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General Camping Information

1. Car Camping
What is Car Camping? Simple. Car Camping is one who uses there car to pack in & carry their tent and other camping supplies to the campsite. Unlike one who would use a car to get to a drop off point to start back packing or an RV which contains most of the equipment. Car camping is considered an inexpensive way to get out and enjoy the outdoors, yet being ably to carry quite a bit of equipment.

2. Cold Weather Camping; Keeping Warm ---------------------------------------------------------------
If I don't sleep well, camping isn't much fun for me, so I pay a lot of attention to sleeping arrangements when I take my 11yo son camping. Some stay-warm tips that work for us are to take our down pillows and comforters (they squash down to almost nothing and I made flannel duvet covers that are machine washable) since they are much warmer than our sleeping bags and seem to be comfortable at a wide range of temperatures. It is also important to insulate yourself from the ground (or air underneath a cot). lots of emphasis on this point....

A closed cell foam pad will work nicely ...

It was also mentioned that wool hats and socks are good for sleeping...I would add that this may not be the best idea (the socks). Wet feet do not stay warm, even in sleeping bags.............

Change your socks before you turn in for the night, so your feet are dry!

LAYER and CHANGE OFTEN. NEVER wear wet clothes (or even sweaty)

2.1 Keeping Your Feet Warm and The Rest of You

Keep your feet warm by keeping your head warm. I like wearing wool hats. When the head loses lots of heat, the feet and hands will feel cold first.

Knit or fleece hats, especially with a wind block hood over them, will keep your whole body warmer. A neck protector will help, too.

No cotton socks. Use wool, blends, poly, or fleece ones. Even if you don't get wet, cotton just doesn't do as well. And if you get wet, even from minor sweat, they can be dangerous. I've been having warmer feet since using a liner sock. Even those 'knee-hi' nylon ones are better than nothing. Though once I discovered that, I went the big route and got some polypro ones from the local gear shop. Started it because I can't stand* full wool touching my skin. Itchy ishy. But the liners make wool quite comfy, since I get the warmth without the ishies.

If one has the money, Mukluks were made for this purpose. Wiggy's sells these and also has some nice camp slippers sold at moderate prices. I think REI And CampMore catalogs have similar items in them at affordable prices.5

3. Camping Equipment

3.1 Tent Selection

This is a huge topic, larger then any one person could cover, so folks please help me out and write more.

Family tents appear to vary a lot, but it's really simple, there are wall tents and dome tents, there are interior frame and exterior frame. There are many variations on these, but that's basicly it.

My two basic guidelines in all the tents I have bought are
1) It has to be large enough to hold every-one and their gear.
2) I need to be able to open my door with out the rain coming in.

While you are looking at tents you will notice that they are rated by number of people. Please note, this is *NOT* the number of people you can get into the tent, with all their gear, this is the maximum number of people who can sleep in the tent. If you want to have lots of room, think big. If I was buying a tent for 4 people to sleep in I would buy at least a 6 person tent. This gives some room for cloths, poles, gear, etc. A two room tent can really be nice. I would also consider adding a rain fly to the en campment.

The last tent my wife and I bought was a 6 person with an attached screen room. We had enough room in the tent for us, our bed, the gear. While we could have two chairs and more gear in the screen room. This gave us a place in the evening to sit and relax, without bugs. Since the roof of the screen room covered the door, we can get in and out of the tent with out the rain getting in.

There are several important tradeoffs to consider when comparing features and costs of different brands and models of family tents:

a: Number and type of windows: Some people like a view from inside. A warm, humid, rainy climate demands cross-ventilation, *while* it is raining, which requires windows and doors that are sheltered so that they can remain open during rain. (There is probably no tent that can remain open during wind-driven rain)..

b: Type of roof: Inexpensive tents may use a fabric like nylon which will degrade when exposed to sunlight. Thirty days of full sunlight may be enough to essentially destroy such a tent. Some fabrics are degraded much more slowly in sunlight. Some fabrics incorporate a sunlight reflecting material, which will help keep the tent cooler. Some "cabin" or "umbrella" tents have a double roof with an air space between, which is a big help in keeping cool when you can't camp in the shade, and also will help the tent "breathe" in high-humidity conditions.

c: Family privacy: Some family tents are divided into two rooms, offering visual privacy, (but no protection from a snoring family member). Some families like the flexibility and privacy of two smaller tents instead of one large tent. Very young children will want to sleep with their parents for comfort and security in the "strange" camping environment, but at some age (varying with the individual), they will want the "adventure" of sleeping in their own tent. A modest-sized family tent, augmented by a small inexpensive backpacking tent for the kid(s) to sleep in, can be a very nice combination, and offers the flexibility of using either tent by itself when the whole family isn't participating.

