Outdoor skills for city slickers: Tips for camping, layering and a no-cook meal
24 Oct 2022
The Straits Times
SINGAPORE - From hiking through crisp winter air to falling asleep to the white noise of cicadas, there is something restorative about time spent in nature. Still, most people do not want to rough it out. They want a holiday, not a boot camp, and certainly not a rehash of national service.
That is why it is important to be prepared, says Decathlon product owner and outdoor lover Ng Cheuk Tow, 29, whose role includes ensuring a seamless customer experience for online orders. From staying warm during winter to sleeping well in a tent, she shares tips on how to enjoy the great outdoors in relative comfort.
1. Camping 101
Camping is fun, but pitching a tent is fiddly. There is a frame to put together, wind to battle and tent pegs to hammer into the ground.
Go for a pop-up tent instead. Sports retailer Decathlon’s two-person, two-second instant camping shelter ($49.90) does as its name suggests and springs open easily. Folding it back into the disc-shaped case takes a little longer, about a minute or two, but is easy once you get the hang of how to twist and fold the metal frame.
The tent is best for shorter folks, or kids – a 1.63m-tall person will not be able to stretch out his or her legs fully inside. But it does make a good day shelter for a beach vacation. And at 1.5kg, it will not add too much heft to your luggage.
For a good night’s sleep, lay your sleeping bag atop a camping mattress – self-inflating ones do not require a pump. An inflatable pillow offers neck support and is more comfortable than laying your head on a folded towel.
Pack a headlamp for late-night toilet runs. The lamp can double as a tent light when suspended from a carabiner or an S-hook. And a first aid kit with bandages, safety pins, scissors and gloves will come in handy to treat small cuts and insect bites.
2. Avocado toast – an easy, no-cook meal
Say you are in Switzerland, Norway, or one of those countries where the average McDonald’s meal costs about $15. What is a cost-conscious traveller to do?
Avocado toast to the rescue. Once derided as the brunch of choice for overspending millennials, it actually makes a budget-friendly meal that you can whip up without a kitchen.
Make this for a camping breakfast, or in your hotel room for a packed lunch before hitting the hiking trails. If you are preparing food outdoors, look for a picnic table or use a foldable camping set to elevate yourself away from bugs on the ground, says Ms Ng.
Cut open an avocado and scrape its contents into a bowl. When choosing a ripe avocado, go for a dark brown fruit. If in doubt, press the nub gently, which should yield just a little.
Dice some onion and tomato, and add a dash of lemon juice to keep the avocado from turning brown. For flavour, add a sprinkle of salt and pepper, or any extra seasoning you have on hand. Mix it all up and spread on toast, or store it in an airtight container and have it with crackers.
3. Staying warm in winter – how to layer for the cold
Start with a base layer. This traps a layer of air next to your skin, which is warmed by body heat, so pick one that is fitting.
Decathlon’s ski base layer costs $7.90 each for a top and bottom, while Uniqlo’s Heattech long-sleeved T-shirt and leggings, at $19.90 each, are thinner and lighter.
Layer on a fleece jacket – turtlenecks are a good substitute for a scarf. Finish off with a down jacket with a waterproof coating. The women’s mountain trekking down jacket with hood ($69.90) from Decathlon, for instance, will keep you toasty between 5 and minus 5 deg C. While doing sports such as hiking or snowboarding, peel off the layers as you get warm.
Gloves and a beanie or ear muffs retain heat. And if you are hiking, wool socks will keep your feet warmer than cotton ones, as they retain their insulating properties when wet, or sweaty.
Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.
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