l O'Meara Camping Practical Hints & Tips
Address: Sunshine Industrial Estate Crumlin Road, Dublin 12
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O Meara Camping's Practical Camping Hints, Tips & Checklist.                                            

Family Tent Camping Checklist:

This list was put together by Dervla O Meara mother of 4. So please forgive that the list is mostly tailored for the family camper.

Essentials:

  • Family Tent. - Of course depending on the size of your tent and the size of your family this list below could be bigger or smaller. We have a huge amount of tents to select from and the staff are all experienced campers and some with young children so we know what is required.
  • Footprint  - These are great to protect your tent plus make for a faster take down time.
  • Tent Carpet  - Great invention for the camping makes your tent warmer and more comfortable.
  • Tent Extensions or Gazebo if your tent requires more room. If you want more room but dont want to or cant afford to upgrade you might make do with one of these.
  • Proper Pegs (Ask the campsite what type of ground they have, as you Will need certain pegs for different ground types. See below). Rock pegs are a must have in my opinion for your peg bag.
  • Mallet. - Need this or a hammer. Some campsites will have very soft ground and you might be able to just push your pegs into the soil.
  • Sleeping Bags (See sleeping bag information section). - Remember you don't want to be cold or your kids to be cold. You get NO sleep when your cold. You get what you pay for with sleeping bags. Cheap generally means Not Warm Enough!
  • Pillows.
  • Airbeds / Sleeping Mats / Camp Beds (if your airbed has a rechargeable pump please ensure its charged before you leave home). I could go on and on about this section. The most comfortable thing i can slept on camping was a self inflatable mat on a camp bed but i was 37 weeks pregnant at the time and i certainly wanted to be comfortable. This is of course an expensive sleeping arrangement. Airbeds are compact and inexpensive SIM or self inflate mats are lovely and durable and small enough in the car. Camp beds are bulky and take up alot of room in the bedrooms of the tents so careful when purchasing ask first.
  • Pump & the suitable airbed connections. (If you have a new Air Tent then i would recommend to bring a spare!)
  • Lanterns / Torches / Head lights. - Totally up to the individuals i bring a range myself. Head torches for the kids running around at night. A couple of battery lights for when you sitting outside but its getting dark. And a mains light for in the tent living area.
  • Spare Batteries.
  • First Aid Kit (Burns, Insect Bits, Cuts, etc...).
  • Bottle Opener / Corkscrew.
  • Washing up Liquid & Sponges & Basin. - Alot of camp sites have wash up sinks but alot do not have the stoppers in them so bring a basin this way you can even wash up at your tent just boil a kettle of water and away you go. I have done this many times especially if you have very young kids and cant bring them all over for the daily wash up.
  • Tea Towel's.
  • Kitchen Roll, Baby wipes or Detol wipes for the general spills.
  • Washing line or Rope + Clothes Pegs.
  • Washing tablets most camp sites have washing and drying facilities (for an additional charge) but you would also have to buy your washing tablets.
  • Dirty Clothes washing bag. (Or heavy duty plastic bag).
  • Matches or long lighter for gas cooker etc.
  • Dustpan & Brush (for cleaning your tent floor). I even brought the hand held dyson hoover before but i did get a few looks :-)
  • Water carrier or container. You need to have water at the tent that's for cooking like pasta, tea, coffee etc.
  • Bin Bags (Roll at least).
  • Ducktape or tent repair kit.
Furniture:
  • Table. - Range to choose from. All depends on how many you need to seat etc.
  • Kitchen Unit. - To put your cooker on you dont want to be sitting on the ground cooking and some cookers will burn your table to be careful.
  • Folding Camping Chairs. - You pay for what you get again. I am all on for comfortable chairs for mam and dad and the kids dont sit down much.
  • Storage Cupboard or Boxes.
  • Wardrobe (for clothes storage or plastic boxes if you have the space). Just cleans up inside your tent good when you are away for a period of time cause it can be almost impossible to keep a tent tidy with small kids so this way you have somewhere to put stuff.
Cooking:
  • Double Gas Stove, Gas Hose, Jubliee Clips for Safety, Full Gas Bottle. - We would always recommend a gas bottle cooker as you will then have enough gas for your trip. We could again recommend the camping gas cylinders as they are small and transportable but they are expensive to initally purchase. We sell the gas cartridge cookers also but they eat gas so think about this carefully before you purchase. 
