Get out with the kids http://www.getoutwiththekids.co.uk Fri, 29 Aug 2014 06:31:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 Stand Up Paddleboarding….or SUP as it is known for short!http://www.getoutwiththekids.co.uk/water/stand-up-paddleboarding/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=stand-up-paddleboarding http://www.getoutwiththekids.co.uk/water/stand-up-paddleboarding/#comments Fri, 29 Aug 2014 06:31:38 +0000 http://www.getoutwiththekids.co.uk/?p=64718 Stand Up Paddleboarding….or SUP as it is known for short!

Stand up paddleboarding (or SUP) is another great way to get the entire family on the water. It's fun and keeps you fit too. Read this family guide to SUPs.

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Stand Up Paddleboarding….or SUP as it is known for short!

Ever wanter to learn about Paddleboarding? It’s a great way to get the family on the water…

Stand Up Paddleboarding is a great family activity

Why SUP?

This is an upcoming sport in the UK and it is a little bit addictive!

It’s great if there are no waves to surf and is also handy if you don’t live near a beach but do live near some flat water.

SUP is great fun for all, kids or just a kid at heart! If you are not sure what it is all about then check out this GOWTK video ;-)

So what’s the best age for SUP?

Small kids can sit on the front of an adult's SUP board
You can get kids boards which are smaller and more manageable, so they can start young, around the age of 8. At this age they might get tired quickly as it is quite a whole body work out! But what is great about SUPs is that you can get a large board and pop the kids on the front of the grown up’s boards if you need to!

So basically it can be done from any age. A whole family fun activity!

The best time of year for Paddleboarding

SUPing can be done any time of year.

The sea is at its warmest in August/September. However if you are playing on lakes and inland waters it doesn’t make too much difference! So as long as you want to have a go and the weather is good, you can go and play whenever!

Weather, winds, waves and tides…

The one thing that affects SUP is the wind! It is hard work trying to paddle in strong winds, so best to check the wind forecast and know what is too strong for you personally to paddle against.

If you are not sure get yourself involved in a SUP lesson or course where they will share top tips and knowledge.

The wind can be your friend if you are doing a journey and it is behind you it will assist you along the way, making it SUPer easy!

SUPing with swell can be a bit tricky but still fun once you are at the right level, for beginners you want flat calm waters, then you can progress to more lumpy waters!

You can surf SUPs too, which is really good fun!

Taking account of tide times can make it easier to get in and out of the water with your SUP board
Watch out for tides, if it is low tide you might have to carry your board a long way, which can be tiring, so take note and perhaps choose high tide if you can!

Where to go Paddleboarding

SUPing everywhere
As said above, you can SUP on the sea or on any calm inland waterways! There are sooooo many places to choose from its hard to really make a list or pick!

Of course we at Board Games love the Pembrokeshire coast for its beauty, views, wildlife and variation.

Inland there are great Lochs in Scotland, canal systems all over the country and lakes a plenty….the world is your SUP oyster ;-)

Practical bits & bobs….

SUP Boards

Stand Up Paddleboards
There are so many types of boards to choose from.

Inflatables are great for popping in your car, pumping up and going…or even for commuting to school/work if you have a canal nearby! They are pretty hard wearing and take up not much room when storing.

Hard boards are good for those with lots of space and a roof rack or van! They can be a bit more fragile than an inflatable but are lovely to paddle and you don’t have to pump them up every time you want to adventure!

Then there are some foam options out there, which are similar to the hard boards, but a bit more forgiving and bounce well!

Sizes of boards can be a whole world of confusion, we at Board Games use 10’2 as an all-round board, you can surf them and journey on them. It all depends on what you are going to be using yours for, best thing to do is head to a hire shop or test centre and check out the range…ask the staff for some knowledge and get the right one for you!

Paddles

You can get adjustable paddles which are probably the best option if you are a family as then you can all use them!

If your kids are still young you will need to get some junior paddles too, which go down smaller for smaller arms!

If you really get into it you can buy a paddle that you have to cut to the right length which will just fit you, handy if you don’t want anyone else to steal it!

It is really important to make sure you use a paddle that is the right length for you as it can damage your shoulder if it’s too big. If you are not sure, seek some expert advice.

Clothing choices

Kit yourself out for paddleboarding in all weathers
We like to wear wetsuits as it means you can fall in and have fun without feeling too cold!

We choose winter wetsuits 5/4mm most of the year round, although you can get away with a summer suit as SUPing tends to keep you quite warm!

If the weather is super hot (or you are lucky enough to live in tropical climates) you can wear shorts and a rash vest!

If you have little kids or are not a strong swimmer we suggest a buoyancy aid too, if you fall in it will mean you just bob about in the water!

Don’t forget if the sun is out to wear sunscreen and maybe a hat as water reflects sunlight.

Accessories

Other bits you might want to invest in are:

  • Wetsuit boots if you are going to be playing all year round, keeps those toes warm!
  • A carry strap if you are going to be carrying your board a long way it can help!
  • A keypod for your keys while you are out on the water they are safe attached to your vehicle.

