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How to Build the Best Campfire

One of the best things about camping is the campfire. Whether you’re using if for cooking, warmth, or just gathering around with friends; the campfire is the focal point to any campsite.

Location, location, location 

Perhaps the most important part of a campfire is choosing where to build the fire. If you are camping in an established campground, there are usually fire rings already in place. Some of them even have grates for cooking! If you’re camping out in the wilderness, look for a spot where there has already been a campfire; this will impact the environment the least (leave no trace). If this isn’t an option, look for a clearing without a lot of material close by that can catch fire. You also will want to clear around your fire pit as not to burn more than you intend. Make sure your spot is away from dead trees or overhanging branches that can catch fire. You will also want to make sure not to build a fire underneath a heavy canopy as it can trap the smoke. 

Types of Campfires

Teepee fire

Teepee fire:  Best for sitting around and put out a lot of heat & light. Please note: teepee fires burn fast.

Type of campfire
Swedish torch

Swedish torch: put out a little heat and little light. Can set a pot right on top. Swedish torches use very little fuel.

Log Cabin Fire

Log Cabin fires: great for cooking on. The criss-cross pattern of the fuel will put out a steady amount of heat and burn longer than a Teepee fire.

Keyhole Firepit: The best of both the teepee and log cabin. You can build the teepee fire in the circle and rake the coals into the slot for cooking.

Lean-to: these fires are best for poor weather due to them being sheltered on one side.

Star Fire

Star fire: minimal fuel used and the slowest burner of all the fires. You have to stay on top of this one to make sure it keeps burning.

Building  & lighting the fire

Once you’ve selected your site, and you know what type to build, you want to make sure the site is completely clear of debris. We like to clear about 6′ in all directions of the fire pit if possible. Once the site is clear, dig down a little bit in a circle (about the diameter of your desired fire), and surround with rocks or stones. This will help contain any coals from rolling out.

There are 3 ingredients you will need for your fire; tinder, kindling, & fuel. Tinder can be dry pine needles, paper, dry leaves, dryer lint or cotton balls. Kindling is typically twigs, sticks, & small branches no bigger than the diameter of your finger. The last ingredient is fuel. Fuel is your larger sticks & logs thicker than 3″. Once you have all your ingredients, place the tinder in a manner so that it makers a little cave and stack some kindling around it. Light your fire in the manner in which you prefer whether it be a match, lighter, flint & steel, or a glowing ember from a friction fire starter. The tinder will light and catch the kindling. start adding more and more kindling being careful not to smother the fire. Once you have the kindling going pretty well, start adding the fuel. You should now have a healthy camp fire.

Make a “Fire Kit”

My fire kit

This is the kit I carry with me for fire starting. It consists of a UST SparkForce fire starter, and some cotton balls. All of this fits nicely into an old mint tin. I use the cotton balls to start the tinder easier. Pull a cotton ball apart so it is fluffy and surround it with your tinder. Point the SparkForce into the cotton ball and place the striker on it (like you were going to scrape it). When you pull the metal match part back, you should get a spark and ignite the cotton ball. Now just start adding tinder then kindling and you have just made fire.

Extinguishing your Campfire

The most important part of your campfire is putting it out. Failing to put out your fire properly can lead to a forest or wildfire. Always have water nearby so when it is time to extinguish your fire you are ready. It is also a good idea have water on hand in case of an stray spark. Pour water on the fire being sure to put out all the flames and stir the “slurry”. Put your hand over the now extinguished fire to make sure it is cool. You can’t use too much ware for this. Better to be safe than sorry. 

Smoky the Bear

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UST Folding Stove Review

Folding stove

We were recently given the opportunity to review Ultimate Survival Technologies’ folding stove. This stove burns the solid fuel hexamine type tablet. Hexamine tablets burn smokelessly, have a high energy density, do not liquefy while burning and leave no ashes. This stove doesn’t have to be used with the tablets, but that’s how we tested it.

First impression of the folding stove

folding stove

We opened the box to pull out the metal folding stove all folded with the hexamine cubes inside. (We sell each separately). The folded stove is about 4-1/2″ x 3-3/4″ x 1″ thick and weighs approximately 4 oz without the cubes. It’s a nice compact little stove. We decided to unfold it and see how long it would take to boil 12 oz of water.

The instructions say to use 1-2 tablets, so we used 2!. We figure if 1 is good, 2 is better!

Lighting the hexamine tablets proved to be a little tricky since the wind was blowing pretty well. A little research determined that these tablets don’t like the wind. We agree. We sheltered the wind and lit the tablets. After about 30 seconds, they were burning pretty well so we added our pot with 12 oz of water.

Folding stove

In hindsight, we should have angled the sides in to support the pot which it probably said to do in the instructions. Reading instructions was never a strong suit. To our surprise, the water started steaming within just a couple minutes; and by just over 5 minutes, we had boiling water. We probably could have used 1 hexamine tablet and achieved similar results. If we had though, we wouldn’t have melted the plastic coating on our handles! It is also advised to use this stove on a non-flammable surface. We accidentally set a few pine needles on fire that didn’t get moved.

folding stove

what we like:

This little stove has a couple things that we really like. 1. it is lightweight. Weighing in at about 4 oz, it is almost as if it’s not even in our pack. 2. The size. This stove is nice and compact and fits in the smallest of our pack pockets. 3. It cooled off quickly. We expected the metal to stay hot for much longer than it did once we removed the fuel tabs. It was cool enough to put back in our pack within 5 minutes (the air outside was cool, which may have helped that).

What we would change

When we lit the stove, there was a “chemically” smell. We’re not sure if it was the metal stove being used for the first time, our pot handles melting, or the hexamine tabs. Further use will clarify this question. We will post updates after further use to let you know if the smell continues.

Conclusion:

This is a cool little stove. The tablets burn for about 18 minutes which seems to be plenty of time (you can add another just after for longer cooking). The tablets also fit neatly inside the folded stove keeping everything contained. This is an inexpensive little stove that does a great job at what it’s supposed to do. You can purchase the stove here and the hexamine tablets here.

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Camping with Children

Before we were married, my wife & I used to enjoy camping separately. We had never camped together until we had children. Camping with children can be a wonderful experience. Being in nature, awesome scenery, fresh air, and your kiddos; it doesn’t get much better. A friend of ours gave us an old pop-up camper and we decided to join them and give it a try. To ensure everyone has a good time, we have compiled some tips for a successful trip. 

The pop-up

Before you go

  • Before hauling the family out into the middle of nowhere, try a trial run at home. Set up a tent in the backyard and let them experience the sounds of sleeping in a tent.
  • Take a family day out at a nearby lake or park and see how they do out in nature. Show them some of the cool things about their surroundings to help keep their interest.
  • Take notes. Did you forget anything? Is there something you should bring on your campout? Write it down, it helps.

