Camping is one of the most traditional types of family holiday, offering you the chance to spend time together in the great outdoors without many of today’s distractions.
Here in the USA, we’re blessed with a beautiful country filled with countless fantastic camping spots, perfect to satisfy experienced trippers and first-timers alike. However, choosing a site that suits your own preferences may well be totally different to finding one that works for your whole family.
If you want to create a holiday that you all remember for the right reasons, take a look at our ideas for planning a family camping trip …
Schedule a Short Trip
For your first family camping trip, it’s best not to trek halfway across the country for three weeks at a time.
Why? Well, if your kids discover they just can’t stand sleeping outdoors or living without the modern conveniences they love, you’ll all be stranded in a tough situation for a long time.
Start with a short trip, perhaps just a few days, without going too far from your home. As you and your family get more familiar with camping, you can then look farther afield.
Pay Attention to the Facilities
You don’t want to take teenagers at their most self-conscious on a camping trip without any showers or mirrors. Likewise, you don’t want to take young kids to a luxurious site with a wealth of facilities they’ll never use.
Look at the range of toilets, bathrooms, and local amenities. Does it offer a choice of food, drink, and supplies if needed?
You may like the thought of getting away from it all, but being within range of a convenience store or small town isn’t a bad idea for your first family camping trip.
Take Plenty of Entertainment
Make sure you take board games, books, magazines, and other entertainment options to pass those rainy afternoons or cozy nights. While sitting together and talking is a key part of the bonding experience on camping breaks, you’ll all need a little distracting now and then.
Travel versions of board games are ideal for playing inside a tent, while full-sized boards are a must if you have a bigger tent or an RV. Take games you all love and know how to play.
It’s also a great time to experiment with new games, such as challenging card classics (poker, for example).
You might also want to take some sports equipment, like baseballs and bats, or soccer balls. It’s better to take too much gear with you rather than not enough.
Plan, Plan, Plan
Hate planning your trips? Simply loading up the car and heading off into the great outdoors is a nice experience for seasoned campers, but for first-time families?
Planning is key.
Look into the local attractions, hiking trails, facilities, and more. Write loose itineraries for each day, so you create some direction without chaining yourself to a strict schedule.
You can always change your plans according to shifts in weather conditions or your family’s mood. Planning just avoids having days where you don’t know what to do with yourself and end up wasting precious hours.
Taking the right camping gear is vital, wherever you go. Make sure you all have waterproof coats, waterproof backpacks, first-aid kits, and more. You might also want to take bikes, to explore your camping site and its surroundings on wheels.
Most importantly, remember to have fun!
If you love hiking, of course you’ll want your kids to love it too.
Still, getting children excited about any activity they don’t already love can be tricky. Many of today’s kids thrive on video games, movies, and apps – but there’s no reason you can’t give them a hiking trip they’ll never forget.
With a little creative thinking and planning, you can inspire your kids to embrace the world of hiking …
Start Simple, Start Small
When you take your child or children on their first hike, avoid the temptation to inflict your favorite trail upon them if it’s unsuitable.
Yes, you may love that 10-mile trek across uneven terrain, but you need to consider your kids’ experience. Will it be too much for them?
Choose a hike that can be completed in a short time, and that has lots to look at. A trail with lakes, waterfalls, and grazing wildlife is more likely to keep them engaged than less interesting settings.
Encourage them to Interact with Nature
Rather than simply walking without a break, take time to get your kids involved. Pack a pair of binoculars and ask them to pick out landmarks or spots that catch their eye. Hand them a magnifying glass and explore the activities of ants or other bugs.
By teaching them to engage with their surroundings, you stand greater chance of opening their eyes to its wonders.
Take Regular Breaks
Experienced hikers can walk for hours without getting bored or exhausted. Kids, especially those on their first trail, are less patient.
Pushing your children to walk for too long without a break will tire them out – and how do you think their mood will change with fatigue? You’re likely to face crying, shouting, and a general refusal to keep going.
Understandably, this stands to disrupt the hike for everyone. Make stops every 20 minutes or so, to catch a drink, snack, or take in your surroundings.
You may even want to pack a game or two, such as Top Trumps or a deck or cards. Just be sure to pack these in a waterproof backpack if rain looks likely.
Be Willing to Try Again
You take your family on a hike. For reasons beyond your control, your child or children don’t have a good time. Do you let this put you off ever trying to interest them in your favorite outdoors hobby again?
No. Try again!
Pick another trail you feel might be exciting or fun. Look at the previous hike, and try to identify why it didn’t work. Did your kids get too exhausted, but will be more likely to enjoy a shorter trail instead? Did your child start to get a headache or cut themselves, but you had no tablets or band-aids with you?
Both of these possibilities have simple solutions. Don’t let one negative experience prevent you trying to show your family just how exciting, relaxing, eye-opening, and ultimately rewarding a good hike can be.
Rock climbing is one of the most challenging sports, especially for beginners without the necessary strength and conditioning.