A final word….

We at Board Games do love to SUP but it will help if you get some knowledge first, so get yourself signed up to a lesson or join a SUP club.

A little bit of knowledge goes a long way and most of all get out there and have some serious fun! Enjoy the SUP adventure but watch out it can become SUPer addictive :-)

Stay safe and paddle on!

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How to avoid losing your keys (and other things!)http://www.getoutwiththekids.co.uk/family-hiking/losing-things/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=losing-things http://www.getoutwiththekids.co.uk/family-hiking/losing-things/#comments Tue, 26 Aug 2014 06:23:27 +0000 http://www.getoutwiththekids.co.uk/?p=64743 How to avoid losing your keys (and other things!)

A fantastic day out can be ruined if your car keys fell out your pocket somewhere. Here's some practical solutions so this doesn't happen to you.

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How to avoid losing your keys (and other things!)

It’s all very well having a great day out in the countryside, but what if you lost your car keys? Here’s a few items that can help…

How to avoid losing things like car keys when outside

Losing your car keys or other items (wallet, house keys, phone, etc.) is no joke. Especially if you’ve come back from some activity and your family is cold and wet, and just want to get home. Even worse, what if you are parked somewhere remote with no way of contacting anyone?

You won’t be Mr. Popular.

Here’s a few things that can help avoid losing things such as your car keys when doing outdoor activities.

To Keep It, Zip It, or Clip It

Hidden zipped pockets on craghoppers trousers
When going out camping or hiking, I’ll wear some outdoor trousers.

These come with lots of pockets, and usually one or two have zips.

It’s simple. If you don’t want to lose it, put it in a pocket with a zip and zip it up.

We have a lot of craghoppers trousers (pictured) that always come with a lot of useful pockets. (These are my Classic Kiwi Trousers and have been great. They have two zipped pockets as well as 7 other pockets.)

Endura cycling shorts with pockets so that you don't loose things
It’s not just walking trousers either that have zips. I have a pair of cycling trousers that also come with zipped pockets so your keys don’t fall out when cycling up and down hills.

My endura cycling shorts (pictured) are also padded, making the ride a lot more comfortable. ;-)  

Key clip in backpack
Another place to keep your keys is in your backpack.

Many bags have a key clip making it easy to find your keys without having to rummage through your bag.

Of course, you could accidentally leave your bag somewhere, but that’s less likely to happen than something falling out of a pocket when doing outdoor activities.

Splish, Splash, Splosh

So you’ve solved the issue of keys or other valuables falling out of your pocket, but what if you are doing water activities (or anything near water), and your keys, phone, or wallet fall in the water (or you fall in, and your stuff goes with you!)?!?

We used to have floating key rings ‘back in the day’. These were basically large foam blocks that you’d attach to your keys so if they fell out of your pocket whilst doing something like sailing (where you may not be wearing a wetsuit), then you could just fetch them out of the water.

Small aquapac dry bag we use when canoeing
Unfortunately, car keys usually have an electric lock, so you don’t want to get your keys wet.

One solution is to use a dry bag.

When we go canoeing I place keys, phone, wallet in a ziplock bag, which then go inside a big dry bag.

You can also get smaller dry bags that you can attach to your belt, such as this one from aqua pac (pictured) that’s designed to keep your phone or camera dry.

A dry bag inside the pocket of these craghoppers trousers
Craghoppers decided to combine both trousers and a dry bag.

On another pair of craghoppers trousers I bought there’s a dry bag inside one of the large pockets (pictured). Perfect protection if you are stuck in a downpour. (These are the Nosilife Cargo Trousers).

Things that go bump in the night

It’s not always a case of actually losing things; sometimes you just cannot see them.

Life Systems Glow Marker used in our tent
Fortunately this handy little glowing tag from Lifesystems may be the answer.

The Lifesystems Glow Marker can be attached to all sorts of things. We’ve used this on the car keys in the tent, though as we’ve never had to grab the keys in an emergency in the middle of the night (thankfully), we might start using the glow tag on a torch.

Finally, if in doubt, don’t take it

Some activities are just plain difficult to take things with you (surfing for instance). However, there is one solution: leave things behind, including your keys.

Frostfire Mooncode Car Key Safe
Using something called a key pod, you could bolt your keys in a combination safe hidden somewhere under your car for example.

This sort of device has been used for years in the surfing and other outdoor communities. (View on Amazon).

 

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BubbleBum – The child’s car booster seat when travellinghttp://www.getoutwiththekids.co.uk/travel/bubblebum/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=bubblebum http://www.getoutwiththekids.co.uk/travel/bubblebum/#comments Fri, 22 Aug 2014 06:04:09 +0000 http://www.getoutwiththekids.co.uk/?p=64894 BubbleBum – The child’s car booster seat when travelling

Planning on hiring a car abroad with small kids? The BubbleBum is the perfect solution to avoid having to carry around child boaster seats.

