Haven’t been camping for 10 years. Threw ourselves back in with a vengeance, buying a used pop up tent camper and spending four days in Crater Lake National Park. This is what we learned.
- DRY ICE! Put this in your cooler if you’re going to be bringing any perishables along for meals, it rocks. We left Friday, came back on Monday, and the stuff in the big cooler was still frozen.
- FRENCH PRESS and COFFEE THERMOSES: Simple to use, easy to clean, makes great, strong coffee which you will need in the morning. You’ll want the thermos because coffee gets cold quick in a press. Unless you are nifty and have a cozy for it. Which I’m working on.
- AIR BEDS: You may consider this for wimps, in which case, phooey to you. I have osteoarthritis in my knees, hips, and back and NEED the extra cushioning. We did try the first night on the camper’s regular mattress and hubby and I both agreed, air bed.
- CAST IRON PANS: These things are brilliant. They work great over a campfire or over your Coleman propane stove. Just don’t try to cook scrambled eggs in them, it’s not pretty. Fried, only, trust me.
What Didn’t Work:
- NOT BRINGING A SERVING PLATTER of any kind. Got awkward when cooking food for six over a campfire and didn’t have anything to put stuff on when it was done. Jelly roll pans will be added to the camper supplies.
- NO BLACK PEPPER to season the food. The pepper grinder I bought was broken and the store nearby was out of their Morton salt and pepper sets. Got not a little grief from certain members of our party about no pepper. It’s the little things, people. (Should have made them powder it up with the hammer in hindsight.)
- NO TONGS for grilling over the campfire. Hubby told me not to pack them, then asked where they were the second night. We needed them the next night, too.
Mind you, this is not the hardcore backpack/camping where you carry everything on your back. This is semi-luxurious camping with a tent camper. Which is the way I like it. I’ve done the sleeping-bag-on-the-tent floor camping as a kid and in my 20s. I’m not ashamed to admit I’m not 20 anymore.
Our camping supplies were:
- enamel-ware dishes and stock pot
- camping pots and pans (the kind that all fit inside each other)
- cast iron grill pan and one large and one small frying pan
- aluminum foil for cooking food
- silverware for 12 sourced from the thrift store
- assorted cooking utensils also sourced from the thrift store
- french press coffee pot, ground coffee, tea, and a water kettle
- popcorn stove top popper
- knife set and block (thrift store score)
- two dish washing pans and a collapsing dish drainer
- dish soap and hand soap
- wash cloths, pot holders, hand towels
- bag of rags for accidents, spills, clean up, etc. (came in very handy)
- campfire forks (the extending kind are the best)
- camp chairs
- Coleman stove and lanterns, plenty of little propane tanks
- Two 5 gallon jugs for water
- Cutting board and colander
- camp stove toaster (it really works)
- plastic bags for trash and recyclables to bring back
- whisk broom and dust pan
- misc. camping supplies: waterproof matches, clips, rope, etc.
- tents for the kids to sleep in, sleeping bags, blankets, pillows
- linens for the camper beds, blankets, pillows
- food—I try to include fun camping food like brats or hot dogs that the kids can cook themselves over the fire with forks, marshmallows, popcorn, and if you can, makings for s’mores
- a badminton set or other portable sportsing games for free time
We had a great time and hopefully made some great memories for the kids. And we’re already planning our next trip! One or two more trips and we should have a system set up where we just load a few things in the camper, pack the food, and go!
(The last morning at the campsite. Morning hair is scary.)