 Preparing for Your Trip

  • Involve the children. Let them help pick where to go, what to do, what they want to see. This will keep them invested and help hold their interest. 
  • Let them pack. Give the children a list, and let them pack their own gear. Naturally, you will want to double check their gear so they don’t forget something critical.
Packed & ready to go!

 

  • Let them bring a few toys. Some toys from home can make the kids feel more comfortable. I certainly wouldn’t bring anything small that could easily get lost; but some favorites will help them enjoy the trip for sure.
  • If you get the chance to camp with friends who have children, they will keep each other entertained. That’s what we did when we joined our friends. The kids all had a blast.
  • Check for fire restrictions. The forest can sometimes get put on fire restriction in the summer. Make sure there are no restrictions where you are heading. Some of the best memories are around the campfire (s’mores, marshmallows, songs…)
  •  Most importantly, be enthusiastic. Let the children know by your actions that you are as excited about the trip as they are.

At Camp

  • Be prepared. Everything in camp is different. Change is sometimes difficult for kids. The bathroom isn’t just down the hall, there is no night light to turn on, etc. You have to be ready for almost anything. The best way to be prepared is to make sure you bring everything on your list. If you need a list, click here.  
Thea children loved cooling off in these
Home made “pools” to cool off

 

  • A positive attitude about everything will take you far. Lead by example with a positive attitude and others are bound to follow.
  • Get organized. Establish a place for everything. “Flashlights are in this pocket”, “kitchen supplies are over here”, you get the idea. Once you have an organization plan, stick to it.
  • Know your place. Make sure the children know what campsite you are in and how to get back case they stray from camp.
  • Be safe. Make sure the kids know what to do if they get lost. We gave each kiddo a whistle to wear around their necks and usually dressed them in a bright shirt. We taught them that if they get lost, to stay put and blow their whistles. Thankfully, we never had to test this system.

Get Outside

  • Enlist the camp host or park rangers. Ask them about wildlife in the area to be on the lookout for. It is your responsibility to be sure to store food so that the wildlife doesn’t make a surprise visit. We had one camp host have the kids look for pine cones that squirrels had eaten and to bring her a bucket full.  Once they returned with the bucket, she gave them some paints and blocks to create art with.
  • Make the most of being outside. Look for wildlife, learn about the local vegetation, go on a family hike. While on a hike, take a moment to stop and listen. What do you hear? What sounds are different than at home? Attend a ranger talk if there is one. Lay outside at night and look for constellations, you may see a shooting star!
  • Be active, stay flexible. Be sure to do as much as you can at camp, but be flexible to plans that change. If someone gets tired, take a break. Be flexible in your plans for the trip. If you miss a ranger talk, no big deal.
  • Try geocaching. While you are at camp, try this. There are sometimes great caches around campsites.
  • Enjoy your family. Some of my fondest memories are camping as a Boy Scout with my dad and camping with my children. The best memories are made while at camp.

Fun Things You Can Bring

  • When we camped in our pop-up camper, we always had crayons, paper and bubbles on hand.
  • Sticks for roasting marshmallows. Bring the rest of the s’mores ingredients too!
  • Frisbees, balls, flashlights, glow sticks. The kids couldn’t wait for darkness to come so they could play with the glow sticks.
  • Ice cream maker. How much fun is it to make ice cream at camp? There are plenty of non-electric ones out there. We used this ball that housed the ingredients and mixed as the ball was rolled around. It actually worked pretty well!
Children will love to help with this
Manual ice cream maker

 

  • If you are camping in warm weather, squirt guns are fun if you don’t mind getting squirted (you know they will squirt you!)
  • Bicycles. While you’re at camp, it’s super fun to ride around and see what the rest of the campground has to offer. Don’t forget helmets!
  • A deck of cards. Card games are great fun at camp. Not only are card games fun, but a deck of cards doesn’t take up much room with all your other “stuff”. Uno was a favorite of ours.

Our children loved camping! They loved visiting different campgrounds and even some wilderness camping. We have all learned about the best things to bring & do and what to leave at home. 

Spending time with the kids at camp is a blast. Children love being outside and exploring nature. You will love seeing nature through your kids’ eyes. Get out there, get your kids involved, & have fun! 

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Camping Glossary

tents

Whether you’re new to camping, or a seasoned camper; there always seems to be terms we have either never heard or are not as familiar with. We at Camp Gear Center have out together a camping glossary to help with some of the terms associated with camping and backpacking. If you think of a term that we missed, please comment below and we can add it.

3-Season tent – A tent recommended for use in summer, spring and fall.

4-Season tent – A tent designed to handle any weather conditions, including harsh winter weather.

                                                A

A-frame – An older-style tent featuring a mid-support that runs the length of the structure in the shape of an “A”.

Altimeter – An instrument that measures elevation by using barometric (air) pressure.

                  B

Back country – The isolated and uninhabited sections of national park, public land or forest.

Making coffee on a backpacking stove

Backpack stove – Small lightweight stove that is easy to carry in a backpack. Most use either white gas or isobutane/propane gas. 

Backpacking – Traveling with all of your belongings, including tents and sleeping bags, carried in a backpack.

Baffle – Fabric panels sewn to the inner and outer shell of a sleeping bag. Baffles keep the insulation in place. Down bags must be baffled. Most synthetic bags feature quilted insulation.

Bank(ing) a fire – To build a wall around a fire (or where fire is to be) out of rocks or stones, or to build the fire next to a rock or dirt wall such that it blocks the wind.

Base plate – The see-through plate of an orienting compass onto which the compass housing is mounted.

Bear bag  – In bear country, campers must take measures to safeguard their food and cooking utensils. Food items are placed in a strong, waterproof bag (the bear bag), tied to a rope and suspended out of reach.

Bear Lockers – Metal lockers provided by a campsite to keep bears and other wildlife from eating campers’ foods.

Bearing – The reading of your compass in the direction you’re heading.

Bivoac shelter

Bivouac – A tent designed to accommodate only one person.

Bivy sack – A small one-man tent or bag of sleeping bag proportions often used for emergency shelter.

Boxing the needle

Boxing the Needle – The process of lining up a compass’s needle with magnetic north.

Breathable – refers to the porosity of fabrics. Breathable materials are not waterproof.

Bushwhacking – Off-trail travel through brush where no cleared path exists and hikers have to force their way through the branches.

                     C

Cache – A placement of food and/or supplies along or near a trail or route of travel for future use.

