Kids camping with Outdoor Life Växjö

There’s a Facebook group called Outdoor Life Växjö where we share tips and tricks about gear and sweet spots nearby. The group has meetups every now and then. Since a lot of the members in the group has kids I thought it would be fun to have a meetup with the kids.

In mid September a bunch of us met up on Skälsnäs on the northern side of Helgasjön. Christoffer and E from Friluftsfrämjandet Skogsknytte also joined, and Christoffer also brought E:s little brother. A couple of the guys who came with their kids only stayed for the evening but four of us camped with our kids.

Skälsnäs is a good place for car camping trips. There’s a shelter, privys, a sandy beach, several fire pits and lots of room for tents.

I had brought the Tentipi with the HeatPal. Since it was a car camping trip I wanted as much comfort as possible. I had also brought a lot of good food, with a couple of beers and tasty cheeses and sausages. But despite having the carriying frame I wouldn’t want to carry this setup any longer distances. It really is heavy.

We had a fire next to the shelter and hung out there most of the evening. The kids where playing, but C was a bit shy until Christoffer and E came. C was very happy that E came and they played together for the rest of the evening. When it was getting darker they went inside the tent with snacks and an iPad to watch a movie. The kids had been soaked from playing near (in) the water and I hung up the clothes to dry and fired up the HeatPal.

The adult stayed by the fire, chatting and eating. It was really nice and relaxing. By midnight it was time to go to bed. Dario, who started the Facebook group, and his daughter and friend used the shelter, while the rest of us used tents.

Next morning Christoffer and I had to leave pretty early, since we where going to Skogsknytte with the kids. It was more important for Christoffer since he is one of the leaders om Skogsknytte.

It was a fun trip, and nice to be out with the kids and meet other patents. I’d love to do it again, but next time I would like to do a hiking- or paddling trip instead of a car camping trip.

Camping and first canoeing of 2021

It’s been a while since I wrote here. It has been a lot going on this spring and I just haven’t had the time or energy to write. But I do have a few trip reports to post, so I’ll start with No. 1 out of 4.

Trip report

On 30th of April C and I got out on an overnighter together. It was our first overnighter together since our hot tent overnighter in Januaury, and it would be the first time C got to use the new Ultamid 4. I had only used it once before, on my ski trip in February, but that time I used the half inner. For this trip I brought the full inner, to get a chance to test it.

We got away later than first planned, and since we had to get back early the next day drove to our “secret” spot, that is close to home. It’s also C:s favourite place to camp. I brought the canoe too. We didn’t plan to paddle to a campsite, but I wanted to do at least a short paddle.

When we arrived I set up camp right away. The spot where we usually put up the tent was in the danger zone though. A pine tree had cracked about 100cm up, but was still standing. It would have been stupid to put up the tent within falling distance from it, so we cleared out a new spot and set up the tent.

After that we made dinner, chicken paeng red curry with noodles. I loved it, but C prefered the noodles over the paeng.

We paddled for a while and C got to use her new fishing rod. We didn’t catch anything though. But after a while C wanted to get back. It’s neither the hiking nor the paddling that she prefers. It’s playing in the tent.

So we got back to the car, put the canoe back in the roof and went back to the tent.

There where a lot of Canada geese that honked all around us. Their nests are everywhere in these parts. But we also heard the lonely calls from Loons. The sound of their cries cut through everything, and I think it’s one of the most beautiful sounds in nature.

As the sun was setting we got out on a rock on the far edge of our peninsula and just sat there, looked over the lake and listened to the sounds of nature.

After a long time we got back to the tent. C slept like a log all night, but I woke up several times when my Massdrop Klymit mat had deflated (I later found a tiny little hole in it.)

The next morning I made french toast from a pancake powder mix I had made at home. It was a pretty nice breakfast.

We packed up after that, and when I started to take down the tent the rain started.

And that’s that. A simple short overnighter, but a nice time spent in nature and hanging out with my daughter.

Canoe camping turned car camping

It’s vacation time, and I wanted to take Corinne out for a short canoe camping overnight trip.

