Our Easter trip to Philadelphia and Mexico was cancelled due to COVID-19 and our summer holiday plans to France are in doubt, but after our Camping adventures in the back garden, we might be trying to find somewhere in Scotland we can get away for a few nights.  Not sure how we’ll all fit in this Amazon 4-man tent though!

This is another one of those things inspired by YouTube, only this time it isn’t something I’d stumbled upon but something my daughter had found on Kids YouTube!

I still haven’t actually watched it, so she could be making it up, but has done a splendid job of explaining it in great detail, so I’m now bought into the idea. It’s called the ’24-hour Out Door Challenge’ and as the name suggests, we have to spend 24 hours outdoors.

There are some rules! We only have 10 minutes before the challenge starts to gather together everything we need for the 24 hours outside. We are not allowed to pre-pack any bags, although can have bought things in advance to help us complete the challenge. I wasn’t happy about relieving ourselves in the garden, so have negotiated that we can use the toilet in the house, but that’s the only concession she’s been willing to make.

When we first discussed the idea, we didn’t even own a tent, so that was the first purchase. Amazon do a ‘Basics’ range of tents which had remarkably good reviews given the price, and given this might turn into a one-off, I thought I’d play it safe and spend less than £50! We had a pretty old inflatable mattress in the garage, although I wasn’t sure how well that stayed inflated and had a vague recollection of it deflating during the night the last time it was used.

We’d agreed that aiming for 24 hours might be setting the bar a little high for our first attempt, so had planned an overnight as a dry run. The tent arrived in the middle of the Easter holiday (Easter Monday to be precise) so no excuse not to putting it straight to use, other than the temperature. We weren’t very well prepared from a sleeping perspective but had taken 2 double duvets and a single, and we’re pretty well wrapped up with some thermal clothes from a previous Lapland trip.

We didn’t go out until about 19:30, read a couple of chapters of the book we were reading (James and the Giant Peach if I remember correctly), ate a bag of crisps, chatted and laughed a lot before a small ‘laugh-induced’ toilet incident cut the 1st attempt short. It’s easy to see how it happened, given how quickly the inflatable mattress defalated and how much we laughed, but less than 2 hours (probably closer to 90 minutes) wasn’t the best start to our 24-hour challenge.

We’d prepared a little better for attempt two, including buying a Vango Self Inflating Mattress (it’s the older version of this) and 2 x 3-Season Berghaus sleeping-bags that were almost half price. It didn’t happen until the beginning of May, so the weather had improved a little, and if anything I was too warm with the sleeping-bags and the double duvet we’d taken with us. There were no accidents, although there were a couple of toilet-stops during the night, one of which involved waking up my partner who had accidentally locked us out!

We made it through the night though, and my daughter was over the moon the following morning after getting probably around 7-8 hours sleep. I think my Withings watch suggested I’d managed about 2-3, and it certainly felt like that for the rest of the following day. The self-inflatable mattress didn’t sag in the middle, but the 5cm version I’ve bought doesn’t provide a huge amount of support and didn’t work well when I tried to sleep on my side, which turns out is the way I usually sleep. On my back, it was just about OK, but if I was buying again I’d go at least 7.5cm if not 10! I’ll probably end up buying another 5cm one if we venture beyond the back garden!

We did another overnight a couple of weeks ago, which went even more smoothly and I actually got a little more sleep and felt less stiff the following morning. I think I’d made more of an effort to try and sleep on my back, and the weather was much warmer, probably too warm for the 3-season sleeping bags I’d picked up on special offer. They are super-warm, but not quite long enough for my 6’4″ body, so I’ve ordered an XL version of a similar model which hopefully doesn’t feel quite as ‘mummy-fitting’

At the beginning of July, once home-school as finished, we’ll be trying a 12:00 noon start and then overnight, but back in the house in the morning. Once we’ve managed that, adding on another 5 hours the following morning shouldn’t be too difficult to make the 24 hours. The tent is perfect for playing in the garden, and probably fine for a couple of people camping from a car, but it won’t be much use for the 3 of us + dog if we were to venture further afield.

To be honest, neither me or my partner are what you’d call ‘campers’ and much prefer being pampered at a nice hotel for a holiday, but given COVID-19 it might be something we do a little more of short-term. My daughter really seems to enjoy it, and I have so vague memories of camping trips as a child, so watch this space. Who knows where our Amazon Basic tent might end up 🙂

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