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BubbleBum – The child’s car booster seat when travelling

If you want to hire a car abroad (or even take some taxi journeys!) and you have young kids, what do you do about a booster seat? BubbleBum is the solution…

Bubble Bum

We’ve been there. Lugging child booster seats through the airport.

We’ve also been there with taxis that don’t car about little ones not strapped in properly (and then drive line maniacs).  All part of the fun of family travel? May be not.

When planning for an upcoming road trip abroad, with plenty of driving and transfers between places, carrying a booster seat around wasn’t going to be an option. Fortunately a number of people recommended to us the ‘BubbleBum‘ – and we’ve been very impressed with it.

BubbleBum inflatable car booster seat
We ordered our BubbleBum from Amazon and it came in a shape that didn’t look like a car booster seat. That’s because the BubbleBum is inflatable, so it can just be put into your suitcase to be inflated when needed.
The BubbleBum in its carry case
It comes with its own carry case, and is lightweight, which makes a change from carrying around cumbersome child booster seats.
The BubbleBum inflated
You inflate it by blowing into valve at the back. If you go camping you’ll find it’s the same sort of valve as a Self Inflating Mat.

Once inflated it is quite comfortable (better than hard booster seats) and has a fabric cover. Different colour covers are available.

The BubbleBum fitted in the car
It simply clips onto the seat belts to secure in the car.

There’s also a shoulder strap to position the upper seat belt correctly for your child.

This is such a simple idea that works really well.

If you’re travelling abroad and planning on hiring a car, it’s well worth considering the BubbleBum car booster seat.

Bubblebum Inflatable Car Booster Seat New black
Bubblebum Inflatable Car Booster Seat New black
 92 customer reviews...
The award-winning BubbleBum is the world's first inflatable, foldable and portable car booster seat. It's perfect for everyday carpools, playdates, taxis and holidays. It's narrow design (33cm across) makes getting three car seats across the backseat easy. The BubbleBum has been approved under the United Nations ECE Regulation R44/04 for safety for both Groups 2 and 3. It is designed for use with a standard 3 point adult seat belt. The BubbleBum is designed for children aged 4 to 11, weighing from 15 to 36 Kgs. It's the winner of the JPMA Innovation Award, the 2011 Parent Tested Parent Approved Award, the Practical Parenting Award, Mother & Baby Award, Loved by Parents Award and ranked a 2011 & 2012 "Best Bet" by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. It weighs approximately 0.5 kilograms and comes with a convenient carrying bag and shoulder belt positioning clip. It inflates in seconds with a couple of puffs of air and deflates/packs down just as quickly. When deflated, it is small enough to fit in a child's rucksack or mum's handbag. BubbleBum's cool and funky design appeals to kids while parents love the convenience and ease of use.
£29.99
(as of 29/08/2014 - info)

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Go Travel Mini Floodlight Reviewhttp://www.getoutwiththekids.co.uk/camping/go-travel-mini-floodlight-review/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=go-travel-mini-floodlight-review http://www.getoutwiththekids.co.uk/camping/go-travel-mini-floodlight-review/#comments Tue, 19 Aug 2014 06:20:37 +0000 http://www.getoutwiththekids.co.uk/?p=64842 Go Travel Mini Floodlight Review

We were really surprised just how bright this little Go Travel Mini Floodlight is. A perfect item for your pocket or backpack. Ideal for hiking and camping.

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Go Travel Mini Floodlight Review

This mini floodlight from Go Travel packs a surprising amount of light from such a small item.

Go Travel Mini Floodlight

Every now and then you come across a gadget that surprises you.

Go Travel Mini Floodlight - looks can be deceiving
Go Travel is well known for travel gadgets, and you can often see their items at many airports. You don’t not normally think of Go Travel when you think of camping gear.

Well, that view might change now that we’ve tried their mini-floodlight.

Quite a bright light form this little gadget
Shaped like a large pen, it looks more like something you’d find in a doctor’s surgery, and not something for the outdoors. I was a little sceptical when the guys at Go Travel sent one over for us to look at – but don’t let its looks deceive you!

Packed with the latest ‘COB’ technology, this little gadget puts out a lot of light.

COB, by the way, stands for ‘Chips on Board’. It basically means they’ve crammed a lot of LEDs into a small space. Two rows of them in fact.

The little Go Travel Mini Floodlight did just that, and lit up the tent
It was pitch black when I took these photos. As you can see, the light is very bright.

We’ve got a collection of head-torches and lanterns, but this little ‘pen’ is ideal to slip into a backpack or a pocket, so something you can keep handy for camping, hiking, or whenever you are out and about. (I’ve lost count how many times kids have dropped things in the dark!)

The Go Travel Mini Floodlight is available on Amazon, as well as shops selling travel accessories.

Go Travel Mini Floodlight Assorted Colours (Justsport) Ref 833
Go Travel Mini Floodlight Assorted Colours (Justsport) Ref 833
 1 customer reviews...

Brighten up any room with this compact, powerful LED torch, which features an expansive mega beam to turn any dark room into a bright paradise.

