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Bank Holiday Camping?

So it’s the last Bank Holiday of the year in the UK and it’s a mixed weather report for those who are planning on camping. At the moment the weather on Friday and Saturday isn’t great, however Sunday and Monday could be a little brighter.

So those planning on the quick getaway may want to delay a little as the weather won’t be great on the Friday and stay a little longer on the Monday evening.

Remember any bank holiday in the UK will see campsite increase prices a little and get booked up. Book before hand if possible even it’s just ringing ahead and have one or two alternative locations just incase.

What ever happens have a good one and enjoy the last bank holiday of the year!

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Camping Pod Death – Tragic Accident

We’re big fans of camping pods after spending a weekend at Grizedale Camping ground, however a coroner ruled that a “tragic accident” happened back in March when a man died in a pod.

Christopher Bainbridge, 45, from Darlington was staying at The Quiet Site Caravan Park in Ullswater, Cumbria. He died when a barbecue filled the pod up with carbon monoxide causing Mr Bainbridge to be poisoned.

Three days later his wife Jane Bainbridge, 42, was found in the pod by staff at the campsite suffering the effects of the poisoning. His death was recording a verdict of accidental death.

Julia at the camping pod we stayed at

If your going to staying in a camping pod don’t be temped to star a fire in the pod, ensure any fires or use of camping stoves are outside the pod.

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SPAM SPAM SPAM

It’s summer time, you’re ready for the beach, no doubt you’ve packed your sandals, T-shirt, shorts, beach ball and a cool bag for snacks. That’s what we did, expect all of our’s were branded by SPAM. I’m not joking.

Our choice of beach accessories isn’t however driven by hipster irony but by SPAM’s marketing department who are attempting to break into the camping market. Historically, this isn’t such as bad idea given that SPAM was the main staple for millions of allied troops in the second world war who were given it as part of their ration packs. Russia’s Nikita Kruschev once said that “Without SPAM, we wouldn’t have been able to feed the army”.

For camper and soldier alike, SPAM at least on paper, has a number of benefits; it’s hermetically sealed, it doesn’t need to be refrigerated, it’s versatile and it contains lots of protein, all perfect for long car trips or post nuclear survival.

Despite all this, SPAM, which is apparently derived from “shoulder of pork and ham” has been the punchline of many jokes across the years from Monty Python to VIZ. It’s easy to see why too, in SPAM’s “SPAM : The Cook Book”, there are twenty pages of SPAM facts and propaganda before you reach the actual recipes. Perhaps my favourite is the SPAM caesar salad. It’s a chicken caesar salad but with SPAM instead of chicken. Other recipes include saffron, sherry and Gruyere. Presumably if you’re spending money on “the most expensive spice in the world”, then perhaps there are better meat accompaniments than SPAM. It’s hard to decide whether this is tongue in cheek or not. The author, Marguerite Patten is either a comedy genius or in need of urgent mental health treatment.

Regardless, at Outdoor Enthusiasts, we don’t judge, we test. Then judge, actually. So without further ado here are the results of eating a week of SPAMtastic (not my words) recipe ideas :

Deep SPAM pizza : It’s a pizza, with SPAM. Apparently variations include mushrooms or green pepper slices with more SPAM. We however went for the traditional deep SPAM, with, you guessed it, cheese and SPAM. The page also tells us that the ladies who were employed to sing SPAM songs, were known as the SPAMMETTES. Just don’t look that up in the VIZ profanisaurus for goodness sake.

SPAM Pate : Actually, this one is pretty good and I can see it being used on a camping trip. Very few ingredients though presumably most campers will be leaving out the sherry. It’s easy to knock up after a hard day’s walking and tastes much better than you might think.

Pennywise Paella : Another sensible suggestion actually. To make this, all you need is the SPAM and a bit of rice plus whatever veg you can lay your hands on. Perfect for multi day trips away from shops. This page tells me that saffron is the most expensive spice in the words and comes from the crocus. Unlike SPAM which is the cheapest meat in the world and comes from pigs shoulders. Not eyelids where I originally thought. Credit where credit is due.

Pork Stir Fry: After a nearly a week of eating SPAM based camping foods I have almost totally overcome my aversion to the “meat”. Again, SPAM stir fry is another sensible camp meal that could use dried noodles, a packet sauce and of course the trusty SPAM.

Hawaiian Pork : Apparently, the Hawaiians are keener on SPAM than any other nation. There are no statistics to back this up but there you have it. The stir fry is like a vegetable stir fry, but with SPAM.

OK, It was a working week of SPAM based meals. Five days of SPAM based nutrition is enough for any body, it’s not 1948 after all. On balance, the SPAM products are good for multi day hikes where shops aren’t available, but then, so are RTE meals, which are often tastier and lighter, if not more expensive. For the budget hiker SPAM is a sensible staple which will not spoil in a ruck sack and not take up too much room, but as a dinner table ingredient?

Perhaps that’s just down to personal taste, but I personally, will be changing the settings on my SPAM filter.

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Self Inflating Mats – Buying Guide

We´ve blogged about self inflating mats before on the site, however with new products being released all the time we thought it would be good to create a small buyers guide.

Type : Three options, manual, self and solid. Manual you have to blow up yourself, self just open the valve to inflate and solid don´t inflate. As this blog is about self inflating mats we suggest to pick a self inflating mat, they are smaller, lighter and easier to inflate than manual inflating mats and much more comfortable than solid mats.

