Pitching a Tent without Pitching a Fit

A Guide to Summer Camping

 

After the snow melts and the flowers bloom, it’s time to get the family together and hit the great outdoors. There’s no better way to enjoy Mother Nature than with the people you care about most.

But what happens when the time comes to get serious and upgrade your camping equipment? Or what if you’re new to the game and don’t know where to start? Luckily, with all of the technological advances in tents, RVs, and other camping gear, getting the most out of your great outdoor experience couldn’t be easier or more affordable.

 

The first thing to do is find the correct tent for your needs. With brands like EUREKA!, American Trails, Coleman, and Suisse Sport, there are countless options to keep out of the elements while camping. EUREKA! offers the Tetragon 5, 8, and 9, ranging from capacities of two up to five people.

 

“The Tetragon series of tents are comfortable tents for the occasional camper. Tetragon tents are free-standing two-pole dome tents that are easy to setup, even for the first-time camper,” said Mark Hrubant, Senior Director of Camping for Johnson Outdoors Gear, LLC. “The Tetragon 9 is an excellent first tent for families as it has a six- foot ceiling, allowing most campers to comfortably stand up to change clothes or attend to the kids.”

 

David Avila, Western Region Sales Manager for Exxel Outdoors offers some insight into the American Trails and Suisse Sport brands, including some tips on what features to look for when purchasing a tent. Those features include height, both mesh and solid outdoor lining, removable room divider walls, and most importantly, a variety of sizes.

 

“There are many sizes to choose from. For example, we provide a 9×7 tent that can sleep up to 4 people, a 12×10 tent that can sleep up to 6 people and an 18×10 tent that can sleep up to 8 people,” Avila explained.

According to Hrubant, other tent features available on the Tetragon tents to keep in mind are outdoor awnings outside of the doors for inclement weather protection, elevated bathtub-style floors to keep dry, and mesh windows for proper ventilation in mild weather.

 

For campers who enjoy having indoor amenities, RV camping is the right route. But if you really want to experience everything that nature has to offer, tent camping enables people to go into areas that are left uncharted. Dunham’s has the tools to maximize the outdoor experience for even the most novice camper.

 

Coleman, America’s largest family camping company, has offered campers affordable, reliable camping equipment for decades. Items like their pack-away lanterns range from a personal size up to a full size, complete with a remote control and long-lasting lithium batteries. They also offer the Sundome series of tents which can shelter between two and six people comfortably.

 

For those campers who are chefs at heart, the Coleman RoadTrip grills offer at-home grilling abilities with the convenience of a fold-up, ultra-portable design, which is perfect for packing up for a trip. To get the kids involved in the mealtime preparation, Rome over-the-fire pie irons have been making pizza pies, sandwich pies, and dessert pies quickly and easily for years.

 

Want to avoid the sun on your trip? Try packing along a sun canopy. What about grilling up hot dogs? Pack up a portable grill with travel-sized propane tanks to grill up dinner like a pro. If insects are a problem, pack up insect repellent — both spray and electronic — and a screen house to keep the bugs out. Packing up a folding chair or director’s chair for gathering around the fire is also a must for ghost stories or sing-alongs.

 

According to Hrubant, EUREKA! offers a full range of camping equipment, including sleeping bags, sleeping pads, furniture, backpacks, and LED lighting. Exxel Outdoors also makes the only sleeping bags currently made in the U.S.A.

 

“As one of the premier sleeping bag manufacturers in the world, size, fill weight and material of the inner and outer bag are very important,” Avila said. “Depending on what you have planned, it is important to take the appropriate sleeping bag with you on your trip. For example, if you are backpacking in moderate weather conditions, it is probably suitable to take a light-weight rectangular bag, as opposed to taking a zero degree mummy bag.”

 

No matter how experienced a camper you are, Dunham’s has all the gear you need to make your summer as enjoyable as possible. With top brands like EUREKA!, American Trails, Coleman and Suisse Sport, just to name a few, even the most cost-conscious camper can enjoy the great outdoors.

 

-Happy Camper

 

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KAYAK — TO WHERE THE FISH ARE

Fishing from kayaks has exploded in popularity over the past decade, and for good reason. These small personal watercraft offer several advantages to the angler over conventional boats — no need for a boat launch, no noisy motor to scare the fish, and a nimbleness that lets you get into those tight spots where fish like to hide and where typical fishing boats won’t fit.
 