  • Pots & Pans. - You only need a couple as you are washing up 1-2 times a day.
  • Kettle. - If you are getting electricity on the camp site then you can have a mains kettle I just use the whistling kettle.
  • Plates, Bowls, Cups, Glasses (Melamine is more resilient).Melamine is very good stuff as it is both dishwasher and microwave safe.
  • Cutlery. - make sure to pack enough not just 1 item of each per person as if you do this everything will be dirty after your first morning fry up.
  • Sharp Knifes
  • Chopping Board. You wont have the same space to food prep in a tent as you do at home so chopping boards are great.
  • Tin Opener.
  • Strainer / Sieve (if cooking such as pasta).
  • BBQ. - If you like the BBQ then dont forget the utensils or even if you dont bring the BBQ bring the utensils anyway you might just feel like it when your at the camp site and then head off and buy one of the disposable ones. Cant resist the smell of a BBQ.
  • BBQ Utensils.
  • Cooler Box & Ice Packs or you can use ice. - Best option in these cases is both a plug in cooler for your Milk, butter, cheese etc and then a ice box for the drinks like water, juice, beer etc... Be careful in choosing these items ask for advise as some cheap plug in coolers barely cool so don't expect your milk to be cold! but again you pay for what you get the Dometic brand is a very good brand of cooler. As for the ice boxes again the thicker the insulation the longer your stuff will stay cold. Some ice boxes will have the ice melted within the day and the better ones will hold the ice for 2-5 days in some cases.
  • Kitchen Roll.
  • Coffee, Tea & Sugar.
  • Essential food from your home (pepper, salt, cooking oil, pasta, sauces, soups, tomatoe sauce etc).
Personal:
  • Wash Bag (Shampoo, conditioner, soap, sponge, tooth brush, tooth paste.)
  • Toilet Paper (maybe required at times). bank holiday weekends especially..
  • Towels (beach towel and shower towels).
  • Insect repellent.
  • Sun screen and aftersun.
  • Wet gear, Wellies, Flip flops or crocs, You are nearly always walking on wet grass so any footwear that doesn't require socks and runners as hard to dry them.
  • Pants that are not touching the ground this will save you again trying to dry things
  • Buckets and shovels for the kids, depending on the camp site there could be fishing sailing skiing etc. check out the camp site for details
  • Swim wear so that you can head off to the pool for the day or go to the beach.
  • Warm jumper for sitting around at night
  • Blanket for sitting around outside again at night or encase your sleeping bag isn't warm enough
  • Water bottles - handy to have and never use.
Optional Extras:
  • Electrical Hook up Lead (Provides you with electricity on site for a small extra cost). If you go down this route there are lots of items from home which you can bring to plug in like the ipads, phones, portable tv for the kids,lights, toaster etc.
  • Heater (Low wattage as you are restricted to your power consumption on site).
    • ​​Most campsites will offer electric hook-ups on some or all of their pitches. These provide a 230V supply, which can power most of the appliances you might use at home. However, campsites tend to have restricted supplies (they are generally rated at 16A or 10A, sometimes as low as 5A on campsites abroad), so you need to be careful what you use to avoid ‘tripping out’ the system. Tripping the electrical supply can make you unpopular on site. The least you will need to do is contact the site manager to ask him to reset the system. In some cases you will also have stopped the electricity supply to your neighbours’ pitches and on a cold winter’s night this will not go down well… Dont bring a heater over 2000Watts
  • Camping Toilet. - These are brilliant especially if the toilets are a bit of a trek away or you have some kids. I use one and find it brilliant having 4 kids cant go back and forth to the toilets 10 times a day.
  • Suitable toilet chemicals. - Household chemicals will not kill the smell. 
  • Windbreakers. - Some people like them some don't. Great for the beach or to keep the kids close to the tent.
  • Kid's Game or Board Games, colouring books and colours. Toys, Glow sticks etc.
  • Walkie talkies are great for the kids.
  • Plastic containers for collecting frogs insects etc if your into that (great for when at rancho reillys)
  • DVD Player or I Pad and some movies for the wet days or to help get them off to bed at night.
  • Camera. - Your phone these days will do it all.
  • Radio & Speakers. - Blue tooth speakers for a little light music during the day.
  • A good Book.
  • Chargers. - for Everything unless you want to escape technology for a couple of nights.
  • Wooden skewer sticks and marshmallows for the open fire
  • Bubbles and anything like that i have even seen small mini paddling pools on the camp sites.

