The snow has finally melted in southern Sweden, even though the temperatures drop below freezing during the night, and the lakes are still frozen over.
I wanted to take my youngest daughter on an overnight trip, so she could test her new sleeping bag, the Cumulus Junior 250. I had it customized with 850cuin down instead of 700cuin to add more warmth.
I tried to persuade the rest of the family to come with us, but spending a Friday evening in a tent wasn’t something any of them where interested in. So it was just me and Corinne.
Since it was still cold outside I wanted to have a small fire inside the tent. I brought the big tipi, the Helsport Normarka 6, and a Tentipi Hekla 7 firebox.
For sleeping gear I brought two Multimat Adventure sleeping pads. I didn’t want to use my more fragile (and expensive) Exped mat, since Corinne can roam around the tent like a drunk elephant at times.
I also brought the Aegismax G1 sleeping bag for me, the Cumulus Junior for Corinne and the Wind Hard Tiny quilt for extra warmth for the both of us.
I packed up the car after work, and then drove to the store. We filled up on goodies; candy, chocolate, lemonade, sausages, buns, cheeses etc. then we drove out to Lerike, at the north end of Helgasjön. I thought about going somewhere else, but it was starting to get late, and it’s only a short drive from home. Unfortunate there is a lot of noise from the nearby airport, and a large road across the lake.
When we came there we started to set up the tipi. Corinne was overexcited about sleeping in the new sleeping bag, and hardly wanted to wait until the tent was up.
When we had the tent up I took out the sleeping gear and put thin reflective mats on the floor to insulate a bit from the cold ground.
I started a small fire, and we sat next to it as it slowly grew larger.
When the fire was large enough we stared to grill some sausages. We had the top vent and the lower side vent fully open. The door was halfway open. It did get a bit warmer in the tipi, and we only had trouble with the tipi getting soaked in smoke once, when a piece of firewood started to create a lot of smoke. We opened up the door fully and ventilated the tipi.
After we’d had dinner we sat for a while by the fire and ate all our snacks. But it was beginning to get late, and time for both of us to get to bed.
I dressed Corinne with a thick fleece base layer and then she crawled down into her sleeping bag. She was super exited about sleeping in it. On our earlier trips she’s only been using a quilt, so this was her first time in a sleeping bag.
I put the quilt over both of our sleeping bags, and we quickly fell asleep. She woke up on a couple of occasions, but other than that, we slept good the entire night.
The next morning Corinne woke me up at 06.20. I was did not feel like I was done sleeping, but since she was, apparently I was too. I didn’t mind that much though, since I got to see the sunrise for once. I stayed in my sleeping bag for a while, but Corinne roamed around the tent and laid beside me once in a while, when she felt that she needed to heat up again.
Eventually I got up too, and we made breakfast. I didn’t want to go through the hassle of making a fire, but just heated up water in the Trangia stove instead. We had breakfast, explored the cape a bit and then packed up. We where back home in time for the rest of the family to eat breakfast. It was just a short overnight car camping trip, but it was fun to be out with C again.
Next time I’ll try to bring her on a longer trip. Maybe a two night trip, where we set up a base camp and then go on day trips. I just got a map and a guidebook on trips in Glaskogens nature reserve, so maybe we’ll try that later in spring.
The week after me and Corinne had joined Outdoor Life Växjö on their overnighter on Jägaregap, we went on another overnighter with my friend Tomas and his two kids. They’re a couple of years older than Corinne, but they seemed to get along ok anyways. Even though the other kids saw Corinne as the “baby”.
Tomas often camp out with his kids, either in a tent or in a caravan. We had decided to go to Lerike/Skälsnäs, and I drove first to show the way. The far edge of Lerike had been my starting point for a couple of my earlier trips. This time though there wouldn’t be any bushwhacking involved, but instead we would use the open area next to the lean-to shelter for our tents.
Wise from the week before I packed a lot of food this time. Sausages, buns, Krabbelur-batter, brie, chevacici, bread-mix etc.
We pitched our tents and started a fire in the fire ring next to the shelter. The kids where really enjoying themselves, running around, climbing on the shelter or throwing rocks into the lake.
I started to make Krabbelurer. They’re sort of like American pancakes, and after you’ve fry them you cover them with sugar and cinnamon.
