleeping bag with a hood will come in handy during cool spring nights. Spring weather can be unpredictable, so don't let the warmer days leave you shivering after dark. And don't forget -- winter sleeping gear is always welcome at springtime campouts.

For many campers, outdoor cooking and eating is a highlight to any camping excursion, no matter what time of year. Packing cooking gear for spring camping should include a heavy dose of warm food. Again, nippy night air and cool morning starts will be soothed with a toasty breakfast and dinner. A two-burner stove can handle the demand of four family members, but adding a three burner or a single burner is even better. A hungry camper is never a happy camper.

Weather can be both friend and foe to the springtime camper. Just as spring can deliver pleasant days for spending outdoors, it also can bring nasty conditions that'll test a tent's toughness -- and the camper's. Keep a radio with a weather band handy so that you're alerted when foul weather approaches. Don't forget to throw in a pack of fresh batteries.

Selecting and planning for a specific destination is half the camping fun. Focus on areas that will provide beautiful showings of newly grown flowering foliage. State and national parks are perfect sites for this and also provide early season fishing and hiking opportunities as well.

State parks maintain trails and other amenities catering to campers year-round, such as this wooden walkway which is useable during the spring rainy season as well as summer. Sizzling Summer

The most popular time for families to camp is during the summer months while the kids are on break from school. From one-night getaways to multi-day vacations, camping is a popular summer activity. Since so many camping articles cover the summer season, I'll briefly touch on a few points.

Most family-sized tents are designed with warm nights in mind, so choosing one is pretty simple. However, tent size is one thing you should consider. Selecting a tent that's made to accommodate one or two persons more than what the purchasing family has will allow ample room for gear storage and keep sleeping room comfortable.

"The more ventilation the better" is the rule when it comes to summer tents, and adding a tent fan to the packing list should be mandatory. Quiet, battery operated fans with soft plastic blades efficiently move air around inside the tent. Good tent ventilation is the key to waking up without an uncomfortable covering of dew inside the tent.

Every camper should have a sufficient first-aid kit in their supply box, especially during summer camping when insects and poisonous plants are highly active. Minor sunburns, scrapes and cuts are soothed by the contents of a first-aid kit.

Autumn Outings

The aroma of campfire and camp cooking, as well as the spectacular colors of transitioning foliage, create the perfect camping scenario. To take advantage of this exciting camping season, a few tweaks and changes of gear are needed. The same tent and sleeping equipment used for spring will be sufficient for fall, but the fall campsite is enhanced with a few gear additions.

Again, camp cooking has been, and is gaining in popularity. Dutch oven cookware is the hottest tool to find its way into the modern campsite. This historic outdoor cooking instrument comes to the campsite with many accessories and recipes. So for tasty, autumn cuisine consider a simmering pot of stew or a roast in a Dutch oven. The extra weight of the cast iron cooker is well worth the effort.

As most campgrounds begin to shut off their water supply for the winter, showering may become an obstacle later in the season. The four-season camper can eliminate this problem by adding a privacy/shower shelter to the packing list. Also include a solar shower, which consists of a poly bag that holds and heats several gallons of water at a time -- plenty for a family of four to take a quick but sufficient shower. Although the air temps may be cooling, the sun's rays will still heat the water to a toasty temperature.

Autumn camping adventures are many, but hiking seems to stand out from the rest -- and for good reason. From a simple, short walk to a multi-mile excursion, hiking transports the camper through and to impressive sights, sounds and smells of the fall season. Many locations now include handicapped access so that all may experience the pleasure of autumn displays. Perfect autumn camping destinations include the elements of woodlands, waterfalls and openings to view awesome sunsets and sunrises.

Winter Wonderland

Possibly the greatest advantage of winter camping is the lack of crowds and choice of campsites. It's true that winter camping is not for everyone, but it is a realistic possibility.

Four Season Camping
A catalytic heater will provide a bit of warmth while tent camping in cold weather.

A four-season tent is a necessity for serious four-season family campers. The extra attention to detail in material strength and design features (such as closable ventilation openings) will be appreciated during a breezy winter night. To assist in shielding the cold, a flameless catalytic tent heater is useful and safe when you follow the manufacturer's directions.
A restful sleep can make or break a comfortable winter camping trip. A sub-zero sleeping bag is a must. While 3-season bags will suffice for mild winter days, you'll want the extra warmth of a 4-season bag once the snow flakes start fluttering about. A fleece sleeping bag liner is an addition that will provide even more comfortable warmth. Be sure to include a sleeping pad or inflatable mattress to complete the winter sleeping package.

