Get out with the kids Tue, 15 Apr 2014 10:30:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Dealing with wet and dirty clothes at the campsite Tue, 15 Apr 2014 09:36:08 +0000 Dealing with wet and dirty clothes at the campsite

At some point you're going to have to wash dirty clothes and do the laundry when camping. Here's a few tips to help get the job done.

This post was originally published on Get out with the kids

Dealing with wet and dirty clothes at the campsite

There’s going to be a point when you need to wash clothes when camping. Kids are attracted to mud for a start. Here’s some tips for washing and drying clothes at the campsite…

Outwell washing line

When you’ve got kids, sooner or later you’re going to end up with a pile of wet and dirty clothes.

you’re going to end up with a pile of wet and dirty clothes
Unfortunately there’s only so many clothes you can bring with you, so what do you do when their clean clothes runs out? Yep, you guessed it, it’s back to “doing the laundry”.

The Easy Option

If you’re just camping a night or two, the laundry may not be that much of a problem (unless someone gets really muddy of course), but when on a camping holiday you may find that something needs to be done with all the dirty clothes.

There are many campsites that have washing facilities or a laundrette of some sort, which is an easy option. Some places may just have one washing machine and you need to bring your own powder, and bigger sites will have more machines and dryers.

We’ve listed some campsites that have a laundrette. Click here to find campsites with a laundrette.

It’s not only big holiday parks that have laundrettes. Some smaller campsites have them too.

The Hand Wash Option

Outwell Collaps washing up bowl
Not all sites have a laundrette though, and if you only have to clean a muddy pair of trousers, the laundrette would be over the top anyway.

We always used to take some plastic washing-up bowls when camping, and these are ideal for hand washing clothes. Just warm some water up in the kettle and use some detergent.

I say “used to” as this year we’re trying to see how we can save space on what we take to camp and have now got an Outwell Collaps sink. They also do an Outwell Collaps bucket too. So if transport space is tight, this may be something you want to look at getting.

A note on detergents

A lot of washing detergents are actually harmful to the environment. If you just tip out your dirty washing water into the bushes or, even worse, a stream, you could be putting harmful chemicals into the environment and killing any fish or other creatures in the stream.

always empty well away from a watercourse
Your campsite may have a “grey waste” point, or failing that, a bathroom where you can pour the dirty water away. However, carrying a bowl of dirty water to the facilities is not something many people will do.

The best thing is to take some environmentally friendly detergent. Those that may say “suitable for septic tanks”. (And still, never pour anything into a stream, always empty well away from a watercourse – 60 metres / 200 feet away is often recommended.)

Look out for free sample bottles. They’re a great size to put with your camping gear.

The Bushcraft Way (if you’re brave enough)

Did you know that if you’ve had a campfire, you have some detergent right there in the fire pit? Yes, right in all that “muck”.

only do so on items that you don’t mind if they get ruined
Wood ash is a natural detergent, and certainly works well on dirty pots. However, it is a “harsh soap”, so if you want to experiment with this method, only do so on items that you don’t mind if they get ruined (perhaps a dirty tea towel).

  • Get fine bits of wood ash. Ideally they should be sieved, but that’s not always practical when camping. You don’t want any wood ash with food, plastic, or other non-wood items in it.
  • Mix with warm water to make a grey paste.
  • If you add a small drop of oil, this paste should turn soapy.
  • Apply paste to dirty area and leave for a few minutes.
  • Rub and rinse paste off. Any cleaner?

Again, we’ve not done this ourselves on clothes, and so this carries a warning that it may not get your clothes that clean, or could even stain them…..but this may be a bit of fun to try.

If you are getting your kids to help, be aware that the wood ash does make a strong detergent that could dry out and irritate little hands.

Drying clothes

Tea Towels drying at camp
Drying clothes should be straightforward enough – you’re outside after all.

Peg box and laundry bag
We have a small plastic ice cream box that we use as our ‘peg box’, which also contains a small cotton bag that we can use as a dirty laundry bag if required.

Even if not doing laundry the pegs are useful for drying out wet tea towels, pegging them to guy lines.

Folding Washing Bin
You can also take your own guy line and string up a washing line, but if space is a premium you can get a foldable washing line. There’s even a foldable laundry bin and washing basket if you know this is going to be a big job. (Some people will spend weeks at a campsite during the summer, so this is not as OTT as it may first appear).

If it’s raining, put up a tarp shelter and run a washing line under the shelter.

Useful equipment for campsite laundry

For basic needs you can get by with a pot of clothes pegs, some sample (eco friendly) detergent, and a bowl.

On the other hand, if you’re going to be camping a while, there’s a few items mentioned above that could help with this task. Here’s some links to where you can buy at Camping World.

This post was originally published on Get out with the kids

]]> 0
Outwell Hornet XL Review – Simplifying Family Camping Mon, 14 Apr 2014 18:24:39 +0000 Outwell Hornet XL Review – Simplifying Family Camping

The Outwell Hornet XL has revolutionised how fast we can set up camp. This tent is a fantastic family tent. Great for weekends and camping holidays.

This post was originally published on Get out with the kids

Outwell Hornet XL Review – Simplifying Family Camping

The Outwell Hornet XL has made pitching a lot quicker for us…

Outwell Hornet XL tent setup, ready for camping at Fforest Fields

Num Persons: 5 Person,6 Person Num Bedrooms: 3 Bedrooms Frame Type: Air Frame Year: 2014

The Outwell Hornet XL is from Outwell’s Smart Air Polyester collection. This means it’s air framed, and all you need to do is pump it up to pitch it. No messing around with tent poles.

Here’s a fun little video we made showing the tent pitching.

OK, so a 5 year old can’t fully pump up the whole tent, but putting up the Outwell Hornet XL is easy.

How fast can the Outwell Hornet XL inflate?

Once out of its bag and in position, with all the valves set and ready to start pumping, it takes only a few minutes for the tent to be up.

Inflating the Outwell Smart Air
If you’re not that fit, it may feel a whole lot longer when pumping, as it gets a bit harder towards the end, but within a handful of minutes your tent is up. (Though not pegged out).

We’ve had many tents. We used to camp for many many years in a Coleman Coastline 6 tunnel tent with fibreglass poles. That is a simple tent but used to take a long time to pitch as threading all the fibreglass poles into their sleeves just took ages.