This compact torch uses COB (chips on board) technology to provide a bright strong beam of light that surpasses standard narrow beam torches and flashlights. Furthermore the handy magnetic clip means that you can attach it to practically anything, so whether you're fixing a broken TV in your man-cave or trying to find those pesky tent pegs in the dead of night you can do so completely hands-free. This LED torch would make the perfect travel accessory for any keen campers or avid jet-setters. Please note colour may vary.

£8.58
(as of 29/08/2014 - info)

Disclaimer: Thanks to Go Travel for sending us the Mini Floodlight to review.

 

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Easy Camp Surf Windbreakhttp://www.getoutwiththekids.co.uk/travel/easy-camp-surf-windbreak/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=easy-camp-surf-windbreak http://www.getoutwiththekids.co.uk/travel/easy-camp-surf-windbreak/#comments Fri, 15 Aug 2014 06:04:32 +0000 http://www.getoutwiththekids.co.uk/?p=64879 Easy Camp Surf Windbreak

We've been testing out the Easy Camp Surf as well as a few other items that are useful for the beach.

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Easy Camp Surf Windbreak

We’ve been giving the funky Easy Camp Surf windbreak a try this year…

Easy Camp Surf Windbreak

If you’ve been following us on Facebook or Twitter you may have seen some pictures, either on picnics or at the beach, of us with a funky windbreak.

Well, that funky windbreak is called the Easy Camp Surf, and we’ve been giving it a through test this summer.

Easy Camp Surf Review

The problem with some large windbreaks on the beach is that they obscure the view: both yours and anyone sitting behind you. Being larger, they are also more prone to getting blown over by the wind.

Easy Camp have got around this with their funky looking ‘Surf’ windbreak.

This is just the right height for sitting, or even better, lounging on their neat portable sun lounger (see more details here).

You’ll also notice, that we’ve been using the Easy Camp picnic rug too. We’ve been using this on picnics and its insulated and waterproof underside has been good for picnics, and it’s also a good picnic rug for when sitting on damp sand and the beach.

Putting the Surf Together

Easy Camp Surf comes in a small carry case
The Easy Camp Surf comes with a small carry case that’s lightweight to carry.
Different lengths poles with the surf
Unlike some beach shelters, the Easy Camp Surf doesn’t spring into life. Instead you have nylon tent poles, which will be familiar to anyone used to camping.

There are different length poles, with the long ones going the length of the windbreak and a couple of smaller vertical supports.

Tent pegs too
There’s some tent pegs too.

Nice to see pegs better than the normal small wire pegs. These T shaped pegs are much better in both earth and sand.

The Easy Camp Surf looks like a huge wing....and yes, people did run with it and tried to take off.
When it’s all assembled it looks like a large wing.

There is a strap on one end of the windbreak. This simply clips to the other end of the windbreak, bending the Easy Camp Surf into that curved shape.

Filling the pockets on the Easy Camp Surf with sand to weight it down
You can then peg the windbreak out, and fill the pockets with sand if you are on the beach.

Over this summer we’ve been quite impressed with the Easy Camp Surf windbreak.

It packs down small to transport, unlike the standard wooden pole windbreaks, but the downside is that you have to assemble it. However, this design also means it’s easy to reposition the windbreak if the wind changes direction, plus you can use it on stoney beaches too.

So the Easy Camp Surf gets a thumbs up from us.

Get Out With The Kids rating of Easy Camp Surf Windbreak 4.25 out of 5
Easy Camp Summer Surf Windscreen - Orange/Yellow, One Size
Easy Camp Summer Surf Windscreen - Orange/Yellow, One Size
 5 customer reviews...
  • Sun/wind protectionq:
    • Type: wind protection
  • Material:
    • Frame: glass fibre rods
  • Size:
    • Size (L x W x H): 310 x 70 cm
    • Pack size (L x W x H): 69 x 7 cm
£19.99 £14.99
(as of 29/08/2014 - info)

Thanks to the guys at Easy Camp for providing an Easy Camp Surf for us to check out and review this summer.

 

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Map Symbol Bingo (free download)http://www.getoutwiththekids.co.uk/activities/playing-things/map-symbol-bingo/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=map-symbol-bingo http://www.getoutwiththekids.co.uk/activities/playing-things/map-symbol-bingo/#comments Tue, 12 Aug 2014 06:09:03 +0000 http://www.getoutwiththekids.co.uk/?p=64864 Map Symbol Bingo (free download)

Map Symbol Bingo is a great way to teach your kids map symbols. Download our free game here. There are three levels of difficulty, so not just for kids!

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Map Symbol Bingo (free download)

Here’s a fun little game to play as a family (or as a school class, scout group, or even a walker’s group) to help learn and test your knowledge of the Ordnance Survey map symbols.

Map Symbol Bingo

One of the best skills to learn when exploring the outdoors is to easily relate what you see on the map with what is in front of you.

Yes, a compass is useful (at least in getting the map oriented the right way), but recognising the shapes of the hills and landmarks such as churches, and these days, radio masts or wind farms, can help you pin point where you are when your electronic gadgets are of no use.