Canopy – The inner wall of a double-walled tent. The canopy is breathable; the outer wall, or fly, is waterproof.

Catenaly cut – the natural curve formed by a rope that’s tightly strung between two trees. A tent which has a catenary cut rigs tighter (less sidewall sag) than one without catenary cut. Catenary cut is a feature of the best tents.

Cardinal points –The four main points of direction on a compass–North/360 degrees; East/90 degrees; South/180 degrees; and West/270 degrees.

Chuck Box – A box or sack for camping cookware. Keep the chuck box separate from the rest of supplies to minimize cleanup.

Cirque (French, from the Latin word circus) – An amphitheater-like valley formed by glacial erosion.

Citronella candles – Popular and natural insect repellent that keeps away mosquitoes.

Cliff – A high, steep face of rock; a precipice.

                                            D

Day pack – Small backpack that holds enough gear for a one-day outing.

Deadman – A log or rock buried in the ground to provide a solid point for anchoring a tent in ground that is too soft for stakes.

Declination – The difference in degrees between magnetic north (the direction the magnetic needle on a compass points) and true or geographic north (the direction maps are printed towards).

Deep-lugged sole – A boot sole featuring deep ridges and grooves for maximum traction.

DEET – diethyl-meta-toluamide, the active ingredient in most insect repellents.

Dehydration – Excessive loss of body fluid that could result in headaches, fainting and more severe symptoms.

Denier -(den-year)- A weight measurement used to refer to the fineness of a yarn or thread used in some backpacking and camping equipment. The lower the denier, the more thin the thread. The higher the denier the more durable the fabric will be.

Diamond stone – a type of man-made sharpening stone which contains powdered diamonds. Diamond stones are lubricated with water (not cutting oil). They remove metal much faster than traditional oil stones.

Differential cut – The inner shell of a sleeping bag is cut smaller than the outer shell, to produce a Thermos bottle effect. The merits of this construction are still being argued by equipment freaks everywhere.

Dining fly – An overhead tarp (fly) used for protection from rain. Usually erected just before mealtimes, hence the descriptive name.

Typical dome tent

Dome – A tent shape where the poles create a dome by curving over each other (see picture above). 

Double-wall construction – A style of tent architecture utilizing two walls–an inner wall, or canopy, made of breathable nylon, and an outer waterproof wall or fly.

Down – The soft, fluffy under layer of waterfowl plumage used as insulation in some sleeping bags and coats.

Draft tube – The insulated flap that covers the length of a sleeping bag zipper. Without a great draft tube, cold air would be sucked in and warm air forced out every time you moved. A down-filled tube that runs the length of a sleeping bag zipper – prevents cold air from filtering through the zipper teeth.

Dropped-point knife – The favored style for hunting knives – the point is centered (similar to a spear-point) on the blade. Dropped-point knives are ideal for skinning game animals but are not the most suitable style for camp knives.

Dry bag –  A bag used to keep contents dry when the top is folded correctly.

Duck – Two or three small rocks piled one on top of the other to be used as a trail marker.

Duluth pack – A voluminous envelope style (usually, canvas) pack popular with canoeists.

Dutch ovens stacked

Dutch Oven – A heavy metal pot with a cover used around camps to bake and prepare other delicious meals. Usually made out of cast iron.  There is an art to good Dutch Oven cooking and some spend their lives perfecting their tasty dishes. Often a complete meal can be prepared in one Dutch Oven.

DWR – Acronym for Durable Water-Repellent finish, a treatment found on outerwear that forces water to bead much as wax does for a car.

                                             E

Embers – The best thing to cook on if using a wood fire. When the flames have died down and the part-burnt wood glows orange or white, it is the most efficient heat to cook on.

Encapsulation technology – A special durable water-repellent finish (DWR) that wraps around each fabric fiber, as opposed to going on like a continuous coat of paint. Provides excellent water-repellency, doesn’t compromise breathability, is abrasion-proof, adds tear strength, and makes garments feel soft and supple. Used in some down and Polarguard 3D-insulated clothes.

Ensolite – A soft rubber material that makes wonderfully light yet, for the most part, comfortable sleeping mats for use under sleeping bags while backpacking or camping. Originally developed by NASA to protect pressure from damage.It has virtually 100% memory and is waterproof.

Escarpment – The steep face frequently presented by the abrupt termination of stratified rocks. 

EVA (ethyl-vinyl-acetate) – Strongest, most resilient, and most expensive of the closed-cell foams. EVA makes an excellent trail mattress.

External frame pack – A backpack supported by a rigid frame on the outside of the pack.

                                                  F

Face – The side of a cliff, escarpment, or other mostly vertical rock structure. The side of a geological structure, as in west facing slope.

Fanny pack – A small zippered nylon pack that’s attached to a waist-belt.

Ferrule – The metal sleeve that’s attached to the pole sections of fiberglass tent poles. Ferrules form a joint between pole sections.

Filling power (of down) – Same as “loft”. It’s the thickness of a sleeping bag lying flat and fluffed. Generally speaking, the greater the “loft” of a sleeping bag, the warmer it will be.

Flash Flood  – A sudden flood of water resulting from a cloudburst.

Flat-fell seam – Overlapping construction; the seam goes through four layers of material.

Floating dial compass – The compass needle is part of the numbered compass dial, which rotates as a unit. This allows the instrument to be read in the same plane as the eye of the user. 

Floor area – The amount of usable floor space in a tent, measured in square feet.

Foam pad – A sleeping mattress made of either open-cell or closed-cell foam.

Foot – The rounded end of a sleeping bag, also called a foot box.

Footprint – The shape and square footage of a tent floor.

Frame pack – a pack with an exterior aluminum or fiber framework.

Free-standing tent – A type of tent that doesn’t require ropes or stakes to keep the tent standing (see dome tent).

Frostbite – A medical condition caused by extreme cold that could eventually result in amputation if left untreated.

Frost liner – A detachable inner “roof’ for a tent that absorbs moisture which might condense, freeze, and drop on sleeping occupants. Frost liners are made from cotton or cotton polyester fabric and are needed only in below freezing conditions.

Fuel – 1. larger wood that keeps the fire going.  2. gas for a stove or engine.

Fuel bottle – Traditionally refers to “Sigg” aluminum bottles, which are used for the storage of gasoline and kerosene.

                                              G

Gaiter – A water-repellent, internal sleeve that can be tightened around boot and lower leg to keep out snow.

  or

Gators – Nylon anklets (usually with side zippers) used by skiers and mountaineers. Gators prevent snow from getting in your boot tops, and they add extra warmth.

Gauntlet – A glove extending beyond the wrist for added warmth and protection.