Our tent prior to this one was the Coleman Da Gama 6. A nice steel framed tent, and although much bigger than a Coleman Coastline, we could pitch it in a fraction of the time; 20 minutes and it was up. That was lightening quick compared to what we were used to.

Well now with the Outwell Hornet XL, it is up in moments (with no stress trying to get fibreglass poles into their sleeves either). Looking back at 20 minutes pitching time for our previous tent (which was a very good time), now looks very slow compared to the Outwell Hornet XL.

There is one tent pole though in the Outwell Hornet XL, and that’s in the eyebrow, which can be a bit stiff to fit the first few attempts. It also reminds you of the days of tent poles, and makes you glad you don’t have tent poles for the whole tent ;-)

Camping by a pond
On our first camping trip of the season we set up our kitchen area, which we like to cover with a tarp. That simple tarp took considerably longer than the tent to put up.

Is the speed of pitching worth it?

When you have kids, yes.

They’re exited to get to the campsite, and whilst you can encourage them to help set up the camp, a two hour time to set everything up is just boring to them.

Plus, you’re too knackered to do a lot with them if it takes ages to setup.

So this year we’re on a mission to try and make family camping quicker and easier, and the Outwell Hornet XL fits right in.

What you get with an Outwell Hornet XL?

Kids setting up their bedrooms inside the Outwell Hornet XL
The Outwell Hornet XL is a 3 bedroom tent that is rated for 6 persons, though we recommend it is a lot more comfortable with just 5 people.

We have 3 kids: 2 girls, one boy, plus Mum and Dad of course, and it’s a perfect layout for us.

It is an Outwell tent, and so at the higher end of the market, but you do get a lot of design details that all help with family camping (see this post here on why you may want to choose an Outwell tent).

We put this video together to show you some of the features you get with the tent.

Other Great Features

The bedroom dividers unzip. We only really need to use this to get to our youngest in the night (though not so much now he’s getting older). It’s a really great feature that means you don’t need to get out of your sleeping bag.

The living area in this tent is massive. We could all eat inside and store a lot of clothes for a camping holiday.

Outwell low level window
The windows are tinted. Though that doesn’t sound like much, the tinting works really well as even though the Hornet XL has lots of large windows to let in plenty of light, with the tinting people outside the tent can’t see much of what’s going on inside the tent. (And there’s blinds on all the windows too of course).

The bedroom areas have a darkened roof to help you sleep on those early bright summer mornings. The main tent ceiling is white to help let in lots of light.

Preparing food in the sunny shelter of the Outwell Hornet XL
The porch area provides protection from the rain when getting in and out of the tent. It also acts as a windbreak. When we caught the sun this was a perfect sun trap to sit in.

The entrance step also lays flat, so no more tripping as you get in and out of your tent.

Outwell Guyline Retainer
And, another little tiny design feature but one that makes a big difference when packing away: the guy line tidies. I used to spend ages winding up and tying each guy line. Now I just wind up and secure in place.

Things to watch for

If you are thinking of getting an Outwell Hornet XL (and I recommend you do), then you should know that it comes in a big and heavy bag.

The weight of the tent is about the same as other large family tents of this size (and lighter than polycotton tents of a similar size), plus you don’t have a heavy bag of steel tent poles.

However, the bag is very big.

Outwell have put some compression straps onto the bag, to help minimise the size.

When putting the tent away, we roll it up, then unroll, and roll again. The first roll is to help get the air out, and makes it a lot easier to get it back in the bag.

I roll the tent up using the tent pole bag (see this post on rolling up a tent), but I leave the bag of tent pegs out, as well as the pump to help get the tent back in its bag.

Outwell Hornet XL Bag
So if you are thinking of getting this tent, make sure you have space to transport it, and you have two people to pitch it.

How do we rate the Outwell Hornet XL?

We give the Outwell Hornet XL a big thumbs up.
Get Out With The Kids rating of Outwell Hornet XL 5 out of 5

Some useful links for the Outwell Hornet XL

Outwell Hornet XL Specs

- Sleeps: Sleeps 6
- Bedrooms: 3
- Frame Type: Air Frame
- Tent Fabric: 6000HH Polyester (HH = Hydrostatic Head) (Click here for pros and cons of 6000HH Polyester)
- Width: 400cm
- Length: 665cm
- Height: 225cm
- Weight: 34.3kg Recommend two of you pitch.
- RRP: £1399.99 (See price search below)

Our Thoughts on Hornet XL…

This is a good sized tent for a family of 5 (or even a family of 4 if the kids want separate rooms). The great thing about this tent is that it is inflatable – so less time pitching and more time camping, exploring, or cooking over the campfire ;-)

We think, this tent is suitable for: Weekend Camping, Camping Holidays

Outwell Hornet XL
Hornet XL Package Deal from Camping World

£1510.00 (package deal price)
The price was correct when we last checked. Visit Camping World to see latest.

View Package Deal on Camping World >>

Camping World

Camping World Price Match. UK & International shipping.

This post was originally published on Get out with the kids

]]> 0
Ray Mears or Bear Grylls – Who’s the best influence on your kids? Fri, 11 Apr 2014 06:54:49 +0000 Ray Mears or Bear Grylls – Who’s the best influence on your kids?

There's a who is better debate: Ray Mears or Bear Grylls. But which is the better influence on our kids? We look at both, and the controversy over BG.

This post was originally published on Get out with the kids

Ray Mears or Bear Grylls – Who’s the best influence on your kids?

It’s a bit ‘Marmite’ this: most people either like one or the other, and there’s much debate over Ray Mears vs. Bear Grylls. So who’s the better influence for your kids?

Starting a Fire

There’s been a lot of debate over the internet over who is better: Ray Mears or Bear Grylls.

I was in an online group recently where this discussion came up. Some people came down firmly on one side or the other, but there was also some interesting debate, which got me wondering, who would you prefer to influence your kids?

Ray Mears

Ray Mears certainly knows his bushcraft.

Anyone who is seriously into bushcraft says Ray Mears is clearly the best.

Bear Grylls

Former reserve SAS and a military survival specialist.

He clearly knows a lot of stuff, and his face is everywhere. And of course, he’s the UK’s Chief Scout.

Aren’t they basically the same?