Winter camping normally includes activities such as sledding, ice fishing, hiking, skiing and snowshoeing. As with all seasons, safety issues should be considered and prepared for diligently. Bring extra food and water, signaling devices, emergency blankets and fire starters in surplus. Most state parks are open year-round but with limited facilities during winter months. State parks also provide the perfect picturesque destination for a winter escape with plenty of established trails. Some even have planned winter activities.

Four-season family camping leads to more memories than sunny summer trips alone -- memories that include the natural world in all its seasons and splendor. For quality trips the entire family can enjoy, preparation is the key to success -- regardless of the season.


XPS Heavy Duty Dry Bags

By Clint Craft

XPS Heavy Duty Dry Bags
We used multiple XPS bags to protect all the gear necessary to sustain three guys on a four-day wilderness canoe trip.

You can usually spot a float camping novice by the way he stows his gear, and a canoe overloaded with bulging trash bags is a tell-tale sign of a canoe camping greenhorn.

I recall my first canoe camping experience and how I had to suffer a drenched sleeping bag and clothing for the duration of the trip because my trash-bag suitcase had marinated in the muddy water in the bottom of my canoe the entire first day. A small, unnoticed tear in the bottom of the trash bag allowed my sleeping bag to act as a sponge, sucking up all the water that entered the canoe. I had no idea until I went to lift the heavy bag out of the canoe -- a hard lesson on keeping gear dry.

Even the heftiest trash bag can't stand up to more than a few hours of abuse from snagging limbs, sharp gravel bars and standing water in the bottom of a canoe. And if you happen to capsize, expect to pick up clothing and gear for the next mile or so -- whatever isn't lost, anyway.

Dry bags are the best way to protect your gear and keep it dry when kayaking and canoeing, and the XPS Heavy Duty Dry Bags are particularly well suited for multi-night canoe camping excursions. I recently returned from such a trip -- a 25 mile float fish stretched out over the course of four days -- on which I put three different XPS dry bags to the test.

In used a 55 liter bag to stow a warm-weather sleeping bag, camp pillow, small tent and collapsible poles. I used a 30 liter for my clothing and shoes for base camp. I kept a 10 liter bag containing most everything else that I might want at a moment's notice (lighter, small flashlight, GPS, fishing license, wallet, phone, etc.) buckled onto the canoe's thwart.

XPS Dry Bags
The bag's roll-top closure with heavy duty quick-snap buckle creates a watertight seal.

First off, the dry bags kept my gear dry. An unexpected storm the first night on the river gave a good soaking to everything left outside a dry bag. Everything inside an XPS bag stayed perfectly dry.

Bags partially submerged in the water in the bottom of the canoe also remained dry. Also, I never capsized, but I did completely submerge my clothing bag on the last day of the trip to see if water would seep through the bag's roll-top seal, and I was pleased to find no water had infiltrated the XPS bag.

Transparent panels found on some dry bags make locating items quick and easy, but typically aren't as sturdy as reinforced vinyl bags. I opted to sacrifice the see-through advantage for the more rugged material used to construct the XPS Heavy Duty Dry Bags. As the name implies, these bags are very sturdily constructed. They're made of heavy duty waterproof fabric with heat-welded seams. I chucked the gear-laden dry bags out onto the rough gravel bar at the end of each day and never even gave the action a second thought. Aside from a few superficial scrapes, the bags held up fantastic.

As for color, I'm not a huge fan of the canary yellow, and I typically opt for natural tones when choosing outdoor gear. That being said, these bags are meant to protect gear in a capsizing event, and the bright yellow will help me spot my gear from a distance if it's swept down river. Knowing it serves this function, I can live with the yellow. 

The two D-rings -- one on the roll-top and one on the bag's side -- are really a bonus. These D-rings make tethering bags to watercraft a quick, easy chore. On my previous dry bags I've had to purchase a vinyl d-ring patch and use an adhesive to adhere it to the side of the bag for attachment to watercraft. (Another lesson learned the hard way -- ALWAYS secure your gear like you're gonna swim!)

The quick-release buckles used to finish off the roll-top seal feel very sturdy and lock firmly in place. If this buckle were to break, the top would unravel and your gear would get soaked, so this is definitely not a design feature you want to overlook.

The XPS Heavy Duty Dry Bags performed flawlessly on my four-day river trip. If you've got a canoe camping trip in your future, I'd highly recommend these dry bags to ensure your gear stays dry and protected. 

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