Being Outside with Stuff

A few people have asked me about the items I have purchased for my recent camping and hiking trips, so I thought I would share with everyone since I am sure you are all just dying to know about my sleeping bag preferences. All of these things have been greatly hemmed and hawed over and I spent months reading reviews, so no purchase was made willy nilly.

Hiking

Osprey Skimmer 30 Hydration Pack – Women’s – 2.5 Liters – Last year, I went on a search for a new backpack. I ended up ordering about seven different ones in the end, but eventually settled on the Osprey Skimmer 30 Hydration Pack. I have now been using it long enough to say that I TOTALLY LOVE IT. It is super comfortable on my back and shoulders, holds a ton of stuff, comes with a hydration reservoir, and does not feel overly hot against my back. I also love that it has a magnet that keeps the bite valve in place against your sternum. It is a winner and comes in one of my favorite shades of green – JADE.

Sleeping

REI Co-op Passage 2 Tent – I have never purchased a tent, so I had a lot of concerns about my ability to buy the right one. Thankfully, the people at REI are wonderful, and I was led to the Passage 2 tent. It is not a high end fancy tent by any means, but I was not willing to shell out for that kind anyway. I have zero issues setting it up and have managed to do it successfully in the dark several times by now. So, it is truly so easy an idiot (me!) can do it. It has rained on me once while I was in the tent, and everything stayed dry. Since I am camping with claustrophobia, I did not want a tent for one. The Passage 2 is for two people, but fits my twin air mattress with room on the floor for my bag and other paraphernalia. If I ever met a person, then we could both fit by sleeping on pads. I honestly cannot think of why I would want to share a tent with someone to be honest.

You are also supposed to buy a “footprint” for the tent to protect it from the ground, but I went to home depot and just bought a tarp because that is what my parents use. It was cheap and works just fine.

Big Agnes Sleeping Bag – I have a now discontinued version of a bag similar to a Roxy Ann 15, but it is for 30 degrees because I am a hot sleeper. I received this for Christmas and Sari did all of the research and selection because I am the Jon Snow of sleeping bag knowledge. My only request was that it not be one of those mummy style bags because CLAUSTROPHOBIA. My feet need freedom. I have not yet had a panic attack in this bag, so I give it a thumbs up.

Rumpl Old Growth Puffy Blanket – I LOVE blankets. Sari and I have a massive collection of them. I had been looking at Rumpl blankets for about a year, but when I got my REI member dividend and coupon, I decided to just get one. I am so glad I did because it was down to 23 degrees when I was in Yosemite, and between the sleeping bag and the blanket I stayed nice and toasty. I also used it in Big Basin where it was warmer. I kept the bottom half of my body zipped up in the bag, then used the blanket to cover my top half. I felt way less contained and slept really well. I toss and turn a lot, so I usually wake up often to untangle myself from my bag when it is zipped up all the way. I also used the blanket when I was sitting out reading or by the fire. Also, it is has trees on it, so there was no way I was going to be able to avoid it for long. It rolls up nice and small into a stuff sack and weighs under two pounds. It’s also machine washable which came in handy after I MIGHT have spilled a TINY bit of wine on it…

Air mattress and pad– I bought a cheap twin air mattress from Target because I am hell on those things and a nicer version will not save it from me. I also got a foam camping mat to put between my sleeping bag and air mattress. I had no idea this was a thing to do until Sari told me to try sleeping without it. It was way colder. The mat adds a nice barrier between the cold mattress and the sleeping bag, and I will use it if I ever do any actual overnight camping away from my air mattress and car.

Lighting

MPOWERD Luci Outdoor 2.0 Inflatable Solar Lantern – Sari has used one of these for years and loves it, so I got one too! It is solar powered which is really nice, and it provides a lot of light. I leave mine on my dashboard at work to charge the day before I go camping. It squishes down really small and is very lightweight. The bottom has snaps on it, so I can attach it to a loop in my tent and actually see when I am in there at night.

I also have a headlamp, but it always gives me headaches and annoys me. I am a delicate camper.

Nite Ize MoonLit LED Micro Lantern – I also use these to clip up in my tent. I bought them before I got the Lumi, so they are a bit redundant now, but they are nice when I need just a little light in one corner. I use them most often while reading.

Cooking

Cooking alone while camping is brand new to me, so I have only had a chance to use these products once. Sari and my dad do all the cooking when we have gone camping in the past, so I never bothered to pay attention. Thankfully, Sari and Kyle (her boyfriend), are outdoorsy folks and gave me lots of advice.

MSR PocketRocket 2 Stove – I finally got this little guy because it seemed like the easiest to set up and turn on, and it was! I wanted a little stove I could use at a campsite or backpacking, and I did not want one that was only for boiling water (like this). You have to have a match or lighter to light it (some higher end versions have their own lighting mechanism), so this one could be iffy in the wind, but I have not faced that challenge yet. I bought some storm proof matches, so I hope that helps when the time comes.

I bought a small fuel canister, a bowl to eat out of, a kettle to boil water in, and a small pan to fry on. I used the pan to reheat my dutch oven leftovers and it worked perfectly. I used this little utensil set that I purchased as part of my sustainability efforts this year. I am sure there are cheaper and better ways to do all of this, but I have not discovered them yet. Please do feel free to share advice or ideas. I still have so much to learn!

Dutch Oven Cooking – Still so much to learn here. I bought a six quart dutch oven which is pretty huge for my needs, but I wanted a wider diameter. I also did not want to have a small one and a large one for when I am camping with friends or family. So, this one is a lot bigger than I need, but it worked out just fine. It was the perfect diameter for a personal pizza. This one was nice because it has the legs on the bottom and on the lid which allows you to use the lid for frying. I did not realize that in time to cook my sausage, but now I know. It also comes with a lid lifting tool. I bought these gloves so I that I do not burn my hands off because SAFETY FIRST. I also got a chimney starter for coals. This one ended up being just the right size for the number of coals I needed for that size of dutch oven.

I am excited to give it another go with my family when we are camping this summer. I just used grilling utensils we had at home to manage the coals, then brought a metal spatula we already owned.

So, this is mostly what I have used up until this point. I am still figuring out the dishwashing thing, so I have nothing to share on that front. Also, do not forget hand soap. Most bathrooms in parks do not have any. I got these little mesh bags so that I can better organize items. It makes it easier when I’m rummaging in the dark to have a specific bag of light sources. Finally, take quarters! You never know when you’ll need to pay to shower. Questions, suggestions, and advice welcome!

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