If you’re not into any of the more extreme outdoor adventures, you’re probably not interested in either of them. In fact, you probably lump them both into the same pot.

However, there are some big differences in their approach. Not really down to the individuals, but in the approach of Bushcraft vs. Military Survival. Both have completely different mentalities.

Bushcraft Survival

Bushcraft is all about working with the environment to survive.

You need knowledge and practice at certain skills (such as making and using a bow drill), but essentially anyone can do it.

From a survival perspective, it’s typically about being cautious, and very aware of what could harm you. If you get sick or injured, things get a magnitude worse.

Military Survival

This is quite popular on the TVs at the moment, especially with former Special Ops soldiers, such as Bear Grylls – but there are quite a few now making a name for themselves.

Military survival stems from being able to survive a short period of time until you get rescued or extracted. For example, when ejecting behind enemy lines or escaping from the enemy.

Although Special Ops may operate behind enemy lines, they are generally equipped, have extraction plans, and some form of military backup – even if they have to relocate for it.

The military are taught bushcraft skills, but as you can see from above, their normal working scenario is usually very different from an average Joe survival situation.

There’s another element to add with the Special Ops people: they’ve all been through some of the toughest selection processes in the world. These people are fit, they’re tough, and they’re driven. They also have other skills such as being to repel down a cliff when normal people find another route.

Whereas a pure bushcraft based survivalist may take a cautious approach, the DNA of the military survivalist may not. They also have the physical and mental resources to push on when normal people do not (plus, they may be used to the ‘habit’ of having the military backup safety net).

So which is better?

Neither one is better than the other. They both have their place for what they do. But for most people, they’d be better following the bushcraft route.

It’s important to distinguish the two though, as it helps see that Ray Mears is in one world, and Bear Grylls is in another.

Ray Mears vs. Bear Grylls

So allegedly, Bear likes and respects Ray Mears, but Ray Mears dislikes Bear.

How much of it is really true or just press, I can’t say, but there’s a lot in the Bushcraft world that dislike Bear Grylls.

The problem with Bear Grylls

The bushcraft community generally say: if you follow Ray Mears you’ll survive; if you follow Bear Grylls you’ll die.

If you think about the difference between Bushcraft and Military Survival, then yes, normal people trying to copy the Military approaches could end up in very difficult situations.

River in Flood - would you cross?

The biggest concerns is that kids will try and copy Bear and throw themselves off a cliff with nothing but a small bit of rope, or try to swim across a raging river rather than walk around it.

As a parent, these are valid concerns, but….

Is this really a problem though?

Bear Grylls has in more recent times called himself an ‘Entertainer’ rather than a survival expert. He clearly knows some survival stuff, but most of his programmes are entertaining. All my kids, both male and female, love watching Bear Grylls. It is entertaining.

Ray Mears on the other hand is ‘boring’ in their eyes (Sorry Ray).

His programmes are not entertaining, they’re educational. And that’s OK.

Am I concerned about them watching Bear Grylls?

Not at all. (But I keep a watching eye).

In fact, watching Bear Grylls motivates them. It gets them engaged in getting outside. When we’re outside, we may say “let’s camp out like Bear Grylls”. Why? Because they can relate to something they’ve seen on the TV.

Bear Grylls Infulence

We recently got a Bear Grylls top for our youngest. It was like some sort of superhero costume. With his Bear Grylls top on, he practically ran up a mountain. He was inspired.

….and that’s why Bear Grylls is the Chief Scout in the UK. He’s engaged with the kids through entertaining them. He inspires them.

Once they’re interested, then bring in the experts like Ray Mears.  Unfortunately, if you give them Ray Mears from the start, you’ll put them off. We don’t want them thinking the outdoors is boring.

What about the cliffs? The raging rivers?

My kids see all sorts on TV.

Car chases and car crashes. Swords made from lasers that can slice a person in two (yep, Star Wars). And a mouse hitting a cat with a frying pan.

Do we let them repeat everything they do on TV? No.

Do they want to repeat everything they do on TV? No.


Remember that Bear Grylls top inspired our youngest to run up a mountain? Well, he could be inspired to climb a cliff too.

That’s not a bad thing. What we have to do as parents, is educate them on the right and safe way to do it. Not to kill that inspiration, but to make sure that when they do something they learn to do it correctly.

…and that’s what we do as parents all the time.

that’s what we do as parents all the time
So, let them get inspired by Bear Grylls. Buy them some Bear Grylls stuff if it helps them be inspired when outdoors. But let them know what’s appropriate, what’s not, and help them learn the right things to do…….perhaps by learning from Ray Mears if course ;-)

If you’re interested in finding out more about either Bear Grylls, Ray Mears, or survival & bushcraft, here’s some useful links.

This post was originally published on Get out with the kids

]]> 0
Easter Crafts for Kids Wed, 09 Apr 2014 08:04:16 +0000 Easter Crafts for Kids

Here's a collection of Easter crafty ideas for kids. Not just things to do indoors, we've found some outdoor activities too of course.

This post was originally published on Get out with the kids

Easter Crafts for Kids

Easter Crafts for Kids

With Easter school holidays approaching, here’s a few crafty ideas we’ve pinned up to help you keep your kids occupied.

Some Favourites

Here’s a few favourites we’ve come across that’s a little bit different to the normal Easter stuff…

Easter Bunny Loo Rolls

These are a really simple bit of recycling and really easy to make.

Glue on his ears
  1. Get some used cardboard rolls.
  2. Cut out some bunny ears.
  3. Glue the ears to the rolls.
  4. Add or draw on some eyes.
  5. Draw on the face….and there you have. A loo roll Easter bunny!
Easter Bunny Loo Rolls

Easter Minions

No doubt you’ve seen Despicable Me and Despicable Me 2. These egg shaped Minions are great idea from

Recycled Egg Box Seed Tray

A good bit of recycling from Spoonful.

Using old egg cartons as seed trays. ‘Tis the time of year to get planting.

Easter Eggs for the Birds

I like this as it’s not about eating lots of chocolate eggs, but giving something back to nature.

These bird seed eggs are a great ideal.

Unfortunately the ones in the image are shop bought, but I found an article on how to shape bird seed eggs, so this could be an interesting little project. You can read about how to shape bird seed here.

