One man’s trash….

….is my new (to me) bright, shiny PINK tent.

A friend of mine was looking to borrow a tent for an upcoming camping trip. Like many people in this lovely economy, cash isn’t growing trees and buying a tent was out of the question. Normally I have plenty of extra gear, but since other friends are also flying in for the camping trip, I was all out of tents. I popped onto craigslist and what did I see? Someone was giving away a computer, a printer, and tent. I was out the door 7 minutes after her post went live, hoping I could beat traffic and everyone else and claim my prize. After 40 tense minutes of driving during rush hour, I was VICTORIOUS! I think rush hour helped, no one was home yet to see the ad.

pink tent col

When I got it home I put it up to check that all the pieces were there, that it didn’t have any visible holes, and to spray a layer of tent sealer on the rain fly. Everything looks great. The tent is 6ft by 6ft so only short people, or kids, can use the tent. Not a problem since I’m 5ft2 and my friend is 5ft5. It’ll be perfect for her.

I emailed the previous owner of the tent to let her know I scored it and that it was going to be put to good use by someone who really needed it. This is the response she sent back:

Cara,
Thanks for sending this note- it made my day and so glad it is being put to good use.  It has good memories for me too as it was the tent I stayed in during one of my Breast Cancer 3day 60 mile walk in remembrance of my aunt.
Thanks again and yeah for things working out!
Stephanie
Could you ask for better JuJu for your tent? I’ll answer that. No, no you could not.

I paired it with my new black anti-gravity chair from Sportsman’s Guide. I grabbed it when it was on sale, but even off sale it’s not a bad price. The quality was better in person than it appeared in photos. Not that it looked bad, it’s just so much better, and more solid, in person. I love anti-gravity chairs when i’m camping. Kick back with a cocktail and if you happen to drift off into a nap, nothing wrong with that.

It’s only 16 days until my next camping trip. I can’t wait!

Shakedown Cruise – Canopy and Curtains

Last year’s bright idea was to get this HUGE 20 x 30 tarp to create shade. I was camping with a group of people, in a full sun area, and we wanted our shared ‘living room’ area to be nice and cool and protected from rain. It was such a bad idea. We had days of brutal heat and high winds that kept taking the tarp down. We all grew to hate that tarp and eventually, after breaking poles and almost breaking tent frames, we took the tarp down.

king canopy

Photo from Sportsman’s Guide

Never again. For this year I bought the 10 x 12 Guardian carport style canopy by King Canopy. It’s heavy and don’t pack down very compact, but it is sturdy. I had high hopes for it. So how did it perform?

Like a champ!

I don’t recommend putting it up by yourself, but I managed it. It was all I could do to drag the damn thing out of my car and get it to my campsite, 30 feet away. The set up wasn’t complicated, but it really is a two person operation. It is as solid as I hoped it would be. The steel frame was strong enough I could hang heavy items from it and the canopy itself is a durable polyethylene. The center height is 9 ft, which helps with shedding rain and heat. I wish I had taken a photo of it at my campsite, but my camera went walking early in the trip and didn’t walk back until the last day as I was tearing down camp.

Nothing bothered it. Not fighting squirrels throwing down tree limbs, not heat and sun, and not 2 days of storms. The center height was high enough that we were able to move our campfire underneath as long as we kept the flames low and controlled. (That’s a  fire hazard, I’m not recommending you do this) When I got it home, the canopy came clean of soot, mulberries, and bird poo with just a bit of dishsoap and water. I’m in love with it and consider it one of my best purchases.  I purchased the canopy through for $50, which was a huge bargain. I looked to see if the canopy was still available on any website, but was unable to find it again. Amazon lists it as “Currently unavailable. We don’t know when or if this item will be back in stock.” Keep your eyes open this fall and winter and maybe you can score a King Canopy on super discount.

