By Rachel Walker
Ahhhh, car camping—the traveler's embodiment of the "think global, act local" mantra. Unlike journeying to exotic destinations, which tend to require significant expense and loads of greenhouse gases, car camping is simple. Whether you're traveling five or 500 miles, all you need to do is throw your gear in the car, pick a destination on the map, and go.
Further sweeten your summer explorations by streamlining your gear system. Since weight doesn't really matter (this isn't a backpacking trip), car camping practically begs you to bust out the extra-thick camp pad, the cozy bag, and even the cast-iron skillet. While car camping's most luxurious perks are bound to be found in star-studded skies, al fresco dining, and sunsets, the below creature comforts will make your trip downright deluxe.
Coolers have come a long way from the days of the $5 Styrofoam box. Otter Box's Trooper LT 20 Soft Cooler ($250) keeps ice cold for days and doesn't leak. It's big enough to store several days' worth of provisions, yet small enough to fit on even the most jam-packed ride. Thanks to the cooler's wide-opening hinge top, loading it—and reaching in to retrieve deliciousness—is a piece of cake.
The best thing about the Big Agnes Big House 6 Deluxe ($400) is its ease of setup. As in a five- and seven-year-old recently erected one in their (OK, my) living room with minimal supervision. Once assembled, this tent is a spacious, shack-size shelter with room for up to six. Inside there's plenty of ventilation, a star-viewing mesh top (and a rain fly for stormy nights), and ample built-in organizers. With so many mesh pockets and shelves, your contact lens case will never again get lost among the kids' coloring books.
Sweet dreams are made of sleeping pads that do the dual duty of insulating campers from the cold, hard ground and eliminating lumps. The Therm-a-Rest MondoKing 3D ($180 to $210) does all this and more. But what sets this plush pad apart from the competition is how easy it is to inflate. Blow into the nozzle (versus engaging in the full-body workout required by the usual floor pump or pillow pump), and just a short time later, you're sawing logs.
The Homestead Twin sleeping bag ($119) from The North Face is a roomy, rectangular sack that comes in two temperature ratings: 20 degrees and 40 degrees. A modern twist on the classic sleeping bag, the Homestead has plenty of room for extra blankets, stuffed animals, family members, and even the dog. In other words, it's the opposite of restrictive.
One glorious aspect of car camping is tuning in to the day's natural rhythms. But sometimes, you still need artificial light. Whether you're pitching a tent in the dark, heading out on a nocturnal adventure, or cooking, reading, or playing Scrabble long after the sun's gone down, the indestructible Black Diamond Icon headlamp ($100) lights the way. It's water- and dustproof and comes with three different night-vision modes (red, green, and blue). It also has a removable battery pack to help preserve battery light and "brightness memory," which means you can customize its power.
It might be tempting to throw your kitchen cutting board and knife into the car, but don't. This compact combo from Snow Peak ($56) safely holds the knife in place when not in use and folds up for easy storage. Post chopping, cook dinner in the company's featherweight Titanium Mini Solo Cook set ($76).
Go gourmet with Camp Chef's Summit two-burner stove ($132) and cast iron skillet ($23). The powerful stove comes with two high-pressure, 20,000 BTU burners (boiling water has never been quicker), matchless ignition, and a locking lid and handle. It's strong enough to hold all sorts of cookware, including the company's durable, classic skillets, which come in a variety of sizes.
Keeping your car camping gear organized is a fine art. Luckily, the innovative, tough bags from Mystery Ranch Mission Duffel do wonders to sort and protect everything. Use the Mission Duffel 90 ($195) for tent and bedding, the 55 ($165) for cookware, and the 40 ($130) for clothes. These expandable workhorses convert into surprisingly comfortable backpacks, making for easy schlepping from truck to tent.
Naturally, car camping doesn't mean that you never leave the site. You're bound to hike and explore, and the Osprey's Skimmer 30 ($120) hydration pack is big enough to store multiple layers and food. Thanks to its ergonomic design, this pack can be worn all day, up and down mountains (or wherever you go) without complaint. Parents will love its myriad pockets and compartments for toting kids' various sundries; non-parents will appreciate this pack's versatility.
Hang the BioLite Powerlight Mini ($45) in the tent for evening illumination, or prop it on the picnic table if you need an outside light. This solar-powered lantern can also be charged via USB. Once fully charged, it runs for five hours on high or 52 hours on low. It's convenient, compactible and reliable.
Reposted with permission from our media associate SIERRA Magazine.