3.2 Sleeping Pads

REI Catalog-(Camping '95) Thermarest Staytek Long (closest thing to standard you can get) - $55

Thermarest Staytek Regular (what the rest of us call 3/4 length) - $42

Campmor-(Gift 1995)
Staytek Long - $54.99
Staytek Regular - $42.00

The $70 pad may have been an LE model (thicker padding, more comfy, substantially more expensive). But for only 15 smackers, I'd certainly get the Thermarest, not the cheapo. --

Hole In My Thermarest or Busted Valve!

If you call our Consumer Service Dept we will gladly send you a
replacement valve and\or repair kits. 800-531-9531

Jerry Lloyd
Cascade Designs
Consumer Service Line 800-531-9531 ask for valve and the
adhesive to use.

How To Fix That Hole Myself

NO NEED FOR DEPRESSION, they can be repaired, UNLESS the hole is hugh!
Sorry about the length of note below, but it contains all the tricks......

Trick to find the leak in your Therm-a-Rest. (But I bet you know location!)

1. Blow up as hard as possible by mouth and quickly close valve.
2. Fold Therm-a-Rest in half or thirds and kneel on it.
(This dramatically increases internal air pressure.)
3. Use some soapy water in a cup or better yet use 409 cleaner
and rub it over the surface to spot leaks/ bubbles. (409 does
not leave soap-residue that can have adverse effect on patch
4. Locate small puncture and mark with ball point pen.
5. Allow Therm-a-Rest to dry off.
6. Roll up pad and close the valve.
(With air out of the Therm-a-Rest the pad is now drawing air
into the pad VIA the hole.)
7. Apply Therm-a-Rest Repair Kit adhesive or other urethane
based adhesive to the puncture hole. (With the pad rolled up the
urethane adhesive is being drawn INTO the hole)On larger holes,
1/4" or greater need to use repair patch from Therm-a-Rest Repair
Kit. See local dealer, call first to check stock.
8. Allow 24 hours to dry, if you can.
9. Test your work! Easy way is to roll up pad and close the
valve. Set the rolled up Therm-a-Rest on a flat surface and leave
it for 24 hours.
(If it is unrolling during that time period, clearly you have a leak.)

If you have a more difficult repair such as major camp fire damage, animal chewed on valve corner or any other damage that you do not feel comfortable with attempting your own repair, Cascade Designs has a Repair Program. We want to keep our pads in service and out of the landfill! For $10.00 the Cascade Designs repair dept. will make ever effort to "salvage" your Therm-a-Rest. For the $10.00 we will also pay the return freight cost.

Send it to: Cascade Designs
attn: Repair Dept.
4000-1st Ave South
Seattle, WA 98134

Please do not forget to include your complete shipping address and a day time phone number.

3.3 Stoves and Fuel Selection
Stove and Fuel Selection

This is the question that vexes many, I know over the years I have used almost every fuel I can think of. Mostly I used Coleman fuel and propane. Since these are the primary fuels used in North America, I will only discus them.

Coleman fuel, isn't just white gas, it's got several additives. Only ones I can recall a Naptha, some stabilizers and lubricators. You shouldn't use unleaded gas in a non-multi fuel stove. The additives in the gas are not meant for this type of use and can damage some parts of the stove. But if your out of fuel, and it's all you have, you can at least cook.

The newer mutli-fuel stoves are more flexible then the older stoves and are highly recommended. I also highly recommend the new lanterns. They have infinite brightness control and can be turned down to where they are no brighter then a candle.

If you use a fuel stove or lantern with a pump, one day you will not be able to pump up the system. The cause is the seal is dry and not making a good seal with the cylinder. You fix this by dis-assembling the pump and re-oiling the seal. You don't need much I have done this with a couple drops of oil off the vehicle dip stick.

This is not to ignore propane. While I started with fuel, I ended up with propane. Since I didn't like the disposable bottles, I bought an 11 lbs refillable. While this is more expensive then a 20-25 lbs bottle, I liked the smaller size. I then added a mast to the bottle, this allows me to run the lantern, the BBQ and the lantern, all off the same source. I find I can camp all summer and BBQ for a year, all off one filling.

Almost all outdoor propane fired items (stove, BBQ, etc) sold in North America have a regulator built into them. This means that you must feed them high pressure propane. This is completely unlike the items sold for RV's where they are all low pressure and you only have one regulator, at the bottle.

One personal quirk on propane stoves, some of the cheaper ones have the valve for the first burner built into the regulator. This means this stove can not be used on low pressure system, unlike the better ones that use two valves built into the stove, with a removable regulator.
3.4 Sleeping Bags

There is a sleeping bag made for everyone, and every weather condition. there are all different types of bags. There are down bags, polyfil, and other synthetic fills. The question that I have seen the most is. How do I know what bag is right for me?