Curtains

curtain

I had debated buying sides for the tent, but decided not to. What I did worked much better and looked really great. I bought these mesh curtains from IKEA for $5 for 2 panels. I purchased 3 sets of panels as I wanted to keep the side facing my friend’s canopy (where we had the kitchen) open. They are long enough to reach the ground at even the 9ft peek, but you can cut them off at any length without a need to hem. I left them long and allowed them to pool on the ground. You can either slide them onto the poles of your canopy or use zip ties. They were beautiful, airy, and helped keep bugs out. Next time I’ll put them on all four sides because seriously annoying flies made their way in via the open side facing the kitchen. Everyone who visited said they felt like they were entering a fairy land or some other such magical place. The curtains, more than any other item I brought, lent an air of romance and luxury to our campsite.

The curtains are machine washable on gentle and came out looking almost as pristine white as when I bought them. I give the curtains two thumbs up. And seriously – $5 for two panels? Hell yes.

 

Shakedown cruise – Rugs

When people ask my what my #1 tips for camping is, I tell them rugs. Once you’re past the basics of a good tent, a decent mattress/cot, and a chair rugs are the one item that can have the most positive impact on your comfort while camping.  Rugs can add beauty, warmth, and improve cleanliness. But the key is to get the right rugs for the right places. Cotton rugs are great for inside your tent as they insulate you from the cold ground and trap dirt that would otherwise end up in your bed. A rubber backed mat is perfect for right outside your tent flap. They also trap dirt and can stand up to rain. But what about using rugs in your outside living areas?

The best rug for your outdoor areas, or under a canopy, is a polypropylene rug.  These rugs are waterproof, are woven so they are soft on your feet, and fold up nice and compact. They’re also ridiculously easy to clean, just hose them off when you get home or dump water on them if you spill.

Rug folds up compactly to fit in any car.

Rug folds up compactly to fit in any car.

 

The one I own is from Sportsman’s Guide, it’s reversible, and it’s amazing. I used it last year, but it wasn’t until this camping trip that it got a serious test. We were camped in a rather low laying area of the campground. The ground was already saturated when we arrived so the storms later in the week meant flooding and mud. Lots and lots of mud. If we hadn’t had the rug we would have been in mud in our outdoor living area for the rest of the trip and they would have been miserable. With the rug we were able to enjoy sitting around our table and have friends join us. Since the rug is woven poly, essentially a large 9 by 12 ft mat, it was immediately dry.  Best of all, when I got home it took me less than 5 minutes with a garden hose to have it back in crystal clean condition.

My glamping buddy Jilly, enjoying a cocktail and rocking pearls and white sandals. Note the rug.

My glamping buddy Jilly, enjoying a cocktail and rocking pearls and white sandals. Note the rug.

What my rug looked like when i got home.

What my rug looked like when I got home.

After less than 5 minutes with a garden hose.

After less than 5 minutes with a garden hose.

 

I love this rug so much I’m going to buy a second one for my kitchen area or to have a larger living area covered. They’re just under $60 and worth every penny.

Vintage Quilt Sleeping Bag

Is there anything better than snuggling with a soft quilt on a cool evening?  Perhaps with a cup of hot cocoa (with or without a nip of Bailey’s) in your hand and a good book?  Then why forgo the pleasure when you’re camping?

I found a vintage quilt from the late 60’s earl 70’s and fell in love.  It has little girls with bonnets hand appliqued on it and is in original condition. No patches, no alterations.  It’s just worn enough for that perfect Shabby Chic look.

I wanted the option to have the quilt as an open quilt to lay on my bed or zip up and use as a sleeping bag.  I don’t camp usually camp in too cold of weather, but it does get in the 50’s and 60’s at night where I live so I needed to do more than just add a zipper to the bottom and side of the quilt.  So I built in a fleece liner with the zipper and then hand sewed the quilt onto the liner.  PERFECT!  I can use it open all the way for my queen size mattress when i camp with my husband.  I can use it zipped up as a sleeping bag when I camp alone.  I can’t wait to take it camping!

bag open

If you want a vintage quilt sleeping bag for yourself and don’t want to make your own, I’ll be selling them starting in June when I launch my line of luxury camping gear.