When you’re cooking on the road, other than your cooker, the most important bit of kit you carry is your camp kitchen. There are lots of options out there – from the home-away-from-home sets right down to nothing more than a sharp knife and a spoon.
I carry a commercial Sea to Summit kitchen set that I’ve modified with a few personal luxuries (if you can call a small whisk a luxury). But more than things like knifes, forks, spoons and washing gear the most important part of your camp kitchen are your everyday spices and little extras that mean you can cook properly.
My kitchen contains:
Washing up gear (sponge, cloth, washing up liquid)
Millets seem to have a new (outsourced?) warehouse team – this warehouse team don’t seem to be able to understand what you should do when shipping glass lamps. What would you do? Put it in a small box filled with those nice foam pellets? Maybe you should put it in a large box with all your other items, but wrap them in bubble wrap or cardboard to stop them bouncing around?
That would of course be beyond the staff at Millets Online – here’s how my lamp turned up this morning.
The box with all that nice wrapping
The pristine lantern box that made a funny sound when I lifted it
And finally the expected result
Lesson of this story? If you’re looking for simple camping gear… avoid Millets. Oh, and even though I paid extra for ‘next day delivery’ it took two days to arrive – I’ve had an email to apologise and give me a 20% discount on my next order (that actually hasn’t turned up – they’re posting it to me – an online shop is posting me a paper voucher with a code that I can use online – go figure)…. um… there wont be a next order.
One of the simplest things to carry when traveling is rice – it’s light, packed full of energy and provides a hot filling meal when you need it most. My favorite traveling recipe is really simple. In this video I show you how to make it.
Boil the rice for about 3/4 of the required time before adding your meat, at this stage also add your herbs and spices and your vegetables – mix well before adding the cup-a-soup straight from the packet. Stir in the powder for a few minutes and you’re done – simplicity itself and a hot, filling, energy packed meal in a little over 10 mins.
Do you have a one pot recipe you wouldn’t be without on the road? Email me (or leave a comment below) and tell me how you make it and I’ll turn it into a video… credited to you of course.
Buying a new tent can be incredibly difficult. There are so many choices out there that it can be very confusing if you don’t know what to look for. As the northern hemisphere heads into spring, and camping becomes a comfortable alternative to the B&B again I wanted to share some tips on how to chose a good tent.
I made a little video about choosing a tent which you can watch at the bottom of this post, or over on YouTube.
1. How far from help are you?
Before you decide how much you want to spend, work out why you’re buying the tent and how far away from shelter you are. If for example you’re travelling in a Land Rover, then your tent – whilst being your primary shelter – is not as important as it is if you’re camping 10 miles from anything else on your own. Ask yourself, how near shelter am I if the tent fails? The further from help, the more you want to spend, and the more consideration needs to be taken.
2 . Materials
Simple enough, do some research on what materials work best in which senario. Are you going to be spending time in the desert? What about rain? A good tent for northern Europe, may not be the best bet for the hot climbs of central Afrrica. A swag bag works wonderfully in the dry conditions of Australia, but is simply not suited to a wet trip in Canada.
3. Size, weight and dimensions
Are you carrying the tent on your back, on the back of a motorcycle or in a car? If you’re carrying a tent you’ll need to explore high-tech options with suppliers like Exped and Tatonka. Both companies offer options with light-weight short poles and highly compressible materials – ideal for hiking and the motorbike.
If you’re in the car you have a greater range of options – consider a tent that goes up in seconds from Quecha or something designed to fold out from your vehicle in a few simple steps from people like Oz Tent.
You’ll be amazed how many tents don’t come with the essentials. Make sure you have:
Ground sheet / footprint
Good quality pegs
Strong poles / pole repair kit
Material repair kit (for fixing holes)
The ground sheet will really help with keeping condensation to a minimum – they also act as a barrier between the cold ground and your butt, but most importantly they protect the material of your tents bottom from sharp stones on rough ground. A good ground sheet means you can keep your ventilation vents open in most weathers.
Pegs are so important – many tents ship with really weak simple pegs that will not drive into hard ground and have no grip in soft ground. Try a v shaped titanium peg from people like Alpine Kit – they don’t have to be expensive! Make sure you drive the peg in at a 45 degree angle.
There are really three major tent designs. Geodysic, dome and tunnel. Depending on what type of camping your doing you’ll need to consider the different types.
Tunnel tents generally pack up very small, they also tend to have very short poles and are quite often very easy to erect. They do however require some thought when pitching – they can be badly affected by wind and you should try to pitch with the front or back facing into the wind – if you get caught side on in a gale it can not only end in a very noisy night- but can also bend the shape of the tent inwards, affecting it’s thermal capabilities and how much rain it can deal with. This is the type of tent that it is really important to buy the best of – money really does have an impact here and the more you spend generally gives you a very sturdy, tough option with all of the benefits.