Dusting off your gear:

1. Check your tent. You carefully repaired and cleaned your tent before it went away last winter right??? But its always worth your while to open it up again before going away to make sure that everything is ok. Check that your poles are all there and intact and that your tent was dry and no mould or mildew has grown on it.
2. If repairs are required best to do them before you go away and do not postpone.
3. Open & Air or even wash your sleeping bags have them fresh for your camping trip.
4. Check your airbeds for any leaks and repair or replace if required nothing worse then sleeping on the cold hard ground.
5. Unpack your gas stove and check that its working and make sure you have enough gas for your camping trip.
6. Check that all your Lanterns and Torches have fresh batteries or bring the spares along.
7. Clean out your ice box and freeze your ice packs for your first day camping have some spare ice packs to place in the campsite freezer when you arrive but have them labelled.(Better ice boxes will keep ice for a few days now.) It is worth checking out the section on ice boxes.
8. Check for any latest items that will make your camping experience even better this year. Perhaps the Wardrobe or the Camping Toilet so there is no more late trips to the bathrooms with the young ones.



​Setting up your Tent:

Practice: 

  • It is essential to practice erecting your tent before you go on holiday. That way you can check that all the components are there, and you will know that you’re not going to make a hash of it when you get on the camp site. Dome tents also need to be erected at home prior to using.This sensible tip will avoid any problems when you are away. Large dome tents do need practice. Some can be very difficult to erect for the first time. Practice of course does help hugely. Most of the Tents have tension straps on the outside of the tent which are attached to the ring and pin system for the Pole Tents or Pegging Point for the Air Tent which can be adjusted.
  • Please ensure that the tension straps are not tightened too much as this will put pressure on the Tent zips and internal connecting bedrooms. Please also look at our tips for Air tents,
  • WEATHERING:
    It should be noted that all new and used tents should be weathered before holiday use. The canvas or tent covering material requires a few soakings before it fully closes.The first time it rains a fine spray will probably come through, but it will soon stop. If you pitch a tent in a period of drought do not resort to weathering it with a hosepipe. If a seam persists in leaking they can be proofed with a wax treatment, Fabsil can be applied or indeed seam seal. Always apply seam seal on the inside of the seam. Remember that all needle holes make a hole in the tent material. The stitching is designed once it gets wet a few times to expand. Once expanded the stitching seals the needle holes. Most modern tents have a pre seam sealed tape applied to the inside of the fabric covering the majority of these stitching holes.

  • Remove any sharp stones from the area you pitch your tent on to avoid damage to the groundsheet. Avoid pegging the pegging points and guy ropes too tightly to allow for strain from e.g. strong wind and children tripping over the pegging and guy ropes points. Ensure zips are closed during pegging & erection. Hammer pegs into the ground at an angle for greater stability keeping the tension even on all sides. Dirt should only be removed from your tent by a soft brush and clear water. Do not use detergents, as this will effect the waterproofing of your tent. If however your tent requires to be cleaned you may have to reproof it afterwards.

