Ep30 – Campsite Q&A’s #2 with Ben & Lauren

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Back by popular demand, on this episode of the Snowys Camping Show, we have another Q&A session with Ben and Lauren.

This week, you asked them all kinds of things and got them talking about the true definition of camping to their favourite recipes for cooking over fire. They answer questions about gear checks and maintenance, first aid, essential luxury items, and how to keep pests at bay – so watch below for all the details.

Listen to the full episode here:

Or you can watch the video version here:

Timestamps:

  • 00:00 – Intro
  • 01:34 – Has anyone made up their own windbreak? I was thinking of using shade cloth and star droppers. Thinking star droppers might be on the heavy and awkward to store side of things though, are there aluminium poles that would be suitable?
  • 06:39 – What do you look for when choosing a campsite and do you have any local faves?
  • 10:44 – I’m thinking of getting a good head torch but I don’t know if it’s worth spending good dollars on one or just replacing cheap ones as they stuff up.
  • 15:02 – Do you always pack clothing for any possible weather, or do you only ever bring clothing for the expected weather?
  • 16:28 – What’s your favourite recipe for camp stove and for open fires?
  • 19:38 – Do you consider using a caravan “camping”?
  • 22:19 – First aid, what knowledge is essential for campers and what items do you never leave without in your first aid kit?
  • 26:41 – Unpacking at home rituals and gear checks and maintenance. Wet or windy weather activities!
  • 30:31 – Ben you always seem very focused on weight and functionality (rightfully so) but what do you take camping that isn’t necessary or you consider luxury?
  • 33:19 – How to keep pesky pests at bay. Wildlife sure are experts at penetrating defences.
  • 36:28 – Right way to stake tent? Some say 45° away from tent, others 45° toward tent and some say vertically. Confusion reigns. For me, critical tent remains secure in wind!

Links to things mentioned in this episode:

Has anyone made up their own windbreak? I was thinking of using shade cloth and star droppers. Thinking star droppers might be on the heavy and awkward to store side of things though, are there aluminium poles that would be suitable?

Definitely, but we would suggest not taking star droppers as they are heavy so they could be dangerous in an accident. Even if you strap it on tightly if that starts to move it will become a spear with a lot of weight around it. Whatever you put on the roof rack, it must be secure. Aluminium poles will help save weight, so they are a good choice, and you’ll need good pegs and guy ropes too. Ben recommends taking a mesh tarp folded in half as it will slow the wind down without putting too much stress on the poles.

What do you look for when choosing a campsite and do you have any local faves?

Lauren says that she doesn’t like to share her favourite spots around as, in the past, some great sites have ended up getting trashed after they became popular. In terms of finding a good spot, Lauren says WikiCamps has been helpful as you can filter it down to your requirements and region. She looks for places that allow dogs, are bush camps/have minimal amenities, space for kids to roam, where fires are allowed (within fire season obviously) and near a water source. Ben largely feels the same as he prefers more remote camping where there is plenty of space and solitude.

Hey Ben and Lauren, I’m thinking of getting a good head torch but I don’t know if it’s worth spending good dollars on one or just replacing cheap ones as they stuff up…

Ben’s approach to gear is that the fewer times something gets thrown out, the better. Generally, with head torches you do get what you pay for. Ben has had a Princeton Tec head torch for 15 years which cost around $100. It has been on many adventures with him and is still going strong! Stick to brands that are known for quality such as Black Diamond, Petzl, Silva, Ledlenser, or Nitecore. For Lauren, the biggest factors are that the unit is rechargeable and that the battery can be replaced. She has used BioLite ones in the past, but the internal battery can’t be replaced which means that eventually, it will end up in landfill. Instead, she’s now using a Petzl Tikkina headlamp as the battery is replaceable.

Do you always pack clothing for any possible weather, or do you only ever bring clothing for the expected weather?

Ben is a light packer, so he plans based on the expected weather forecast. Though he might take a pair of pants and a light jumper sometimes just in case. Lauren follows the same principle, though she might occasionally throw in a pair of comfy longer pants for wearing around camp. However, she always packs a thick pair of socks regardless of the weather to help her stay warm.

What’s your favourite recipe for camp stoves and for open fires?

In terms of campfire recipes, Ben loves making pizza and damper while Lauren is a fan of a bacon and eggs brekkie or stewed lamb shanks in a camp oven. If you’re looking for inspiration, the Fire to Fork cookbook is a good place to start. For camp stove cooking, it can be restrictive, but you could get fancy with pasta sauces, or use a hotplate to cook a BBQ. Lauren mainly just pre-cooks meals at home, and vacuum seals them to reheat in boiling water which saves gas, time and cleaning up.

A group of friends, sitting around a campfire at a campsite.

The way you explore the outdoors shouldn’t matter. Image: OZtrail

Do you consider using a caravan “camping”?

In short, no. But it doesn’t matter what it’s called, if you’re doing what you enjoy, then that’s what matters. At the end of the day, it’s still a valuable pursuit. According to the Oxford dictionary, camping is defined as: “The activity of spending a holiday living in a tent”. So, there you have it!

First aid, what knowledge is essential for campers and what items do you never leave without in your first aid kit?

It’s good to have as much knowledge as you can if you’re heading somewhere remote, with a basic first aid course as the minimum. Keep some extra items in your first aid kit to cater for your specific needs as well. Lauren also mentions that it’s important to have an alternative method of communication if you frequently travel to areas where there isn’t a reliable phone signal. This could be in the form of a satellite communicator, satellite phone, or PLB. Even with some first aid training, if there’s a life-threatening emergency, urgent medical attention will be required.

Unpacking at home rituals and gear checks and maintenance? Wet or windy weather activities?

Ben tries to unpack straightaway before they do anything else. He generally makes notes while camping of anything that needs to be addressed or refilled so that it’s easy to sort everything out once he gets home. Lauren tends to leave it to the next day as she usually gets home quite late from trips. As her van isn’t their daily car, it doesn’t need to be unpacked straight away however, she does take out the laundry, rubbish, and any leftover food.

In terms of activities on a rainy or windy day, Ben and Lauren suggest playing cards, games, reading a book, or listening to music to pass the time.

Ben you always seem very focused on weight and functionality (rightfully so) but what do you take camping that isn’t necessary or you consider luxury?

If it’s a luxury item, Ben usually doesn’t take it. But he is going north for a trip where it’s hot and humid so he’s taking a 12V Breezeway Fan from Outdoor Connection to keep his family cooler on their adventure.

How to keep pesky pests at bay. Wildlife sure are experts at penetrating defences.

Lauren hasn’t really experienced issues with wildlife, as she camps with dogs and kids, so the noise probably keeps them at arm’s length, and neither has Ben. But some general tips would be to keep your food scraps secure, cover up and use insect repellents, set up orange lighting to keep bugs away and keep your tent zipped up to keep them from getting in.

What’s the right way to stake tent? Some say 45° away from tent, others 45° toward the tent and some say vertically. Confusion reigns. For me, it’s critical the tent remains secure in wind!

The top of the peg should be pointing away from the tent, so when you’re hammering it into the ground, it’s angled away from the tent.

Thanks for listening, tune in again for next week’s episode!

Thanks for tuning in to this week’s episode of the Snowys Camping Show Podcast. Don’t forget to subscribe to us on YouTubeSpotifyiTunesAmazon MusiciHeartRadioPocket CastsPodcast Addict, or Stitcher so you never miss an upload.

If you have any questions for Ben and Lauren, make sure you head over to our Facebook group and let us know as we’d love to hear from you.

Catch you out there!

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Joined back in October, 2015

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