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Must Have

Here’s a post that I will be editing continually, but will start with a few items that have either saved us from an awful experience, or makes our trips better in some way.

Let it Rain

We don’t want to think it’s going to happen in fear of jinxing the trip, but you have to prepare for the worse, and the worse thing to happen while camping is for it to rain. Don’t get me wrong, some of our best trips have had several days of rain, but they were only bearable because we had plenty of shelter to sit under during the day.

Now, if there is NO chance of rain, don’t bother to set up a canopy, but if there is even the remotest chance of rain, put it at the top of your list, right after the tents.  The “basic” canopy is cheapest, and most compact, but needs to be tied to either stakes or structures on all 4 poles.  A freestanding version is a little more expensive, but does not need to be tethered … unless there is heavy wind. The pop-up versions are much faster to set up, but are bulkier to pack, and pricey. On really rainy trips, having side panels on the canopy can make life much more comfortable, to keep water from splashing or dripping down the sides.

Basic Canopy

Basic Canopy

canopy_02

Freestanding Canopy

Pop-up Canopy

Pop-up Canopy


Stove

coleman_camp_stove

Propane Stove

Perc. Coffee Pot

Perc. Coffee Pot

Yeh, you can cook your meal on top of your campfire, but do you really want to wake up on a cold, wet morning and start a fire, just to make your cup of coffee, or tea? These simple stoves fold to a nice compact size, while still giving ample  space to cook with two pots/pans at once. Propane is much more convenient than similar models that use liquid fuel that needs to be pressurized by pumping. And while we’re on the subject of coffee, unless you want to bring a portable generator and your home coffee machine, we suggest investing in a small percolating coffee pot and some travel mugs to keep your coffee warm during your morning chores. Remember to bring enough fuel (usually 2 bottles per trip) and a fire stick, for lighting the stove.


Cooking over the fire

Broiler Basket

Broiler Basket

But there are times when you want to cook over your campfire, especially in the evening when you are preparing your campfire anyway. Most modern parks have well maintained fire pits with some sort of grill on top. They are usually more than a little rusty, but a little iron never killed anyone :) If you plan to cook over the fire, one of these baskets are great for ‘containing’ your meal and making flipping and repositioning easy.

Some other things to remember to bring are tongs & fire (welding) gloves, aluminum foil and even a grill brush, should you be so daring as to cook on the pit grate.


Fetch

Collapsible Jug

Collapsible Jug

If you are used to reaching to the kitchen sink to grab a drink, wash your hands or pour some water into your spaghetti pot, then your going to need one of these. Fill it up once a day, or so, and strap it to your picnic table. The pour spout will serve as your faucet. Very convenient when you need to quickly rinse your hands. While you’re at it, you can bring along a Brita filter pitcher – the water is typically well water and can be sometimes cloudy, but always potable!


Let there be Light

Propane Lantern

Propane Lantern

Then same way you can’t reach to the faucet for a glass of water, you also aren’t going to be able to reach for that light switch once the sun goes down. Propane lanterns are the best to generate a LOT of light – often more than you need. Have one handy to light your campsite in the evening, but you’re going to want to position it a little away from where people are gathering since it tends to attract insects like moths & mosquitoes. Along with the one lantern, you will need a small flashlight for everyone in camp, so they have one at the ready, for the walk to the bathrooms or to find their pajamas in the tent. Be sure to bring extra mantels – at least one pack, but if you have never changed them before, 2 because they are very delicate. Because the lantern generates a lot of light, it’s not heavily used, and often one bottle of gas will last your trip. Here again, that ‘stick’ lighter you use for your stove and campfire, is convenient for reaching into the glass cover, to ignite the mantles.


more to come

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