More Easter Crafts

This post was originally published on Get out with the kids

]]> 0
Best UK Glamping Sites for Kids Tue, 08 Apr 2014 08:10:25 +0000 Best UK Glamping Sites for Kids

Not tried camping yet? Perhaps you could give Glamping a try. Mike from Discover Glamping has a round up of some of the best UK glamping sites for kids.

This post was originally published on Get out with the kids

Best UK Glamping Sites for Kids

So if you are thinking of trying Glamping, here’s Mike from Discover Glamping with a round up of some of the best glamping sites for kids in the UK.

While glamping has become incredibly popular with couples and groups of friends in recent years, we shouldn’t forget that this is a fantastic way of getting the kids away for a break too. The best UK glamping sites often offer great value for money on family breaks and can also give kids the chance to experience some wonderful new things.

 Stay on a Farm in Cornwall

May Roes Farm in Cornwall welcomes kids to stay

What youngster wouldn’t want to spend a few days living on a farm on their holiday? There are some amazing glamping destinations where the accommodation is right next to the animals and fields of working farms. A great example is May Rose Farm near Bodmin Moor in Cornwall.  Here, the kids can stay in a stylish pod and enjoy the animals living on the farm, with the likes of chickens and geese to keep them company.

Get Active in the Lake District

Inside Out Glamping in the Lake District

Most parents want their kids to enjoy an active, healthy holiday. Glamping in general is a fine way of getting this sort of break, as it will put you in touch with nature and will usually give you a variety of interesting activities right on your doorstep. In terms of the best places in the country for this kind of glamping trip with kids, it doesn’t get much better than Lake District.  Here, you can give them the joy of sleeping in a funky Mongolian yurt somewhere like Inside Out Camping  in the Borrowdale Valley area. This will give you a terrific base for burning off energy and making special memories on family hiking and cycling trips.

Give Them Some Retro Fun in Dorset

Happy Days caravan in Dorset

One of the great things about glamping with kids is that the accommodation is as memorable as the location in many cases. Of course, if you take them to a truly fantastic site then the memories will stay with them for the rest of their lives. Bearing this in mind, the Happy Days Retro Vacations site in East Dorset is a cracking destination. When they arrive here the young ones will love the old fashioned camper vans in which they are going to be sleeping.

Start to Enjoy the Outdoors Life in Gloucestershire

Dome Garden in Gloucestershire

Wouldn’t it be great if we could get our children to enjoy the great outdoors while having fun? If you have almost given up trying to get them to grow their own vegetables or look after a compost heap then it could be time to take them glamping. The Dome Garden site in the Forest of Dean will put them in touch with nature painlessly and effortlessly. The Geodomes here are brilliant to look at but the fun really starts to pick up when you take the youngsters out canoeing, horse trekking or gorge scrambling in the local area. If you are a really adventurous family then you will find microlight flying and off road driving possibilities nearby too.

Enjoy the Simple Pleasures of Being a Kid in Norfolk

Natures Path Tipi and Yurt Holidays

We often associate glamping with relaxing, luxurious holidays inside a classy tent, pod or yurt. However, you can also simply use your accommodation as a convenient base from which you can do whatever you want to do. A good example of somewhere you could make the most of your time away is at Natures Path Tipi and Yurt Holidays. This site offers a paddling pool for children, a fun play area and even a vintage style amusement arcade. If you want your young ones to enjoy some of the simple pleasures of being a kid without a care in the world then this is a place well worth checking out.


Here’s another recommendation ;-)


This post was originally published on Get out with the kids

]]> 0
Should you get a Trailer or Roof Box? Getting your gear to the campsite Sun, 06 Apr 2014 17:17:32 +0000 Should you get a Trailer or Roof Box? Getting your gear to the campsite

Most family campers soon run out of space and ask themselves if they should get a trailer or camper. We consider the pros and cons and share what we have.

This post was originally published on Get out with the kids

Should you get a Trailer or Roof Box? Getting your gear to the campsite

If you’ve not already done so yet, you will get to a point where you just can’t fit any more into your car and ask yourself “Should I get a Trailer or Roofbox?”

If there’s one thing we’ve learnt about having kids, it’s that their stuff just keeps on multiplying. Not just their stuff though, everything has to get bigger, and in more quantities.

This presents a big problem when going on camping holidays. Your tent is bigger, and you have to take a lot of stuff. Add to that other things you might like to take (bikes, canoes, surfboards)….where will it all go!!!

We’re a family of 5, and like to camp from early to late season. Even five 3-4 Season sleeping bags is going to fill a lot of cars.

So we’ve put together this guide, based on the lessons we’ve learnt, so that you can see what may work for your family.

A bigger car?

Should you get a bigger car? Or get a roof box, or get a trailer?

The first obvious question is: do you need a bigger car?

Now getting a bigger car is a lot more expensive than just a roof box or trailer, but with a growing family this may be something you’re having to consider.

We’ve gradually traded up to bigger and bigger cars. You may also find that you are being a taxi for your kids and their friends too.

Our main family car (currently a Grand Picasso) is called “the bus“. And do you know what? It’s still not big enough.

So you probably do need to get a bigger car, but you will still need to decide on a roof box/trailer for all that camping gear……unless you get a van….

Should you get a van?

VW Camper VanIf we could afford one (and had the space) we’d get something like a VW T5 just for our weekend adventures. (An old Dub would be cool too…but way too expensive).

We wouldn’t sleep in it as a camper van (though this family of 5 do), and in fact, a T5 transporter would suit us as we’d use the front 2 thirds as a bus, and the last third as a van.

I’m seeing more and more families with T5s doing this. They no longer stay in the van, but use the van to transport the family tent and all the gear.

Unfortunately I have seen a couple of campsites say “No vans!” – I assume that doesn’t apply to small camper vans :-|

So back to the roof box…

Assuming a van is not within your reach, a roof box may be an obvious way to extend the space you’ve got.

