Do you take your family camping to "get away from it all?" As in, getting away from email, cell phones, television and other technology?
Before you banish all technology, take a look at some sweet outdoor camping gear--both high- and low-tech--that will make your family camping trip even more awesome.
Geocaching - If your kids dream of being modern-day pirates, then Geocaching is for you. Every little box on the map marks The Spot. All you need is a map and a GPS device and you'll have stories to share.
Star Gazing - Take an old-fashioned paper map, or bring along the Star Walk app and you'll know every constellation in the sky.
Worried about taking an expensive GPS or smartphone on a camping trip? Don't forget to pack a Pelican. These slick containers are water resistant, dust proof and crush proof. The new i1015 is just the right size for your device and even has a little ear bud connector so the case stays shut.
My dad has always carried his camera in a Pelican, well, at least since he dropped his "nice" camera in the Virgin River the first time we hiked The Narrows.
Water Gathering - Speaking of water, have your kids ever filtered their own water? I still remember the first time I drank the clear, 99.97% germ-free water pumped from a green, slimy puddle on the side of a trail. Wow. Simple lesson - Water is precious. Plus, pumping water is a great way to start a discussion on conservation. I keep my 18-yr old MSR MiniWorks Water Filter in my car. You never know!
Cooking - Much of the time camping is spent cooking. Preparing a meal, cooking it, cleaning up and starting over again. Now that I'm transitioning from a pure backpacking, "carry it with you" style to a car camping, "pack it with you" style, I've realized how many more cooking tools I can add to my list.
So long, WhisperLite! Bring on the Camp Chef Two-Burner Oven, the Heavy Duty Grill or a Coleman Propane Grill, all taunting me as I visited Costco last week. How do I justify replacing the low-tech classics of hot dog sticks and tin foil (as in tin foil dinners)? Our household stove vote is still being tallied. I am not afraid of influencing the vote by passing along your heart-felt praise or disdain on any of these stoves.
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I'm not sure if I love camping or shopping for camping gear more. Technology is always changing, bringing ever cooler gadgets to the outdoors. I have learned over the years that you don't always need fancy gear to have fun. But the right gear can turn a camping trip into a life-time memory.
Oh, here's one more thing for the list - the kitchen sink!
What's your favorite piece of camping gear?
The kind folks at Pelican sent me a sweet pink case for review purposes. The stoves are still on my wish list, pending the vote results and your comments. All opinions expressed here are my own.