March 21, 2016
The storyteller pauses. The crackling of the campfire and the chirping of the crickets fill the tense air. The near silence is broken by the storyteller’s shout and the children’s screams. Then it all dissolves into laughter. Another ghost story creates another memory.
Camping remains one of the favorite pastimes for Americans, with more than 46 million people making trips into the outdoors in 2014, according to the 2015 North American Camper Report. More than 41 percent of the study’s respondents said camping outings improve or strengthen family relationships.
To create the atmosphere for all that bonding, families need the right gear. And a reputable outdoor retailer can put together a gear checklist that culminates with fun. Here are a few reasons why a trip inside an outdoors store should be one of your first steps toward the Great Outdoors:
Nothing turns an adventure into a disaster quicker than being wet and cold. The associates at an outdoors retailer can explain why those cotton socks and T-shirts should stay in the drawer and not go into your pack. Synthetic fibers (better at wicking) and other natural fibers (wool is antimicrobial, so it doesn’t hold odors) are much better options. Knowledgeable sales associates can explain how some raingear options are more breathable than others, and highlight features you might want (hello, pit zips for venting heat buildup). Staff members are there to advise on sun protection, insect protection, the layering system and footwear. Their clothing product knowledge just might prevent you and your family from having a bad experience.
You have to sleep somewhere, you have to eat something, and you need to see at night. You know, gear essentials. Good associates can explain the pros and cons of tents, hammocks, tarps, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, cots and more. Cooking for a crew? You’ll want to know which camp stoves and cookware have features that allow you to wow your diners. Going light? You’ll want to know which backpacking stoves use what fuels, and which ones are light and packable and which ones are easy to use. Need a light? You may want to illuminate the night in a hands-free manner (headlamps!) and the inside of the tent to keep monsters away (lantern). Turn to the folks at the store who have been there and can run you through all the options.
Most Americans who camp have another activity in mind. Hiking to a scenic overlook. Paddling to a remote shoreline. Photographing wildlife. Hunting game. Diving over marine reefs.
Whatever the other endeavor, there’s usually specific gear associated with that pursuit. Which snorkels and masks are right for you? What boot fit will prevent blisters? Is this the right paddle for your long-distance kayak trip? Sales associates at the better outdoor shops will have used many or all of the gear options and can tell you what works best for your situation.
The sales associates at Bill Jackson’s are hired because they love outdoor pursuits and have the ability to share their knowledge and first-hand experiences with others who share their passion for outdoor fun. Come in and see for yourself.