questionschallenge: camping equipment including tent…

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I've been backpacking/car-camping with a large group of friends for about 15 years and slowly everyone has moved to REI brand Tents. They're well designed, durable, and significantly cheaper than the name brands. I'm on my second half dome (2-man) after loosing the first and won’t use anything else. If anything ever happens to it you can drive into any REI and they'll give you a new one!
Overstock.com has a great deal on ALPS brand inflatable camp pads. I just got one of their large comfort series mats for my girlfriend and it seems pretty well put together and plenty comfortable at 2in thick.
Last thought: when I took a road trip through the south west sleeping on the ground and in my car. I would occasionally park at a hotel, throw a towel in a suitcase, and walk in confidently to use the pool. Very nice in the desert.

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@attilathemom: Now I'm looking for sleeping mats (more than our basic ridge rests). I'm 6' tall, my daughter is closing in on 5'.

I'm also trying to figure out what the best way to protect the mountain bikes on the roof rack. Maybe a bike bra?

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@glindagw: the photo book is an awesome idea, as is stopping for giant balls of string, etc. Having just moved to the desert (from cold and snowy ohio) I have no idea about when spring arrives here, I'm just passing on what my friends and coworkers are telling me.

Rain beats snow any day (at least in my book).

Death valley in june is probably going to be too hot. Definitely need to see the redwood/sequoia trees, but maybe you could save southern cali for a southwest trip another time.

So have you narrowed your shopping list down? Anything specific you are still looking for?

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@shrdlu: I remember visiting Monterey when I was about her age. That's a good place to visit. She's game for anything in California as long as we visit the Redwoods.

The Columbia Gorge is a good idea. I promised her that we would visit Mt. St. Helens. From there I'll be ready to get to my friend's (almost there...so close). After a couple of days we'll head back down along the coast to her beach shack.

I am totally open to suggestions. I know that we're going to camp, hike, ride, climb & otherwise play (go rafting if my daughter gets her way). I've visited most of the places that we're going but it's good to remember what will be most amazing for her to see.

Camping is not new to me. Unfortunately, the camping equipment that ended up with me is archaic, outdated and a generally large pain. It's a bit overwhelming to face updating it all at once (rather than a piece at a time). Hence my great appreciation for everyone's input & advice.

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@glindagw: The desert is about to bloom RIGHT NOW. June is far too late. I used to live in the desert being spoken of. February is so beautiful that you are left breathless. Still, desert is an acquired taste (I acquired it long ago, and it never left me).

Heading to Seattle? You must drive the Columbia Gorge, and in the daytime. You can then head up the coast from Portland to Seattle (also a fabulous drive).

Oh, never mind. I see your trip will take you in other directions. Pity.

On the other hand, if you're taking the Pacific Coast Highway, it's a shame not to see Monterey. Consider a slight detour, please. Monterey CA is one of those spots on earth (like Big Sur, or Carmel) that should NEVER be missed.

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We are leaving St. Louis on 5/30. We're planning on spending the 4th of July in Wyoming (then we'll haul to Chicago to see U2 on 7/6). Beyond that we only have two concrete destinations. We'll spend about a week with friends south of Seattle (or at a cottage on the shore) & a week in the Black Hills (and just west in WY).

This trip is in the planning stages. We're doing research & deciding exactly what we want to do. We have friends in the urban areas that we can stay with (unless we decide to go a different direction). The projected route is: STL to Ft. Riley, Kansas...to Denver...to Arches National Park - Moab...to the UT/NV border...to Reno...to San Jose, CA. It gets a bit fuzzy after that. We'll head North along the coast on Hwy 1 & continue on 101 N. West near Portland to I-5N to Seattle. Luckily Route 20 will be open when we leave Seattle & head towards Okanogan. After a stop at Grand Coulee we'll wander towards Northeastern Wyoming.

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@attilathemom: How long do the spring blooms last (would they still be there in June)? We weren't planning on heading south towards the Mojave/Death Valley. We're ultimately headed for Seattle & Wyoming, so Southern California would add a lot of time in the car (but we aren't too set on anything yet).