Fortunately in this country we have excellent maps thanks to the Ordnance Survey, and a lot of their symbols are self explanatory (our 5 year old did amazingly well)….but there’s a few symbols that are not immediately easily recognisable.

Well here’s a fun little game that will help your family learn some of those map symbols: Map Symbol Bingo.

How to play Map Symbol Bingo

If you are used to normal bingo, Map Symbol Bingo is very similar, but with a slight twist.

Instead of the caller reading out numbers, they read out map symbols. For example, ‘Telephone‘, ‘Radio Mast‘, or ‘Church with tower‘.

You can cut out the caller cards and place them in a hat or bag and pull them out at random.

Players have sheets with rows of map symbols.

If a symbol is called out that they recognise, they cross it off.

You can either play lines (when someone has crossed off an entire line) or you can play for a full house (when the whole sheet is crossed off).

We’ve created three levels of difficulty: Entry Level, Intermediate Level, and Advanced Level.

If you have young kids, start with the Entry Level caller sheet and player cards.

Finding that too difficult? Cut out the Intermediate Level caller’s cards and add to the Entry Level caller’s cards, and switch to the Intermediate Level player’s cards. These have a mix of Entry Level symbols plus a few more difficult ones.

Are you experts? Try the Advanced Level and see how well you do. Careful, there’s a few ones in there to catch you out ;-)

Download Map Symbol Bingo Cards

Click the button below to download the Map Symbol Bingo cards.

This will be a PDF file that you can print on your printer. You will need a colour printer for the bingo cards as some map symbols only differ in colour.

Please note, the map symbols © Ordnance Survey, and have been reproduced with their kind permission.

Taking the learning further

When your kids have learnt a few map symbols, why not see how they do on a real map.

You can print some maps with OS getamap and see if they can spot the symbols they know. After that, why not tackle contour lines and teach them how to read a map.

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Coleman Quad LED Lantern Reviewhttp://www.getoutwiththekids.co.uk/camping/coleman-quad-led-lantern-review/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=coleman-quad-led-lantern-review http://www.getoutwiththekids.co.uk/camping/coleman-quad-led-lantern-review/#comments Fri, 08 Aug 2014 06:29:47 +0000 http://www.getoutwiththekids.co.uk/?p=64834 Coleman Quad LED Lantern Review

This Coleman Quad LED lantern has been great for camping this year. It has a neat trick up its sleeve that has been a big hit with the kids.

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Coleman Quad LED Lantern Review

This Coleman Quad LED lantern has been great for camping this year. It has a neat trick up its sleeve that has been a big hit with the kids. 

Coleman Quad LED Lantern
Coleman CPX Lanterns
We were very impressed last year with the Coleman CPX Lantern we reviewed.  That was not only a great lantern, but had a neat trick up its sleeve: the lantern recharged a small torch that you could dock into and out of the lantern.

This has proved very useful when camping, as you always have a charged torch easily to hand.

Coleman Quad LED Lantern Review

Coleman CPX Quad Light alight
This year the guys over at Coleman sent us over their Coleman Quad LED Lantern. This is another lantern of the CPX 6 family, and so comes with an interchangeable battery pack that works across the range.

The Coleman Quad LED Lantern comes with a neat trick too that’s proved really useful when camping…

Why you might want one of these lanterns when family camping

Detaching a small lantern from the larger unit
Each one of the four sides of this lantern can be detached and used as a lantern on its own.

You can detach just one, or detach them all.

The main lantern unit acts as a recharging base for each of the ‘quads’.

A neat trick- detaching one of the quads to use as a single lantern
This has been a great hit with the kids. They each take a little lantern into their own bedrooms in the tent.

As you can see from the picture, each one of these mini-lanterns has a stand. They each have their own switch as well.

A panel is supposed to last 1.5 hours when it is undocked from the main unit.  We’ve not reached 1.5 hours of continuous use when it is undocked so can’t confirm, but it was long enough for the kids to read, and even keep on as a night light for a while (though it’s quite bright for a night light, our youngest really liked the fact that he could light up his entire sleeping pod with it).

The main lantern has a handle, so you could walk with it. It is also IPX 4 rated, so should be water resistant enough to help you find your way to the ‘facilities’ on a dark and damp night. ;-)

What this lantern isn’t

The Coleman Quad LED lantern is best used as a table-top lantern.

It’s quite large, slightly bigger than the one we reviewed last year, and is around 30cm / 1 foot high. Plus, with 4 ‘D’ sized batteries and all the quads attached, it is quite heavy too, so not something you would probably hang from the top of your tent.

However, each of the little panels are light though, and a good size for kids to use.

Conclusion

For a table-top lantern, with the ability to give each child their own lantern (and easily recharge them too), the Coleman Quad LED Lantern has proved itself a great bit of kit for family camping and gets the thumbs up from us.