First of all take a minute to figure out where and when will you do most of your camping. Another words if you are going to do all your camping in the summer in the south. You do not need a bag that is good to -20f unless you are going to camp in colder climates. You would want to consider a bag that is rated to about 30f. It seems to be an excepted rule that you add 10 degrees to the rating the manufacture gives. This helps ensure you will be warm enough. So you can be somewhat sure that your rated 30 degree bag will be good down to about 40. There are mountains in the south and they can get chilly in the summer. I also bring a blanket in the summer time when I camp the south. That way when it is hot out I can lay on top of the bag and use the blanket to cover. Make sure you size the bag to your own size. You do not want a bag that is to big because there will be to much cold air space and you do not want a bag that is to small or else you will be sticking out and get cold that way.

When buying bags for children remember that they get cold also. Be careful when buying a bag for a child. Some children's bags have no rating. I tend to stay away from them. THE FOLLOWING QUESTION STILL NEEDS AN ANSWER

Please email if you have a solution

QUESTION, does anyone know of a detergent that can put the loft back in my sleeping bag? The manufacture says washing will do the trick but using standard detergent, Tide etc. only helps a little. The fill is continuous polyester. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

4. * Water Purification

The First Need (which is what I use, BTW) is NOT effective against viruses. Does that mean that it's unsafe? No. There are generally two classes of nasties out there. The first is parasites. Among these are giardia and crypto. These are relatively large, as far as microscopic stuff goes. (Avoiding all the scientific crap that nobody cares about anyway.) A -FILTER- will remove parasites.

In this category are the Sweet water, the PUR Hiker, and the First Need. THIS IS ALL YOU NEED IN THE US, AND MOST FIRST WORLD COUNTRIES.

If you are prone to travel overseas, you need more. Viruses is the second group of stuff that's in your water that'll mess you up.

Viruses travel in human waste, and is a problem ONLY IN COUNTRIES THAT DUMP RAW SEWAGE INTO RIVERS or other places that you might be drinking from.

Viruses are little dinky things which can NOT be filtered out. The only thing you can do to them is "deactivate" them. To do this, you need to either boil the water, or use iodine. (I think chlorine may work too, but don't trust that.) A WATER FILTER WILL NOT DEACTIVATE VIRUSES.

There are, however, two products known as "purifiers" which will deactivate viruses: the PUR Scout and the PUR Explorer. They look just like filters, they act just like filters, but man, they are not filters.

The filter inside of them is impregnated with iodine, thus deactivating viruses as the giardia etc. is filtered out. You can achieve the same results by using iodine tablets, and THEN filtering that water. (Filters often contain activated carbon which will get rid of that iodine taste.)

The Sweet water, by the way, has an optional cartridge (called the Viral Guard Cartridge) that attaches to the bottom of the filter, contains iodine, and will turn you Guardian FILTER into a Guardian PURIFIER. (They sell the whole set under the name Guardian Plus.)

PUR should have the same thing for the Hiker any day now. NONE OF THIS IS NECESSARY INSIDE THE US, though, you only need a stock filter. Side note of caution: if you live in one of those flood-prone areas of the country, (i.e. Iowa '93)when your water is cut off due to flooding of the treatment plants, you can use a PURIFIER, but not a FILTER, to make ll that stupid flood water potable. Someone else replied that iodine alone (i.e. the tablets) will NOT kill giardia. I've never heard this before, but I'll defer to him. It's not worth taking the chance, and iodinated water tastes awful anyway.

Boiling is a pain, and the fuel is heavy. Buy a filter or purifier; it's far and away your best bet.

C scott Crabill I have had 100% success with the PUR Scout for $60. It not only is a filter, but has a built in iodine purifier and comes with an attachable charcoal filter.

$60 is more than the other noted $25 model, but there are vast differences. The other model is only a filter, it does not have a purifier for the really small nastys (viruses & such). Those can ruin a trip just as easily.

5. Keeping Your Tent Dry - Tarp inside or outside

Everyone puts their tarp on the outside of the tent? What is this to keep their tent clean? It does nothing for keeping the inside of the tent dry. Try putting it inside and rolling the tarp up the edges of the tent. you'll be dry all the time even during heavy rains with water under the tent.

Putting it under the tent, on the outside, will also keep you dry so long as you do not have the ends or corners extending out beyond the rain fly. If it is, then all of the water that drains off of your tent will then be trapped between the tarp and the tent. In this case the tent usually looses and you get wet. If you roll the ends of the tarp so that they are under the tent then you'll be safe and dry and you protect the floor of your tent from dirt and puncture.

Yes, I put the tarp underneath to keep the tent cleaner. When I get home I sling the tent over the clothesline to get it really dry before packing it away, and I'm done. No mud to clean off. -----------------------------------------

IMHO - Putting the tarp under the tent keeps the floor from getting holes in it. If you have to put a tarp inside the tent to keep dry you may not have a very good tent. I have had water problems with some of the more inexpensive tents, where using a tarp or ground cloth both inside and out was needed. I have never had a problem with the more expensive tents though. Just put down the ground cloth, make sure no ends are sticking out that may collect water.

All info was gathered from the Camping FAQ at

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