A weekend camping trip can be a lot of fun if you’ve done your homework; or two days of discomfort and insomnia if you fail to prepare. Planning your trip isn’t rocket science, but it is a little more involved than grabbing your sleeping bag, a can of baked beans, and heading off to the nearest cow paddock to pitch your tent. If you’re an experienced camper, then good for you; class dismissed. However; if you are keen to spend time in the outdoors, but don’t know where to begin, this month’s blog is for you.
When you pack for your camping trip, there is a grey area between “You’ve brought nothing with you! You’ll have to sleep in a ditch to keep warm”, and “You’re being ridiculous. We’ll need a semi-trailer to haul all of this crap”. This month, I’ll share my own camping list with you. When writing your own list, feel free to remove or replace any items not relevant to you. My list is broken up into four categories: clothing, equipment, food, and toiletries.
Clothing (always choose natural fibre where possible. Synthetic materials are highly flammable):
• Thick socks (1 pair per day, + 1 spare pair).
• Underpants (1 pair per day, + 1 spare pair).
• Good quality boots,
• 1 pair of sneakers (if you wade through water you’ll still need to wear shoes of some description while your boots dry).
• Long pants (jeans are highly recommended).
• Long sleeved shirt (t-shirts are ok, but long sleeves can be rolled up or down as weather dictates).
• Jumper, or zip-up jacket (yes, even in summer. You’ll be grateful you did if the weather turns cold).
• Hat with a wide brim.
• Gloves and balaclava (only in winter, or in cooler climates).
• Torch & Batteries (for goodness sake, turn it on before you pack it. Actually turn it on and make sure it works. Don’t just assume it works). Take the batteries out to transport. Many a torch has arrived at the campsite with dead batteries, because it was accidentally turned on during transit.
• Spar batteries for torch.
• Camera & batteries (most smart phones have a camera, but you might not have anywhere to recharge your phone, so it is probably wise to conserve your battery).
• Backpack. It needs to be big enough to carry your gear, but not so big that you can’t pick it up and put it on your back without help.
• First Aid kit. A basic kit will cover any minor accident (notice I said minor, not loss of limb).
• Sleeping bag. Don’t buy the cheapest one you can find. Make sure you can comfortably fit inside (if it is skin tight, you aren’t going to get much sleep).
• Pillow (you can try using your backpack, or a rolled-up jumper, but they aren’t very comfortable).
• Swag, foam roll, or airbed.
• Spare plug for airbed.
• Wet weather gear (yes, really. Think of it as insurance).
• Towel (you’ll need it if it rains – and for drying your hands after you wash them).
• Good quality, sharp knife with a full tang (don’t waste your money on any of those hollow-handled “survival knives”). Buy quality, if you find yourself in a genuine survival situation, your life may be dependent on your knife.
• Pocket knife (as a back-up, in case you lose your primary knife).
• Compass (Lensatic or Orienteering).
• Fire steel.
• Storm matches (in a waterproof container).
• Insect repellent (squeeze bottle).
• Small shovel/folding shovel (you don’t want to use your hands to dig your latrine).
• Newspaper (in case kindling is scarce).
• Binoculars (not strictly essential, but always handy to have).
• Roll of duct tape (not the cheap stuff; it isn’t waterproof, and it doesn’t work).
• Tent (do your research to find one to suit your needs. The less it weighs, the easier it is to transport).
• Camp chair (sitting on the cold, hard ground isn’t as fun as it sounds).
• Folding table (not essential, but more civilised than eating on the ground).
• Plastic washing tub (for washing the dishes).
• Billy/pot/saucepan (for boiling water).
• Book (if it rains, you’ll need some way to kill time while you’re stuck in your tent).
• Deck of cards (something else to do if you chose the wrong book).
• Drink bottle. Stainless steel is preferable, plastic is acceptable, but leave the fancy glass drink bottles at home.
• Esky. If you’re taking meat with you, this will keep it cold until dinner time on your first night.