  • Be gentle with zips:  
    If you want to stay warm and comfortable inside your tent, take care of your tent zips.  Never force them. Take the strain off by cross pegging at the base and keep them closed when they’re not in use. Peg out your tent with the zips closed. Metal zips can be waxed if they become too stiff to use, nylon ones do not need attention providing the teeth are kept clean. Always close zips before packing up your tent. Make sure there is not too much tension on zips and do not attempt to use them while they are under tension. Tension can be released by bringing the pegging points closer together either side of the zip. (Because of the general misuse of zips tent manufacturers will not guarantee zips.) 
    Treat zips with care.

    Zips are not guaranteed. 

Dealing with Mildew: 
  • Mildew is a fungus which attacks cotton that has been stored in a wet or damp condition. Eventually the cloth will rot completely if the mildew is not checked by drying out the cloth thoroughly, brushing carefully and re proofing areas as necessary. A mild solution of Milton baby bottle cleaner will usually neutralize the mildew. When rotting does occur the affected area should be cut out and replaced by a patch or a new panel. 
  • All tents must be stored dry otherwise mildew will grow on your tent and destroy your tent. Tents can be stored wet for no longer than 24 hours! 

Images of Mildew on Tents.
     


Condensation:
 

  • Tents, like houses, can have condensation issues. Condensation will occur in all nylon tents, especially in humid conditions, and the synthetic roofs commonly found on frame tents are more prone to condensation than cotton roofs. When condensation forms leave it on the roof and it will dry naturally. Do not try to remove it by slapping the roof.  This will just cause a shower and dampen everything in the tent.  Increasing the ventilation helps to reduce the incidence of condensation.  Condensation is most noticeable first thing in the morning. All tents especially those made from synthetic materials experience condensation. You must use the ventilation points provided. Do not confuse condensation with leaking

Images on Condensation

  • CAMP SITING: 
    If you want a comfortable holiday, try to find a flat level piece of ground to pitch your tent and check the ground for stones and sharp objects. Beware however of the grassiest spot in the campsite because this is often where all the water drains after rain and you could be on a very squelchy spot. Avoid pitching under trees that drip sap and do not pitch your tent while a bonfire is burning because the smoke can cause temporary damage to the canvas. Before erecting your tent it is a good idea to lay down some polythene now they have footprints!, to protect the underside of the inner tents and the ground sheets. 

  • When it rains: 
    You can’t hope to be lucky with the weather all the time, so it is best to memorize a few simple hints about camping in the rain.  First, in wet weather, make sure that nothing chafes against the tent fabric as this may allow water to seep in.  Check also, that the inner tents are well clear of the sidewalls. In rain or heavy dew the canvas will probably shrink a little, but this is simply the weave of the canvas closing to give maximum protection. If the tent is pegged under correct tension it will go back to its normal size, but if the tent is packed away wet, at the next stop the tent will be found to have remained in its shrunken state. Gradually increasing the tension on the pegging while the tent is up should bring it back to its proper size. Large dome tents may need to be re pegged in the rain and or at night time as the material tends to stretch and loosen in the rain. 

  • Dry weather: 
    There are also dry weather hints that are worth remembering. Like: cotton cloths can be weakened and faded by prolonged exposure to strong sunlight. With normal holiday and week-end use, a tent will have many years of life, but if it is to be left standing for an extended period in a sunny climate, play safe and seek a shady site. 

  • Fire Hazard: 
    When you are enjoying the novelty of living under canvas it is the easy to forget that fire precautions are even more important than when you are at home.  Mostly they are just plain commonsense. Keep naked flames and gas appliances away from tent materials and never change gas supplies or re fuel stoves inside the tent.  Keep them well away from naked flames and don’t smoke. Don’t cook inside small tents and avoid oil splashes. Keep a fire extinguisher or fire blanket handy. 

  • Striking Camp: 
    Striking camp usually means going home, so there may be a temptation to pack your tent any old how and worry about later. Resist the feeling. Take note of these last four hints and your tent will reward you with many more happy holidays. Try not to pack up the tent when it is wet. Remove any mud or grass from the tent and roll it up towards the door to let the air escape. If you have to pack the tent when it is wet it should be fully erected and pegged out under tension as soon as possible and allowed to dry thoroughly. Clean and dry ground sheets, poles and other items before packing them away. 

