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Modern equipment makes camping more enjoyable

By By ROBERT BLANKENSHIP
Advance Managing Editor
Early summer starts the vacation season for most of us. Whether it is a trip in Alabama or across the country, camping can make the trip more fun and save you lots of money.
Many of us "baby boomers" were introduced to camping during the late 50's and early 60's with military surplus equipment left over from WWII and The Korean War. Although tents, sleeping bags and mess kits were cheap at the time, they left much to be desired by today's standards.
Today's camper can spend the night in comfort that would rival some motel accommodations. A good tent and sleeping bag are a must. Select a tent as large as feasible for your type camping. Car or truck camping enables us to take much more equipment than backpacking, thus raising the comfort level of a night spent in the woods.
Sleeping bags should be chosen with temperatures in mind. If you are planning strictly summer outings, inexpensive bags rated for no more than 50 degrees will suffice. If on a trip to the Smoky Mountains or other high elevations where the night temperature can drop drastically, choose a bag rated in the 0 to 20 degree range. One can always open up a lower temperature rated bag if you get too warm, but there is little that can be done if you are sleeping in a 50 degree rated bag and the thermometer takes a plunge into the 30's. Nothing will turn kids against camping faster than spending a cold, miserable night in an inadequate sleeping bag. Remain on the side of too much insulation.
A quality sleeping pad or air mattress will insure a good nights sleep in that toasty warm sleeping bag. Avoid thin foam pads unless you are using a cot. Every small stone or stick that you failed to pick up can be felt through thin foam. A rigid air mattress is hard to beat, whether you are on the tent floor or on a cot. If a foam mattress is preferred, select one two-inch thick or more.
Once you have the tent and sleeping bag, add a quality camp stove, lantern, folding table and chairs. Few items add more comfort to an evening around a campfire than a comfortable folding chair.
See-through plastic storage containers are ideal for storing camping gear. Make a list of what items should be in a particular container and tape it to the inside of the lid. When you are ready to go camping, all you have to do is load the already organized containers, check your list and take off to spend a wonderful night with one of your favorite relatives n Mother Nature.