Weather had changed for the worse in the last couple of weeks, and there where no more days of 30°C and endless sun. Now the days where filled with clouds, and the temperature rarely exceeded 20°C.

My plan was to drive to Asa, north of Växjö, and paddle for the day in Asasjön and then look for a camp for the night. I planned to start at a camp site that I had found when I hiked Sigfridsleden last year. I drove up pretty early, and we arrived before noon.

Unfortunately this day proved to be really windy. It had been windy in Växjö too, but when I arrived to the lake I realized that I wouldn’t want to paddle with Corinne in those conditions. The waves where pretty high, and the gusts would mean a lot of work to get the canoe to go straight while paddling solo.

I decided to set up a base camp at the camping grounds instead, make short trips on foot in the nearby area, and if the wind died down, paddle a bit later in the afternoon/evening.

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We found a nice spot a bit away from the structures on the camp site, where the tent was hidden from the camp site by young trees and bushes. We set up the tent, and this was the first time I used my Tentipi Olivin with an inner.

Once I had the tent up I saw that I had gotten the lines to the top vent tangled when I strapped the inner to the tent, and it took some effort to get it right. My plan at first was to use the inner when I’m camping with Corinne, and only the fly and perhaps a bivy when I’m camping solo. But the top vent adjustment makes the process of adding the inner a very tedious process, and now I think I’ll just leave it as it is.

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When the tent was up, and our sleeping gear was unpacked, I put up the hammock closer to the water. But the wind made the hammock act like a sail every time we left it, so I had to unhook it in one end and put it back in the back every time, to not risk damage from the strong gusts.

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We fried a few sausages for lunch, and then hung out in the hammock for a while. It was quite cold, and the wind made it even worse. We had our puffy jackets and wind jackets on. It didn’t look like we where going to be able to paddle today.

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We started to explore and old trail that followed the shore south from the camping grounds. Sigfridsleden now follows the road away from the place, but I think the overgrown trail is a remnant of the old Sigfridsleden. We crossed a broken down old bridge over a little stream, and came to a nice open area where we sat by the lake for a while, and Corinne passed time by throwing pine cones into the lake.

After a while we hiked back, but stopped once in a while to eat blueberries and wild strawberries that grew at the sides of the trail.

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The rest of the day continued with a lot of hammock time, and we both fell asleep in the hammock on one occasion. During the evening we hiked along the shore north of the camping ground, and came to the place where I had camped before a couple of times, and the place where I had my first solo camping.

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When we came back to our camp we made dinner by the lake, hung out in the hammock and eventually went inside to go to sleep. Corinne was too exited to sleep though, and didn’t fall asleep until after 22.30.

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I’ve been using different types of floorless shelters for over a year now, and have gotten used to it. But I have to say that an inner really adds to a cozy feeling, and it’s nice to get the added wind block in conditions like these. I really don’t like how much weight it adds, but I think I can get used to having an inner. The problem I did see though, with a tipi-style tent, is that there isn’t a vestibule to cook in when it rains. But I think I could just unbuckle the inner on the two sides of the door and move the inner back to get a vestibule for cooking in bad conditions.

The next morning we woke up, had breakfast and then packed up. I hadn’t even unstrapped the canoe from the car roof.

Despite us not being able to paddle anything I was happy with the trip. It’s always nice to get out and to get a night in a tent. Corinne loves the outdoors, and I feel that this is a really good way to bond with the kids, without a lot of distractions.

Summer of car camping – Gotland

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.

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Waiting to get on the boat

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.

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Just set up the tent, with a great view of the ocean

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My kids enjoying flat bread for breakfast

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.

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The ocean wasn’t as idyllic as the first night

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View from our tent

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.

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We had better weather the next day

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.

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The blue lagoon

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.

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Fårö

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A rocky beach, with raukar in the background

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.

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Lärbro church

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.

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Melissa made traditional flat bread at Bunge museum

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.

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Melissa and Midas at the field of raukar

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.

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A nice ending to the trip

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.

Gear

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.