I’d like to think I’m well seasoned when it comes to camping. A 40+ year veteran of all kinds of camping, I’ve learned a lot over the years about what works, and what doesn’t. The best part, the memories, lots of memories! Like one I recall of myself out camping with the family and I’m sitting in an old canning pot, waiting to be bathed. I was so tiny!
We’ve learned lots of neat tips and tricks from my father-in-law and his girl friend Paulette who spend May through September in their permanent campsite at Rocky Lake in Manitoba, I create ever evolving lists on top of lists that work well when it comes to camping. Back in the day those lists would have diapers, potties, play pens, these days it’s all about the food and where to fit the booze (truth).
These days we have a tent trailer. It’s not fancy but it keeps us off the ground, dry and warm. We’re simple like that and take camping for what it is….a way to get out of the house, away from the electronics and get back to enjoying nature.
Camping Pie Irons
Our first year together and my then Fiancee, now husband, took me to Rocky Lake camping with his family. His dad and dad’s girlfriend had quite the seasonal campsite set up with two trailers, a deck, garden, decoration and so much more that has grown over the years. One of the most exciting discoveries that summer, pie irons. My life was forever changed. We got some for Christmas and we also purchased our own. Fourteen years later those pie irons are still holding strong.
Use them for making pizzas, warming up leftover stew or chili, grilled cheese, and making pies of course. Leftover mac n cheese is incredibly delicious reheated in a pie iron. There are so many things you can do with a pie iron, all you need is a little creativity!
Extra Blankets or Sleeping Bags
Even in our trailer with the heat on and flannel pyjamas, sometimes when camping in the mountains, it can get chilly at night. Pick up some extra sleeping bags, keep them rolled up and within reach in case anyone needs an extra hug. Old comforters or sheets come in handy. It’s all about the layers and you just never know when a stash of toques and mittens kept in a trailer cubby will come in handy.
There’s just something about being able to cut and widdle your own wiener stick. Since this is not always an option based on where you are camping, we also keep metal ones in the trailer at all times. Metal ones are good for hot dogs and even smokies or sausages. Wood sticks make the best marshmallow sticks since the inside doesn’t heat up like it does with a metal stick. You can also buy these in packages. Whatever the case may be, you can never have to many.
Folding Portable Plastic Table
One of our favourite items is our 4′ – 6′ table set up right outside the door of our trailer. It holds all the things, allows for meal prep to be done without taking up space on the picnic table, cooking utensils to be pass down, is the perfect vessel to prepare your morning coffee, can be used later for lanterns, cocktails or s’more set up. Having a folding picnic table allows us to use the entire picnic table for board games, activities and to eat family style.
If you love coffee, you more than likely have your own favourite method for preparing it while camping. Our cousins and my brother bring out an actual coffee maker (glampers ha ha). We went for years using a percolator, but in the end it always ended up so blackened by the fire, the mess was no longer worth it. Even stored in a plastic bag the black soot got everywhere.
Our obsession for the last 6+ years has been a Stainless Steel French Press. Yes you need a kettle, or to boil water which you can do easily enough on the grate of your fire or camp stove. The kettle acts as double duty for hot chocolate or tea. The morning we leave for camping I always grind my beans and store them in a plastic container. Stainless steel travels exceptionally well and it’s pretty easy to clean.
Folding Bamboo Dish Rack
There’s nothing quite like washing your dishes outside in the fresh air. You are camping so why be cooped up in your trailer doing dishes. We do our dishes either on the picnic table or our folding table. Boil the water, add in the dish soap, one for washing, one for rinsing and hello folding bamboo dish rack. They even get to drip dry in the fresh air. It dries without molding, is sturdy, folds up flat, and has a long shelf life. Meaning we’ve had ours for at least 10 years. You can now
buy them with a utensil holder which screams upgrade to me.
Every changing, head lamps are light weight and powerful lights when you need them. If you are tenting or do not have a toilet inside your trailer, you will want a headlamp for those late nights you have to trek to the outhouse or washroom with or without the kids.
There are times we are camping and want to climb a hill to watch the sunset, or walk down to the beach in the dark for fireworks. The kids enjoy having them to read books before bed. Make sure you bring extra batteries.
While looking at my lists and preparing this post, the kids chimed in to help pick out some essentials we can’t live without when we go camping. We came up with so many essential camping items, there may very well be a Part II & III in the near future. Stay tuned and enjoy exploring the great outdoors!