Geodesic dome – A dome-shaped tent with a strong faceted framework of tubular aluminum. Geodesic domes are the Cadillac of domes!

Gear loft – An overhead shelf in a tent. Keeps small gear overhead, providing more floor space for bags. Good place to keep a flash light or other small items. 

Giardia – A bacteria that contaminates water in the backcountry and can cause severe stomach cramps and other symptoms. More properly known as giardiasis, an infection of the lower intestines caused by ingesting the amoebic cyst, Giardia lamblia, in untreated water.

Giardiasis – A waterborne disease carried by the protozoan “Giardia.” Giardia is commonly carried by beaver. Incubation time is one to two weeks. The pathogen is very hardy.

Girth – The inside space, as measured around the sleeper’s waist area. Mummy bags have the smallest girth, and rectangular have the largest.

Gray water – Wastewater that’s created from bathing, cooking, laundry and other activities.

Grommet on a tarp

Grommet – Little round metal sewn-in rings found on corners of so-called post & grommet type tents – usually 2 or more per pole point/corner, on better tent models. These make for durable, fast set-ups, and easier adjustments when temps change fabric and pole lengths. Also found on generic tarps, and some custom tent footprints. Grommets can sometimes be plastic as well. 

Ground stakes or pegs- Anchors that hold a tent to the ground.

Gusseted tongue (bellows) – A leather piece attached to both sides of the upper on a hiking boot, designed to keep out water and dirt.

Guy lines – A length of cord used to secure or reinforce the walls and rain fly of a tent.

Guy-out loops (also known as guy-out rings, guy points, storm rings, storm ties) – Extra connection points on tent, for cord/line runs to additional stakes in event of wind gusts – basic tents usually require customer purchase separate line and stakes to make use of these rings, which is strongly suggested you employ in event of weather changes. 

Guy point – One of several points outside a tent where a line (a guy line) can be attached and then secured to a stake or other anchor in order to increase a tent’s structural integrity.

                                                        H

Haft – The handle of an axe. 

Hanging out in a hammock

Hammock – A method of camping where a nylon “bed” is suspended between two trees. Makes for minimal environmental impact and a great night’s sleep. 

Haversack – A bag or pouch used by hikers to carry food, usually carried at the side by a shoulder strap.

Head gasket – A piece sewn around the hood of a sleeping bag to keep in warm air.

Heat stroke – When your body temperatures rises significantly from being exposed to the sun.

Hike – A long walk usually for exercise or pleasure.

Hip belt – The main support device on a backpack. Large padded belt that buckles around the waist and is fully adjustable. (makes carrying the pack much more comfortable)

Hollow-ground (knife) – The edge is ground to a concave bevel which produces a thin, razor edge and a stiff spine.

Hood closure – The tie cord and fastener which secures the hood of a sleeping bag around the sleeper’s face.

Horn – A high pyramidal peak with steep sides formed by the intersecting walls of three or more cirques.

Housing – The rotating part of a compass that holds the damping fluid, the magnetic needle and has degrees engraved around its edge from 1 to 360. 

Hypothermia – A potentially lethal physical state caused by lowering of the body’s core temperature, due to exposure to cold wet weather.

                                               I

I-pole tent – A tent with a single vertical pole at each end.

Imu – A shallow pit used for cooking.

Inselberg  – Prominent steep-sided residual hills and mountains rising abruptly from plains. The residuals are generally bare and rocky, large and small, isolated and in hill and mountain groups, and they are surrounded by lowland surfaces of erosion that are generally true plains, as distinguished from peneplains.

Internal frame pack – A backpack supported by stays on the inside. The stays give the pack shape and make it more comfortable to carry than a traditional soft pack.

Iron ranger

Iron ranger – An “iron ranger” is a fee collection box used at campgrounds that do not have full time attendants. Upon entrance to the campground, you deposit your nightly fee(s) in an envelope with your name and site number and drop this in the collection box. At sometime during the day, a park ranger will make rounds of the campgrounds and collect the fees. You will often see these in National Park and National Forest campgrounds.

                                                  K

Kerf – A cut made by an ax, saw, etc.

Kindling – Small, thin, dead wood (1″ around or less) used to start a fire.

Knife-edge – A very narrow ridge crest. In spots, the crest of a knife-edge is too angular to walk on, and travel requires scrambling over and around pinnacles, along ledges on the side of the ridge, or even straddling the ridge.

                                               L

Layering – Wearing several thin layers of clothes, one over the other. Layering is the most efficient clothing system for cold weather.

Lean-to – A two or three-sided shelter with an over-hanging roof and one open side.

Leave No Trace – A set of outdoor ethics promoting outdoor conservation.

Lensatic compass

Lensatic compass – A compass which features a built-in magnifying lens for ease of reading directions. See above

Lexan® – A material used in water bottles and other camping gear that is extremely durable and can withstand a wide range of temperatures.

Lock-back knife – A folding knife that has an integral lock which “locks” the blade in place when it is open. Some modern lock-backs are really “side-locks” or “front-locks.” Lock-back knives do not have pressure springs like ordinary jack-knives, so they can be opened easily with one hand while wearing mittens.

Loft – The height and thickness of insulation in a sleeping bag. The thickness of a sleeping bag that’s laying flat and fluffed. Generally speaking, the higher the loft, the warmer the bag.

Low-impact camping – An ethic that treats nature with respect by leaving as little trace as possible (see Leave No Trace).

Lumbar pad – A support on a backpack to comfort heavy loads on the lower back.

Lyme Disease – An infectious disease usually spread through ticks.

                  M

Magnetic north – The geographical region towards which all magnetic needles point. This point is approximately 1,300 miles south of true north.

Map index – a specially gridded small-scale map which lists “maps in print,” how and where to get them, and their cost. A map index is available free from the U.S. Geological Survey and the Canada Map Office. See text description.

Marquee – A large tent, often used as a dining or meeting tent.

Massif – A compact mountain group consisting of several summits.

Mesa

Mesa – A tableland; a flat-topped mountain or other elevation bounded on at least one side by a steep cliff; a plateau terminating on one or more sides in a steep cliff. Seen in many areas of the southwest.

Millar-Mitts – fingerless gloves used by mountaineers for technical climbing. Millar-mitts are great for fishing, canoeing and general hiking.

Mocoa – a popular camp drink which consists of hot-chocolate mixed with coffee.

Modified dome – A dome tent that has been designed for specific elements, such as wind or snow.

Moleskin – brand name of soft-surfaced bandaging material used to protect blisters. The sticky side of Moleskin is placed over the unbroken blister; the cushioned surface absorbs the friction from socks and boot.

