At its core, camping is a bit odd. Humans leave their established dwellings to set up smaller, flimsier shelters in areas with fewer (if any) conveniences. Yet the practice is incredibly popular. How much do you know about camping and camping gear?
Three-season tents are good for spring, summer and fall. They generally aren't solid enough for winter use, unless you like waking up with piles of snow on your face.
One-season tents are meant only for the most pleasant conditions (usually summer) in which you're sure that you need only minimal shelter.
Vault toilets are common at developed campgrounds. They are essentially outhouses or pit toilets. Some have toilet paper, some don't -- but none of them have flush capabilities.
Guy ropes attach to the exterior of the tent. You stake the guy rope to the ground, and the overall effect is much better stability in high wind and rain.
When nature calls, dig a small hole, called a cat hole. Cat holes are really important to preserve camping areas for other people, otherwise, the buildup of human waste becomes a real problem.
R Value indicates how much insulation the sleeping pad provides. In cooler weather, a higher R Value can be the difference between being comfortable and downright miserable in your tent.
Many tents are equipped with so-called bathtub floors, in which the waterproof floor extends a few inches up the sides of the tent. The purpose is to keep water outside where it belongs.
Car camping generally refers to camping in areas that are accessible to cars. The vast majority of campers choose this style of camping because it's easy and convenient.
Many campgrounds in bear country provide bear lockers, which are good for storing food and strongly-scented items that attract bears. Bears and campgrounds are a very bad combination for both animals and people.
The chuck box is a central place to store all of your cooking utensils and the like. Some people call it a "grub box."
Developed campgrounds have things like toilets and maybe even showers. Dispersed camping does away with almost every modern convenience and often the sites aren't even marked. It's also often free.
National forests, as well as areas administered the Bureau of Land Management, often allow dispersed camping for free. Dispersed camping offers few luxuries other than the ones you bring along in your car or backpack.
In cowboy camping, you completely forego a tent, instead simply sleeping under the stars. Cowboy camping is faster and easier than setting up a tent, but it exposes you to the elements ... and possibly an unforgettable night sky.
Different types of products, from coats to sleeping bags, have various fill-power (insulation) ratings. You definitely want more fill-power for colder weather.
Backpackers carry all of their equipment on their backs and then head into the wilderness. They obsess over the weight of each item, knowing that every additional ounce means less fun and more work.
No-see-um netting is the fine netting used in tent construction. It keeps out even tiny bugs, many of which will try to bite you if they can penetrate the interior.
The term glamping combines "glamorous" with camping. Glamping is a popular trend that offers upscale tent accommodations for campers who have money to burn.
Down sleeping bags are incredibly warm, but they can be bulky and heavy, too. Plus, in warmer weather, their substantial insulation might actually make you uncomfortably hot.
Many tent poles are hollow and connected by an elastic cord. Shock-corded poles are easy to use and make tent setup (usually) a snap.
Giardia is a protozoan that lives in many streams, even those that seem fresh and unpolluted. Swallowing untreated water that has Giardia can cause horrible intestinal problems than can linger far longer than you want to believe.
If you're heading into the backcountry, you're heading to wilderness locations. Experienced backpackers are big fans of the backcountry, but unprepared novices should probably start with car camping.
The vestibule is the covered area just outside the tent door. It's a convenient place to put items like your dirty shoes so that you don't track mud inside the tent.
The draft tube is a collar of material added to some sleeping bags. These tubes can prevent cold drafts from traveling throughout the bag, making you shiver throughout the night.
To bivouac means to camp with very little (or no) shelter. You should only bivouac if you know that the weather is going to cooperate, or if you're comfortable being perhaps very, very uncomfortable.
Boondocking generally refers to RV or van camping, but without any sort of water, electrical or sewer hookups. It's also called dry camping.
The rain fly is the outer covering for your tent that keeps out precipitation. Many, many camping trips have ended prematurely when forgetful (or overconfident) campers neglect to attach the rain fly.
Many campgrounds offer potable (drinkable) water. But many campsites don't. Be sure the water is safe to drink before you start chugging it on a hot summer day. Unless, of course, you enjoy explosive diarrhea and other intestinal problems.
In a pinch, potato chips and similar foods are actually great fire starters. Gasoline is more fun, of course, but also hazardous to your health.
Food attracts all sorts of critters, from bugs to bears, and you don't want any of these creatures in your tent. Store your food in sealed containers away from your tent, and if you're in bear country, educate yourself on the proper techniques for this process.
"Widow makers" are dead limbs that fall from trees, often in breezy weather. Don't place your tent under trees that appear to have weak or dying branches unless you want to risk your neck.