Thickness : The thinnest self inflating mats are around 2cm all the way to 10cm. As you would expect the thicker they are the more comfortable they are. However the thicker you go the heavier the mat, and the more space it takes up. The thinner the mat you also will be colder as you´ll be nearer to the ground. Often when sleeping outdoors the cold will effect you more from the ground than above and around you.  Prices tend to be higher for the thicker models.

Before buying try to see the mat rolled up so you know how big it´s going to be when it´s not being used.

Length: It´s an obvios point but measure yourself and then check against the size of the mat, try to  get one just slightly longer than yourself. You also need to check it´s going to fit in your sleeping compartment in your tent, lengthwise and widthways.

Some mats do come in a “short” version which covers your torso but not your legs, if you´re not too bothered about your legs these can be a good option as they are easier to carry.

Pillow : Some models such as the Vango Adventure 5cm standard include a raised pillow for your head. It´s great if you haven´t got a pillow already, however the feature does add extra weight and size.

Single / Double : Models are coming out now to cater for two people, pretty much the same as a single sleeping mat but double the width. Great if you like to snuggle at night and if you are the owner of a double sleeping bag. If you´re coming with kids you should be able to get three kids on the mat. Not great if you´re walking or backpacking as they are too big to attach to the back of a rucksack.

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Look What We Found Camping Food 33% off!

We blogged sometime ago about Look What We Found food when we sampled some at the Outdoors show last year. It’s food great for camping as it doesn’t need to be kept cold and can be cooked easily. Even if your not camping it’s great for taking to work.

To start of 2011 there’s a great off with 33% off many packs which is a great offer.

So head over to www.lookwhatwefound.co.uk and pick up a great deal for the new year.

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Stuff sack or Dry Sacks?

Kifaru Compression Sack
Image by Pig Monkey via Flickr

If your planning on backpacking or camping for a while you might want to get a stuff sack or a dry sack. But what exactly is the difference from a stuff sack and a dry sack?

Stuff sacks are essentially for compressing  down clothes in your back to save space. Often the sack with have a pull cord on the top and then straps around the the side to reduce the size of the sack. Depending on the clothing in the sack you can reduce by a large percentage. Stuff sacks on the whole are not waterproof and this is where dry sacks come in.

Dry sacks are waterproof, to seal the top often the top will fold flat around velcro several times. Then buckles at the top of either side clip together to stop the top opening. Packed correctly they can be submerged under water and keep the insides dry.

So which one to pick? If your not planning on swimming with your backpack, it’s waterproof or it has a waterproof cover then a dry sack isn’t going to be a great help to you. It can be great if your swimming or have a wet clothes to keep them away from dry gear.

Compressions sack really help when your on a long term trip and need to fit as much into your bag as possible. The ideal solution is to have one each in your pack and if possible get a dry sack with compression features.

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Last minute Christmas gifts

Camping in Amsterdam

Image via Wikipedia

If your still looking for last minute Christmas gifts then how about some camping or outdoor gifts. Here’s some ideas for under £15 that you can get in time for the big day.

1) Torch – For 9.99 you can pick up a 9 LED torch which is great for all sort of accessories. Click here

2) Small day bag – Great for documents, laptop or going to the shop. best of all only 14.99. Click here

3) Berghaus Wash Bag – For 19.99 the Berghaus wash bag is great for campers or anyone travelling around. It folds out with a mirror, pockets and also a hook. Click Here

4) Gerlert Hot pad warmers – Click and they get hot and warm up your hands. Great if you get the bus or walk to work. Click here.

5) Berghaus Food Flask – Only 9.99 for a food flask that keeps hot foot hot and cold food cold. Great for camping and taking food to work. Click here.

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Clumber Park trials Mongolian yurts

Yurt, Centre of the Tsogttsetsii sum (district...
Image via Wikipedia

Clumber Park in Nottinghamshire is offering visitors the option of staying in a Mongolian yurt for a more luxurious stay.

A yurt is a portable, wood-framed dwelling which has been traditionally used by nomads in Central Asia. The yurts offered by Clumber Park come complete with a double bed and cooking stove, and are aimed at “glampers”. They are 22 ft round and sleep up to 8 people. Also, they have a skylight at the top so you can watch the stars as you fall asleep.

The park is trialling the Mongolian yurts until September 2, 2010, and costs a hefty £100 a night.

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95p camping deal is back

The Mirror’s 95p camping deal is back. After a successful promotion earlier this year in March, The Mirror has today decided to launch the same deal which offers readers the opportunity to go camping for 96p a night at selected campsites in the UK.

Simply collect the vouchers which will be printed every day in the Daily Mirror until August 11. Each voucher entitles you to one night at a campsite (basic pitch only) for the total price of 95p.

The list of campsites participating in the promotion will be listed in a pullout in today’s Daily Mirror. Stays are only valid between September 1 and November 30of this year while the maximum stay is 7 nights (with 7 different numbered voucher that is) making the price of the total stay £6.65 – what a bargain!

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Sleeping Bag Compression Sacks

Kifaru 20F Slick Bag in a #1 (small) Kifaru Co...
Image by Pig Monkey via Flickr

Sleeping bags are often bulky to carry which is why a compression sack is really useful. Most sleeping bags come with a compression sack which allow you to stuff the bag into a smaller sack and then compress by tightening the straps.

If your going to a festival or backpacking it can be useful to have a second compression sack for your clothes. When backpacking saving place space in your backpack is really important, compressing your clothes can reduce the space your clothes take up by as much as a third.

You don’t even need to buy a sleeping bag to get your hands on another compression sack, shops like Millets and blacks sell the bags without the sleeping bag. An added bonus can also be the bag is waterproof which comes in handy in down pours or if you have to leave your bag outside.

So if your struggling to pack your clothes think about getting a compression sack.