Monsoon – In the Southwest, a seasonal outbreak of localized severe thunderstorms that deposit large quantities of rain often resulting in flash floods, especially in canyon country where there are narrow slot canyons and little vegetation to help absorb the sudden rush of water.

Monument – A large pile of stones used to mark a trail or often found at the summit of a peak. 

Mountain parka – A generic name for full zipper thigh-length parkas. Mountain parkas usually have lots of pockets. They’re traditionally constructed from 60/40 (60 percent nylon, 40 percent cotton) cloth, which is doubled for added warmth. The U.S. Army field jacket is a true mountain parka.

Mummy bag

Mummy bag – A close fitting, shaped, hooded sleeping bag very efficient at conserving body heat. 

                N

Nalgene Bottle – A type of “plastic” bottle that holds up well under the harsh conditions of hiking and camping. Originally designed to store chemical reagents, the plastic resists taking on the smell of the liquid or ingredients it contains. A very popular type of water bottle, especially the wide-mouthed variety. They hold up for years.

No-see-um mesh – A tent mesh so fine that it keeps out the tiny biting bugs called no-see-ums.

               O

Orienteering – Using a map and compass in the field to determine your route of travel.

Orienteering compass – A compass that has a built-in protractor which allows you to determine directions from a map without orienting the map to north. This is the most practical compass style for outdoor use.

Overlapping V-tube construction (sleeping bags) – A type of baffle construction in which down is secured into V-shaped tubes which overlap one another. Some very warm winter sleeping bags are built this way.

              P

Pack basket – A basket pack that’s traditionally woven from splints of black ash. This original Indian made item is still going strong in the New England area and is available from L. L. Bean. Pack-baskets are ideal for berry picking, picnicking, canoe trips, and auto camping. They will protect all your breakables. Compared to fabric packs, they are quite inexpensive.

Packed size – The dimensions of a collapsed tent and its contents, in square inches.

Parka – A thigh-length shell garment with integral hood. Parkas may be lined or filled with down, polyester or other insulation for use in cold weather.

Pile – A luxuriously soft fabric made from polyester. Pile absorbs little water and it dries quickly if it gets wet. Pile has almost replaced wool as the material for cold weather camping.

Plateau – A relatively elevated area of comparatively flat land which is commonly limited on at least one side by an abrupt descent to lower land. Sometimes called a table or tableland.

poison-ivy

Poison Oak/Ivy – A poisonous shrub or plant that causes itchiness and rash when touched. Poison ivy pictured above. Remember the phrase “leaves of three, let it be”. 

PolarGuard® 3D – A hollow-fiber, highly durable, polyester insulation used in sleeping bags and clothing that has a high warmth-to-weight ratio.

Pole sleeves – Fabric tunnels on the outside of a tent into which the tent poles are inserted.

Poly-bottle – short for polyethylene bottle.

Poncho – A rectangular, hooded rain garment. Ponchos provide good ventilation and can be worn over a hiking pack. They do not supply reliable protection from rain, but are great for an emergency. 

Pothole – A hole generally deeper than wide, worn into the solid rock at falls and strong rapids by sand, gravel, and stones being spun around by the force of the current. In desert country a pothole often collects water during rains and can contain a variety of small freshwater creatures. After rain they can be an important water source for the local wild animals. Care should be taken around potholes to not contaminate or unnecessarily waste the precious water.

Primaloft® – A microfibrous polyester insulation so close to down in terms of structure, warmth, and feel that it’s also known as patented sythetic down. Primaloft is lightweight, durable, very compressible, and unlike down, highly water repellent.

Primitive campground – A place to camp without amenities, including bathrooms, showers and electricity.

Prime  (as in “priming” a gasoline or kerosene stove) – Some stoves are usually primed by filling an integral “spirit cup” with gasoline or alcohol, then setting the fuel aflame. Stoves can be “over-primed.” If too much gasoline is forced into the spirit-cup, the unit may ignite into a ball of uncontrollable flame.

Priming – Allowing fuel to collect in the burner of a white-gas stove before ignition.

Prismatic compass – A compass with a mirror designed to allow a user to see both distant objects being sighted and the compass face at the same time.

Private campground – An area to camp that’s owned by a business.

Puncheon – A log bridge built over fragile terrain that is wet.

Punkies – Also called no-see-ums; a tiny insect called a midge, which bites severely.

Purifier – A drinking water system that removes contaminates and eliminates viruses with a combination of specialized filters.

                  Q

Quallofil® – A synthetic material developed by Dupont for use in sleeping bags and parkas. Each filament has four longitudinal holes which trap air and add warmth. Quallofil®  is one of the best synthetic insulators.

Quick-release knot – A knot which can be removed by a simple pull of the tail. The most common quick-release knot is the “bow” used for tying your shoes.

Quilted  or Quilt Construction – A stitching style that runs through the shell and lining of a sleeping bag or garment to keep insulation from shifting. Quilting is lighter and less expensive than it’s more complex cousin, baffle construction. It is also less efficient because the stitching compresses the loft out of the fabrics and allows cold to move freely through the compressed area around the needle holes.

                  R

Rain fly – A tent covering that aids in keeping a tent dry and windproof.

Rating – The degree Fahrenheit to which a sleeping bag is constructed to sleep comfortably. i.e. -30 degrees, 0 degrees, +15 degrees.

Reef – A sedimentary rock aggregate, large or small, composed of the remains of colonial-type organisms that lived near or below the surface of water bodies, mainly marine, and developed relatively large vertical dimensions as compared with the proportions of adjacent sedimentary rock. In canyon country a “reef” is simply a nautical term carried over into geology to describe a barrier, such as Waterpocket Fold in Capital Reef National Park in Utah.

Reflector oven – An aluminum sheet-metal oven which bakes by means of reflected heat. Reflector ovens are hard to keep clean and they are very cumbersome. They require open flame for baking and cannot be used on stoves or over charcoal. They are very efficient if you have a nice bright fire.

Ridge – A relatively narrow elevation which is prominent on account of the steep angle at which it rises. The narrow, elongated crest of a hill or mountain; an elongated hill; a range of hills or mountains.

Ridge-vent – The triangular window at the ridge of A-frame tents.

Ring & Pin – On tents, a very easy-to-use corner assembly design where long pins (1 to 3 inch steel or aluminum) with metal rings attaching are permanently sewn to the exterior corners of the structure, and the pins are then inserted into the hollow ends of the tent poles. Fast, goof-proof, inexpensive, widely used, and suited to most 2-3 season general rec tent models; the higher line post & grommet corner system is main alternative, found on most 3+ season mountain grade tents.

