Archive for the ‘2008 Christmas Gift Guide’ Category

Camping Games Aren’t Just For Kids

Monday, March 12th, 2012

Who says games are for kids? Some of best times I’ve had while camping have been during a game of ladder golf and nobody would mistake me for a kid anymore!

Give the gift of fun to your friends and family who go camping by giving them a great camping game! Here’s my favorites: ladder golf game picture

Ladder Golf
(also called blongo ball, hillbilly horseshoes, hillbilly golf, redneck golf, and a few other names that I can’t put in print). It’s my all time favorite camping game. It’s also a great game to play when tailgating. The game is played by throwing bolos (2 golf balls connected by a string of rope) at a three-rung ladder with different points values awarded depending on which rung (if any) the players hook their bolos on. The first person or team to 21 points wins.

cornhole game picture
Cornhole – It’s another tossing game where beanbags (traditionally ones filled with hard corn kernels hence the catchy name of Cornhole) are tossed at a hole on a board and points are scored for getting the bean bag through the hole, and also usually for getting the bag to land on the board. Yes, this list of my favorite camping games will be heavily weighted with tossing games but that’s because it’s not exactly a good idea to play a tossing game in your living room.

washers game picture
Washers – yep, it’s another tossing game but this time it’s large oversized washers that are thrown at a target. There’s a lot of different variations of the game but I like the version pictured here because the two boxes used in the game hook together and close up with enough room inside to store the washers which makes it a great game to take camping, tailgating, or for a day at the park.
bocce ball game picture
Bocce Ball – It’s a lawn bowling game that originated in Italy. It’s meant to be played on a flat grassy surface but we’ve found it’s more fun and more challenging when the terrain is uneven, hilly, and has obstacles in the way like stones or trees. We can pretty much make any surface we have available to us at the campground work. If we went back to playing it on a flat grassy lawn we’d probably think it was boring.
frisbee golf picture
Frisbee Golf – Our family plays it by choosing whatever targets are available to us whether it’s our camper, a picnic table, a tree, etc. Then whoever can get their frisbee disc to the target first wins that round.

It’s important to have some indoor games handy when camping as well because those rainy days will happen which means you and your family will want something to do besides stare out the camper window and wishing for the rain to stop.
camp board game picture
Camp Board Game
is a fun outdoor themed game for kids as well as adults. The goal is to get to camp first. Along the way players learn fun facts about the great outdoors.
planet earth monopoly game picture
If you want to give a more traditional board game with an outdoor twist, how about the Planet Earth version of Monopoly? Instead of buying properties players buy, sell and trade the earth’s more beautiful environments and mysterious creatures.

So don’t delay. Gift the gift of fun today!

Best Portable Coolers For Camping

Monday, December 22nd, 2008

Unless the camping enthusiast on your list has a motorized camping rig with lots of cold storage space, good quality coolers are essential items. Why not surprise your favorite camper with a brand new cooler for Christmas? To make it an extra special gift, tuck a couple of gift cards from your favorite grocer, beverage mart, or butcher shop so they can pick up some items to put in the cooler when they head out on their next camping trip.

Yes, Christmas is only a few days away. But there’s still time to get a cooler to put under the tree. Just choose a model that has overnight shipping available or take a trip to your nearest sporting goods store to pick one up. Look for one that has excellent insulation and will keep food cold for at least 4 days; or choose a plug in model that won’t need ice. My plug in cooler (which has a multifunctional plug that works in both my vehicle cigarette lighter socket and outlet inside my popup camper) is my favorite by far because I never have to worry about the ice freezing my carrots or foods getting waterlogged when the ice melts.

Best Digital Cameras For the Outdoor Enthusiast

Sunday, December 21st, 2008

Best digital Cameras for outdoor enthusiasts

Have you ever noticed how your camping vacation photos look nothing like those cool landscape shots you see framed in posts? Or how that wildlife shot you took barely shows the wildlife?

Taking great nature photos isn’t so much about having the right camera (although there are a few things to look for) as it is about having the right technique. I could probably write a book about it, but fortunately, someone has saved me the trouble, so I’ll give you a few tips here and then recommend you read The Nature Photographers Complete guide to Professional Field Techniques.

Nature Photography Tips:

Take lots of pictures. This is probably the best way to get better pictures, just take a lot of them. Try different things. Experiment. This is really the best way to learn to start taking better pictures in general and it definitely applies to nature photography.

Also, be mindful of the amount of light you have to work with. Great light is generally the time of the day when the sun is low in the sky. Many professional photographers spend a lot of money on cameras with fast lenses to take advantage of this brief window each day so just keep that in mind even if you opt to stick with a more economical camera and don’t forget that you can also take a thermal camera, which can be very fun for the outside.

Remember that the number one rule of nature photography is do not harm.

Okay, so let’s move on to gear considerations and then I’ll get to a few good cameras to consider.

Get a camera with manual override. You need to be able to override the automatic functions on your camera when taking nature shots and you’ll want it to be easy so if you have to navigate through a dizzying array of menus, you’ll want to pass on that camera.

Get a camera with depth of field preview and some for of mirror lock up.

Finally, get a camera that is upgradeable and that has a lot of accessories available.

If you plan on taking wildlife shots, then a telephoto lens will probably serve you well.

Okay, let’s start talking brands here. Most professional photographers use either Nikon of Canon cameras. Minolta is number 3 on the list. While there are other quality cameras available (such as those from Leica and Sigma), I’m going to recommend you stick with Canon or Nikon.

Here are my top 5 choices for cameras for shooting nature and wildlife photography (pick one that fits your budget (they range from about $400 to $4000) – links to each camera are available in the photo below, just use the arrows to select the one you like:

1. Canon EOS -1D Mark III
2. Canon EOS 40D
3. Nikon D300 DX 12.3MP Digital SLR
4. Canon Powershot S5 IS
5. Nikon Coolpix P80