Get Out With The Kids rating of Coleman Quad LED Lantern Review 4.5 out of 5

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Ordnance Survey getamap Reviewhttp://www.getoutwiththekids.co.uk/family-hiking/ordnance-survey-getamap-review/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=ordnance-survey-getamap-review http://www.getoutwiththekids.co.uk/family-hiking/ordnance-survey-getamap-review/#comments Tue, 05 Aug 2014 06:32:31 +0000 http://www.getoutwiththekids.co.uk/?p=64793 Ordnance Survey getamap Review

Need lots of OS maps cheaply? Want to mark routes on your maps? Want to give your kids a map but don't want it lost/wet/ruined? OS getamap is the solution.

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Ordnance Survey getamap Review

Did you know you can print your own Ordnance Survey maps at home? We give OS getamap a try…

OS getamap review

We are fortunate that this country has some excellent maps for outdoor activities, thanks to the Ordnance Survey.

Are paper maps still needed?

We use a lot of electronic maps these days: sat navs, geocaching apps, and all sort of route planners that are available on our mobile devices.

It’s not that many years ago that such technology was science fiction. Driving somewhere? Just put in the address, get directions, plus you can nearly always zoom in for a birds eye view of even a street level view.

But what about a decent hiking or biking route that takes you miles away from the road? Most electronic maps on our devices are sorely lacking there (you can of course get electronic Ordnance Survey maps).

And what about where there’s no internet signal? No battery?

You’ll always need to a paper map, even if just a backup, when out in the countryside.

But how may paper maps?

The Ordnance Survey has excellent maps of England, Wales, and Scotland.

I don’t know about you, but a number of times I’ve found the route I want to follow actually spans two maps!

And as good as the OS Maps are, getting two maps when you only need a few square inches on both, can get expensive.

Fortunately there’s a solution: OS getamap.

What is OS Getamap?

Using OS getamap for Sandymouth Bay
OS getamap is an online tool to search the Ordnance Survey’s large map database and print out the map tiles you want.

You can try OS getamap for free, and pay to print a map when you need it, or you can take out a subscription. A year’s subscription is about the same as buying a few maps, so if you do a lot of hiking, or are planning to get your kids out in the great outdoors, then OS getamap is can be a cheaper option than buying paper maps.

Navigation and Routes

Using OS getamap when outside
If you are thinking about taking your family on a hike somewhere, like any good outdoor leader, you should plan your route first.

I spend a while going over the OS maps trying to find the best route. What I’ve really wanted to do is mark the route on the map to make it easy to find when we’re out. But with the cost of maps, I’ve never actually drawn the route on one.

Shared routes and places of interest on OS getamap
The good thing about OS getamap is that you can electronically plot routes onto your map and then print them out. With a subscription you have unlimited printing, so mark as many routes as you want and it won’t cost you anymore ;-)

If you have a GPS you can also download the route to your device, helping you stay on track when you are outside (more on that later).

Country Walking Magazine and Good Pub Guide on OS getamap
That’s not the only thing. If you are walking somewhere popular, OS getamap may show you routes others have plotted and shared, which could take some of the effort out of planning.

It also has things like the Good Pub Guide built in, as well as routes published by the Country Walking Magazine, so you get much more than what is available with just the paper maps.

Our Rattlinghope and Wild Moor on OS getamap
Click here to view one of the routes we published (pictured right), which is a good hike over our local hills. (You can register for free to view it).

Using OS getamap is also useful when teaching your kids how to map read since you can just given them a sheet of A4 and don’t have to worry about maps getting ruined.

Using OS getamap for Geocaching

We find geocaching a great way to keep kids motivated on a hike.

OS getamap currently doesn’t use Geocaching.com’s API, and so you can’t automatically plot geocaches on the map. OS getamap does import GPX files, and Geocaching.com can export geocaches in a GPX file, but after a few hours of messing around and trying different GPX file formats (including exporting to KML), I couldn’t get OS getamap to plot the imported geocaches.

To be fair, geocaching is not what OS getamap is designed for. So use OS getamap to print out your paper route, and use a geocaching app to locate caches along it.

I suspect I also have a compatibility issue with my system (Apple Mac with Safari Browser).

Using OS getamap on Mobile Devices

The current version of OS getamap only works on PCs or Apple Macs (though at the time of writing, the latest version of Silverlight in Google Chrome on Mac wasn’t supported).  Since the idea behind OS getamap is to print your maps at home, using it on a mobile device wouldn’t be too useful. However, that doesn’t stop you using one of the many navigation apps available to help you when on your walk.

Exporting GPX from OS getamap
Underneath your saved routes click on the Export link to download a GPX file.

(Note: that this didn’t work for me using the latest Safari browser with the latest Silverlight plug-in on Apple Mac. It did work in Google Chrome with an older Silverlight plug-in.)

There are a great many navigation apps available.

Imported OS getamap route in Map My Run
One I use regularly is MapMyRun for recording my runs. (There’s also a MapMyHike app, but it’s essentially the same app).

I was able to use the Map My Run website to create a new route by importing the OS getamap GPX file.

As you can see, it’s the same route as we plotted in OS getamap (pictured above) – though with only the basic Google maps, and not the rich OS maps, as May My Run only uses Google maps.

OS getamap route on phone
This route was of course instantly available in the MapMyRun app on my phone.