My daughter has driven the Al-Can with her Dad. I had to promise her that this would be a different kind of trip. No uptight itineraries, no more than 6 hours of driving in a day and we can stop at anything fun that appeals to us (giant balls of string, beautiful overlooks, singletrack, etc.). We backpacked through a bit of SE Asia a couple of years ago with the same attitude & had a great time.

A new camera is on the list (her old one just died). I made a deal with her. She can keep the adwords revenue if she makes regular blog entries throughout the trip. I'll combine her entries & photos when we return & have it printed as a photo book.

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@attilathemom: Isn't the rain wonderful. Anyway she might not be coming this way as to come down here and then head up north again is at least an extra day if she is cramped for time.

Thanks for the point out about the Mojave, I always forget the desert actually can bloom, by the time I remember the blooms are dead.

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Also plan to make a trip to the mojave desert or death valley or both. We have had ridiculous amounts of rain this winter, and they are talking about some major spring blooms (as in plants that only grow/bloom when there's enough rain, like every 30 years or so).

Are you looking for unusual places to see, or fun little day trips? If you're passing through or near Ridgecrest CA consider a short hike out to see the petroglyphs. http://www.maturango.org/#Pet (scroll down to the section on the petroglyph tours). Also nearby are the trona pinnacles.

Save yourself some propane and remember that water won't really boil at high altitude, but it still gets very hot.

Consider getting a cheap digital camera for your daughter to take her own memories. Perhaps she can do a picture diary or report for school credit. There are many decent point and shoot cameras under $100 to choose from.

Some of my best memories from childhood are from a road trip out west my family took when i was 9. :)

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I have just a few more things to add to your to do list (you are making a list, right? otherwise you'll arrive at your first campsite to realize you didn't pack batteries for the flashlights or the can opener).

Definitely consider air mattresses. And an air pump that plugs into the car or has a car adapter (woot sells those plug adaptor things occasionally).

If you opt to not take good mats or air mattresses, bring a large bottle of tylenol/advil. Actually, if you haven't done a lot of hiking recently, with well broken in boots, bring the tylenol/advil anyway.

Make sure your emergency medical kit has moleskin or something for blisters.

Have a plan for car breakdowns, carry extra water and snacks.

Don't forget your sunscreen, and slather your kid liberally (pink noses are cute, but not healthy).

Be aware of cellphone and driving laws, for ex. in CA it's illegal to talk while driving unless you have a handsfree.

http://www.ou.edu/oupd/highway-cell.htm for non-911 calls.

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@glindagw: I completely understand your reasoning behind wanting to go with the backpacking tent vs. the car-camping tent. Backpacking tents are, indeed, more stable in heavy winds, mainly because they're a much lower profile than car-camping tents.

I certainly agree that backpacking tents can be a little on the pricey side, but something to keep in mind when making your decision is that a good backpacking tent, when used/stored properly, can last for decades; particularly when used with a footprint (something we include for free with our tents.)

That being said, we want to help you out with the price as much as possible, so here's a coupon for 10% off: MPGEAR310

You may want to reconsider the Big Agnes Seehouse 3 Person Tent: http://store.mpgear.com/bigagnesseedhouse3person-freefootprint.aspx

The price on that tent (after your discount) will be right around $225 including shipping.

And, of course, please let us know if there's anything else we can do for you.

-MPGear

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@oheifearnain: To oheifearnain's good list, I would add a water container. Maybe two, one for clean water, one for gray water, if you're washing dishes.

At least in CO, water spigots are generally centrally located at a campsite, so you want something that lets you bring water to your campsite for drinking, cooking, cleaning.

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@catbertthegreat: I had to do some digging to get this answer, but I've confirmed that it's 11.5 lbs (add another pound for the propane canister, as well.) It's definitely not lightweight, but if @glindagw is going to be car-camping, this stove is should work out beautifully; in fact, the owner of Mountains Plus actually uses this very same stove when car-camping with his family.

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@hobbit: Calling REI was a great idea. Unfortunately they only have a couple of models that they no longer have for sale (defeating the purpose). I will definitely have to remember that for when we are ready to upgrade our packs next year.

