14 Essentials for Great Camping: Gear Recommendations

June 27, 2013 in Gear Reviews, Tips & Recommendations

Make your campers happy with these camping gear recommendations.

Make your campers happy with these camping gear recommendations.

As we’re back from our first camping trip of the season, we thought it’d be a good idea to make a list (and check it twice) of our most essential camping gear recommendations to ensure that you’ll have a great trip in the great outdoors.

  1. Tent – Unless you’re a purist and want nothing between you and the stars (and the wind, rain, bugs and forest critters), you’re gonna want a good tent. There are a lot of options out there, but we recommend making sure they have these features: 1.) Breathable… you don’t want to be sweltering in a dome that won’t let any air through (we learned that the hard, sweaty way) 2.) Keeps the Rain Out – be sure to get a tent that comes with a Rain Fly, this extra layer goes on top of the tent to keep things nice and dry.  3.) Easy to Put Up & Breakdown -  This is critical… especially for those times when you arrive at the campsite after dark or you’re just too tired to deal with packing things back up before heading back to town in the morning. Our favorite tents have always been able to assemble in 5 – 10 minutes. 4.) Folds Up Nice & Tight - No one wants to lug and store a bulky tent, so it’s critical that it fold up into a nice, compact bag.
  2. Sleeping Bags - We’ve got three requirements for sleeping bags: 1.) Keeps you warm, 2.) Doesn’t take up a lot of space, 3.) It’s lightweight and easy to carry. We’ve got the men’s and women’s version of the North Face Cat’s Meow 20 Degree Sleeping Bag - they zip together so you can get nice and cozy on cold camping nights.
  3. Sleeping Pads – Your sleeping bag can be as cozy as possibly, but it still won’t be able to do much to cushion you from the cold, hard ground all night long. It’s amazing the difference you’ll experience with a good sleeping pad between you and Mother Nature’s floor. Our sleeping pad of choice is the Therm-a-Rest Trail Lite Sleeping Pad because it’s compact, self-inflating and durable.
  4. Ready for ZZZs: Cat's Meow Sleeping Bags and Thermarest Sleeping Pads

    Ready for ZZZs: Cat’s Meow Sleeping Bags and Thermarest Sleeping Pads in the Wild

    Leatherman / Swiss Army Knife - Do not leave home without a great multipurpose knife. Whether you’ve got to cut twine to hold up your tarp, open a can (or a bottle of wine!) or you just need something to spread PB on your PB&J sandwich, a Leatherman or Swiss Army Knife will make your life so much better when you’re out in the woods. For everything from setting up camp to cooking, you’ll be glad you’ve got a trusty tool like this.

  5. Headlamps & Lanterns – Flashlights are fine and good, but nothing beats the ease and convenience of a good headlamp. Of course it’s likely that you’ll blind your camping buddies a time or two just by looking at them, but it’s better to leave them seeing spots for a few seconds than to stumble through the campsite in the dark. Headlamps come in all shapes and sizes – we like the ones that have a tilt feature for the light (fewer accidental blindings) and brightness level options like the Petzl Tikka.
  6. Matches or a Lighter – A good camping experience means at least one good campfire, so unless you’re super-proud of your ability to rub sticks together, make a flint out of a rock or using your glasses & the sun to light up a flame, you’re gonna want matches or a lighter. I suggest both, actually.
  7. Camp Chairs – Some hardcore outdoorsy folks might consider camp chairs a luxury, but we don’t leave home without them. After a long day hiking and exploring, it’s nice to settle back into a comfy chair and just watch the fire flicker in front of you. Check out this post by Amelia over at Tales of a Mountain Mama to get a feel for the differences and things to look for in different camp chair styles.
  8. Camping Cookware: Stove, Pots & Pans

    Camping Cookware Essentials: Stove, Pots & Pans

    Camp Stove – While we cook most of our evening meals on the campfire, it’s no fun to wait around for the coals when it’s first thing in the morning and you’re HUNGRY. That’s why we love the camp stove for early morning breakfast prep. If you’re cooking for a crowd, there are larger two burner camp stoves, but we prefer the the smaller single burner MSR Whisperlite Camp Stove - it works great for two people and is easy to pack up and store. The small size also makes it ideal for backpacking.

  9. Cookware – A stove won’t do much good unless you’ve got some pots & pans to cook on! We love a nesting sets like this Texsport Trailblazer Black Ice Hard Anodized Cook Set - it’s got a frying pan and 2 sauce pans that are large enough to boil pasta. And the non-stick surface is a HUGE plus for clean up. It’s compact enough that you can take it backpacking, too.
  10. Kitchenware – After trying to scramble eggs with a plastic fork only to have the plastic melt into our breakfast (yuck), we quickly learned the importance of keeping a quality set of forks, spoons, knives and cooking utensils handy. Sure you can try to remember to pack all the utensils from your kitchen each time, but we found keeping a batch of utensils just for camping, like this Coleman Dining Kit, makes life a LOT easier. Oh, and never underestimate the usefulness of a spork! It’s the utilitarian camper’s favorite utensil :)
  11. Trash Bags- Campers’ first rule: Leave No Trace. Don’t forget to bring a stash of trash bags with you so you can keep your campsite tidy and more importantly, free of nighttime critters who like to forage on whatever you may leave laying around – especially if it’s yummy.
  12. French Press: Essential for the Camping Coffee Lover

    French Press: Essential for the Camping Coffee Lover

    French Press - No one wants to deal with an angry bear early in the morning… especially when it’s your caffeine-deprived campmate. For those coffee loving campers out there, you can’t go wrong with a French Press. Simply pour in your coffee grounds, add boiling water that you heat up on your camp stove, wait a few minutes then press! You’ll have a great cup of coffee to while enjoying your peaceful camp surroundings. The Thermos Nissan 34-Ounce Vacuum Insulated Stainless-Steel Gourmet Coffee Press is a great option – it’s not only shatterproof, but it’s also insulated to keep your coffee warm for a couple of hours. Next time we have to upgrade our French Press we’ll go with that one.