With this app I would be able to use the GPS on the phone to track my position on the route. I can even do this without any mobile data connection. This won’t plot the route on a map when not connected, but then I’d have my OS getamap print out for that and this GPS just acts as a back up to confirm we are walking along the planned route ;-)

Support for GPS Devices

If you have a Garmin GPS device then you should be able to connect it up and export your routes directly to the device. This is not something we tested.

Alternatively, use the GPX export feature mentioned above and import the route into your device.

Conclusion

For what it’s designed to do, OS getamap provides a cost effective way to print maps off to take with you on hikes or bike rides.

I think the Ordnance Survey has so much potential with this. It would be great if in the future you could use this seamlessly with OS enabled mobile hiking apps, and integration with further resources such as Geocaching.

Want to know more?

The Ordnance Survey have published these tips to using OS getamap.

With thanks to Ordnance Survey for providing us access to OS getamap and answering our many questions so that we could bring you this review.

This post was originally published on Get out with the kids

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Creating a Camp Kitchenhttp://www.getoutwiththekids.co.uk/camping/camping-tips/camp-kitchen-setup/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=camp-kitchen-setup http://www.getoutwiththekids.co.uk/camping/camping-tips/camp-kitchen-setup/#comments Sat, 02 Aug 2014 06:55:20 +0000 http://www.getoutwiththekids.co.uk/?p=64685 Creating a Camp Kitchen

If you're not sure how to create a great camp kitchen we provide some tips and take you through our camp kitchen setup.

This post was originally published on Get out with the kids

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Creating a Camp Kitchen

In this article we look at how to setup your camp kitchen so that you have somewhere to cook, sit, eat, all safely away from your tent…

Creating a Camp Kitchen

Cooking when you are camping needn’t be daunting, but it does require a bit of preparation.

Why you need a camp kitchen

If you have good weather, you could get away with using nothing but a little gas stove.

get yourself the gear to make things easier
However, if camping is something your family intends to do often, it makes sense to get yourself the gear to make things easier, as well as handling most of what the British weather can throw at you.

Don’t cook in your tent

You may have plenty of space to cook inside your tent. But don’t.

It’s not worth the risk.
Generally cooking inside your tent is frowned upon. It’s not worth the risk.

  • Although most tents have fire retardant fabric, there’s still a fire risk.
  • Tents only have sufficient ventilation for sleeping not cooking. Cooking in your tent increases condensation. This could make your tent damp, or worse, harmful carbon monoxide could build up.
  • Grease from cooking could ruin your tent fabric or water retardant coating of your tent.
  • If you have a gas stove, it’s advisable the gas cylinders are kept outside of your tent.

There are a few exceptions. Some tents have special cooking pods with added ventilation, and sometimes you can cook in an open canopy extension as you have lots of ventilation (though keep any cooking away from the walls of the canopy).

The best place is to create a camp kitchen outside of your tent. But you can’t buy camp kitchens, so just how do you do create a camp kitchen?

Our camp kitchen setup

To help you get an idea, here’s our current camp kitchen setup.

I say current as we’re always improving and adapting.

Camp Kitchen Setup

The Camp Kitchen Shelter

The first thing you’ll need to get organised is your camp kitchen shelter. A kitchen shelter is typically made by putting up a tarp shelter.

Using the High Peak Tarp 2 as a kitchen shelter when camping

Creating a Kitchen Shelter with a Tarp

Using a tarp is one of the best ways to provide protection from the elements, and if you’re not used to setting up a tarp, it’s a good skill to learn.

Tarps can be configured in a number of ways, depending on weather conditions and available space. We often setup ours right outside our tent.

You can either go down the DIY route, or buy a tarp kit. We are currently using a camping tarp from High Peak, which is the one shown in the picture.

Using a windbreak around the camp kitchen

Don’t forget a windbreak

Another important part in creating a shelter is to use a windbreak. This can keep wind away from where you are cooking (which can help conserve fuel) but (and perhaps more importantly), a windbreak can block off areas where you don’t want people to walk and helps keep little people away from the stove.

helps keep little people away from the stove
We’re currently using an old folding Coleman windbreak, which is on its last legs.

You can often find a windbreak that matches or complements your Outwell, Vango, or Coleman tent. Click here to view some windbreaks on Amazon.

Setting up your cooking area

Cooking is what your shelter is all about after all….

Campingaz 400 ST with Xcelerate Technology

Your gas camping stove

We camped for many years using just a simple single hob stove and a campfire. It is possible.

However, most families will find it easier with a two hob stove.

We have created a complete guide to choosing a gas stove, including choosing and fitting a gas cylinder.

If you don’t yet have a stove and are unsure what to get, then click here to read our guide.

You will need a level surface for your stove, and we’ll cover that soon.

A cooked breakfast over the fire

Using a fire pit

A campfire is another place to cook. Some campsites don’t allow them. Some campsites do but will usually insist the fire is off the ground.

For the last few years we’ve been using this Fire pit/BBQ & Tripod, though it’s starting to get a bit battered after a few years of camping.

