Camping essentials

Hello and welcome to Camping Essentials. My name is Tom and I  love camping. My parents were campers so my brothers and I grew up camping. I remember we had an old heavy canvas tent that my dad bought at an army navy store. That tent weighted a ton and took a little effort to set up but that was part of the adventure. Those were the days. We did the usual weekend trips but every year we would make the journey to Jefferson National Forrest in Virginia. My dad grew up in those parts and at some point they started building campgrounds. Instead of staying with family we would set up camp and have the relatives over. We were   “unplugged” back then. Unplugged was not having  TV. Telephone answering machines had not yet been invented or at least we didn’t have one.  I never thought I’d be carrying around a telephone in my pocket on these excursions let alone one that contained  a global positioning device and did things I never even dreamed of.

Camping EssentialsAs time went on I developed my own style of camping. I did a little backpacking but back in the late 70’s and 80’s and discovered bicycle camping. Back then I had an old A frame tent.  Eventually I graduated to a state of the art dome tent. I believe I paid around $100 for it. There were no bungee connectors and you had to piece the 2 foot poles together one at a time careful to slide them through the tent ceiling sleeve so they wouldn’t come apart. My gear includes an old Svea 123 stove that used white gas. What a great little stove. Priming it with the open flame seemed a little dangerous at the time but that stove has been everywhere.

Camping gear has changed a lot over the years. I’ve rented RV’s in the past but I haven’t made the big purchase yet. I’m still essentially a tent camper but I have a lot of gear. I am very comfortable when I take a trip. The term “glamping” comes to mind but I’m far from that. I just like having a few things that I consider camping essentials.

I remember graduating from white gas to propane. I liked how white gas as we called it was inexpensive and not all that difficult to use. You had a can of gas and a funnel. Not a problem. They’re still popular and the backpacking stove still serves it’s purpose but for car camping you can’t beat the convenience of propane in my opinion.

Sleeping on an air mattress  is sort of  a thing of the past for me but I still have one. I found it makes a great outdoor bed for those little naps in the shade during the day provided you anchor it down. As a kid I blew up my share of those things. As I got older I had a foot pump and then a battery operated device. I finally got one that plugs into the car lighter. That little foam pad I took on my backpacking and bike trips has seen better days but I still  I have it around for the memories. My new cot makes it so much easier to roll out of bed and tie my shoes.

Juggling at the campsite

At some point in my life I learned to juggle

One of the things I’ve learned is that if you’re a car camper there are a lot of conveniences you have at home that you can take camping. You can do just about anything camping that you can do at home. I love to cook and my camping kitchen is almost as well stocked as my  kitchen at home. A few times while I was a culinary student I made  hollandaise sauce and  Eggs Benedict for breakfast. Yes a real emulsion sauce the way I was classically trained in French Cuisine. I didn’t consider it extreme. It was fun and everybody loved it.

We all have our  favorite spots to camp. I’m always on the lookout for someplace new to explore but one of my favorites  is camping at music festivals. I’ve been to quite a few over the years. I’m a self taught guitar picker. My dad played guitar and a bit of mandolin so it’s pretty much in my blood. Some music festivals I’ve attended are at campgrounds but many are in simple hay fields. There can be a level of creativity that comes with camping at these festivals. For the most part you rely on the the Port-A-Potties, Port-a-Johns or whatever term you prefer. Showering can be an issue but there some great shower tents that are easy to set up and work rather well.

The great part about these festivals, aside from the people and the music we share, is the variety of camping equipment you come across. Some things are pure genius and I just wonder why I didn’t think of it.

I have camped with a varying degree of equipment and conveniences. It’s something I enjoy doing and look forward to. It’s always an adventure. The outdoors, the friends and family are all part of the experience. I have come to appreciate the simple pleasures in life and camping is one of them.

I am going to show you some of  the best camping gear on the market today. Some of it’s traditional and there’s nothing wrong with time tested products  but there are some really interesting things out there that you probably never knew existed. I’ll tell you why I like these things and some of the not so great things. Plus I’ll share some stories and a recipe or two.

I hope you enjoy the my stories and musings. If you have camping stories or something you’d like to share please contact me. I love to connect with fellow campers.