Training is, of course, integral to your climbing experience: building greater muscle tone and endurance ensures better performance. Being out of shape and unprepared puts you at risk of exhaustion, straining, and injury.
Of course, you don’t have to be Vin Diesel to start climbing rocks, but you do need to condition your body to cope with the sport’s demands. Let’s check out a selection of training tips to get you in rock-ready shape.
This is an obvious training exercise, given how important lifting and pulling is when climbing.
Pull ups work your arms, core, shoulders, and back brilliantly. While these can be difficult for novices, continued practice over time will reap real rewards – just don’t push yourself too hard or too fast when starting out.
Pull up bars are available at decent prices, and are fairly easy to set-up in your home. Alternatively, your gym will have bars in place, while you may be able to find alternatives if you prefer working-out outdoors.
Head down to your local park and try some reps on the climbing frame or monkey bars.
During climbing, you’ll need to plan your routes and pause to identify the safest hand-holds. There may be times when you’re left hanging for brief periods too, and endurance is vital to maximize your safety in these situations.
Try bar hangs to build your strength. You can do this using your pull up bar or any horizontal fixture able to support your weight (check this before trying, as you may injure yourself and cause structural damage!).
To start with, try hanging with your feet off the floor for 10 seconds. From then on, add a few seconds at a time.
A staple exercise for great all-round strength and conditioning. There’s a good reason push ups continue to be incorporated into military circuits year after year!
Push ups work the chest, shoulders, biceps, triceps, and core, depending on the variation you’re doing. Proper form is key, though: spread your hands too wide or let your back sag, and you may injure yourself.
If you’ve never done these at all before, start with your knees on the ground. Over time, as you build more and more strength, graduate to full-body push ups.
Part of the push up’s beauty is that you can do it anywhere, at any time. You can even drop and do twenty before you start a climb, to get your muscles working.
While many people prefer to squat with weights, beginners should start off nice and easy using their body’s weight only.
Squats build strength in the legs, which is a must to push yourself and maintain fixed positions for long periods (as you may need to do while hunting for your next hand-hold).
Keep your back straight, raise your arms out in front of you as you descend, and move slowly to start with. Maintaining proper form is crucial.
Follow these training tips to get yourself in great basic shape before climbing. Take climbing lessons with an expert until you feel ready for the real thing, and make sure you invest in the right gear to protect yourself and your supplies in varying weather.
We all know walking can help you stay fit and healthy, but not enough of us warm-up before setting off.
No matter how well-conditioned you may be, pushing your body into a long, brisk walk or hike isn’t exactly ideal. You may over-exert yourself, strain a muscle, or become fatigued faster than you might like.
With a warm-up, your joints and muscles become more limber and less likely to be strained. You’ll also increase the flow of blood and give your muscles more oxygen, increasing your comfort and overall performance.
These are the benefits, but what are the best ways to actually warm-up for walking or hiking?
Work those Ankles
Try this first.
Stand on one leg, and lift the other in front of you, nice and steady. Now, move the raised ankle in a complete circle, leading with your toes.
After you’ve done eight circles, switch to your other leg. Perform the same routine, taking it slow until you get into the rhythm.
Swing your Legs
Next, a little something to loosen your legs, ready for a brisk walk.
Start one one leg again, and swing the other front to back, from the hip. Try to keep this as relaxed as possible, and keep your foot no more than 12 inches or so off the ground.
Aim for around 15 reps, and then move onto the other leg. You should start to feel more limber already.
Prep your Hips
This is a great little warm-up to work your hips and prepare your entire body for walking or hiking.
Start with your hands on both hips and bend your knees. Stand with your feet at hip-width apart, and keep your back straight. Now, do 10 slow circular motions with just your hips: ease forward, left, and then right again and again.
Work your Shoulders and Arms
Stay in a standing position, with both arms at your sides. Now, lift these out away from your body, to the sides, in line with your shoulders.
Take it easy with this movement: move your arms in slow backwards motions, tracing a circle with each hand.
Aim for around 20 reps backwards, and then start on forward circles. Again, be sure to use steady movements, or you may strain yourself. This is a real risk if you’re doing a warm-up straight out of bed in the morning – never underestimate just how stiff you may be.
Now that you’re a little more limber and loose, do between 10 and 20 jumping jacks.
These are obviously a little more intense than the other warm-ups on this list, so keep your movements steady. Don’t spread your legs or lift your arms too far, or too fast. Keep your back straight and face front.
Before you try these, you may want to stretch your arms and legs for 10 seconds, to minimize the risk of straining yourself even more.
Once you’ve gone through this brief but effective warm-up routine, you should feel ready to enjoy a brisk walk, no matter what terrain you’re facing.
Staying safe is vital in any outdoor activity.
While hiking may not appear as risky as, say, mountaineering or whitewater rafting, there are still dangers out there. Everything from a sprained ankle to a nasty scratch can put a downer on your trip, and potentially lead to further problems down the line.