  • Tent Storage:
    Tents are best stored fully opened out in a dry well aired place. If this is not possible, give the tent a good airing on a dry day at least once or twice during the winter. Always pack poles and pegs carefully to avoid damaging the canvas or groundsheet in transit. 

  • Tent Maintenance: 
    Remove dirt and stains either by brushing or by gentle washing with “Tent Clean” or a mild solution of “Fairy Liquid” or a similar product.  Never use detergents, and don’t scrub.  Rinse well, dry, and re- proof only if necessary. If tent fabrics start to leak or wear thin, seems or panels can be re- proofed with any proprietary spray, solution or wax. Small holes and tears should be patched with eyelets checked and renewed if necessary. It is a good tip to spray the curtains tapes, etc. attached to the walls of the tents with a spray re-proofer as many of these are supplied un proofed and tend to act like a wick. Please check with us the correct treatment for particular materials. 

 

Pegging Tents:
When you are pegging down your tent drive in the pegs at an angle for maximum grip. Don’t overstretch rubber guy loops. Use a proper peg extractor or another peg to pull up pegs. Never tried to pull them out by pulling on the rubber guy loops. If your tent needs extra guying points attached a seamstress can do it for you. A tent with no external guying points can be guyed on the inside. O'Meara Camping have a range of different pegs in stock. Always carry a range. O' Meara Camping have "pile driver" pegs and everyone should at the very least have some. 

  • Always peg all points and guy ropes to allow for changes in weather. Peg guy ropes close to tent to avoid people tripping and damaging your tent. Note synthetic material tends to expand at night so re peg before going to sleep.  

In the picture shown above, I show how a tent should be properly pegged. This kind of pegging equally applies to Dome tents, Frame tents, Caravan awnings, Party tents gazebos etc. The tent in the picture really is well pegged and guyed and would / should withstand most bad weather.

The pegs supplied with some tents are so poor that they are next to useless in hard ground. Some pegs are so poor that they should come with a warning! O Meara Camping have sourced spare extra pegs that all campers should purchase and bring with them.The pegs are useful in most conditions and can be hammered in with a proper hammer. Please do purchase some extra pegs.

There are many different types of pegs used for different ground surfaces. Common sense should tell you that short pegs are useless in sandy conditions. Soft pegs will not get a grip in hard ground. Long pegs are great in soft ground but impossible to hammer down far enough in hard ground; so you fall over them. Special sand pegs are so expensive that O Meara’s who did carry them in stock only to discover that no one would buy them.

Do carry a range of pegs. Do bring spare pegs and spare guy rope. Do bring spare rubber bands. Rubber bands are incredibly robust for pegging and act as a shock absorber. Children invariably fall over pegs and guy ropes but where a rubber band is attached the fall does not usually tear the tent as the rubber stretches and takes the shock. If you can peg using a rubber band (even where rubber bands are not supplied)  the rubber bands will extend the life of your tent.
Image #1 & #2 are the "Continental Peg" Ideal for sandy conditions and they have a large groove which can grip the ground better giving the peg more grip.
      
Image #3 is the plastic peg again ideal for sandy conditions. However plastic pegs can break and not to be used if the ground is too hard or cold as plastic become brittle when cold.

More #4 & #5 are the "Skewer Peg" they come in a variety of lengths and strenghts. Most suitable for soft ground.

   
Image #6 is the Tie Down Peg / Anchor Peg. Ideal for securing down a Marquee or Ratchet Strap. I have even used this peg for pegging down my Trampoline.

Image #7 is our most popular peg its the "Rock Peg". Its a must have peg. When pitching your tent on hard ground or where there are a lot of rocks beneath the surface the rock peg will hammer through almost anything.