And yes, this makes sense. It was the first ‘extension‘ to our car that we made. However, there are some drawbacks:

  • They’re not as cheap as they should be (in my opinion), plus you’ll need to get some decent roof bars to take the weight.
  • Most cars can’t carry much weight on the roof, even with decent roof bars. So if your tent is big and heavy, that will have to go elsewhere.
  • OK – so you’ll put sleeping bags in the roof box? If you do, make sure they’re water tight. We found a few times when driving to the West Country is some really wet and horrible weather that the roof box wasn’t completely dry. Mucky road spray would work its way in.
  • Getting things in and out is not always that easy. Our roof box is a ‘cheap’ Halfords one (the biggest I could afford), and there are better Thule designs than ours. However, if you get a bigger car (or a “bus” like us), the roof box could be very high up. You could always take some steps to help get things in and out, but the purpose of getting a roof box is to reduce the amount of stuff you put in the boot…so where are you going to keep the steps?
  • When you are not using the roof box, where are you going to put it? I have in the past left the roof box on from Spring through Autumn, but with rising fuel prices I worked out that my “laziness” was getting quite expensive.
    Our roof box now suspends upside down in the garage above the trailer.

Where do you put your roof box when not using it

Having said all that, the roof box is still useful. Wet tarps, beach gear, surf boards, some of the inflatable kayaks, folding paddles, wet suits, etc., all go in the roof box.

Getting a Trailer

You will need a tow ball fitted to your car (obviously). There are a number of places that can do this (we negotiated it with the price of the car when we bought it second hand).

But before you go out and buy the biggest trailer you can afford, you need to check what weight the car can pull.

There will be a towing limit, and also a maximum downward weight on the tow bar.

The trailer we bought was a Caddy 530, with side extensions to make it bigger. This trailer takes a lot of gear.

Leave your trailer packed full of camping gear so you can just hitch up and go for a quick weekend getaway
A big advantage of getting a trailer (if you can keep it in a garage), is leaving it packed full of camping gear all the time, which makes it a lot easier to get away for weekend breaks. Simply hitch up and go.

Here’s a quick video of our trailer (and very full garage!)

Locking your trailer

In addition to the size and weight, you want to consider the type of top that goes over your trailer.  We have a canvas cover which gives some flexibility when packing, but isn’t lockable. You will not want to leave your trailer unattended at motorway services for example (campsites have never been a problem though).

In fact, motorway services are a particular issue. It’s not uncommon for thieves to just unhitch a trailer from a car and drive off with it.

You can get a few locking mechanisms for when the trailer is attached to your car, but to be honest, it’s probably easier to just not leave it unattended when travelling. This will limit any stops you make on your journey though.

The Trailer Lock
A locking mechanism we have fits to the trailer when it is unhitched and prevents anyone hitching the trailer and taking it away. I recommend you get one of these too. View the Trailer Lock on Amazon

Here’s a little video on how the trailer lock works.

Packing your Trailer

Make sure you put heavy things over the axle. Your trailer should be well balanced.

We put our heavy Dutch Oven in the centre of the trailer.

We can easily and pull our trailer by hand (on the flat) when it it is fully loaded, and is balanced quite well.

Remember to always secure your load.

Driving with a Trailer

Watch your speed

Remember you will be going slower with a trailer, so take that into account for your journey to the campsite.

Don’t be tempted to go fast if you have a small trailer. Small light trailers will bounce around and could become very dangerous.

Trailers whose load isn’t balanced will also behave erratically; dangerously so at speed.

Watch your Sat Nav

Another thing to watch for is your Sat Nav as those scenic little detours over mountains and small lanes that they like to give could be problematic with a trailer. Reversing to a passing point on a narrow mountain lane when you have a trailer on the back is no fun at all.

Now do it backwards

Reversing has got to be the biggest thing to master when driving with a trailer.

We find this particularly difficult in our car as the trailer is lower than the rear window and narrower than the car. So when you come to reverse, it can be hard to see the direction the trailer wants to go.

To go straight backwards, the trailer must be in a perfect straight line with your car. If the trailer is at a slight angle to the car, the trailer will go in a different direction.

Effectively, when reversing, you have to steer in the opposite direction that you want the trailer to go.

Reversing with a Trailer

Trailer Maintenance

It goes without saying that you need to keep your trailer in good condition.

Secondhand neglected trailers aren't worth it
When we were looking to buy a trailer we looked at buying second hand. You can pick up a good trailer secondhand…but there’s also some rather neglected trailers. I would avoid those.
Thats the trailer packed. Who's coming camping?
We bought our trailer from new, and got a package that included a spare wheel and even a grease gun to keep the wheel bearings in good condition. I’m very pleased that we get the trailer from new.

Maintenance has been very simple: grease the wheel bearings, check all nuts are tight, check tyre pressure and tread, check electrics, etc.

Taking bikes and a trailer

If you have a trailer on the back of the car, then bikes could go on the roof of the car.

However, if you’re like most family campers, you will have got (and filled) the roof box on the top of the car. (Plus, if you have a tall car like ours, getting bikes up there is a bit of a challenge.

You can get roof bars for trailers, and you can fit a bike rail to the bars on the trailer – as long as you keep within the trailer’s weight limit.  This is probably the best way to take the bikes.

There is an alternative though…but not one we’ve tried yet, as you’ll see why.

Bike rack and trailer
We bought a bike rack that can fit onto the tow bar, but leave the tow ball free so that you can still take the trailer.

The bike rack has a plate that fits onto the tow bar, behind the tow ball. The rack just simply slots and secures to the steel plate.

This is great. Apart from being an affordable bike rack, it’s lightweight, quick to fit, and folds away. However, we’ve not used it when camping yet for the following reasons:

  • It can really only take 3 bikes, at a squeeze. There’s five of us and most of the bikes are now getting bigger.
  • You need to be carful of your tow bar weight limit. You’ll have both the bikes and the trailer to take into account. You could easily exceed the mounting point for the tow bar.
  • With more bikes on there you have less clearance between the car and the trailer. Tight turns (or when reversing goes bad) will mean squashed bikes.
  • You can’t open the boot with the bike rack attached.

So, as of yet, this great bit of kit has only been used without the trailer, despite buying it to use with the trailer :-/

Bike rack that works with trailer
If you don’t have as many bikes as us and are within the tow bar weight limit, this is a great little bike rack to get.  View bike rack on Amazon

Here’s a little video showing how the bicycle carrier fits with trailer attached.

Hopefully you’ve found that a useful little guide to getting a trailer (and roof box) for camping.

If you’re already using a trailer, share some tips in the comments below.


