In this entry for the series on the common mistakes new campers make and how you can avoid them we will explore importance of ensuring you have Adequate Campfire Preparations and Suitable Food Storage.
Once you have found the right place and are about to get things all in place for a wonderful camping adventure with family or friends, you need to make considerations to ensure that you don’t encounter the following mistakes.
Mistake #6: Inadequate campfire preparations
Everyone loves a cosy campfire, especially when the cold night air slips in. Sitting around chatting, toasting marshmallows, making s’mores, hmmm…
That’s when campfires are allowed. Something that is always a surprise to see is the unprepared, half-hearted attempts of many campers as they try to get their fires started with all of the outdoor obstacles possible in front of them.
What seems to be obvious to some is clearly not the case for many, as a reader of this blog you’ll now be prepared to avoid this one in our series of common mistakes new campers make.
There’s nothing much more frustrating than scrounging around for wood, finding that it’s all damp or green.
Huffing and puffing onto your fire, even splashing your kindling with petrol; which is something I’d encourage you NOT to do.
The last thing you want on your camping trip is to be air lifted to a burns unit as the vapour trail bleeds out to surround your feet before you ignite what will be the impending explosion.
Many ill-prepared campers finish up with more smoke and bad tempers than glowing flames and pleasant comfort. Believe it or not, most campsites, in particular the more popular areas, rarely provide sufficient kindling let alone any dry firewood.
Or, you could just go for a Solo Stove and be done with a lot of the hassle.
Solution: Apply the six ‘Ps’ rule here (and in every other case for that matter) and you can’t go wrong. The six Ps rule is: Prior Preparation Prevents P!ss Poor Performance.
So, plan ahead. Before you set off, or throughout your day, collect enough dry firewood and kindling for your first campfire.
Take a saw (I prefer a bow saw) a supply of waterproof matches, newspaper, and firelighters. Make sure these are packed in a location where you can get to them easily soon after arrival at your destination. Chances are it may be dark, and you’ll want to get your fire started as easily as possible.
Much better than relying on conventional matches or a lighter, this little baby is one of the best items I’ve come across of it’s kind – it certainly beats rubbing two sticks together!
Mistake #7: Poorly planned food storage and refrigeration
Food storage is an area where another on of the common mistakes new campers make bears exploring. Sometimes the best you can make do with is a cooler (aka, an ice box, or ‘Esky’ for the Aussies).
If you don’t have a camp refrigeration unit, which is a great resource for the more seasoned camper, then a cooler is your next best option. Much more affordable than a Waeco (which is my preference), you still need to avoid some pretty inconvenient mishaps.
Some of the things that can destroy a camping adventure is to open your cooler to find that the party ice you used to spread around your food has melted and everything is soaked.
Eggs are bobbing around in bloodied water as your steaks have been soaked so much that when you attempt to cook them they taste like cardboard.
Bread turns into mush, and your plans for dinner and breakfast have turned into a long drive to the nearest town to find something you can eat.
Getting the most out of a cooler requires a bit of extra thought compared to a Friday night party, and careful planning. How can you avoid this one of the common mistakes made by new campers?
Solution: If possible, use blocks of ice. Make your own in the freezer at home. my personal favourite is to freeze 2 litre bottles of water; make sure you leave some air space near the cap when freezing – or the bottles may pop as the ice expands.
This will keep both the food fresh, and dry. If party ice is your only option, choose bags that are frozen solid and leave them sealed and unbroken.
Even though you know it is going to melt, it pays to carry that little more ice than you think you may need.
Another great alternative is to find a supplier of dry ice (where available). Always carry and store the cooler in a shady spot, or cover it with a heat-reflective tarp.
You don’t want to strap it to the roof and have the full heat of the sun belting down on it. This is not going to turn out good at all.
Don’t be too surprised if in your early camping days you bump into a lot more mistakes than these. Enjoy the journey as you learn from each one of the lessons and become a master in the art of camping.
Keep in mind that camping is not a competition. As much as you’ll find other campers who have more experience than you, and others who have less, it is a community of supportive individuals who often lend a hand to those in need.
Ask questions, watch others, listen to their advice, and learn from their mistakes as you continue to avoid the common mistakes new campers make.