After eating Krabbelurer Tomas and his kids went fishing. I put some sausages on the grill for Corinne, and some Chevapcici for me. Corinne had rain boots on, but she pulled them off every chance she got. Eventually she filled them with water when she walked too far out into the lake.
The week before Dario, the founder of the outdoor group made Cevapcici with Ajvar, cream fraise and chopped onion in Somun bread. It looked delicious, so that’s what I made for me this evening. It was ok, but I didn’t like the seasoning on the Chevapcici, and decided to bring Bifteki next time instead.
The kids where running around in full speed during the evening. Eventually I thought it was time to put Corinne to bed. I put her down on her sleeping mat and stayed next to her for a while. I left the tent while she was still awake. She called for me a couple of times, but stayed in bed and fell asleep quietly.
Tomas and his kids watched a Disney movie on the iPad in their tent while I sat by the fire. When Tomas’s kids had fallen asleep too, he came out and joined me by the fire. He had brought a couple of beers, and we both sat by the fire, drinking the cold beers.
It was really nice and soothing. Tomas went to sleep and I stayed up a while. It was really nice to sit alone by the fire, with a cold beer and no sounds other than the once from the fire and the lake.
When I woke up the next day Tomas was already up, and the fire was already going.
I fried eggs and bacon, made a couple of Krabbelurer from the left-over batter, had a Growers cup coffee and made flatbread from my bread-mix. It was a nice breakfast. A lot better than the porridge-mix I usually have on the trail. I felt like I really could get used to this kind of camping. We stayed for a couple of hours after breakfast to let the fire die down and the condensation dry out from the tents. A short but great trip, and I can’t wait to get back out again.
After Gotland we went on another car camping trip to the west coast, and also spend a day on the roads in Norway.
Our first stop was at the ski resort Isaberg, in Hestra in Småland. It’s a small hill, but they still have some slopes and get their fair share of tourists. During the summer months they have mountain bike trails, an obsticle course 10 meters up in the trees and other stuff like that. We took a break there for a few hours so the kids could play.
After that we continued west. We used Vindskyddskartan to search for campsites. It’s a map that shows lean-to shelters in Sweden.
We found a place at Hyssnaleden that we could drive all the way up to. It was a really well tended campsite, with a lean-to shelter, several fire rings, firewood and a lot of flat ground to pitch our tent.
We pitched our Lavvu and started a fire. Just moments after the shelter was set up it got covered with flying ants. They were really crawling all over the place. Some of them managed to get inside the tent too, despite the mosquito net.
It was nice to have a fire, but once I started it I remembered that there might be a fire ban, which is common during the summer months. We searched high and low but couldn’t fin any info about it. But just to be safe we led the fire die out.
The next day we drove past Tjolöholms castle, and then drove to Marstrand. Marstrand was a really well tended place just north of Gothenburg, below the old fortress Carlstens fästning. It felt like a place for sailing enthusiasts.
After Marstrand we drove to the island Tjörn to try to find a place to set up camp. We drove down a lot of roads, but there were houses everywhere, and eventually we gave up. We looked at Vindskyddskartan and found a place outside Ljungskile that looked promising. It was a 500 meter walk from the parking lot, but it was a nice place just next to a lake. After we’d set up the camp I drove to Ljungskile and bought pizzas. It was glamping at it’s finest.
The next day we drove to Norway to look at Heddal Stave church. From the pictures it looked amazing, sort of like something from Rohan in Lord of the rings. When we finally got there though, we where disappointed by how small it was. Nevertheless, it was still beautiful.
We found a nice campsite next to a river near the church, but thought it was too early to set up camp so we kept going to find another place. We ended up not finding anywhere to camp, and finally we decided to go back home instead. All of us where starting to get a cold, and it felt like the best plan. The family slept in the car and I drove back. By 03.30 we were back in Växjö.
The camping was nice, but it is harder to find good spots with your car than it is when you’re hiking.
A few days after we were back from the last trip we went to Scania. We where going to Ven, a small island in Öresund between Sweden and Denmark. The danish scientist Tycho Brahe built a castle and an observatory on the island in the 16th century. Ven is a popular place for bicycle tourists. But it is a small island, and you bike through everything in less than a day. Most visitors rent bikes on Ven, and you’ll see their yellow bikes all over the island.