Dome tents tend to be the cheapest option. You’ll see them in the supermarket for very little cash and for many applications are the ideal option. Their pack size is small, they generally only have two poles and can be purchased as an inside up first option or a fly up first option. In wetter climates the outer (fly) up first option is ideal, but in dryer hoter climbs you’ll find the option of being able to pitch the inner tent without the outer ideal – it keeps the bugs off, and lets the heat escape more efficiently.
Geodesic tents can be rather complicated to erect – but once you’ve worked out the knack they are without doubt the most stable shelters around. They tend to be more expensive and they’re what you’ll see the professional expeditions using as they head out into the great wilderness. They deal with very bad weather well, will see a gale through with hardly a twitter, these are the best options to ensure you’re safe and snug inside.
Finally I’ll come back to that first tip when choosing your tent – remember that it’s your primary shelter – if you can sleep somewhere else if it flys away or gets soaked through then don’t stress it – if you HAVE to get a good, warm, dry nights sleep then spend some money.
The best place to start is with a reputable supplier – I recommend Travel Dri-Plus – call and ask for Les – he’s the most knowledgeable person I have ever talked to about tents – if he doesn’t know it – it’s not worth knowing about.
It’s fair to say we may have been a little obsessed with our kit. The problem was of course, that we were delayed by a year – and there’s only so much time you can take up obsessing over visas and injections – so kit seemed a harmless hobby.
I’ve lost count of the tents we’ve tested, taken on the road and now finally, regretfully in some cases, rejected. This weekend we headed down to see Les from Traveldri-Plus – the mecca for anyone kitting themselves out with kit that will last more than one festival (Blacks – sorry guys you don’t hold a torch to this guy).
This is our second trip to Devon, and once again, for a chap who is running a business, we were blown away by our welcome (thanks for the sandwiches and tea!) and by his amazing depth of knowledge about this stuff.
I’ll take some more time tomorrow to write up what kit we actually bought and what the final tent arrangements are, but this photo may give you an idea until then 😉
A little while ago we met a very nice chap called Michael Field at the Daily Telegraph Adventure Travel Show – we had a good talk to him and he told us the best way to keep ourselves dry on the road.
After we got back Michael dropped us a line and very kindly offered to send us some bits and pieces to help us get our kit ready. I must be honest I’ve never really believed in after-market waterproofing – we’ve all been there and bought the sprays and the liquids and everything in-between from the camping shop – so when I put the jacket in the wash this weekend I wasn’t holding out much hope.
My jacket is three years old, it’s never been washed and to be totally frank it was not really very waterproof around the tummy area. I’ve always put that down to the way my tummy pushes against the front and desperately tries to escape 🙂
So into the washing machine the jacket went, following the instructions on the tech wash bottle – 30 degree hand wash cycle – out it came dripping wet and not very much cleaner than before – but Michael had warned me – use the tech wash first otherwise the waterproof wont work.
Given the beautiful weather this weekend it was dry in a couple of hours, so went back in on a 40 degree wash, gentle cycle, slow spin with the waterproof liquid. To cut a long story short, it took six hours in total to wash the jacket, dry it, wash it again and leave it dry once more. It’s not a task I’d do in anything but the best of weather.
Allowing for British weather I didn’t have to wait long to test the application. This morning it was throwing it down, a perfect opportunity to see in action the wonder proofing that Michael had promised. I rode for an hour in the rain, constant but not heavy, fully expecting to have to change my top when I got into work.
Arriving in west London I noticed something very odd, the water, as it was hitting my jacket was beading, gathering in little balls before running off all together. It’s not 100% efficient but most of the water simply wasn’t staying on the fabric. Getting into the office I pulled the jacket off to discover no wet spot – nothing at all – bone dry underneath.
These two products form the basis of the Nikwax range, and frankly if everything else they produce works as well as these two, then it’s a name I’ll trust in the future.
The Trangia is a wonderful all round system. I use the 25 (the slightly larger version) because I find the 27 too small for a decent cup of tea for more than one person, and whilst there is an obvious space saving issue, I also find the 27 too fiddly to use with the multi-fuel burner. Talking of which I’d consider the multi-fuel system an absolute must – the meths burner which comes with the system is fine if you have an hour to make a cup of tea – but as we discovered on the Dartmoor training run last year – the last thing you need when you’re cold and tired is to be wondering if your food will ever actually be ready.
The 25 can be had for around £50, the multi-fuel burner is about £80 and then you’re looking at between £5 and £10 for the various accessories, like the multi-disk and extra fuel bottle.
What is God calling you to do?
Listen to my Thought for The Week on BBC Hereford on Worcester about vocation and what God may be calling you to be or do