Image #8 "Wooden Peg / Ash Peg" 



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Maintaining Your Tent:
Poles:

O Meara Camping carry a range of replacement poles to suit the tents that they supply. In an emergency you can repair a damaged pole by sleeving the damaged area or by binding it with strong duct tape. Ideally purchase spare poles and spare shock cord for your tent day one so you can carry out a repair on site. Elastic cord is only a device to keep your poles in one section. Do not use the elastic to pull the poles out of the sleeve. Poles should be pushed out so as not to damage the shock cord. It is time consuming to repair shock cord. The replacement is a simple D.I.Y. job. O' Meara Camping will replace the shock cord for you but you have to pay for the shock cord and the time it takes to thread it through the poles.

Dome Pole Replacements:
O Meara Camping have a section under accessories where you can source dome tent poles in sections. The poles generally need to be all replaced at the same time so the integrity of the set is the same. Left over poles will then get you out of any trouble in the future. Scout groups are advised by O' Meara Camping to buy the same tents where possible so that spare parts are inter changeable. On line purchasers of tents not supplied by O' Meara Camping may not be able to replace broken poles easily as we may not have the diameter of pole originally used. Some unusual tents have made there way to us with two widths of pole used in the same section of poles. It just means that a repair is going to be much more expensive ..as they say be careful out  there. 

Tent Repairs:
Tents get a fair old battering from the weather and sometimes we can even trip over a guy rope!  A roll of duct tape is a handy spare in the event of a tear. Seam Grip will repair a straight tear and all that is needed is tape on one side of the tear and seam grip the other side. The tape can be removed as soon as the Seam Grip has cured. The repair is almost invisible and fantastically good. A seamstress or sewing machine can repair most damage by sewing the damage back using the tents own material or by using a patch. The tent bag is usually the same material and colour and a good source of patching material. 

Zips: 
Not guaranteed so treat with care. Modern zips are fantastic but use a bit of common sense. Peg the tent to protect the zip bursting open. Zips can be replaced by a seamstress but the cost can be frightening. Sometimes the removal of the original zip can take hours and time is expensive. 

Guy lines, Rubber bands, Shock cord:
All these parts wear out and need to be examined and replaced as necessary. Rubber bands are used at pegging points as they act as a shock absorber. The rubber bands need to be regularly replaced as they perish and loose their elasticity. Shock cord needs to be replaced as soon as signs of weakness appear on the elastic string.

Sewn In Groundsheets:
Many modern tents have complete ground sheets sewn in to the tent. Be careful to remove sharp stones underneath so that the ground sheet does not become damaged. O Meara Camping sell ground sheets of all sizes that you can use underneath if you wish. The stronger the groundsheet underneath the better.

Waterproofing Your Tent:
Cotton tents particularly need to be weathered before they become fully waterproof. Stitching is usually cotton and it needs to get wet to swell and fill the stitching holes. Taped seams has helped hugely in smaller tents. Water inside your tent may not be a leak!  Condensation with synthetic tents is a big issue. Ventilation is the cure. Ireland with dampness and colder nights makes condensation worse than most countries. Ventilate the tent by opening doors windows flaps when the weather allows.

Fabsil:
Is the main waterproofing solution. The tent should be clean and dry before the waterproofing is applied. A brush or spraying device may be used. Fabsil comes in small aerosol cans for small uses. Golf gear, ski gear as well as camping gear can benefit from waterproofing action. I have even used Fabsil to waterproof a motorcycle jacquet!  Larger tents may need to be erected to waterproof them. A bucket of Fabsil and a clean / new brush need to be used to apply the liquid. Start from the roof and work your way down. Leave about a foot 30 cm at the ends as the liquid will gravity feed down itself if applied with a brush. Fabsil will slightly alter the colour.  In my experience a gallon is needed or more for a family cotton tent. After using Fabsil the tent will need airing to get rid of the smell of Fabsil.

Fabsil how it works:
Fabsil is a liquid wax. The wax is made liquid by the addition of white spirits. The white spirits act as the carrier for the wax and once applied starts to evaporate. Wax is left behind making the material waterproof.
Fabsil is manufactured by Grangers and their web site is (http://www.grangers.co.uk/product.cfm?cat=17&productid=22)