Sleep In The Dirt

We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Tent

Essays From the Field
Photo by: Eric Hockman. “Life’s about to get pretty in-tents this spring, because this lil fam is growing by one baby boy. Speaking of tents, looks like we’re going to need a bigger one…”

My first big adventure with my wife entailed bikepacking 540 miles across the Rocky Mountains. For those 15 days of humbling and rewarding, cycling bliss on the Colorado Trail, Donna and I learned countless lessons along the way. Arguably, the most important of all was how to coexist with a smelly, exhausted and perpetually hungry significant-other in a 28 square-foot, two-person tent. The best decision we made was selecting the Fly Creek UL as our first Big Agnes shelter, kitted out with down-filled sleeping bags and Q-Core SLX air pads. On that trip, we had discovered the true meaning of Mother of Comfort. 

Our next big trek was on par with the best American road trip stories that literary legends like Steinbeck and Kerouac wrote about. With our Subie packed bumper-to-bumper with gear and our pup, we spent 42 days on the road, sampling the best single-track from the Great Smoky Mountains to the Olympic Peninsula. We decided for that trip we’d need a slightly larger shelter to fit the three of us, so we went with a Manzanares two-person tent, which offered two doors instead of one and dimmable mtnGLO lights to really set the mood. It was also on that trip, we discovered we could zip our sleeping bags together to make a tandem sized bag – a serious win when you’re camping as a couple.

Photo by: Eric Hockman. Donna and Zephyr sit in Big Agnes Big Six chairs, enjoying each other’s company at camp.

Then last summer, we rediscovered our love for backpacking and found adventure closer to home. Our new gear list included a bag of wine, cans of craft beer, a block of cheese, plenty of snacks and a good book. Most important, a camp setup that made us never want to go back inside. We went all out with plush AXL pillows and pads, toasty Sidewinder bags and a luxurious Salt Creek two-person tent, complete with a shade awning for sunny siestas with the door wide open as we came and went all summer.

While our gear has evolved to suit different trips over the years, one thing has remained the same — our unwavering thirst for new adventures together. We’ve laughed and cried, swam in freezing cold alpine lakes and taken bird baths in snow fed creeks. Through it all, we’ve learned lessons that can only be taught when you find the edge of your comfort zone. And as our latest adventure of becoming parents takes shape, we’ll soon be shopping for a tent with even more room to accommodate our growing family. For now, we are happy to share those lessons we’ve learned together, camping as a couple.

Best Camping Gear for Couples

Camping Tips for Couples who Adventure Together

  • Be a team – Whether you’re setting up or breaking down your campsite, making a meal, or hanging a bear bag in the dark, team-work makes the dream-work and allows you to get to relaxing a whole lot sooner.
  • Mind your space – When you’re cooped up in a car for long stretches together, sharing a tiny footprint for an extended trip, or just plain ole hangry from a long day of hiking or biking, give yourself and one another some room to breathe… you usually have plenty of it when you’re outdoors.
  • Bring your creature comforts – For us, that includes things like a cozy tandem sleeping bag with camp pillows, real food and beverages like aged cheddar, a bag of wine on backcountry jaunts, and fancy meals cooked on our two-burner stove rather than freeze-dried astronaut food out of convenience.
  • Enjoy the moments of discomfort – We all know being in the outdoors presents lots of variables that may be somewhat uncomfortable, just remember what doesn’t kill you usually makes you stronger and those moments of challenge are usually comical to reminisce about in the end.
  • Bring a journal – for every big trip we’ve ever taken together I have kept some form of a journal by recapping the days and jotting down various stats along the way. It’s nice to flip back and remember some of the details that I didn’t take a picture of.

About the Author: Eric Hockman – Adventure Seeker.
Since childhood, Eric has developed a profound love for wild places and exploring what nature has to offer. He enjoys an active outdoor lifestyle centered around cycling, camping and philanthropic projects to protect our environment. He hopes to inspire more people to get outside. Follow Eric’s adventures on Instagram @hockdub

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