Friday, April 02, 2010

favorite thing friday

Last weekend we took the children on a camping trip. We all had an awesome time. Even though the temperatures dropped down to the 40's at night, we were warm and toasty and extremely comfortable.

All because ... we had the right gear.

If you have been camping before, you know how important it is to have the correct equipment. If not for the correct equipment, there is a very good chance you will consider abandoning camp and finding the closest hotel at 2 AM.

In the early days of my camping experiences, I really didn't know what I was doing. For instance, I distinctly recall the first camping trip I went on as a geology college student, roughly 20 years ago. I didn't have a tent. Nor did I have a sleeping pad.

All I had was my mother's old Camp 7 sleeping bag. And that first night, as I climbed in to that bag which I had ignorantly positioned on top of a small knoll, I envisioned gazing up at the stars directly overhead and falling in to a restful slumber. While everyone else was staring at the nylon ceiling of their tents, I'd have an unobstructed view of the entire universe.

(At least that's how I remember convincing myself it was cool I didn't have shelter.)

But instead of fading in to sleep under the starry sky, I slipped and slid on the mercilessly hard ground all night long. Bugs were buzzing around my head and a few hours later, by the time I decided I couldn't "sleep" any more, my entire body was stiff, I was frozen solid, covered in dew and my pillow was 10 feet higher - at the top of the knoll - where I had originally laid down to rest. To add insult to injury, the sky was still dark because the sun was a good two hours from rising.

Since that time, I have procured just about every piece of high end camping equipment you can imagine. Starting with my first purchase of a four season tent and sub zero rated sleeping bag.

A few years ago, someone gave us sleeping bags for the children. They were the Disney character variety that were barely suitable for sleeping on the ground in a heated house. While these bags are probably fine for indoor overnighters or lounging around, they would never withstand a night in the outdoors. Unless the temperature didn't drop below 80.

When we did our cross-country road trip in 2008, we bought good quality children's sleeping bags for the triplets. The bags we picked up came from REI and they are rated to 30 degrees, Fahrenheit.


Which means, you should remain warm in temperatures that dip that low. Last weekend, as we made our way out of town for our camping trip, we picked up a fourth sleeping bag for Henry and we now own all the colors of the Kindercone rainbow.


What I love the most about these bags, other than the fact that they are high quality and come with their own stuff sack, is the fact that they will grow with our kids. While Disney or other character sleeping bags might be fun for a while, I suspect that by the time our children are 10, the excitement of sleeping in a Little Mermaid (!) or Bob the Builder (!) bag will have worn off.

These bags, priced at $60.00, should last until they are at least 12, or five feet tall. Which ever comes first. I think that's an excellent value. Not only are you getting something that will last through their childhood, you're getting something that will actually keep your child comfortably warm if you camp outside in temperatures that drop to freezing.

Here's a link where you can buy them.

(Or, a number of other excellent children's sleeping bags.)

And here's what happy cozy campers look like.


And if you are not an REI member, definitely consider joining the Co-Op. For $20.00, you get a lifetime membership and aside from getting coupons and access to "Member Only" events, you'll get 10% back on all eligible purchases. Which, if you're at all like me, those rebates can be used to fuel more shopping expeditions so that when you go on outdoor expeditions, you're adequately prepared.

I'll never slide 10 feet down a slope and wake up wet and cold again.


  1. After reading your post (and seeing the pix) of your great outdoor adventure last weekend - you almost convinced me that I might like camping. I like the thought of it...but the reality? Even with fabulous equipment? Just not for me - so I will live vicariously through you. ;-)

  2. Good camping gear is important but hang on to those Disney slumber bags. They're great for indoor camping. Ours lasted for years.

  3. I'm so jealous! Where did you guys go camping? Maybe next time we can join you guys...Wouldn't that be fun!?!?!
    You make camping look so inviting!

  4. great post! i'm needing to pick up some sleeping bags for my twins. we will be going camping for the first time with them this summer. we live in washington so summer is the only time i'll brave camping here.

  5. Good advice here! We went on our first camping trip this past Labor Day. It did not occur to me how chilly it would get at night. Had to make a trip into town for sweatsuits for the kids! Next time I will also have something under me besides just a comforter. Talk about stiff mornings!

  6. I love REI! I could seriously buy the entire store and be super happy with all my outdoor gear. And having the right equipment really is the key to enjoying activities.

    I just got caught up in all the moving/not moving talk you've been having. I also live in the DC area (in Northern Maryland, not NOVA) and when we moved here, I never thought I'd love it as much as I do. There are ways for you to have a short commute and have a great neighbor hood. My hubby works 10 minutes away and it's great. Get a GOOD real estate agent and explain what you want. You'll be able to find something.

    If it's what you really want. Good luck with your decisions!

  7. Those look and sound like great sleeping bags!

    Thought you would be interested in this (if you haven't already seen it):|hp-laptop|dl7|link6|

  8. Safire!

    You mean to tell me they have REI in Virginia?!?!?

    Alright. That changes EVERYTHING. :)

  9. I don't wanna burst your bubble but the only sleeping bags we get are rated to fifty below and don't work to like zero degrees but we have those kids bags too and they work great in an arctic oven! our kids love those bags though and we should own stock in REI from all the stuff we buy from there!! Good luck with the decision.