We drove to Landskrona harbor where we got on the ferry. We had pre-booked tickets, but there was a long line of people waiting for the boat.
When we arrived we walked up a steep road to get the renal bikes.
We spent the day biking around the island and looking for Geocaches. We couldn’t find all of them though.
It was a beautiful island, and a nice bicycle trip. But I don’t think we’ll get back here again. You get to see most of the island in just a couple of hours, and it was packed with tourists.
After we took the ferry back to the mainland we drove north of Helsingborg to look for a place to sleep. Using Vindskyddskartan we found a place near the ocean. There was a “No camping” sign at the parking lot, but no information that it would be forbidden on the Skåneleden website that otherwise has info on campsites where it’s forbidden to pitch a tent. We met a few people at the lean-to shelter, who said more people had asked about the sign that evening. They had called the local authorities and apparently it was OK to camp near the shelter. The sign was more intended for motor-homes on the parking lot, she explained.
We put up our tent and had a nice evening overlooking the sunset and the ocean. A few other tents where pitched around us, one of them a Helsport Nordmarka just like ours.
The next morning we took the ferry to Helsingør on the Danish side of Öresund. We had planned to spend the day there, but the rain was really pouring down, so we soon ended up driving home instead.
This was the last car camping trip for the summer. What I like about car camping is that you can bring heavier gear, bigger tent and better food with you. The downside is that it can be hard to find good places to set up camp.
In my post about my hiking plans this year I had loosely planned to go to Femundsmarka this summer, hopefully with my family. We never ended up doing that, but we enjoyed some nights in a tent anyways, as we went on a few car camping trips during the summer.
Before the first trip we decided to upgrade from our old, broken, butt ugly four person camping tent to a six person tipi. XXL had a sale on tents just before we went, and we bought the Helsport Nordmarka 6, which is a relatively cheap Lavvu that Helsport makes specifically for XXL. It’s spacious with 250cm of head room and a diameter of 450cm. And you could even have an open fire inside. We bought a floor to it too. I thought my wife would have issues with it since it’s not an enclosed two wall tent, and she has an even worse bug phobia than I do. But in the end she was the one who pressed on about buying it instead of our old one to get more space since we’re a family of five now.
Trip one – Gotland
This was a pretty spontaneous trip, and we bought the boat tickets just a couple of days before our trip. Gotland’s is Swedens largest island, and located in the Baltic Sea. The island capital is Visby, an UNESCO world heritage site. A lot of the houses from the middle ages are still well preserved, and the ring wall still surrounds the old parts of the town.
We took the boat from Oskarshamn, and buying the tickets late meant going on the night boat. The boat left at around midnight, and arrived in Visby at 03.00 in the morning. Despite being at an unholy hour the boat was still packed with people. Gotland is a popular place for tourists. I had planned to sleep on the boat over, but my youngest daughter refused to go to sleep, so I stayed awake the entire trip.
When we arrived to Visby we started driving north, towards the nature reserve Hall-Hangvar. It was the only nature reserve I could find that allowed wild camping, and I had looked up a spot before our trip.
It was a 40 minute drive, and we found a nice spot with a great view a couple of hundred meters from the parking lot. When we arrived the sun had already come up. There were steep cliff near the camp site, so we knew we had to keep an eye on the youngest kids.
I set up the Lavvu and we all went to sleep. It was really quick and easy to set it up. Unfortunately there was an ants nest nearby, and my wife had some ants crawling on her face during the night (morning). She was cool about it though.
We slept for six hours and packed up again. I wanted to check for a place to stay the next night, and we drove further up north in Hall-Hangvar to find a spot, before we continued. My wife wanted to do a lot of Geocaching, so we spent a lot of time on the trip to do that.
After driving around the norther part of the main island we went back to Hall-Hangvar in the evening. We had found a nice spot just by the ocean, where we could park the car just next to our tent. By now the good weather had turned for the worse, and by the time we set up our tent it started to rain. There wasn’t anything blocking the wind either, so the wind blew hard. I used all the guy lines on the tent, and also put some rocks on the storm mats to keep the breeze out.
It rained a lot during the night, so we had to keep the top vent closed. But the wind kept condensation at bay, and we had a dry night inside.