Rip-stop nylon – A lightweight nylon fabric that has heavier threads sewn in at approximate one-quarter-inch intervals. Rip-stop is less likely to tear than taffeta but it has less resistance to abrasion. Rip-stop nylon is commonly used for outwear garments, and is distinguished by a fine pattern of boxes (barely noticeable) that are designed to keep fabric from tearing. Rip-stop is very lightweight material. It is water and wind resistant.

Rock Glacier – A glacier-like tongue of angular rock waste usually heading in cirques or other steep-walled amphitheaters and in many cases grading into true glaciers. 

Rucksack – A type of knapsack or backpack, usually made of canvas with two shoulder straps.

                   S

Saddle – A low point on a ridge or crest line, generally a divide between the heads of streams flowing in opposite direction.

Scarp – An escarpment, cliff, or steep slope of some extent along the margin of a plateau, mesa, terrace, or bench.

Scree – Loose rock, typically fist size or smaller that accumulates at the base of a rock wall. 

Seam-sealer – A special glue, available at all camping shops, used to waterproof the stitching on tents and rain gear.

Seam Sealing – Coating, waterproof of the sewn seam areas on tents, backpacks, and other combined outdoor fabrics, to decrease water entry. Treatments range from inexpensive water-based dauber bottles, to heavier brush-on polyurethane coatings, to very heavy technical grade near-plastic fillers.

Seam tape – A waterproof tape applied over all seams on a tent or other equipment meant to be totally water repellent.

Self-inflating air mattress – A camping pad to go under your sleeping bag that has foam inside and a valve on one of the corners. When the valve is opened, air is allowed to enter and can be trapped inside by closing the valve.  Very insulative and comfortable to sleep on. They come in all sorts of thicknesses and sizes.

Self-supporting tent – Theoretically, a tent which needs no staking. However, all self-supporting tents must be staked or they’ll blow away in wind.

Semi-mummy bag – A sleeping bag with a barrel-shape and no hood. A good choice for those who feel confined by the mummy shape but want lighter weight and more warmth than that supplied by standard rectangular sleeping bags.

Sewn-through construction (same as “quilt” construction) – A stitching style that runs through the shell and lining of a sleeping bag or garment to keep insulation from shifting. Quilting is lighter and less expensive than it’s more complex cousin, baffle construction. It is also less efficient because the stitching compresses the loft out of the fabrics and allows cold to move freely through the compressed area around the needle holes.

Shell – The outermost material in a sleeping bag or outdoor clothing, consisting of a fabric used to meet a particular demand such as abrasion resistance, water repellency or suppleness.

Shock cord – An elastic cord running through tent poles to separation or loss of the poles, and to expedite set-up. 

Shock corded pole

Shock corded poles – This means that a bungee cord runs through each pole assembly. This keeps the pole together so you don’t have to hunt for pieces. As the poles sections slip together the cord holds them together so they can be handled as a single pole.

Side canyon – In decreasing order of size, local usage is: canyon, fork, gulch.

Sigg fuel bottle – Traditionally refers to aluminum bottles, which are used for the storage of gasoline and kerosene.

Single-walled tent – A lightweight, single-fabric construction tent that is chemically treated for insulation and waterproofness but which may not be very breathable.

Sixty-forty parka – A parka made from fabric which consists of 60 percent nylon and 40 percent cotton. The term “60/40” is now generic; it defines any mountain style parka, regardless of the fabric composition. Mountain  parkas of water-repellent 60/40 cloth, polyester/cotton blends, or waterproof Gore-Tex are  light-weight,  windproof and  “breathe-able”, making them an excellent choice for use as the outer shell of your layered clothing system.  In  a  downpour, 60/40 and polyester/cotton mountain parkas can be  augmented with a lightweight, loose – fitting poncho of plastic or coated nylon, which can be worn to protect your  pack  as well as your body.  Gore-Tex mountain parkas need no additional rainproof layer.

Shell (garments) – Refers to unlined garments, or the interior or exterior wall of a sleeping bag.

Side-wall baffle – A baffle that is opposite the zipper on a sleeping bag; it keeps the down from shifting along the length of the bag.

Siwash – To live off the land with a bare minimum of essentials. Most modern campers do not siwash!

Slickrock – Generally a smooth, weathered sandstone surface that becomes slippery due to the presence of sand grains. These can be dangerous to walk across.

Slot canyon

Slot canyon – A deep, narrow, steep-walled canyon, most often cut through sandstone, and often with water running along its bottom. Sometimes referred to as narrows.

Smores – Simply a great camping treat to make for kids, big and small, around a campfire at night

Sou’wester – The traditional rain hat of sailors and commercial fishermen. The sou’wester was developed centuries ago and it is still the best of all foul weather hats. The best sou’westers have ear flaps, chin strap, and a flannel lining.

Space filler-cut – Where the inner and outer shells of a sleeping bag are cut the same size. This construction allows the inner liner and fill to better conform to the curves of your body than the Thermos bottle shape of the “differential cut.” The merits/demerits of space-filler versus differential cut are still being argued by sleeping bag manufacturers.

Space Blanket – Mylar-coated “blanket” used in survival kits. Space-blankets are waterproof and are very warm for their size and weight. Every camping shop has them. They are also called Mylar blanket, Aluminized blanket. The blanket measure 84″ X 54″ when spread open, they are the perfect for retaining warmth in any emergency. Easy to store with it’s compact design and light weight packaging. A must have item in your survival or emergency response kit. The blanket can serve different uses. It can deflect heat when used as a shelter from the sun. You can decrease heat inside your automobile by using the solar blanket to cover the roof and windows. Primary use is to reflect back your own body heat. It conserves 90% of body heat when wrapped around a person.

Sternum strap – A short nylon strap which connects the shoulder straps of a hiking pack. A properly adjusted sternum strap transfers some of the pack load to the chest.

Storm-flap – A panel of material which backs the zipper of a parka. This helps to keep the cold out and the warmth in. 

Stuff sack – Traditionally, a nylon sack in which a sleeping bag is stored. The term now defines any nylon bag with drawstring closure.

Swiss Army knife – originally, the issue knife of the Swiss Army. Now, generic for any “Scout-style” multi-tool pocket knife.

Switchback – Climbing a mountain or hill with a zig-zag motion. This allows for a significantly easier ascent in many situations.

                  T

Table – A relatively elevated area of comparatively flat land which is commonly limited on at least one side by an abrupt descent to lower land. Also called a plateau.

Talus – The loose rock of all sizes that falls from a cliff and accumulates at the base. The distinction between scree and talus is generally that talus is large enough not to move underfoot.

Tank – Natural depressions in an impervious stratum, in which rain or snow water collects and is preserved the greater portion of the year. Also a natural or artificial pool or water hole in a wash. Seen often in the arid southwest. 

