For those of us who enjoy the atmosphere of a well set up camp site, we tend to put more thought and effort as to what camping gear is needed to do so. I’m sure that most of us, who go camping at least on a periodic basis, have the essential camping gear needed to provide food and shelter, such as tents, coolers, sleeping bags, and some sort of outdoor cooking grill or camping stove. And if you have these basic camping items, along with adequate cooking and eating utensils, personal hygiene products, flashlights and lanterns, and of course plenty of food for camping, your campground enjoyment will pull in without a hitch.
I think it would be safe to say that there are several elements most of us would agree on that commonly add more pleasure to a campground setting. Not in any specific order, but three key ingredients would be the outdoor environment itself, scenery and wildlife; the campground location and presentation; as well as the camping gear and how it is set up. I would add to this list, a warm, centrally located campfire to gather around while cooking and eating, or simply enjoying the camaraderie, with others. In reality, two people sitting on logs beside a campfire while enjoying the warmth of friendship and the peaceful crackling and relaxing aroma of the fire, constitutes a complete campground setting to the “nth degree.”
However, the screened gazebo or screen house is an occasionally overlooked camping gear item that can dramatically add to the enjoyment of your camping trip. For those of you who already enjoy the comfort, protection, and appearance that a screened gazebo adds to your campground – or – backyard entertainment, you will follow along quite well having experienced the benefits beforehand. But if you currently don’t use a screened gazebo, you may become excited about the wonderful benefits these affordable screen houses deliver.
First, though, I’d like to briefly define several of the different types of fabric shelters and gazebos that are commonly used for camping. The most basic design is the canopy, which usually consist of a canvas or vinyl type material stretched over a framed roof supported by 4 or 5 legs or tent poles. The basic canopy generally comes without walls, but screened-in canopies are now available from several camping equipment manufacturers. The open canopy and screened canopy are usually the most economical. Though they generally don’t have the stability of a fully screened gazebo, they are usually very light, and easy to set up. If pests such as mosquitoes and other flying insect are not a problem and you prefer an open, airy dining area, the open canopy should work well for you. Another type of camping gazebo is the screenhouse or screen tent. The frame of the screen house is similar to the canopy, though the screen house is designed with screened walls and usually has one or two zippered entry/exit doors. The screened walls provide extra stability, in addition to protecting you and your food from flying insects and wind born particles such as leaves and other visible air born particles. In addition to the canopy and screenhouse gazebos, there is also the hexagon screened gazebo. This style of camping gazebo is designed to provide extra stability, in addition to a stylish, modern, design. The frames consist of a spoked hub pole system creating a 6 sided or 6 sectioned domed canopy, thus the hexagon name. This class may also include the geodesic screened gazebo, which provides stability for quite large, camping gazebos. There are actually several other types of gazebos or canopies, such as the easy-up or umbrella type canopy, beach canopies, and garden and event canopies. These, however, usually do not provide the portability of the lighter weight, camping gazebos.
Now that you have an idea as to the different styles and designs of a camping gazebo, you’ll be even more enthused by how they add so much to your outdoor recreation and camping enjoyment. There are few camping gear items that add so much to the aesthetics of your campsite as much as a gazebo. Although tents are now designed with much thought given to the appearance, a screened gazebo is like the centerpiece of a campsite. A gazebo with picnic tables inside offers so much more comfort while dining compared to eating beneath a pine-needle-shedding tree, or worse, a bird haven. And a circular line of camping chairs beneath a gazebo keeps your campsite from looking cluttered, and is a story teller’s heaven. A smaller gazebo is convenient and tidy for storing all of your outdoor gear and food supplies such as coolers, backpacks, hunting, fishing, or bird watching gear, water jugs, unlit stoves, lanterns, pots and pans, etc. Simply set a picnic table in the center of the gazebo and you have an instant kitchen, pantry, and storage closet – including a table top to work off of. This also keeps your campsite looking clean and organized, which in turn allows you to experience and appreciate the wonderful outdoor environment all the more. In the evenings, decorate your gazebo with colorful lights for lighting and charm. The advantage to using ornamental camping lights or rope lights is that they provide a soft, warm, glow, sufficient for activities such as dining or playing cards, and add to the peaceful ambiance that evening brings to a campsite. And of course there’s always the occasional precipitation that nature needs to keep life happy. If you’ve never experienced the cool, misty, breeze and soft, pelting, raindrops inside a screened gazebo during an afternoon or evening shower, you’re in for a real treat.
As you can see, there are many obvious benefits to gazebo camping. I’m sure many of you have other ideas that you’ve discovered in nature and outdoor recreation. If you’ve been stirred to go camping by this article, why don’t you consider adding a gazebo to your outdoor gear? I didn’t mention how affordable they are – usually less than the cost of your tent. And most designs can be set up very easily with two people. You can also use your gazebo between camping trips in your own backyard. It may not be Yosemite Park, but it’ll sure beat Saturday night T.V.