Pack your bags with tasty midnight snacks, like crackers, cheese, cookies, and dipping vegetables.
Remember that lighting is going to be dim, so bring along a few electric lanterns or flashlights so you can see. It's also a good idea to have some bug spray in case the mosquitos decide to stargaze with you.
For an extra surprise, grab a handful of sparklers and light up the night along with the stars.
4. Swim & munch
One of the best picnic party ideas for a hot summer day is having a picnic near a local swimming hole or beach.
Bring bathing suits, sunscreen, and a basic basket of food. If you like, the adults can stay on shore while the kids splash around in the water.
After time in the water, dry off with a tasty picnic meal.
Oh, and don't forget the watermelon!
5. Pie-eating contest
They say nothing is more American than apple pie, but they're wrong.
An apple pie may be American, but an entire contest built out of eating it captures the carefree, optimistic spirit of the USA. That's what these pie-eating picnic party ideas are all about.
To get started, buy a whole pie for each contestant. It might be a good idea to get smaller, personal-sized pies—a whole one might make the eater regret the activity altogether.
Decide whether you want to have the contest before or after a meal.
If you have it after the meal, bring a few boxes for the eaters to take the pie home—it's going to be a challenge to finish eating!
If you're going to have the contest at the beginning, don't worry too much about the non-dessert food. Perhaps pack a few appetizers, but realize most people won't have the stomach for a large meal after the pie.
6. Themed potluck
Not all potlucks are boring—the secret is knowing how to spice them up. Find a few picnic party ideas here that will bring life to any potluck.
Most potlucks lack creativity because they have no guidelines. Everyone gets store-bought fried chicken, coleslaw, and pasta salad—because that's what they've come to expect.
Instead, make creativity a central part of the picnic.
To start, choose a topic that isn't related to food. This allows for creative interpretation, and that's what a great potluck is all about.
For example, a "Blues" themed potluck might include soul food, blueberries, or even soup in a blue thermos.
Some other fun topics might include:
A type of music, like jazz or rock & roll
An unusual location, like the Moon or Antarctica
A book or movie, like Huckleberry Finn or The Godfather
A time period, like the Middle Ages or 1980s
7. Feed yourself, and the ducks
If you want something unique with a touch of wildlife, choose one of these picnic party ideas.
Do your research and find a local park or pond where you can feed the ducks.
In addition to a core set of picnic food, bring a bag or two of stale bread. Take turns feeding the ducks—but beware!
You'll need to keep your distance from the feeding grounds, so you don't get attacked.
8. Outdoor murder mystery
Imagine this: all the fun of a murder mystery, with the excitement of being outside. If you're looking for no-fail picnic party ideas, search no further!
To get things set up, you'll need to plan plenty of finger food to eat while the participants talk to each other and discover clues.
Search online for a murder mystery kit. This will include characters, backstories, and a plot for your guests to use.
Explain the rules, set out the food, and let the party begin!
For bonus points, ask each guest to arrive in a costume based on their character—a 1920s mobster, mysterious circus performer, or whatever the plan calls for.
9. U-pick your meal
If you're looking for picnic party ideas that include something unusual, exciting, and fresh, you're going to love this.
To start off, find out what fruits are ready to harvest in your area. Favorite picks (no pun intended) are blueberries, peaches, and strawberries.
Find a local U-pick farm and call ahead—you can find nearby farms on PickYourOwn.org.
If you can have your picnic on the property, that's best. If that's not something you'll be allowed to do, make your picnic have two stops.
Begin first at the U-pick farm, and collect as much fruit as you want to eat (or even more, if you plan on preserving it later). Put the fruit in a medium-sized cooler to protect it, and head to your picnic spot.
For your meal, include a simple main and side dish, and fill up the rest with the fruit you picked fresh.
Camping with Bears: Best Bear Proof Cooler Revealed
Camping in bear country? You know what that means. Next to safety, you need the right food storage. We're counting down to the best bear proof cooler right now!