It’s Personal
 
It would be hard to find a more personal outdoor activity than paddling a single-seat kayak (two- and four-seat kayaks are also available). You propel yourself and go exactly where you want to go, which gives you the freedom to escape the crowds and find nature on your own terms.
 
That personal character of a kayak is something to keep in mind when buying one.
 
You will be spending a lot of time in (or on) it, so be sure it fits you and you are completely comfortable. Lucian Gazel runs a kayak fishing guide service on the Great Lakes, and he says you can do that without actually putting a kayak in the water. “In the store, you can sit in the kayak, get a paddle and move your arms and you can tell right away if you’re too restricted or if you have a good fit.”
 
Your individual needs go beyond just how the kayak fits, however. Where you will use the kayak and where you will fish are also important. If you’ll primarily fish in open water — large lakes — then stability may be more important. If you’ll spend most of your time on rivers and smaller lakes, then mobility and nimbleness may be bigger priorities.
 
Accessorizing Your Kayak
 
While kayaks are able to go where conventional fishing boats can’t, their relative smaller size means a whole different strategy on carrying your fishing “stuff.” Space is at a premium, and you have to carefully plan how you’ll carry rods, reels, tackle, bait and all the other gear you can just throw into a fishing boat.
 
So, what do you need and where do you put it? The experts agree that the key is to start slow. “I wouldn’t buy any kind of fishing accessory for a kayak until I’ve had the kayak in the water at least 3 or 4 times,” says Gazel. “The mistake kayak rookies often make is they put their rod holder in a place that interferes with their paddling. The problem is, once you’ve drilled that hole, you’re pretty well stuck with it.”
 
There are numerous accessories for the kayak angler — rod holders, storage for bait and fish, tackle boxes, running lights, anchors, drift chutes, seatbacks, paddle keepers, fish finders — the list goes on and on.
 
Kayak veterans say newcomers should keep things simple, at least at first. All you really need is a rod holder. Then, after a few trips you can adapt your kayak fishing gear to your own experiences. There’s plenty of time to stock up on your “toys.”
 
Catching Fish from a Kayak
 
Kayaks give you a built-in advantage of “stealth” fishing, and the ability to go just about anywhere the fish are. Still, there are different techniques for fishing from a kayak.
 
Trolling — Just as with a conventional boat, but you can troll in tighter areas. You drift with the current or paddle, dragging a lure or bait.
 
Drifting — You can drift in the general direction of a structure. Put away your paddle and use a rudder to steer.
 
Side Saddle — From a sit-on-top kayak, this is an excellent technique in shallow water where you can see bottom. You can control the kayak without a paddle, using your feet to “walk” across the bottom.
 
Poling and Standing — Standing lets you see down in the water for excellent sight-casting. Obviously, this takes a very stable craft in calm waters. You can use a pole to propel yourself.
 
Fly Fishing — Easier in a sit-inside kayak, because you’ve got a perfect place to store a stripped fly line.
 
Wade Fishing — You can anchor the kayak, or you can tie yourself to it with a bowline.
 
Once you’ve fished from a kayak, you may never go back to the “old” way. And you may also find you spend plenty of time in your kayak without a fishing rod, simply enjoying nature.
 
CHOOSING A KAYAK PADDLE
 
Choosing the right paddle is very important — you’re going to be using that paddle virtually every moment you’re in the kayak. Lucian Gazel’s advice is simple: “Buy the most expensive paddle you can afford.”
 
3 Paddle Characteristics
 
Blade Length and Shape
 
A wider blade has more surface area and can provide more acceleration, but will also require more effort. Feathered blades have the blades turned at an angle to one another (rather than parallel). This allows a more efficient stroke as the blade that is not in the water is leading into the wind with its narrow edge instead of the flat side, for less wind resistance. However, additional wrist turning is required, so a compromise for novice paddlers is a collapsible paddle that can be adjusted for feathered or unfeathered use.
 
A spooned paddle has a curled or cupped face that increases the power of a stroke, while a dihedral paddle has a type of tapered nose in the middle of the face that helps direct water around the paddle.
 
Shaft Length and Shape
 
Length is important based on your size, the size of the kayak and the paddle effort desired. While most paddle shafts are straight, there are several bent-shaft models that may increase a paddler’s comfort as well as provide for a stronger, more efficient stroke.
 