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By Daisy Simmons
1. Stay Informed<p>A first order of business in pet evacuation planning is to understand and be ready for the possible threats in your area. Visit <a href="https://www.ready.gov/be-informed" target="_blank">Ready.gov</a> to learn more about preparing for potential disasters such as floods, hurricanes, and wildfires. Then pay attention to related updates by tuning <a href="http://www.weather.gov/nwr/" target="_blank">NOAA Weather Radio</a> to your local emergency station or using the <a href="https://www.fema.gov/mobile-app" target="_blank">FEMA app</a> to get National Weather Service alerts.</p>
2. Ensure Your Pet is Easily Identifiable<p><span>Household pets, including indoor cats, should wear collars with ID tags that have your mobile phone number. </span><a href="https://www.avma.org/microchipping-animals-faq" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Microchipping</a><span> your pets will also improve your chances of reunion should you become separated. Be sure to add an emergency contact for friends or relatives outside your immediate area.</span></p><p>Additionally, use <a href="https://secure.aspca.org/take-action/order-your-pet-safety-pack" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">'animals inside' door/window stickers</a> to show rescue workers how many pets live there. (If you evacuate with your pets, quickly write "Evacuated" on the sticker so first responders don't waste time searching for them.)</p>
3. Make a Pet Evacuation Plan<p> "No family disaster plan is complete without including your pets and all of your animals," says veterinarian Heather Case in <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9NRJkFKAm4" target="_blank">a video</a> produced by the American Veterinary Medical Association.</p><p>It's important to determine where to take your pet in the event of an emergency.</p><p>Red Cross shelters and many other emergency shelters allow only service animals. Ask your vet, local animal shelters, and emergency management officials for information on local and regional animal sheltering options.</p><p>For those with access to the rare shelter that allows pets, CDC offers <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/emergencies/pets-in-evacuation-centers.html" target="_blank">tips on what to expect</a> there, including potential health risks and hygiene best practices.</p><p>Beyond that, talk with family or friends outside the evacuation area about potentially hosting you and/or your pet if you're comfortable doing so. Search for pet-friendly hotel or boarding options along key evacuation routes.</p><p>If you have exotic pets or a mix of large and small animals, you may need to identify multiple locations to shelter them.</p><p>For other household pets like hamsters, snakes, and fish, the SPCA recommends that if they normally live in a cage, they should be transported in that cage. If the enclosure is too big to transport, however, transfer them to a smaller container temporarily. (More on that <a href="https://www.spcai.org/take-action/emergency-preparedness/evacuation-how-to-be-pet-prepared" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">here</a>.)</p><p>For any pet, a key step is to establish who in your household will be the point person for gathering up pets and bringing their supplies. Keep in mind that you may not be home when disaster strikes, so come up with a Plan B. For example, you might form a buddy system with neighbors with pets, or coordinate with a trusted pet sitter.</p>
4. Prepare a Pet Evacuation Kit<p>Like the emergency preparedness kit you'd prepare for humans, assemble basic survival items for your pets in a sturdy, easy-to-grab container. Items should include:</p><ul><li>Water, food, and medicine to last a week or two;</li><li>Water, food bowls, and a can opener if packing wet food;</li><li>Litter supplies for cats (a shoebox lined with a plastic bag and litter may work);</li><li>Leashes, harnesses, or vehicle restraints if applicable;</li><li>A <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/pet-first-aid-supplies-checklist" target="_blank">pet first aid kit</a>;</li><li>A sturdy carrier or crate for each cat or dog. In addition to easing transport, these may serve as your pet's most familiar or safe space in an unfamiliar environment;</li><li>A favorite toy and/or blanket;</li><li>If your pet is prone to anxiety or stress, the American Kennel Club suggests adding <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">stress-relieving items</a> like an anxiety vest or calming sprays.</li></ul><p>In the not-unlikely event that you and your pet have to shelter in different places, your kit should also include:</p><ul><li>Detailed information including contact information for you, your vet, and other emergency contacts;</li><li>A list with phone numbers and addresses of potential destinations, including pet-friendly hotels and emergency boarding facilities near your planned evacuation routes, plus friends or relatives in other areas who might be willing to host you or your pet;</li><li>Medical information including vaccine records and a current rabies vaccination tag;</li><li>Feeding notes including portions and sizes in case you need to leave your pet in someone else's care;</li><li>A photo of you and your pet for identification purposes.</li></ul>
5. Be Ready to Evacuate at Any Time<p>It's always wise to be prepared, but stay especially vigilant in high-risk periods during fire or hurricane season. Practice evacuating at different times of day. Make sure your grab-and-go kit is up to date and in a convenient location, and keep leashes and carriers by the exit door. You might even stow a thick pillowcase under your bed for middle-of-the-night, dash-out emergencies when you don't have time to coax an anxious pet into a carrier. If forecasters warn of potential wildfire, a hurricane, or other dangerous conditions, bring outdoor pets inside so you can keep a close eye on them.</p><p>As with any emergency, the key is to be prepared. As the American Kennel Club points out, "If you panic, it will agitate your dog. Therefore, <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">pet disaster preparedness</a> will not only reduce your anxiety but will help reduce your pet's anxiety too."</p>
Evacuating Horses and Other Farm Animals<p>The same basic principles apply for evacuating horses and most other livestock. Provide each with some form of identification. Ensure that adequate food, water, and medicine are available. And develop a clear plan on where to go and how to get there.</p><p>Sheltering and transporting farm animals requires careful coordination, from identifying potential shelter space at fairgrounds, racetracks, or pastures, to ensuring enough space is available in vehicles and trailers – not to mention handlers and drivers on hand to support the effort.</p><p>For most farm animals, the Red Cross advises that you consider precautionary evacuation when a threat seems imminent but evacuation orders haven't yet been announced. The American Veterinary Medical Association has <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/large-animals-and-livestock-disasters" target="_blank">more information</a>.</p>
Bottom Line: If You Need to Evacuate, So Do Your Pets<p>As the Humane Society warns, pets left behind in a disaster can easily be injured, lost, or killed. Plan ahead to make sure you can safely evacuate your entire household – furry members included.</p>
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