Tarn – A small rock-rimmed lake in an ice-gouged basin on the floor of a cirque or in a glaciated valley.

Technical climbing – Mountain climbing requiring use of ropes and fixed belay anchors on either rock or ice. Also includes any sustained climbing where the arms are used to pull upward rather than being used solely for balance.

Tent – The main type of shelter for camping. Tents come in all shapes, sizes and sleeping capacities. Read more here

Tent stakes

Tent stake (or peg)  – A piece of wood, metal or aluminum pointed at one end for driving into the ground to hold a rope supporting a tent. Why you need to stake your tent: for without the stakes your tent could quickly become a kite in the lightest of winds and destroy itself as it tumbles through the woods or across the sand dunes. Sometimes called tent pegs. 

Tinder – small twigs, wood shavings, dry leaves or grass, dry needles, bark or dryer lint (ultra-fine dry material).
This should start to burn immediately with a lighted match or spark from your magnesium fire starter. 

Topographic map

Topographic map – A map showing the topographic features of a land surface generally by means of contour lines.

Trenching (also called “ditching”) – Digging a trench around a tent to carry away ground water which accumulates during a heavy rain. This form of guttering is illegal in all wilderness areas. Ground cloths and tent floors have eliminated the need to “trench” tents. Trenching goes against the principles of Leave No Trace. 

Trailhead – The point at which a trail begins. In most parks and popular areas there is a parking lot or turn out for easy access.

Traverse – Horizontal travel across a mountainside or over a ridge. An ascending or descending traverse refers to a gradual elevation change while traveling across a much steeper slope.

Tread – A trail’s surface. Refers to the amount of traction there is for hiking. 

Trekking (“to make one’s way arduously”) – A very difficult or lengthy hike. Or perhaps over unmarked or totally undeveloped terrain

Tumpline – A strap across the forehead and over the shoulders, used to carry loads on the back. Voyageurs carried hundreds of pounds of furs with only a tumpline. Today this feature is found only on traditional canvas duluth packs which are used for wilderness canoeing.

Twist on a stick

Twist-on-a-stick – Baking powder bread made by twisting dough on a stick and baking it over the fire.

Tunnel tent – A low profile tent that is long and rounded.

                 U

Ultralight tent – A tent designed for one or two people, weighing five pounds or less and designed to carry on or in a backpack.

UV degradation – A breaking down of material due to the sun’s harsh ultraviolet rays. UV degradation can be a potential problem with tent flies exposed to the sun for extended periods.

               V

Vestibule – A covered area outside of or connected to a tent, usually created by an extended rain-fly or a special attachment. Vestibules provide a place to store gear out of the weather

Volume – The amount of space in a backpack measured in cubic inches.

                W

Wachita stone – A medium-hard mineral oil stone used for sharpening knives.

Wash – The wash of a stream is the sandy, rocky, gravely, boulder-strewn part of a river bottom. In the southwest a wash is usually the dry bed of an intermittent stream often at the bottom of a canyon. Also called a dry wash.

Waterproof – Impervious to water. Covered or treated with a material (as a solution of rubber) to prevent permeation by water.

   

Water-resistant vs. Waterproof

 

A garment that is water-resistant is “treated with a finish that is resistant but not impervious to penetration by water,” while a garment that is waterproof is “covered or treated with a material to prevent permeation by water.”

 

 

Water-repellent – Treated with a finish that is resistant but not impervious to penetration by water.

Water pocket – A bowl in rock that has been formed by the erosional action of falling or running water. Often times a collection point for rain and run off water, and thus a potential source of drinking water for wild animals and humans. 

White-gas – A distillate of petroleum, also called petroleum naptha, commonly used in backpacking stoves.

Wilderness – A tract or region uncultivated and uninhabited by human beings, essentially undisturbed by human activity, together with its naturally developed life community, generally an empty pathless area.

Wind shirt – Differs from a wind-parka in that the shirt is cut to waist length and does not have a hood. Wind pants are made of breathable fabric and are popular for winter camping.

White-print map – A provisional map that’s similar to a “blue-print.” White-prints are up-to-date maps which show the location of logging and mining roads and man made structures. These maps are designed for professional use; they are not listed in standard map indexes

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Camping Essentials

With the right gear, you can be prepared for anything. Camping essentials lists come in many shapes and forms. You can search the internet and come up with about a thousand different lists. We have compiled a comprehensive checklist for you. For a printable version, click here.
As a scout leader, we teach the new scouts about the ten essentials for camping which are listed below:
The Ten Essentials (BSA)

__Pocketknife20161102_165208
__First aid kit
__Extra clothing (Weather appropriate)
__Rain gear
__Water bottle
__Flashlight/headlamp
__Trail food
__Matches and fire starters
__Sun protection
__Map and compass (& know how to use them)

Below is our comprehensive list for camping. You don’t have to bring everything on this list, but this is meant to get you thinking and make sure you don’t miss something. If you have anything to add, feel free t
o comment below and we can add it to the list. Here is a link to a printable version (list).

Shelter

__Tent
__Ground cloth/tarp
__Extra stakstakeses
__Shade tarp/poles/rope/stakes
__Axe or hammer
__Mat for tent entrance
__Dust pan/brush

Bedding

__Sleeping bag
__Sheets/blankets
__Pillow
__Air mattress/sleeping pad/cot/tarp
__Air pump
__Repair kit for air mattress

__Utility bags for storage

Cooking

__Large water jug & water bucket         20161106_120613_1478464536041_resized
__Coolers/ice
__Thermos
__Stove with fuel/propane/mess kit
__Matches/lighter
__Charcoal/firewood/buddy burner
__Dutch oven/tin can stove/box oven/etc
__Campfire grill/BBQ grill
__Fire starters/newspaper
__Tablecloth/thumb tacks/clips
__Plates & bowls/paper plates & bowls
__Silverware/plastic silverwarecook-set
__Measuring cups / cook set
__Heavy-duty aluminum foil
__Paper towels
__Trash bags
__Dish soap
__Clothes pins
__Cooking oil/spray
__Containers for food storage
__Potholders/oven mittsstove
__Pots and frying pans with lids
__Soap for outside of pots and pans
__Cook utensils-spatula, knife, spoon
__Tongs
__Skewers/grill forks
__Can opener/bottle opener
__Folding table
__Mugs/paper cups
__Mixing bowl
__Cutting board
__Ziplock bags
__Napkins
__Dish pan
__Dish rags/towels
__Scrub pad/brillo
__Seasonings/sugar/condiments
__Potato peeler

