Don’t think that you can buy a bunch of new equipment and let it sit around in your basement unopened until you need it. You might think that you are all set because you have purchased sleeping bags, a camping stove, a tent, maybe some sleeping pads and a lantern or propane heater.
You need to learn how to use your equipment. Firing it up once to see that it works is the bare minimum. You need to get out and use it. Setting up a tent that you haven’t set up before can be a difficult thing. And it seems like the tent always needs to be set up after dark or at dusk while in a hurry. Stoves and lanterns are all different and you have to learn how to use them, how to fill them and how to start them up.
If something doesn’t work right, or is broken, you don’t want to learn about the failure when you are depending upon that piece of gear to work right. You need to get everything out once in a while and make sure it works right. Do any maintenance that the equipment may need.
If you camp you are already ahead of the game. If you haven’t camped in five or ten years or even longer then you better make sure everything still works. Check to ensure that the tent isn’t dead due to mold or moths. Did you leave Coleman fuel in your stove or lantern a decade ago? Well you better empty it out, fill it with some fresh fuel and make sure you can still get it started. You don’t want to wait till your lights go out before you find out whether or not works.
If you’ve never camped then that gear in your closet is useless until you try it out and can be 100% certain that you can use any of it in the dark. Yup, you need to be able to set up your tent, get your stove and lanterns going in the dark. You need to be able to set up or break camp in the dark.
In addition to learning how to use your gear and making sure that your stuff still works the other advantage of using your gear is that it should get you out into the field. While you are in your home or car you control everything. Out in the woods there is no such thing as control. You have to learn to take what is given to you and make do. Enjoying your equipment in the field is different than using it in your backyard. Each is good, but you’ll get more out of using your gear afield.
“Those who get the most out of a given situation are those who make the most out of the situation that they are given.”
So getting out and about will toughen you up a bit. Spend enough time outside and it won’t matter what the weather is. The weather won’t bother you ever again. Rain, snow, sleet, wind, heat, humidity, none of it will bother you. You’ll learn how to dress for different weather.
Today was a nice sunny day. It was kind of windy, but it was around 45 and this time of year 45 is warm as May. In the fall 45 feels cold. We took a nice walk in the woods with friends of ours. I got to go someplace new.
The first trail went along the base of a small hill and on the other side was a slow shallow river. We walked in maybe a mile or two to an old stone lock. Believe it or not up until the 1840’s crops and other commercial goods used to be moved up and down this river.
So the whole point was to get outside, get some exercise and make a nice little lunch. Over there is the lock that they used to raise and lower the water level.
We brought a stove with us and made up some grilled sandwiches, a spicy Italian sausage and a duck breast. It was a win win day. Got outside on a great, sunny day. Got some exercise. Got to cook some stuff outside and develop skills in the process. After a while cooking outside is the same as cooking at home. I can’t think of anything that I’d make at home that I wouldn’t try to cook outside.
Here is Cookie doing what he does best, cooking. That’s why he is called Cookie. Any of you old enough to remember watching the old westerns? Remember Cookie was the cook on the chuckwagon? Anyways, that’s Cookie leaning over the stove. He is a great guy to bring on camping trips. In fact he usually plans all the meals. Imagine planning 3 meals a day for 15 guys along with snacks, drinks and so forth. He does it all then tells us that’ll be $20 each. Not only that but Cookie cooks everything too. You’ll wake up in the morning and there is a pot of coffee already going and 30 egg sandwiches made and waiting for the eating. The strange thing is that a lot of times Cookie is also one of the last to go to bed.
Here is a picture of a duck breast on the left and a hot Ital sausage on the right. Nothing like the smell of food being cooked outside. The fresh air makes everything taste better. All that duck fat had Cookie and me wishing that we had a potato to throw in there.
So you need to Get Out Everyday, try out your gear, get some exercise and make some tasty grub.