• Canned food with pull rings. (No cooking required).
• Long-life milk.
• Instant soup powder (just add boiling water).
• Two minute noodles.
• Bottled water. (2 litres per person, per day). Allow an extra 5 litres per day for cooking and washing up. Also include an extra 2 litres per person in case your return home is unexpectedly delayed.
• Dishwashing liquid.
• Toilet paper (besides the obvious, it can also be used as tissues, and tinder for your fire).
• Dental floss (can also be used as cordage).
• Toothbrush. (yes, really. Camping isn’t an excuse to neglect your dental hygiene).
• Moist towelettes.
This list is a basic starting point, and by no means complete. I’m sure you will have specific items or gear that you deem necessary for your camping trip. As always, please share this blog with your friends and family on your social media page. Knowledge is only useful if it is shared.
Sunday 12/02/17 was a day everyone living on the east coast of Australia will remember. The temperature at my house was 46.5 degrees Celsius, the wind was blowing at 25km/h with regular gusts of 33km/h, and the relative humidity was barely reaching 15%. In addition to the heat, nearly half of New South Wales had a Fire Danger Rating of either Extreme, or Catastrophic. In other words; welcome to the inside of your oven.
Everyone has a tale of how they spent the day. Some selflessly fought bushfires or cared for heat-stressed wildlife. Others did their best to hide from the sun and keep cool. The less intelligent spent all day at the beach then complained about how badly they got sunburnt. Fans and air conditioners were tested to their limits. Unfortunately; so was the electricity grid. At 1900hrs, a little after sunset, just as people turned on lights and started cooking dinner, the power grid failed, plunging more than half the town into darkness.
We quickly grabbed the nearest torches, then collected the candles and wind-up lantern from our emergency supply box. After we were safely set-up, I went outside to make sure nothing on my property required my attention, and to check on my neighbours.
I was greeted by darkness and silence. Other than my house, only my neighbours and one room in an apartment building up the road had any lighting. Every other building remained in darkness. Blackouts aren’t a difficult situation to prepare for, but almost nobody on my block had bothered. Curiosity forced me to wait outside to watch how people coped without electricity. Eventually, people resorted to using the torch app on their mobile phone to provide them with emergency lighting. Using your mobile phone as a torch isn’t a problem if you’re only going to use it for a couple of minutes. ; but it chews through your battery very quickly. If you rely on your mobile phone as your only source of light you could find yourself with a dead battery and no way to call 000 if you need the police, ambulance, or fire brigade.
Chemical glow-sticks are an ideal emergency lighting alternative for those of you who are pyrophobic (or live with people who can’t be trusted with a naked flame). The down side is they can only be used once, but the positives aspects include: a longer shelf-life than batteries (for your torch), and they won’t burn the house down if they’re left unattended.
How would you cope if your house were plunged into darkness right now? Do you have some way to produce light for you and your family? Do you at least own a decent torch? (A good quality torch doesn’t have to cost you $200, but you shouldn’t entrust your safety to a $2 torch).
The next time the power grid in your suburb fails I hope you took my advice and purchased a few basic supplies for your house. As always, please share this information with your friends and family on social media.
Welcome to my 76th blog post. When I began writing my blog in September of 2014, I never imagined that it would have lasted for so long, or that I would have gained so much by sharing my knowledge and experiences with you. Over the last two and a half years I have received some fantastic feedback from some of my readers, letting me know how my various blog posts have helped to get them out of trouble, or to avoid trouble all together. I want to thank everyone who have not only taken the time to visit this page, but to read and share the information with their loved ones.
But fear not! I will continue to share my stories in my blog. Topics will still include self-defence, disaster preparedness, home security and camping tips; but I will also include interesting anecdotes from daily life (and funny stuff other people have done in front of me – I will change the names of the guilty, mostly because I don’t want to get sued).
Please be sure to check back regularly for future updates.