This post was originally published on Get out with the kids

]]> 0
Getting an Outwell – We look at why are Outwell tents so highly rated Thu, 03 Apr 2014 19:05:56 +0000 Getting an Outwell – We look at why are Outwell tents so highly rated

Outwell are considered to be leaders in family camping, but they do carry a higher price tag. We look at what you get with an Outwell tent and why they are considered so good.

This post was originally published on Get out with the kids

Getting an Outwell – We look at why are Outwell tents so highly rated

Most people would agree that Outwell is one of the leaders for family camping. However, the premium tents that they are well known for also come with a premium price tag. So, are they worth the money…

Outwell Doormat

Outwell tents are very highly rated for family camping, and most people would agree they’re pretty much the leaders in family camping. Unfortunately a lot of people see the price of the top end models, and think again.

In this post we look at what makes an Outwell tent so special, and start with the first question: “Why are Outwell tents so expensive?”

Why are Outwell tents so expensive?

Well the old adage is “you get what you pay for” or “quality” will be often quoted.

Those statements are true, but it there is more too it than that.

features that make family camping better
Outwell have designed many features that make family camping better. Some of these features are really small, but when you add them all up, they make for great family camping holidays.

What’s more, if you’ve been camping with the family for a few years, you’ll see that Outwell have solved a lot of problems you may have encountered. You can tell that the guys at Outwell are family campers too.

BTW, you can get entry level Outwell tents. Check out the Amarillo 6 for example. However, it’s the premium tents that carry the most design features….as you would expect.

Is an Outwell tent right for everyone?

No. If you’re wanting to backpack, then an Outwell not right for you.  (Though they do have some good popup tents – look at the Outwell Fusion 400 if you need something that’s quick to pitch when touring with your car).

I really recommend you look at what Outwell have to offer
If you have a family, want to give them a great camping holiday, you need places for people to sleep, places to store all their gear, places to cook, eat, etc., etc., then I really recommend you look at what Outwell have to offer.


if you have kids and want to go on holiday to Spain for a couple of weeks, how much would that cost?
And if you have kids and want to go on holiday to Spain for a couple of weeks, how much would that cost? An Outwell tent looks rather reasonable now ;-)

Here’s a video I put together as an example of an Outwell tent.

What do you get with an Outwell tent?

Outwell Hornet XL in the Garden
So we’ve got a brand new Outwell Hornet XL, which we’re going to unbox and show you just what you get with the tent.

The Hornet XL is one of the new polyester Smart Air tents for 2014. Inflating a tent is a lot quicker and easier than pitching with tent poles.

Although Outwell didn’t pioneer the inflatable tent, they have polished the design, and it also goes right along with their philosophy of making things easier with family camping – less time setting everything up, and more time camping with the family.

The Hornet XL is not at the top of the Outwell collection – for that, check out the Outwell Yosemite Falls - but the Hornet XL tent does have a lot of the Outwell features.

This tent is a 6 person tent (though we recommend it’s actually better suited as a 5 person). It’s a big tent. It has a big bag. With all the bits inside, the bag is around 40KG, so you’ll need two people to pitch.

The weight of family tents is always a consideration.  As your family gets bigger, so does your tent.  Make sure you can transport it and pitch it OK.

Outwell pitching instructions QR Code
A nice little touch is the QR Code on the printed pitching instructions inside the bag. Just scan the code and you can watch a video on how to pitch the tent…..but it’s really easy.
Outwell Hornet XL Tent Contents
With this particular tent you get:

  • an air pump with a pressure gauge
  • a spare valve incase should need to replace one
  • a bag of tent poles – although it’s air framed there is an eyebrow on this tent and there’s a couple of steel poles so you can erect a canopy
  • tent pegs – a lot of tent pegs
  • and of course, an Outwell doormat for your tent

The Outwell Easy Pegging System

Outwell are one of the few manufacturers that actually ship their tent with some decent tent pegs.

The different coloured pegs are know as the Outwell Easy Pegging System, making pegging out very straightforward.

Outwell Easy Pegging System - Metal pegs in the corners
The four metal tent pegs go into the four corners of your tent. You’ll find grey pegging points on the tent where these pegs go.
Outwell Easy Pegging System - Black pegs around the bottom of the tent
The black tent pegs go at the base of your tent. There are black pegging points around the base of your tent.
Outwell Easy Pegging System - Luminous tent pegs for the luminous guy lines
Finally, the luminous tent pegs go with the luminous guy lines.


Pegging point tensioners
Whilst talking of pegging it’s worth mentioning that this tent has tensioners at each of the pegging points. This enables you to get the tent nice and taught so that water easily rolls off if the dreaded rain comes.

The tent also has a valance around the base, which keeps any rain falling off your tent away from the sewn-in groundsheet.

Pumping instead of pitching

The Outwell Hornet XL is one of Outwell’s Smart Air tents, which means you pump up air into beams around the tent instead of the more traditional tent poles.

Air framed tents are very popular at the moment, and make it even easier to pitch.

Inflating the Outwell Smart Air
For this tent you use the supplied pump and inflate the tent to around 0.6 to 0.8 bar, using the pressure gauge that attaches to the pump.

Pumping was easy (I even got one of kids to do it), though it does get more difficult when the beams come up to pressure. It appeared to require less pumping than our inflatable canoe.

The tent was up in a couple of minutes.
We found it went up quicker with someone going into the tent as it started to inflate and just pushing up the beams. The tent was up in a couple of minutes.

There are a few other air framed tent designs on the market, such as Vango‘s AirBeam range of tents.

One thing we particularly like about the Outwell Smart Air system is that you only have to inflate one of the beams, and all the others inflate too. With some other brands you have to go to each beam individually and pump up.

But just in case there’s an accident and one of the beams gets punctured, there are shut off valves on the beams, so your tent remains pitched even if one of the beams fails.

Aren’t Steel Frame Tents more stable than Air Framed Tents?

Yes, a large steel frame tent should be very stable, but that doesn’t mean the Smart Air tents aren’t.

The Smart Air design includes cross beams to help keep the tent stable. Outwell also conduct wind tests on all their tents.  So your Smart Air tent is a proper engineered structure, and not like a cheap inflatable lye low!