Do you have big plans to finally camp out in bear country this year? Well, you've got some research and shopping to do and the first item on the list needs to be a bear proof cooler.
As any die-hard camper knows, there is no fool-proof way to protect yourself from bears when you're camping. We know you're tough and you think you can ward them off yourself, but we're here to tell you that you can't.
You have to be prepared and purchase the right bear free supplies and set up your camp the right way. There's no way around it.
We know you're not actually scared of bears, but that doesn't mean you should send them an open invitation to your campsite. Don't be foolish.
Even if you don't end up in an epic fight with a grizzly bear like you've told your family you've done a million times, think about all that beer and food you're bringing. That stuff doesn't stand a chance if you don't have a bear proof cooler.
It doesn't make you any less of a hardcore camper to worry about bears and take precautions to keep them away from your campsite. You have to respect their place in the great outdoors so they'll respect yours as well.
There are plenty of reasons to purchase a bear proof cooler and take the right measures.
Bears Have Keen Sense Of Smell
Bears are very powerful creatures and part of what makes them so powerful in the wilderness is their acute sense of smell.
In fact, they are known to have the best sense of smell of any animal in the wilderness.
To give you an idea of how remarkable a bear's sense of smell is, consider the fact that a bloodhound dog has a sense of smell that is 300 times better than humans. Well, a bear's sense of smell is 7 times better than a bloodhound.
They smell everything — food, fear, other animals. Nothing gets past them.
Even though a bear has a smaller brain than a human, they have a much larger olfactory bulb. That's the area of the brain that's in charge of sensing smells.
That sense of smell means they're fierce predators and once they catch a whiff of something they'd like to eat or explore, they won't hesitate.
Bears run on instinct and they will approach your campsite if you attract them to it. Even a bear proof cooler that isn't stored properly could attract a bear.
What Attracts Bears To Campsites?
Anything that creates a smell can attract a bear to a campsite. Here are some particularly appetizing culprits for bears that will have them all over you and your campsite:
Dogs - They startle bears and if you're camping in an area with a lot of bears, don't take them with you.
Human waste - Don't relieve yourself anywhere near where you're sleeping. Bears smell it and follow it.
Garbage - If you're bringing an RV or truck and you're sleeping in a tent, lock all your trash away in your vehicle where bears are less likely to smell and access it.
Perfume and deodorant - These are just as attractive to bears as they are to humans. Anything that's scented will be considered an invitation so you may want to go a bit natural for a few days for safety reasons.
Even if you're miles away from where you think a bear might be, you have to be extremely careful. There's no way of knowing when you enter into bear country.
Food of any kind is an invitation for bears, and bears in the wild aren't the cute cartoon critters your kids love watching on TV. They're dangerous.
They'll be sure to want to get into your cooler if it's not a bear proof cooler.
How To Keep Bears Away From Where You Sleep
There's always a chance that you'll meet a bear in the wild if you're at a campsite in the wilderness. That's part of the fun, right?
The point is, of course, is to know that they're around, but keep them at a distance.
They can smell you, but you can't smell them. It's an unfair battle to fight, but there are some precautions you can take, even if you are using a bear proof cooler.
You're going to want to grill up hot dogs, fish, and chug a few beers and pops. It's part of the experience.
What you don't want to do is do it anywhere near where you plan to sleep.
Follow the "bear-muda triangle" strategy. Your tent should be in one area, your food storage should be in another area, and the third point is your cooking area.
You'll want to keep these areas at least 100 yards apart, maybe more. The idea is to keep anything that smells in the least away from you in case bears are attracted to it, even your bear proof cooler.
Distance is your friend if you want to know that bears will not be waking you up in the middle of the night.
Keep Your Food Storage Area Bear Free
The food storage area of your campsite should be well thought out. You can construct a bear hang using a bear bag and a few steps.
Of course, knowing a simple bear hang 100 yards away while you're sleeping may not be enough to let you rest peacefully. In addition, some bears can climb trees so it's not much of a safety net.