@mpgearco: Thank you. While we are doing car camping on this trip I am really leaning towards a backpacking tent. We will take our packs and there is always the chance that we will decide to hike into a campground. It will also be easier for my daughter to handle. I know that I will give up space & height but it won't be a big deal for two of us.

I've been advised that the stability in higher wind situations will be better with backpacking tents.

I am definitely overwhelmed by the number of choices for 3-person, 3-season backpacking tents. Additionally, I would really like to find a good deal on one (stepping up to the backpacking tents is an expensive choice).

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@mpgearco: Out of curiosity what is the weight of the stove you listed?

@glidagw: From Nevada, where will you be entering California?

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Where are you going in Washington State? Check out Three Fingers Fire Lookout. It is an amazing hike to the tip top of a mountain where the forest service blasted the peak off to make a flat area to build a fire lookout in the 1920's. Now the Everett mountaineers club maintains the place. You will never forget it if you stop by there.

There is also the paradise lodge on top of Mt. Rainer, Ross Lake & Diablo Dam. Lots of great stuff. Good luck and let me know if you need any Washington Info!

Enjoy.

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List of camping gear:

Tent
Stove
Cook Kit (pots, pans, spatula, large spoon, tongs etc. depending on menus)
Sponge and dishcloth
Biodegradable soap
Scouring pads (no soap type)
Shovel
First Aid Kit
Pocket Knife
Rain Gear
Fire starters (Lint from your dryer works. (in zip lock bag)
Sun Protection
Sleeping Bag and pad
Eating kit (spoon, plate, bowl and cup)
Camera
Small musical instrument

Reserveamerica.com is good for booking camp sites ahead of time (2 weeks to 11 months ahead)

Hope you have a great trip

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I love and use http://www.campmor.com all the time for some truly great deals.

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I would check www.steepandcheap.com. The deals are a little random, but you can find some decent prices on camping/hiking/climbing equipment.

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(cont'd) off on your trip. That way you'll be familiar with the set up when the time comes to use your new tent in the field.

As far as stoves go, there are a lot of different factors that go into deciding which stove is best for you, but I will say that MSR and Primus have a pretty outstanding reputation in the backpacking community for making great products; they're certainly the two brands that do best for us. Based on the criteria you provided, this should probably be a good fit for you: http://store.mpgear.com/primus-atle-two-burner-stove.aspx

I hope this helps. You can take a look at our selection of backpacking tents here...: http://store.mpgear.com/3persontents.aspx

... and the car camping tents can be found here: http://store.mpgear.com/4persontents.aspx

Feel free to shoot an e-mail to "outfitter@mpgear.com" if you'd like any further help with making your selection.

In any case, we hope you have a great time on your trip; that's what it's all about.

-MPGear

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Hi there!

We'd be glad to help make some recommendations on tents/stoves for you. Selecting a good tent can be a bit tricky, but it all boils down to what you need to fit your specific requirements. If you're going to be doing car camping, you'll probably be most comfortable in a car camping tent (they tend to be much roomier than a backpacking tent). That being said, car camping tents can weigh as much as 25 lbs, depending on the size you select, so if you plan on doing any camping down the road that will involve hiking with your tent, this probably isn't a good option for you.

Backpacking tents are significantly lighter (most 3 person backpacking tents are in the 5-6 lb range) and more compressible, but again, they're not nearly as spacious (in terms of both vertical space and floor space). I think you'll be pleasantly surprised to find that most tents these days are pretty easy to set up, but it's always recommended that you give your new tent a "trial run" at home before setting

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You wanted a lightweight dual burner stove that wouldn't be too much to lug around. I hope this meets those requirements:
Coleman Fold N Go 2-Burner Stove with Instastart for $59.95:
http://deals.woot.com/deals/details/865f006e-85c6-4dc7-ac18-77ca5b65ddcf/coleman-fold-n-go-2-burner-stove-with-instastart

@hobbit: Great Idea!

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If there is an REI near you, I think you can still rent equipment to try out over a weekend period before your trip to see if there is something you like. This works best for stuff like tents, backpacks and even sleeping bags.