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Camping in Comfort: A Guide to Roughing It With Ease and Style

Author : Lynn Haney
Published : 2007-09-04

Camping in comfort! Who wouldn't want to? Here, I thought, was a book made for me, one that would provide the hints necessary to have an even more comfortable experience in the great outdoors than what I had grown accustomed to the past four decades.

Author Lynn Haney drills right down to the bottom line in Chapter 1, explaining that a revolt by her son, daughter, and even husband during a vacation camping off the coast of Maine prompted her to update her knowledge about the latest strides in camping gear.

We had just spent a week hiking, kayaking, mountain biking, swimming, and lazily pitching stones over cool, clear waters. Now it was time go home. "Where shall we camp next year?" I asked brightly.

"In a hotel," retorted my son. He popped a marshmallow into his mouth and glanced at his sister. She nodded in agreement. They had obviously discussed this matter.

How could such a shocking idea emanate from the lips of my own flesh and blood? Our annual pilgrimage to the great outdoors was a family tradition, our way of washing off the dreck of civilization. As the number-one camping enthusiast in the family, I couldn't help but take the hotel suggestion personally. Had the kids gone soft? Did my children have issues with Mother Nature or -- heaven forbid -- their own mother?

"A hotel sounds great to me," chimed my husband."

At issue, Ms. Haney soon learned, was the family's aging, dated, and inadequate camping gear -- from worn-out camp chairs to flimsy tents and inadequate sleeping bags. And so she embarked on assembling the latest information on first-aid kits, tents, sleeping bags and pads, backpacks, clothing and footwear, and camp cookwear, and tossed in some chapters on how to approach bicycle camping, boat camping, and even RVing.

Now, this is not a book for the experienced camper, and the author makes that clear in the opening chapter. If you've been camping -- whether that's car-camping, backpacking, bike camping or paddle camping -- for any number of years you no doubt have picked up your own helpful tips and strategies and know what to look for when it comes to quality gear.

What this book does do is lay out to newbies the basics they'll need before venturing out into the great outdoors and point out the latest in gear innovations.

One concern I had upon thumbing through the book was that so many of the accompanying photographs had come directly from gear manufacturers -- the Coleman Co., Johnson Outdoors, the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association, Bibler Tents and others -- that I wondered whether Ms. Haney's book wasn't simply one neatly packaged advertisement for these folks.

Perhaps it is in a sort of subliminal way, but as you work your way through the chapters you'll find enough generic and helpful information and few direct endorsements of any one company's gear to make this a good resource for those new to the camping scene.


"Roughing-it" doesn't have to be rough. It's mostly about your mindset and your expectations.

All of the most memorable backcountry experiences I've had were not when everything went smoothly, but rather were when there was some excitement that let us discover, gently, that we could be happy and feel even more alive in the face of some adversity.

A few years ago on one of the mailing lists for the long-distance hikers (I think it was the PCT list) they had a $300 challenge. The idea was to come up with a complete backpacking gear kit that someone could use to hike a significant portion of the trail, keeping their total gear weight under about 10 pounds, and be prepared for 3-season conditions, for under $300. While many of the highest-performance proposals included home-made gear, quite a few people were able to propose kits that were totally off the and met the requirements.

Perhaps NPT should have a similar contest for car-camping gear?
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