Here are some supplies that you can purchase and have on hand to keep your campsite protected from the invasion of bears:
Don't go cheap on any of these items — they could save your life. If you're going to cut out anything from this list, make it the electronic bear fence.
However, electronic bear fences are battery powered and very easy to set up, so if you're packing up the RV or a big truck and have space, why not purchase some extra security?
What you can't compromise on is your food storage. In fact, many parks have particular safety rules regarding this.
The Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee Knows What's Best
The Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee works to keep grizzly bears protected as they are listed as a threatened species. They actually test products to ensure that bears can't get into them.
How do they test them? With actual grizzly bears at the Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone, Montana.
When a product has been approved of by IGBC, that means that the product has actually withstood a bear trying to get into it.
You can trust that when a product is approved of by IGBC, this bear proof cooler is capable of withstanding just about anything!
For added measure, contact the camp and park authorities to see what they recommend. There may be specific guidelines that you should be adhering to or at least some tips that they'd be happy to share.
They're just as interested as you are in keeping your campsite free from bears. You stay in your lane and they stay in theirs if you take the right measures.
Choose The Right Bear Proof Cooler
There are many bear proof coolers that are available on the market but not all of them are created equal. Remember — just because it's a sturdy cooler doesn't mean it's a bear proof cooler.
You have many items to choose from but you should focus on quality and not cut corners. We recommend the YETI Tundra 110 Cooler as the ultimate choice in bear proof coolers.
It was originally designed with rafters in mind so if rafting is part of your traditional camping experience, this one will definitely impress you.
It fits all major rafts snuggly, preventing tumbling or spilling while you're heading down the river.
It's constructed of the same material that's used to make whitewater kayaks — roto-molded polyethylene.
This bear proof cooler boasts a full two inches of insulation and a freezer-style gasket. That means far less ice fill ups.
It keeps your food and drinks extra fresh without making a mess or exposing them to the elements. In fact, it's dry ice compatible and UV-resistant.
Summer days won't cause this guy to break out in a sweat. It uses the remarkable No Sweat™ Design and has Proprietary Permafrost™ Insulation.
What makes it worth the investment is that it's IGCB approved!
When they tested it with live, hungry grizzly bears, the YETI Tundra 110 cooler withstood "smashing, prying, scratching, biting and tossing."
If you're looking for a smaller, more cost-efficient choice, the YETI Tundra 35 Cooler and YETI Tundra 65 Cooler are also great picks. They survived being mauled by grizzly bears too.
Other Critters Aren't Invited Either
If you can keep bears away, you can keep other critters away too. By bear-proofing your campsite, you're also keeping it safe from many other uninvited guests.
Of course, that doesn't mean uninvited guests that the people camping with you invited will stay away. Even the best bear proof cooler won't protect you from annoying Uncle Bob inviting himself along and drinking the last beer.
You can have a bear-free camping experience without sacrificing your traditional camping experience, whatever it entails.
When you're out at sea, you need the peace of mind of having everything you need. Don't miss a thing with these 15 boating essentials from the pros themselves!
The day is perfect. The salty air is blowing in just the right direction. You can hear the ring of the channel markers luring you away from land.
You can't help but think:
I need to be out on the water! I need to be out on the boat.
You are not alone!
Over 87 million adults in the US participated in recreational boating in 2016. That number is only a mere fraction of the number of avid boaters across the globe!
We want to boat.
We want to be on the open water.
We want fresh air and great times.
We want the freedom of fleeing the coastline that only boating can offer.
However, before we embrace our sea legs, there are definitely a few boating essentials that need to be remembered before we cast off.
Top 15 Boating Essentials
In order to ensure a fantastic voyage on the high seas, or relatively calm rivers and lakes, here are the top boating essentials needed for a safe and fun boating excursion:
We've all seen, or at least heard of, Gilligan's Island. The notorious 3-hour tour ended with a bit more drama than the Skipper and Gilligan were planning.
This is a tale that we need to heed.
No boater should ever leave the safe confines of shore without an EPIRB!