This day we went to the Blue lagoon, an old water filled limestone quarry. The water was really beautiful, and it was packed with people. But it was cold and really windy when we arrived, so we decided that we wouldn’t bathe there.
We also took the boat to Fårö, an island just north of Gotland. It’s a short boat trip, and the boat is free of charge. We drove around the island and stopped in the north at a field of “raukar” in a nature reserve. Raukar is a form of lime stone formations that are spread out on Gotland and Öland.
This night we drove to an organized camping in Slite, on the eastern side of Gotland. We wanted to take showers and freshen up, so we thought it would be worth the money to pay for a camp site.
The day after we drove around to different spots and did some Geocaching. We saw a lot of beautiful old churches, and basically all of them had Geocaches nearby.
We also went to Bunge museum. It wasn’t a traditional museum, but rather a large open space outside where they had built farms from the bronze age up to the 19:th century, and the kids could roam free there. I was amazed that most of the tools could lay open in the houses without people steeling it. One of the staff told me that they fortunately had only had a few things stolen over the years, but most stuff was allowed to be left alone. She told me that there was a similar museum in UK where they had to glue everything to the tables and shelves to keep them from getting stolen.
In the afternoon we stopped at another field of raukar, but when we were going to leave the car wouldn’t start. Electricity in the car worked fine, but nothing happened with the engine. Not even with start cables.
Eventually we able to pull-start the car with the help of a passing car with a tow-line (I have a manual gear box). We then drove back to Visby where we parked the car outside a Toyota workshop, left a note in the wind shield and dropped the keys in the key-slot. After a lot of calling we finally found a hotel that had an emergency apartment that we could rent for the night. Apparently we had gone to Gotland during the Stockholm-week. The annual week when all the rich and famous from Stockholm travel to Visby to party, so basically all hotels where fully booked.
The next morning the mechanics called, and told us that the start engine had gotten stuck somehow. . He also showed us how to sort of jump start it, if it was to happen again. We spent the end of the last day on a beach, and camped in Hall-Hangvar again during the night. We parked at the same place as the first night, but carried our gear down to the nearby beach instead. We had a nice camp in the sunset.
I would have liked to see more of Visby, but the car trouble had brought too much stress on my son, who has Downs syndrome and is very sensitive to sudden changes like these. We decided to drive around a lot instead, as the car and the tent was his familiar place.
The morning after we woke up early and took the morning boat back to the mainland. We really liked Gotland, and will get back here in the future. Finding good camp sites with the car was harder than we thought though since theres a lot of houses everywhere. But Hall-Hangvar had a couple of nice places.
When it comes to gear I was really satisfied with our Lavvu, except a couple of small details. The pegs where regular folded tin, which is heavy and bends easily. The 18 pegs weighs in at almost a kilo. I ordered 18cm aluminum tripegs on AliExpress instead, that weighs 300g in total. The center pole is also made of regular steel, and weighs a whopping 1,8 kg. I’ve ordered one in aluminum for one of Helsports more expensive tents. It’s five cm to long, but I will saw it down to the right size. In only weighs 1 kg. Even though we only plan to use the tent on car-, bike- or canoe trips I still like to keep the weight as low as possible. Other than the things mentioned above I liked the tent. It’s really roomy, handles wind well, feels durable and is easy to set up. It’s also fairly cheap.
For sleeping we had self inflatable sleeping mats, except me, who had a CCF-mat. I didn’t want to use my expensive fragile Exped mat when camping with the kids, since they are pretty rough on the gear. My wife and oldest daughter had comfortable 38mm thick mats, but the younger kids had old uncomfortable 20mm thick mats. My youngest daughter and my wife used the Wind Hard Tiny quilt and the Aegismax G1 sleeping bag. We liked them, so we ended up buying two more so we would have light down bags and quilts for the entire family. We also ordered two more self inflatable sleeping mats, Multimat Adventure 38, and sold the two uncomfortable “self inflating” 20mm mats.
For food and water we had a large Trangia 25 stove set that we’ve had ages, a cooler that you could connect to the 12v outlet in the car and a 20l water can with a tap. It was nice to be able to bring heavy canned food, instead of just dried food like when you’re backpacking.
I’ll soon post more trip reports from the two other car camping trips we did this summer.