Other features you may find on your Outwell tent

Outwell Guyline Retainer
Guy line retainers are just a simple little idea but can help by making it quicker to pitch the next time as you don’t have to waste any time untangling guy lines.
Outwell no trip tent entrance
We’ve tripped our way in and out of many different tents with bath tub style groundsheets. The problem with most bath tub groundsheet designs is that you have to step over the up turned groundsheet at the doorway.

We usually have some rubber car mats to put over the entrance. The weight of the mats holds the groundsheet down a little bit…but it does stretch the tent where it’s not intended to be stretched.

Outwell have solved this by making the groundsheet lay flat at the main entrance door. You zip up the door and it turns into a bath tub ground sheet again.

A simple little design tweak that takes one less niggle out of things.

Camp Bed in Wolf Lake 7
There are a lot of different Outwell tent layouts. Some have built in porches and shelters. This may be just enough to make a good entrance to the tent in bad weather, or a much larger outside/inside living space – where you won’t need to buy an additional tent extension.
Wolf Lake features
Some of the premium tents that have large porches also have hanging rails in them. If you’ve done any family camping in British weather you’ll end up at some point returning to your tent with soaking wet rain coats and muddy boots.

With these tents you can leave all your wet gear in the porch and hang your rain coats up to drip dry.

And you can also roll back the groundsheet so that you don’t create a puddle inside.

Wolf Lake 7 wardrobe with Luggage 80
On some of the top-end Outwell tents you get a walk-in wardrobe.

Now that may sound a little excessive, but when you have kids on holiday, you have lots of gear.

The wardrobe gives you somewhere to tidy a lot of the stuff away.

It also comes with a hanging rail. Now combine this with another Outwell innovation, the Luggage, and you can simply pack the family’s clothes in a bag at home, and after you get the tent pitched you can immediately hang the Luggage, unzip it, and you instantly have your clothes put away but ready to use.

Outwell low level window
Some of the Outwell tents have this low level window. You can unzip the inner tent in the bedroom and look outside. Great for checking the weather or what’s going on outside without even leaving the comfort of your warm sleeping bag.

Tent Materials

Outwell aren’t the only tent manufacturer to offer a range of materials, but they do have a good range.

You can get cotton canvas, polycotton, and polyester – with some higher than most hydrostatic head values for much of the range.

The Outwell Hornet XL in this example uses polyester fabric which has a 6000mm hydrostatic head and a 10000mm hydrostatic head on the groundsheet.

Not sure what all that means? Click here to read the pros and cons of different tent fabrics, and click here for an explanation of Hydrostatic Head.

Adjusting for Budget

Across the Outwell Range you can find a number of similar layouts, but at different levels of specification.

Here’s some examples of tents with similar layout from the Outwell 2014 range of tents. Note that this is only a subset of the overall tent range. Click on the Compare button to see more models and compare prices.

* Picture of layout is representative of the tents in that row. Actual dimensions vary for each tent.
Layout*Polyester, Fibreglass PolesPolycotton /Cotton, Alloy PolesPolyester, Air FramedPolycotton,  Air FramedCompare
6 Person and 3 Bedrooms

Outwell Whitecove 6Outwell Newgate 6Outwell Hornet XLOutwell Harrier XLComapre
6 Person and 2 Bedrooms

Outwell Nevada XLP

Outwell Yellowstone FallsOutwell Tomcat LPOutwell Concorde LComapre
5 Person and 2 Bedrooms

Outwell Whitecove 5Outwell Newgate 5Outwell Hornet LOutwell Harrier LComapre
5 Person and 2 Bedrooms

Outwell NevadaOutwell Niagara FallsOutwell Tomcat MPOutwell Concorde MComapre

Of course there are different layouts available too, such as the Outwell Georgia 5P that sleeps 5 in 3 bedrooms, or the larger 7 person Outwell tents.

Conclusion – Should you get an Outwell tent?

I recommend that you seriously look at Outwell tents
I recommend that you seriously look at Outwell tents, especially if you are planning camping holidays.

There are other brands of course, and we still like our Coleman Da Gama 6 (which even has a some features the Outwell Hornet XL doesn’t have – the reflective guy lines and the bug mesh on the front door).

Weigh up the type of camping you’ll be doing (i.e. just weekend or holidays), the layout you need, the features you want (including frame and fabric), and what budget you can afford.

a decent Outwell tent could make things make things a little easier
If you are just starting out with family camping and have the budget, a decent Outwell tent could make things make things a little easier, and you should be able to recover that investment over a number of years.

If you don’t have the budget, then start with something else. An Outwell tent may be something work towards.  You could always try an Easy Camp tent (I recommend you have a look at the Easy Camp Boston). Easy Camp is a sister company to Outwell.

Outwell also have their entry level Privilege Range, though you won’t get all the features mentioned above.

If you aren’t new to family camping, you may agree with me that the Outwell tent have a lot of features that will save you time.

I also recommend you check out some of the Outwell camping equipment. Look at the Outwell Luggage for example (mentioned above), which illustrates how Outwell thinks about more than just tents. I think it must be nearly a decade that we’ve been using our Outwell kitchen. One of the quickest items to put up.

there’s quite an active and friendly Outwell Camping Club
Finally, there’s quite an active and friendly Outwell Camping Club community. You can find them here on Facebook.

Family enjoying the Outwell Biscaynne Tent 600

Other Outwell Reviews

Click here if you want to see some more Outwell stuff on Get Out With The Kids.

This post was originally published on Get out with the kids

]]> 2
LittleLife Alpine 10 – a proper little backpack for your smaller kids Fri, 28 Mar 2014 07:13:41 +0000 LittleLife Alpine 10 – a proper little backpack for your smaller kids

We've found the LittleLife Alpine 10 a great backpack for younger kids. All the things you'd want in your own day sack, but scaled down for children.

This post was originally published on Get out with the kids

LittleLife Alpine 10 – a proper little backpack for your smaller kids

Finding a proper backpack for kids between the ages of 4 and 6 can be hard. Once again, LittleLife has the answer with the Alpine 10…

Hill top march
You want to be encouraging your kids to carry at least a few things from a young age. Otherwise they’ll always expect Mum or Dad to be a packhorse.

We’ve been using the LittleLife Toddler Daysack for years, which has been in regular use right up until today.

Unfortunately for our youngest he’s not a toddler anymore. In fact, he’s turning into a little adventurer.