What is an EPIRB?
Only the best and safest lo jack that you can carry on your vessel. It's your connection to people onshore that can be your first line of rescue, should you sail or motor into uncharted areas or find yourself in an emergency situation far from land.
EPIRB stands for Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon, or in other words - your SOS security blanket. If you have any type of boating emergency or issue while challenging the high seas, or even just boating across a vast lake, an EPIRB can and will save your life, as well as the lives of those that are onboard your watercraft.
Don't leave shore without one!
This may, in fact, be THE MOST IMPORTANT of the boating essentials you should include on your Before Departure Checklist.
2. Safety Whistle/Horn
Don't laugh. I know this sounds ridiculous, but every vessel motoring or sailing in open water must have one of these sound-producing devices onboard your watercraft.
Think of it as bringing a concert on your boating adventure - just a concert that ensures you can signal for help if you are more than a half mile offshore and a rogue, wild fog sets in during a potential boating emergency. You'll be glad you have that life-saving Village People whistle or sporting event fog horn on your vessel if things go south on your boat and no one can see your lights or any of your flares.
You'll be glad you have that life-saving Village People whistle or sporting event fog horn on your vessel if things go south on your boat and no one can see your lights or any of your flares.
Plus, just a bit of boating essentials FYI - it's ILLEGAL to NOT have one of these audible options on-deck.
3. Life Jackets (PFD's)
Sure. You may have Olympic-qualifying swimmers occupying the decks of your watercraft, but even an Olympian that bumps his or her head while tumbling overboard the railings of your boat can't produce record-breaking swims while unconscious.
Before you cast off from the dock, or flee the boat ramp, count that you have enough PFD's (personal floatation devices) for each person riding on your boat.
There is no need for a running checklist of who can and can't swim - everyone must have their own U.S. Coast Guard-approved floatation device.
4. Float Plan
No. I'm not talking about the plans for deciding which arm floaties, oversized whale rafts, or massive multi-seater island partying floatation devices you will bring on your boat. Those items didn't make this list of boating essentials, but they should make your list of awesome things to cart along on your aquatic voyage.
Those items didn't make this list of boating essentials, but they should make your list of awesome things to cart along on your aquatic voyage.
Something that must be included in your boating essentials checklist is a float plan.
Your float plan doesn't have to be elaborate. You can simply email or text your intended course of water travel to a friend or family member. Just make sure someone knows when you're leaving the land, where you're going, and when you plan to return.
For larger vessels, or those of us looking to depart the shore for long periods of time - there are all kinds of websites that allow friends and family to track our latitude and longitude.
Boating trips become party fouls if you go missing. Make sure someone knows your float plan.
5. Cell Phone and Charger
We're nestled quite nicely in the 21st century. This boating essential should be standard protocol on your watercraft.
Don't leave shore without a fully charged phone.
Furthermore, don't forget some kind of charging apparatus. Solar chargers are stellar options if you don't have a plug of some kind that adapts to your standard USB phone charger.
It's not a bad idea to have a slew of other fully charged phones onboard, so tell your friends and family to bring along their WiFi enabled device, and make sure to store them in a waterproof container or bag.
6. Fire Extinguisher
Fires ain't fun, especially aboard a floating vessel far from land.
Make sure your boat is equipped with a current, functioning fire extinguisher. If you notice that the clip is busted, or that cobwebs are growing around an expiration date that is a few decades past - go ahead and swap out for a new one.
Pay close attention to the typing and labeling of your chosen red, fire-destroying can - chances are, you're boat will require a Type B extinguisher that is specifically geared for fighting flames of the gas or oil variety.
Don't leave shore without it!
Heck yeah, you need to include an Eagle Scout-styled compass in your list of boating essentials!
You may begin navigating your journey with state-of-the-art equipment, but if something fails and you're forced to 'navigate blindly' - having a trusty compass can help provide much-needed direction.
8. First Aid Kit
Water. Slippery surfaces. Multiple bodies sharing space aboard a single watercraft.