  13. Bug Repellent - Getting chewed up by mosquitos and other bugs can make for a miserable camping trip, so don’t forget to pack you favorite bug spray to spray on your skin, clothes and tent. We also love the Off! PowerPad Mosquito Repellent Lamp - the flame is safely contained within the lantern so there’s little risk of accidentally setting something on fire, but more importantly it works like crazy! We usually use a couple of these lamps on our campsite and have never had much of an issue with mosquitos.
  14. Great Food & Snacks - Ummm, do I really need to say more about this? Yummy food is the proverbial icing on the happy camper’s cake. In addition to the big meals of the day, be sure to stock on up plenty of chips, trail mix and granola bars. Check out our Camping Recipes page if you’re looking for unique ideas for your campfire meals.

If you’re interested in other types of camping gear, be sure to check out the Marking My Territory Gear Store. We’ve worked with Amazon.com to provide a great selection of products for camping, camp cooking and hiking

Have any questions about the gear we’ve recommended or think we’ve left something out? Drop us a line down in the comments section – we’d love to hear what you are your must haves for a happy camping experience!

 

Marking My Territory Gear Store

June 4, 2013 in Gear Reviews, Tips & Recommendations

The Right Stuff: New Gear Reviews & Store

We love to hike. We love to camp. We love to eat delicious food by the campfire. These are all great, but one thing they have in common – you gotta have the right gear or things won’t go quite as planned.

That’s why beginning this summer, Marking My Territory is starting a new focus on gear that works for us (and likely for you, too!). We’ll be posting camping and hiking gear reviews and making recommendations based on how well the different equipment performs in real-world settings. Each review will cover the product’s purpose, highlights and drawbacks. We hope that any insights that we can share will help you find the right gear to make your outdoor adventures all the more enjoyable.

As part of this gear-focused initiative, we’ve also partnered with Amazon.com to open the Marking My Territory Gear Store. This store pulls from Amazon.com’s infinite inventory list, but we’ve narrowed down the options to 3 main categories: Camp Cooking, Camping Gear and Hiking. We hope this store will make it easier for you to find the right equipment fo your adventures in the great outdoors.

Let us know if you have any questions or if there’s any specific gear you’d like us to review and be sure to check out our first gear review: The Lodge Logic Dutch Oven.

Thanks!

Gear Review: Lodge Logic Camp Dutch Oven

June 3, 2013 in Gear Reviews

Dutch Oven

Lodge Logic Camp Dutch Oven

For Christmas this past year we received the 4 Quart Lodge Logic Camp Dutch Oven, I can’t think of a better gift for a Camp Recipe blogger. We’ve already made pretty good use of it, and based on the delicious results plan to use it even more.

The Dutch Oven: American Campers’ Love Affair
American campers have been using Dutch Ovens since before the United States existed. While cast metal pots have been around since the seventh century, the Dutch Oven as we know it today came into being in the early 18th century when an Englishman named Abraham Darby went to the Netherlands to observe the more advanced Dutch method of creating cast metal cookware. A few years later Darby patented a casting procedure similar to that of the Dutch and began producing cast metal cookware for Britain and the American colonies. And thus began the American campers love affair with the Dutch oven. It went on to be used by the mountain men who explored the great American frontier and by Lewis and Clark on their journey to explore the northwest. It was used by the pioneers who settled the west and is the state cooking pot of Utah – who knew?

Highlights
After using the Lodge Logic Camp Dutch Oven I understand why American campers have had such a long history with Dutch ovens. Lodge seems to have taken that history and experience and used it to perfect the Dutch oven. This Dutch oven was pre-seasoned so it was ready for use as soon as it came out of the box. The legs allow the oven to sit just high enough over the coals to allow enough air through so as to not smother the coals but to also not lose heat. The lid will hold your hot coals so that you can heat the oven from the top and the bottom, the lips on the lid will keep the coals and ash from getting into your food. The lid fits nice and tight so you’re not losing heat and the flavors are locked inside. Clean up is quick and easy and it doesn’t need to be re-seasoned if you don’t use soap and you dry it right away. The 4 Quarts seems to be pretty much the perfect size for our family of 3, leaving enough leftovers to have a decent lunch the next day.

Lodge Logic Camp Dutch Oven

Lodge Logic Camp Dutch Oven In Use

Drawbacks
The Dutch oven doesn’t come without its downsides. It’s not light. This is not cookware that you would want to take with you backpacking. The Dutch oven should only be used when you are car camping or you have something carrying your gear for you. Cooking time with a Dutch oven is a bit longer than just firing up the stove, you have to wait until the coals are nice and hot before you can even begin cooking. But the wait is entirely worth it because you can use the Dutch oven to cook so much more than you can on a typical camp stove. The Dutch oven also gets very hot. This is what makes it so good to cook with, the iron conducts heat very well which will uniformly heat the pot and cook your delicious meal evenly, but it makes it very difficult to handle without some added tools. Fortunately, Lodge has thought of this and makes a Dutch Oven Lid Lifter to save your hands from a good burning.

Summary
From chili and stews to pizza and breads to shepherd’s pie and chile verde to s’mores’adillas and peach cobbler, the Dutch oven is extremely versatile. The Lodge Logic Camp Dutch Oven will definitely become a staple in our camp cooking and I look forward to the many delicious adventures that it will bring.