The problem is that most of the children’s backpacks are still too large on him, and although you can get ‘bags’ for kids, we wanted a proper rucksack for our outdoor activities – one that would be comfortable to wear.

Once again, LittleLife has the solution with the Alipine 10 Kids Backpack.

Putting binoculars into Alpine 10 kids backpack
This is a proper backpack, but in miniature.

Decent straps, a padded mesh back, good material – and lot’s of pockets, including a couple if mesh pockets too.

Now he can carry a lot more than his previous day sack. That’s not to say we load him up ;-)

We keep his load lightweight. This is what he typically has in his bag at the moment:

  • Lightweight raincoat (see here)
  • His lunch and a drink (the drink is the heaviest item).
  • Sometimes a small pair of binoculars (see here)
  • He also likes to occasionally take a notebook and pencil for drawing
  • A toy often comes a long too – a dinosaur, car, plane, or Lego Star Wars figure

Recognising that this bag may fit quite young children, LittleLife have even included a toy loop on the bag.

LittleLife Alpine 10 Kids Backpack

LittleLife Alpine 10 Features

  • The main compartment holds up to 10 litres, which is more than enough for a child of this age.
  • It has a pull cord to seal up the main compartment to help keep its contents dry.
  • There’s lots of little pockets: one on each side and one in the middle.
  • Mesh pockets too. We find useful for carrying a child’s water bottle.
  • The shoulder straps are adjustable and there’s a chest strap too.
  • If you wanted, you can use the parent handle from the Toddler Daysack (see here), though with children of this age, you may only want to do that in crowded places where they could wanter off and get lost.
  • Little loops for toys.
  • The piping on the bag is reflective, which is a nice added safety feature.
  • Dimensions: 28 cm wide and 36 cm high.
  • Only weighs 380g when empty.

More information

Click here to find the Alpine 10 on the LittleLife website.

Click here for other reviews we have on LittleLife gear.

This post was originally published on Get out with the kids

]]> 0
A new sort of boot for kids (and warm too) Sun, 23 Mar 2014 06:59:27 +0000 A new sort of boot for kids (and warm too)

We've got through a lot of kids boots as a family. Here's a new design to the old welly boot that keeps your kid's feet warm and dry.

This post was originally published on Get out with the kids

A new sort of boot for kids (and warm too)

We’ve got through a lot of wellies with our kids, and now we’ve tried these ‘Bogs’ wellies from the US. So what’s so special about Bogs boots?

Splashing in Bogs wellies

We’ve 3 kids of different ages, we’ve had our fair share of wellies and hand-me-down boots. We’ve also covered kids wellies and our recommendations previously on Get Out With The Kids.

We’ll now a US firm ‘Bogs’ has arrived on these shores, and their boots are becoming very popular. So with our ‘middle one’ growing out of her current wellingtons, we gave a pair of Bogs boots a try.

Bogs: A different sort of welly boot

Bogs Welly
If you are used to the traditional Dunlop or Hunter wellington boot, you’ll immediately notice that these boots aren’t rubber all over.

For this type of Bogs boot, the Kids Solids Boot, the upper is made with a neoprene type material – the same you may find in a wet suit.

Bogs Kids Wellies are warm
This insulates well, making these boots really warm.

They say -30 F on the back of the boot, so no more cold toes when out for a walk in these!

The lower part of the boot is covered in rubber and looks more like a traditional boot, but the warm neoprene is still underneath.

We found these waterproof, even when getting the neoprene wet, which didn’t soak up the water as a wetsuit would.

Bogs say that it is a ‘waterproof Neo-Tech’ lined with ‘Bogs Max-Wick moisture-wicking technology’. All we know is that the water stayed outside the boots.

Bogs also say they have ‘DuraFresh odour protection’…so that’s good to know ;-)

The Verdict

Bogs Wellington Boots
So the verdict? Our kid has found them very comfortable, as well as a bit more trendy than normal boots.

We’ve not had them long, but they’ve been on a few walks, as well as surviving a Girl Guide camp in early March.

Here’s a review from the wearer…

If you want to know more about Bogs wellies:

In addition, you can find Bogs boots on Amazon.


Prices above were correct when we last checked. The price on Amazon may be different when you purchase. If the price is zero it doesn’t mean they are free but that Amazon is out of stock.

This post was originally published on Get out with the kids

]]> 0
Keeping kids engaged with these handy binoculars Fri, 21 Mar 2014 07:30:11 +0000 Keeping kids engaged with these handy binoculars

A handy pair of binoculars is a great way to keep your kids engaged on a walk by spotting some wildlife. We were really impressed with this cheap pair of pocket binoculars that does just the job.

This post was originally published on Get out with the kids

Keeping kids engaged with these handy binoculars

As a parent you want your child to learn about the world, and you also want to keep them engaged when out walking. Well, here’s another little tool to have up your sleeve… 

Off Exploring

We’ve been out walking countless times when we’ve spotted some big bird in the distance, or the kids want to get a closer look at some wild ponies, but unfortunately we didn’t have any binoculars.

Well actually I do own an old pair of binoculars, but they’re too big and bulky to carry around.

Fortunately we came across these great little binoculars.

Keeping your kids engaged by spotting wildlife

One of the great things about these binoculars is that they can be easily used by adults and kids alike.

They’re not heavy, and they easily adjust.

The only downside we’ve had is that we could do with more of them, as all the kids want to look through them at the same time!

When something interesting turns up, such as a bird of prey for example, ask your kids if they can spot it through the binoculars.

You could go on a walk specifically for spotting wildlife. Create them a list of things to try and spot before you go, and give them a small prize if they can spot all (or most of) the items on the list.

Visionary Binoculars

Visionary Binoculars Review – 10×25

The binoculars we bought are the Visionary 10×25, and can simply fold up into a little pouch you can keep in your pocket, your bag, or even fix the pouch to your belt.

They aren’t very expensive, but the build quality has been good.

They have a rubber coating, so they’re non-slip in people’s hands, but there’s also a cord to hang around your neck.

Being small pocket binoculars they are of course not the most powerful of binoculars where you can see miles into the distance, but they’re good enough for a family out on a walk spotting wildlife.

We bought ours from Amazon for around £10.

This post was originally published on Get out with the kids

]]> 0