Stuff is going to happen. Accidents are going to occur.
Make sure your boat is stocked with a first aid kid.
You may even want to bring along some hydrogen peroxide and vinegar. There are many stinging creatures that live underwater and seem to only surface when we jump off the boat.
Whether you're driving the boat, fishing off the bow of the boat, or just being chauffeured around on your boat - don't forget your required docs!
Any boater born after January 1, 1988, wanting to operate a boat with bigger than a 10 HP motor in open waters (meaning any body of water that is NOT a private lake or pond) - make sure you have your Boating Safety Education ID Card.
Also, if you're planning on catching dinner or trying to hook Jaws a few miles offshore - don't forget to carry your Fishing License, as well.
Don't roll your eyes.
Sure, most boats have an anchor, but there are plenty of boats that troll the open waters missing this fundamental piece of their hull.
Most pre-owned or private sellers are sure to include an anchor if one is not already installed at the bow of the boat. However, that does not always happen.
Buyer beware. But more importantly - boat operator beware.
Being caught without an anchor can halt a fun outing on the water pretty quickly.
Motors fail. Things happen. Have a simple, yet tried and true backup plan.
12. Marine Adhesive
Not always at the top of many boaters' lists, but this item is one of the boating essentials that you should always have aboard your craft.
Marine epoxy and marine tape are small and easy to store quick-fix adhesive options.
Marine tape can patch situations like a leaking fuel line.
Marine epoxy can patch, pretty much, anything and everything else.
Too many sun rays = pain for days.
Reminder - the sun can cause some serious pain via the good ol' sunburn, but more importantly, can cause dehydration, sun stroke, and skin cancer.
Apply sunscreen (ideally something more than a '4' or a 'Sun Accelerator') before you board and continue to apply every few hours while in the sun, especially after you've gone swimming.
14. H20, Libations, and Snacks
Ah yes, one of the best parts of a day on the boat: the food and beverages.
Let's not forget that boating is a completely outdoor adventure. You're gonna need some serious hydration when partying under the sun. Make sure you HAVE plenty of water.
A good visual idea is to bring a large tumbler that will keep your water or beverage in-hand all day long, as well as ice cold. Having a cup with you, or in your console, will serve as an easy reminder to stay hydrated.
As for the rest of the day and the rest of the passengers on your boat...
Make sure to pack a good amount of sustenance. Don't just pack one or two snacks and beverages per person! Max out your edible and drinkable stash to ensure that it lasts throughout the entire duration of your offshore excursion.
Hosting a bunch of friends and family? Consider this beast for any given trip: YETI Tundra 110.
If you're drinking anything that has a percent by volume label (yup, I'm talking alcoholic beverages), remember to drink and store responsibly.
If you're in mixed company with ages below the legal drinking range, keep your beverages separated and chilled with ease in a cooler that is specifically designated. No need to label - just use a different colored cooler.
Basic boating reminder: if you are consuming some quality adult libations, make sure to have that boat docked or anchored. Just because it doesn't have wheels doesn't mean that you can't do some serious damage while BUI'ing (Boating Under the Influence).
Biggest boat buzzkill - getting an incredibly pricey ticket, or worse - getting carted away by the Water Fuzz because you were too intoxicated to stay within the channel markers.
No one likes to paddle home in a boat without a captain.
Heed the warning.
15. Quality Cooler
No boating adventure is ever complete without a sturdy, trusty cooler.
Our coolers carry our food, our beverages, and even our deadliest catches. We rely on them for the duration of our offshore outings, so we definitely don't want any wimpy coolers that break mid-voyage!
No matter what the food, beverage, or catch-of-the-day haul on your hull - there's a YETI that can do the trick!
Time to Cast Off
A day, week, month, or lifetime at sea or on the water is an incredible way to spend life!
Feeling the wind in our hair, the spray of water in our face, and feeling the power and beauty of our vessel conquer an aquatic highway is sheer utopia to us boaters.
Remember these boating essentials and appreciate the freedom of the open waters.