Book Review – Camp Sunset: A Modern Camper’s Guide to the Great Outdoors

262456353 stars. Camp Sunset: A Modern Camper’s Guide to the Great Outdoors is compiled from issues of Sunset magazine, a western US-focused lifestyle publication. It’s a breezy, pretty collection of camping tips that can’t quite decide whether to focus on camping beginners or more experienced outdoor aficionados and winds up being too generalized to be terribly helpful.

Perhaps it’s the result of being a compilation, but the sections are fairly uneven. Several of the sections are for the rank beginner, explaining basic camping equipment and skills. Others are quite advanced, especially the recipes–many of these have huge ingredient lists and are very labor-intensive. While I quite enjoy some outdoor gourmet meals, lots of them simply weren’t practical for camping unless one person who loves to cook stays back at camp all day handling the food preparation.

Some features are far too superficial to be useful, such as a two-page spread on kayaking and canoeing. These contained an odd mix of overview and instruction, combining basic boating terminology with capsule descriptions of skills that no one should try to learn from a couple sentences in a magazine such as re-entering a swamped canoe or kayak (seek hands-on instruction rather than thinking you know how to do this because you “learned” it from here!).

Camp Sunset also runs a little Pinterest-y, with over-the-top things like marshmallow animal treats that were really cute but I can’t see myself ever doing.

I found some nice tips here; the section on packing the cooler was very well done, I thought. There are links to some cool downloadables such as checklists, outdoor bingo, and patterns to make masks for kids. The photography is also lush and beautiful, making the book a pleasure to flip through.

Camp Sunset is an OK camping guide; hopefully its lovely presentation will encourage those who are interested to try a weekend campout (it really isn’t that hard). I wouldn’t rely on it as my primary guide for camping, but it’s a good inspiration to hit the Great Outdoors.

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