Friday, June 29, 2012

Happy Campers

Summer has arrived, and the best weekends of the outdoor season are now on our doorsteps. For those of you who’ve never traveled to Winnipeg or Manitoba before, you have to believe me when I proclaim that we can have the most amazing summers with daylight that never seems to end. Yes, it's true, we have mosquitoes, and sometimes they can be plentiful. And no, they are not our national bird and no, they don’t work together to carry off small children or purse-sized dogs (usually, and at times, unfortunately). You do get used to them if you think of it as a long-term blood donation, you'll do just fine.

So as summertime fun goes, this is what I like to be doing:

Burning things, yes, but mostly firewood and marshmallows (and the occasional smokey). This is what the outdoors and camping is all about - the fire at the end of the day - the place to gather, tell stories, have a drink, and relax.
Summer in the 'upper' part of the world is more precious to us than Justin Bieber is to a 10 year old screaming school girl. So how do we make the best use of our time? Every Friday the roads leading out of town are packed with those who are off to embrace the nature that surrounds us. But the question is not only where to go, as we have so many beautiful parks and lakes barely an hour's drive away, but what's the best way to get in touch with nature when you're there?

As a family, we tend to either tent it (a rare occurrence as I’m the only one who believes that successfully getting back to nature can be judged by how close you sleep to the ground) or we stay at the in-law’s cabin. My true love of nature though will always be connected to my childhood experiences of camping in a trailer. Trailers are great. No, burritos are great - trailers are bloody fantastic. In fact, they might even be the best invention since naps or cup holders at movie theaters. Trailers, even with their limited space, are good for sleeping/eating/reading/applying suntan lotion/weathering stormy nights/playing cards and devouring freshly picked blueberries set into freshly made pancakes. It’s your world on wheels.

This (pictured above) is what we grew up with - the Corsair Summer Travel special. It slept up to 6 people (comfortably), and with its design, blocked as much wind on the highways as any object ever could. As a kid, I loved it. It was spacious and well designed, but even at the age of 6, I could see that it lacked what every pre-teenaged kid is interested in, style.
Curious to see what new innovations there are in the world of mobile living, I recently found some amazing designs and innovations applied to the modernus-station-wagonus-pull-behinderous species.

This particular one, the Tear Drop trailer, is beyond cool. Comparatively, in high school, this would be the leader of the in-crowd, the one ALL the girls want to date, the football quarterback, the guy with the six pack abs.

When you want to pull into a campground in absolute style, just hook up one of these. Sleek, slick, and so absolutely cool, the Tear Drop trailer conveniently puts your daily happy hour top of mind - just back it into your site, pop up the mobile outdoor kitchen in the back, and you'll have your mojitos (chilled in the built-in-fridge) ready in minutes. Even if it is only ten o'clock in the morning.

What I love about this trailer is that it keeps you outside where you should be, and all the inside is for is getting some sleep, ducking out of the rain or for when you need to avoid the rug rats at the campsite next to you. You can also get a tent that fits right over the door to help keep the pests away, and I've seen people up their cool factor even more by mounting their bikes and kayaks right on top using a customized rack system.

Just as sexy, this model, called the Sylvansport Miniature Trailer. It starts off as you see on the right - super small, aerodynamic and easy to pull. Basically it's a tent that sets up on a platform frame.
Surprisingly spacious inside, life is grand, as long as you don't keep anything sharp in your pockets or introduce any kind of flame to the walls.
Even the interior eating space is cool - eating is done nearly Japanese style - not that sushi would be regular camping food, but things have changed dramatically since my days of hot dogs, slightly soggy buns, and tang.

In the category of 'i can't believe it' - you knew this would happen at some point. Reminiscent of the old colourful mac computers, this 'iCamp' trailer should be relatively comfortable - and virus free and likely over-priced.
More in line with something created in someone's back yard, I can't help but thinking that this doesn't really fall into the 'this is so cool I must have one' category.

And if you can't afford a trailer, or don't have something to pull it with? Break out the tent.
Some still like to keep their wildness experience as natural as possible, but still want to ramp up the comfort level and have a nice flat stable surface to get their espresso going early in the morning. So if you have to tent it, this just might be the way to go. It might not be appropriate for packing into your backpack for long hikes, but you'll certainly be the envy of every other camper.

Outside of the potential for the world's largest paper cuts, for the bookworm in you, what could be better? How cool would it be to customize your tent to your favourite book or magazine cover.

And finally, the tent for those into reverse voyerism or possibly world domination - this seems like the kind of tent Dr. Evil would likely use. This is the ultimate in a natural nature experience, without the threat of any type of bug bites or poking yourself on any sharp corners. Wherever you set this up though, you might want to try a shady spot first and avoid direct sunlight. That is unless you're thinking of naming your tent as 'the incubator' and sweating off a few dozen pounds.

Whatever you choice, whatever your budget, the important thing is to get outdoors and get reacquainted with nature.With so many choices as to how to get out there, who can really lose?