Clothes

__Shoes/boots
__Jeans/pants/belt
__Shorts
__T-shirts
__Socks/extra socks
__Hat
__Bandana
__Sweatshirt/jacket
__Underwear
__Sleep clothes
__Rain gear
__Swim suit/towel
__Laundry bag

Personal

__Shower shoes/flip flops
__Towels/washcloth
__Soap in plastic case/shampoo
__Tooth brush/tooth pastesolar-shower
__Deodorant
__Comb/brush
__Razor
__Feminine products
__Toilet paper
__Shower bag or 5 gallon bucket
__Camping shower/shower pump
__Other personal items
__Personal medications – take extra

Miscellaneous

__Sunscreen/chapstick
__Lantern with fuel/mantles
__Extra batteries/bulbs
__Compass/GPS
__Bug repellent/candles
__Whistle
__Water filters/purification/treatmentfirst-aid-kit
__Camera/batteries
__Books/magazines (a Kindle would be better)
__Candles
__Maps/directions
__Misc. tools
__Backpack/fanny pack
__Fishing gear/license/bait
__Radio
__Musical instruments/song books
__Camp chairs
__Sunglasses
__Hammock
__First aid kit
__Tissues
__Saw/axe
__Park map/guidebooks/trail maps
__Lantern pole or hanger
__Collapsible drying rack
__Popcorn
__Marshmallows, Graham crackers, Hershey bars (Smores)
__Flashlight/batteries
__Pocket knife
__Plastic grocery bags
__Binoculars
__Rope/clothes line
__Canteen/water bottle/coffee pot
__Bungee cords/straps
__Cards/games/toys/golf
__Duct tape/electrical tape
__Notepad/pen
__Reservations info./confirmation
__Cell phone/charger & 2-way radios/walkie talkies
__Small shovel
__Safety pins
__Money/ID/credit card/quarters
__Bikes/helmets
__Travel alarm clock
__Work gloves
__Umbrella
__Hand wipes
__Drinks/snacks
__Small sewing kit
__Fire extinguisher
__Hot chocolate/tea bags/coffee
__Scissors
__Watch

Tell someone of your plans – give details of where you are going and when you expect to return, give directions and possible alternative roads that you may take, provide cell phone numbers, vehicle description and license plate numbers, hand-held radio channel and codes that you will use, and provide local authority phone numbers (State Police, Game & Fish Commission, Sheriff Dept, etc.) for the county or area that you will be in.

Basic First Aid Kit

__Personal medications
__Roll bandages
__Adhesive tape
__Antiseptic wipes
__Sterile gauze pads
__Cotton swabs
__Tweezers
__Safety pins
__Scissors
__Bee sting kit
__Sinus medications
__Tissues
__Bug repellent
__Sunscreen
__Notepad/pen
__Sterile compresses
__Splinting materials
__Personal information/contact person
__Feminine products
__Ipecac
__Razor blades
__Plastic bags
__Small bottle of water
__Blanket
__Other personal needs
__Small mirror
__Triangular bandages
__Misc. Band Aides/bandages
__Anti-acids (Tums, Rolaids)
__Antibiotic cream
__Aspirin/Ibuprofen/Tylenol/Naproxin
__Hydrogen Peroxide
__Ace bandages
__Sunburn lotion
__Burn ointment
__Snake bit kit
__Eye drops
__Poison ivy cream/cleansers
__Heat/cold packs
__Small flashlight
__Latex gloves
__Antibacterial soap
__Thermometer
__Coins for emergency phone calls
__Antibiotic soap
__Butterfly bandages
__Twine
__Mole skin for blisters
__Road flares
__First aid manual
__Nail clippers

Know what the weather forecast is for your camping destination. This will help alleviate many issues encountered at camp. If you are expecting bad weather, you can prepare for it or rearrange your trip. If you think of anything I’ve left out, please comment below.

 

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Mess Kit Video Tour

Below is a video tour of my mess kit that I carry. Many a soldire carried one of these. They are great because you can cook in one half and the other half features a divided plate. I also store my utensils and seasonings inside. Another great feature is that it is made out of stainless steel. I have seen aluminum mess kits twist and contort when used to cook; this won’t do either. You also don’t have the issue of aluminum leaching into your food potentially. The whole thing snaps together and stows in your pack fairly small as well. Check it out below and don’t forget to subscribe to our channel.

Product links:

20161106_120613_1478464536041_resizedcook-setstove

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How Much Gear is Too Much?

As an assistant Scoutmaster, I have the opportunity to do a lot of camping. I love being out in the wild with the Scouts; it makes me feel younger and I get quality time with my son. We do a variety of camping, from “dump-outs” to “backpacking” trips. I love both types of camping and always look forward to the next one before the current trip is even over.

Backpack Camping:
Backpacking trips with the scouts are great for the following reasons:

  1. Every scout is responsible for all his gear.
  2. Cooking on a backpack stove is always interesting.
  3. The younger scouts really learn what “roughing it” can mean
  4. There is less impact on the campsite
  5. We can be a little more remote
Coffee is important

Dumpouts:

Dump-outs are great trips with the scouts for a number of reasons.

  1. The food is ALWAYS good.
  2. Plenty of man power to get everything done.
  3. There are almost always enough supplies.
  4. We usually attract more scouts – which is always entertaining!
  5. Did I mention the food?

 

Lots of gear on this trip

When we do our dump-outs, we bring the troop trailer which has everything under the sun in it. We have at least 4 dutch ovens, multiple cooking sets (utensils, pots, bowls, etc), food gets stored there, wash bins, extra TP, rakes, shovels, propane, you name it. Which brings me to the question: How much is too much?

With a dump-out, all the gear (and usually scout gear included) is pulled in a 10′ trailer. We usually have a larger group so loading & unloading isn’t an issue. The scouts usually prepare some really good meals with all the coocking gear as well! Did we use that 20′ canopy in the trailer? You bet! it was a hot weekend and it provided some much needed shade. Some of the leaders were able to bring cots for in their tents, a few EZ-Up canopies were also brought. We were quite comfortable.

BSA regulations won’t allow a scout to carry more than 25% of his body weight in his pack. This can be an issue for some of the smaller guys. It really makes you look at your gear to see what is truly essential.

It comes down to how much gear does it take to be comfortable? Nobody wants to go camping and be miserable (well maybe a few people). My advice is to bring what you think you’ll need. Would you being a cast iron pan on a backpacking trip? Probably not. Are you going to rake your site upon departure? Probably not on a backpacking trip. I also recommend bringing things that can serve multiple needs. Do you need a bowl, pot, & plate on a back pack trip? I suggest eating straight out of the pot if it’s just you. Less to clean too! For a list of camping essentials, click here.

What are your  essentials? What have you taken on  a trip that you wished you hadn’t?