* I've bought a lot of tents. I like the ones with vertical walls and metal poles. check out this video on "how to choose a family tent"
*1 the tarp under your tent helps protect the floor of your tent to make it last longer. The tarp over your tent keeps you dry. I've had too many rain proof tents leak so I just go ahead and use my tarp over the tent. In my experience, The floor is going to get wet even if you have a tarp under it. But check out this video for making a "tent foot print"
*2 Get a cot that is rated to hold 500 lbs. cots set up fast and takes up less room and provide storage space underneath. I got a NEBO sports outfitter cot (XXL) through Amazon.com with the Alliance Sports Group, L.P and it shipped really fast.
*3 sleeping bag liners : no matter what your sleeping bag is rated for, they are never warm enough. I have one rated for zero degrees and I was froze when it was only in the 40's. something as small as a sleeping bag liner makes a big difference, there is one more layer to trap the warmth. Air mattress or cot, when you are off the ground you need insulation under you. be sure to have an insulation pad (yoga mats work) you can get an insulation pad at Walmart for not much money, at the camping stores, they cost as much as $30.
*4 a product similar to thermawrap is available at walmart in the camping section of the store. It is very inexpensive per unit and you activate it when you get in your sleeping bag and it stays warm for 8 hrs. Put it near your feet.
*5 wool keeps you warm even when it gets wet.
*6 mole skin is found in the drugstore by the foot products. This stuff is great if you get a blister you cut out a doughnut shape of this stuff and put it around the blister.
*7 big ice lasts longer than small chunks that you get with bagged ice. Save clean gallon milk containers fill them with filtered water and freeze (leave room in gallon jug for the ice to expand without breaking the jug. When the ice melts you have drinkable water to cook with. You also don't have a bunch of water in your cooler from melting ice because your ice is in a container. It takes a while to freeze so plan ahead, the ice can last a week or more. I also freeze small water bottles when they melt you have great drinking water.
*8 last time I camped I left the doors open while I was packing up stuff to leave so that the next day I could pull out faster and about 80 flies came in my tent and I had no way to get them out. When I got home I had to set up the tent to dry it out because it was pouring down rain when I was packing to leave that morning. All the flies were still in there and most of them were still alive.
Packing up a tent in the rain at 4 a.m. is when you really need your positive attitude. I had my rain poncho and wool sweater, wool rain hat, wool socks and rubber boots. Even though I got a little wet, I was still warm. Luckily I had a dry place to change my clothes for the drive home.
*9 On extra stuff: you may think, well I'll bring extra forks and plates for all my friends. Don't you'll end up washing all your friends dishes for them while they are off listening to music. And don't take paper plates and plastic forks, come on guys you are trying to be out in nature try and be green make a small carbon footprint.