Still, you can’t let this put you off – hiking is one of the greatest, healthiest, most sociable ways to soak up the beauty of our country. To stay as safe during your hikes as possible, take a well-stocked first aid kit with enough supplies for everyone in your party.
What should your kit include?
Obvious but absolutely essential. Carry a variety of sizes to cover cuts, scrapes, blisters, and burns.
Be sure to buy a few rolls, enough to accommodate multiple wounds. As unlikely as numerous injuries are, it’s always better to be prepared.
Knife or Scissors:
A knife and scissors can help you to cut bandages, remove clothing to access a wound, and more. You should keep it in a secure place, and ensure it stays within your sight at all times, as well as that of other adults in your party.
Don’t think you’ll need these on a hike?
Think again. Should yourself or another member of your group get a deep cut, tweezers are vital to remove splinters or unwanted materials from a wound. In the slight chance of attracting ticks, tweezers will also prove handy.
Invest in a sturdy pair and ensure these are cleaned thoroughly before adding them to your first aid kit.
Hopefully, you’ll never need to use dressings during a hike. However, in the event of becoming injured with an open wound, dressing pads can help to stop blood loss.
Make sure these are sterile to avoid infection. You may also need sticky tape to keep dressings in place, when it’s impractical for anyone to put pressure on the wound.
These are available all over, and allow you to keep your hands clean if you need to dress a wound. Pack several pocket-sized bottles.
Being struck down by diarrhea’s terrible at any time, but while out hiking? It’s the worst.
Whether your stomach is irritated by dirty water or food past its best, anti-diarrhea pills will keep you comfortable, prevent you needing to stop every few minutes, and avoid the risk of dehydration.
Before applying dressings to a wound, even the smallest scratch, cleanse it with a topical antiseptic ointment. This tends to cause a little discomfort, but it combats the risk of infection.
This is critical when you’re outdoors, in strange surroundings. A lax approach to hygiene, especially with open wounds, is highly inappropriate during hikes. Keep your hands, cuts, and clothes as clean as possible.
Never underestimate how important safety pins are in keeping bandages, slings, and torn safety-clothing in place. Buy these in bulk and take as many as you can with you.
If you’re heading out to hike in wet weather, be sure to keep your first aid supplies safe in a waterproof bag. You don’t want to discover your bandages and dressings are soaked if you find yourself in need.
Remember: hiking is fun, healthy, and accessible to almost everyone. Take care of yourself and the rest of your group by packing a comprehensive first aid kit.
Not only does this make sure you’re prepared, it also allows you to enjoy great peace of mind from that first step to the last!
Mountain biking is one of the most popular ways to stay fit, see some amazing sights, and challenge yourself.
Time on your bike is precious, so you have to make the most of it – and even seasoned riders can learn new techniques and skills to get more out of their favorite sport.
Here in the beautiful USA, mountain bikers are blessed with many stunning trails and spots to enjoy. The better you handle your wheels, the safer and happier you will be.
Intrigued? Join us as we look at four expert tips to make you a better biker.
Take a Stance
When you’re riding your mountain bike, it’s natural to want to stay seated. This makes sense on flat terrain with a smooth surface, but what about when you’re on rougher ground?
Stand up, supporting yourself on your pedals, and bend your knees slightly.
Remember to lean forward a little, and keep your elbows bent, forming a tight, secure posture.
By adopting a stance rather than sitting, you’ll absorb any bumps much easier, reinforcing your safety on tough descents.
Approach Corners like a Pro
Take a corner the wrong way, and you can cost yourself time in a race, let alone risk a dismount.
What’s the best cornering technique then? Don’t leave your feet at the same level on the pedals.
Instead, let your foot on the outside drop to the bottom and lift the inside foot higher. This drives your weight into the corner for a smoother, more solid movement.
Focus, Focus, Focus
The more experienced you become at any sport, the easier it is to be complacent.
However, with mountain biking, a lack of focus is a risk to your health as well as your performance. One bad corner or slip, and you may get pretty banged up. Pay attention to where you’re going: let your eyes guide you, and your responses will be much sharper.
Don’t let yourself become distracted by your fellow riders, or how good you might look while pulling off a certain move. Keep your eyes on the trail, obstacle, or trick ahead of you.
Brake Smoothly, Brake Evenly
You need to master your brakes to stay safe and in control while riding. Though most of your brakes’ power is based in the front one, squeezing this too hard and fast can put you in a slightly unstable position (namely, on the ground).
When applying your brakes, do so smoothly. Squeeze them lightly, slowly. Pay equal attention to the front and back brakes to avoid skids.
When coming to a sudden stop, be sure to let your heels drop, bend at your elbows and knees, and shift your hips back. This helps you stay in control and keeps you in a stable position should you be on rough terrain.
Mountain biking should be fun and exciting, but always exercise caution and use the right equipment. At Adamant Gear, we stock high-performance mountain bikes crafted with the toughest, most durable components for the safest, most secure, most satisfying ride.