Getting something like this enables you to have a small fire off the ground, cook over it, or use it as a BBQ. It also works well as a good place to cook food in a Dutch Oven.

You wouldn’t place a fire under your tarp, but you could have a fire close by.

If you use something like this fire pit for a small BBQ and your tarp is high enough, you could use the BBQ under your camp kitchen shelter. Just use common sense.

Lighting the BBQ
There’s also another benefit: the smoke, even from a small BBQ, can help keep mosquitos and midges out of your camp kitchen shelter ;-)

Kitchen Storage & Tables

You will need somewhere to store food, both perishables and things like tins. You will also have kitchen pots and pans, utensils, plates, cups, and cutlery to store. Here are a few options…

The Outwell Richmond table comes with a windshield and small sink

The Kitchen Table

You will need a sturdy and level platform for your gas stove, and ideally with enough space where you can serve up food, place hot plans, etc.

There’s a few different kitchen table designs around. One that comes with a windshield is an added bonus.

We have been using this Outwell Richmond kitchen table for a great many years. The Outwell Richmond also has a lot of storage.

In addition to the table for our gas stove we can store pans in it, food (tins, etc.), and even a large rubbish bag (in a separate zipped compartment).

Outwell Kitchen Storer

Kitchen Storer

Another useful item we have in our camp kitchen setup is an Outwell Kitchen Storer.

This takes the plates, cups, cutlery, utensils, and even things like tea towels, washing up sponges, rolls of rubbish bags, kitchen foil….and lots more.

It’s a useful bit of kit that makes transporting all this stuff to and from the campsite really easy.

Testing out the Coleman Xtreme 33L coolbox

Cold Storage

We have 3 different coolboxes. Two we use regularly depending on the type of camp or journey we have. (Click here to see our comparison of the different coolboxes).

We avoid having an Electric Hookup (we find EHU too restrictive on where we could camp), and have found using a really good coolbox, plus refreezing ice packs, has worked well for us.

Folding the Outwell Marilla PIcnic Table Set

Tables

We have a collection of tables. Within the kitchen we are currently using a very cheap plastic table and sometimes an aluminium slatted table. These are the work tables.

The aluminium table is good for hot pans, as well as using the slats to help dry the dishes! (see below)

For eating we now use the Outwell Marilla table. My Outwell Bredon Hills chair is also useful, with its little side table.

Washing up in our camp kitchen

Washing Up

Some campsites have wash-up facilities, others don’t, and sometimes they’re too far away to bother going!

We’ve been using the Outwell Collaps washing up bowl that’s been good for washing up in our camp kitchen, or taking stuff to the campsite’s washing up facilities. And it collapses down small for transport too.

In fact, there’s a lot of good items in Outwell’s Collaps range, which we reviewed here.

Our camp kitchen at night

A bit of glam

You camp kitchen doesn’t need to be just functional.

Solar powered fairy lights and some tea-light lanterns can soon glam up your camp.  ;-)

This post was originally published on Get out with the kids

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Campfire Stories for Kids (free download)http://www.getoutwiththekids.co.uk/camping/campfire-stories-kids/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=campfire-stories-kids http://www.getoutwiththekids.co.uk/camping/campfire-stories-kids/#comments Thu, 31 Jul 2014 07:08:35 +0000 http://www.getoutwiththekids.co.uk/?p=64767 Campfire Stories for Kids (free download)

You can't go camping without a campfire, and can't have a campfire without campfire stories. Here's our free download of Campfire Stories for Kids.

This post was originally published on Get out with the kids

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Campfire Stories for Kids (free download)

Having a campfire is all part of the ‘camping experience’, and if you’re are having a campfire, you need some campfire stories. Here’s our free download to get you started…

Campfire Stories for Kids

So these days you can take iPads, iPods, and even TVs to the campsite.

We like to have traditional camping entertainment: a campfire. It’s amazing how you can be transfixed by a campfire (mind you, a lot of TV is just watching flashing lights).

Nothing goes better with a campfire than campfire stories….and we’ve got a few for you below.

Telling a Campfire Story

You could of course download our campfire story book and read the stories out. But you can do better than that ;-)

Campfire stories are best told as a story of something you ‘heard about’ or something you experienced. Reading them from a book doesn’t come across as well.

With each campfire story we have included a story outline. Read the main story, and once you’re familiar with the theme, you can just use the story outline to help retell it without reading from the book.

It doesn’t matter if you can’t remember the story word for word. You should be modifying each story to suit your kids, your location, and places your family knows.

We’ve also included in some stories indication of when to speak quieter, and when to shout.

Campfire Story Download

Campfire Stories for Kids 3D BookClick here to download our Campfire Stories for Kids.

This is a PDF file that you can download and print, or use electronically on tablet computers such as iPads.

This is currently a free download. If you enjoyed it, a donation would be most welcome ;-)




Give it a try

Give it a go and let us know how you got on.

What was your favourite story? Did you create your own?

Let us know in the comments section at the bottom of this web page.

This post was originally published on Get out with the kids

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