Materials
 
The materials used to construct the paddle will determine its weight, durability and flexibility. Paddles may be made of fiberglass, plastic, aluminum, graphite, Kevlar, carbon or good-old-fashioned wood. Each type has its own feel as to weight and flex. Where you kayak is also important. If you primarily use rivers, streams and small lakes, you are more likely to run into rocks, trees and other debris, so durability is more important than if you primarily kayak in open water.
 
-Paddle Bum
 
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Golf with Arnie

[Written by Arnie Kander].
 
Before you get up on the tee box and swing away, Detroit Pistons strength and conditioning coach Arnie Kander suggests you take a few minutes to maximize your swing and warm up.
 
What I see, and I’ve golfed a lifetime, is there is always a rushing process when you get to the first hole. Sometimes it’s 30 seconds, a minute, do not rush the process.  Take your time; go through all of the body parts that need to be warmed up.  Golf is a sport that involves multiple joints that have to move together.  If they move together, not only will you have more flexibility in your golf swing, but you’ll have a lot more productivity and you’ll feel a whole lot better about  playing golf.  So before you get to the first hole, there are a few simple movements. You’ll need about 10 minutes to warm up:
 
1. Ankle Flexibility: Golf is a game of lowering your center of gravity and is also a game of using your ankles to begin the initiation of power.  The ankles create a pronation, supination component in golf that can only occur, that transference of power to the ankles, when the ankles have been warmed up.  Use the club as a reference tool to keep your back square, unlock your ankles and do some ankle flexes. Do 10-15 repetitions.
 
2. Small Rotations: Get into a golf stance with the club in your hands horizontally, grabbing the top and bottom of the club.  Feet are square, the club close to the body and begin to do very small rotations without turning your legs.  You’re unlocking your ribs and loosening up your shoulder blades.  Do as many as you need to until your back starts to feel warm.
 
3. Extended Rotations: Extend your arms out and continue to do rotations without turning your legs.  You’re starting to warm up the back and shoulders. This will give you the maximum flexibility through your back.
 
4. Transfer of Weight Rotations: Extend the club and let yourself shift your weight as you come through.  It’s still level to the chest, unlocking the back shoulder.  You’re beginning to transfer the weight and you’re beginning to unlock the front hip.
 
5. Lower the club: Engage the back. Lower the club down, take the movement slow, do not take it to your end range.  Slow, controlled and methodical.
 
6. Unlocking the hip: Put one foot behind, as if we’re stretching our calf out.  If it’s the right leg, hold the club in front and push the club out across so the club is actually facing the left side of your body.  What this is doing is connecting the shoulder to the chest to the hip to the calf.  In a golf swing, that translates to the ability to come through a swing and unlock it.  Then do the same on the other side.  So now we’ve warmed up the ankles, we’ve warmed the hips up, we’ve worked on the rotations, and we’ve warmed the spine, what’s left? Get on that first tee, line it up, and take the club back slowly.  You hit, you follow through and now you’ve got the maximum flexibility and the potential performance of a golfer.
 
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Little League, Batter Up!

Choosing the right baseball bat for your little leaguer can be a challenging but also a highly rewarding experience. A tremendous amount of science and engineering goes into the design of today’s bats. Many feature exotic combinations of aluminum, zinc, copper, magnesium and titanium. Others use synthetic composites and space-age bonding materials. New technology also helps reduce weight, enlarge the hitting area and improve overall energy transfer.
 
For most little league players, however, it still comes down to length and weight. Here are some general guidelines to use in selecting the appropriate length of a bat by age or weight and height.
 
Determining Bat Length by Age

AgeBat Length
5 – 724” – 26”
8 – 926” – 28”
1028” – 29”
11 – 1230” – 31”


 
Bats are also available in a number of different weights, measured in ounces. A concept called bat drop can also help young players increase both swing speed and bat control. The bat drop is the weight of the bat in ounces minus its length in inches. For example, a 21-ounce, 31-inch bat has a bat drop of minus 10 (21 –31 = -10).
 
One way to determine if the weight of a bat is right for your little leaguer is to have them grip the bat with one hand and hold it straight out from their body. They should easily be able to hold it in that position for up to five seconds. If not, try a bat of the same length but with a greater minus bat drop.
 
Before selecting any bat make sure it fits and feels right in your little leaguer’s hands. Also make sure it conforms to all league guidelines for length and weight. Choosing the right bat will help your child develop good batting habits that will stay with them for a lifetime.
 
-Home Run Hitter
 
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