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Rhon Bell

Rhon Bell, an outdoor enthusiast, spends his time exploring the Maine Woods and documenting his journeys. Growing up in Aroostook County, he embraced the outdoor lifestyle at a young age. Living today near Portland, he spends weekends and week-long adventures hiking New England summits, canoeing the historic Maine waterways, and ice fishing for lake trout. Follow the journey as Window to the Woods discovers new destinations, and check out his other blog, Backwoods Plaid.

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Window to the Woods with Rhon Bell
Posted: April 11, 2014

Top 5: Gear items you need now for camping

“Wait, wait… wait! You’re from Maine and have NEVER gone camping?” I can’t remember how many times those words have left my mouth. Maybe it’s how I was raised, but I grew up camping and it’s always been a part of my life. With that experience comes “Sage Old Advice” as my grandfather would have called it. You learn a lot after a cold night’s sleep in the wrong tent. You get awfully hungry when you’re in the middle of nowhere and find that your ice has melted because you brought that old hand-me-down cooler—and its only day two. I guess you won’t be eating that spoiled steak after all!

Camping and any outdoor activity should be fun. Invest in the right gear. You’ll have it forever and you’ll better enjoy your time spent outdoors – including a good night’s rest and that steak.


1)  Tent   There are the obvious things to look for: waterproof, lightweight, roomy. But then there are the other aspects.

  • Headroom   Can you fully sit up? If it rains, you’ll have a lot of fun hunched over all day, reading that wet book.
  • Air Circulation   Temperatures are still dipping down at night, but you want a tent that’s comfortable year-round. Look for a tent that with a fly that hugs the tent, but can be removed in warm weather to avoid stuffiness inside.
  • Storage   Lots of tents now have stow pockets built into the walls of the tent for your snacks, water and flashlight. Don’t clutter the floor of the tent. That’s where you sleep.


2) Sleeping Bag   Much like a tent, you’ll want a universal bag. That can be tough to accomplish, but I like a down bag that’s rated to 35-40 degrees.

  • Down vs Synthetic   Down is lightweight and ultra packable. Synthetic is less expensive and more bulky. Both get the job done.
  • Temperature   If you like camping Spring through Fall, you want a bag that’ll keep you warm at night. In the summer, sleep on top of it and it makes for a down mattress. And if gets cold, sneak inside.


3) Cooler   Nothing is worse than your ice melting and your hours from a store, or for that matter even down the road. You’re camping and going back to town spoils the adventure.

  • The Seal   Pay attention to the seal. It should lock shut without any play or wiggle room. Keep those beverages cold and your ice solid.


4) Pack   Enjoy the view from the mountaintop without feeling like you just carried a small, slightly overweight child on your back. That’s not fun.

  • Air circulation    There should be mesh facing your back for breathability.
  • Stow Pockets   You’ll want pockets on the outside to store a jacket or trail mix
  • Fit   Dial in your comfort. Get fit by a sales associate at the store. Different heights may need different pack sizes.


5) Sleeping Pad   This isn’t a luxury. It’s a necessity. In the Spring, it raises you off the cold ground. Year round, it takes you off the uneven, rocky ground and it’s just friggin comfortable.



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