Ep48 – Campsite Q&A’s #3 with Ben & Lauren

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Episode Overview:

Be it toddlers in sleeping bags, or toppers for sleeping swags – Lauren and Ben burrow into our Snowys’ inbox and put to bed some of the problems that have had you pondering. We scan our Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook platforms for your most asked and always interesting campsite questions.

This episode of the Snowys Camping Show runs the tap on tips and tricks in wet weather, unbeatable Snowys buys, coffee at the campsite, the best bags, mending swags – and so much more.

Listen to the full episode here:

Or watch the video version here:

Short Cuts:

00:00 – Intro

01:13 – Ben’s Arms…

02:01 – Why Isn’t the JetBoil Genesis Basecamp Available in Australia?

05:59 – On My Lap Around Australia, What is Recommended: Ute Canopy, Camper Trailer, or Caravan?

09:05 – What Food is Best to Leave in the Pantry for Short Overnight Stops (Product Review on Back Country or Outdoor Gourmet Food Brands)?

16:22 – What is the Best Option for Managing Mozzies When Camping?

19:16 – Tips or Tricks to Help While Camping in the Rain?

20:54 – When Will Snowys Open a Store in Sydney?

21:25 – Best Sleeping Bag for Bigger People?

25:49 – Where Can I Find Mattress Toppers for Swags?

27:55 – When Will Snowys Stock the Zempire Airforce 1?

28:30 – Fixing Snapped Swag Poles

30:32 – The Snowys Products Ben and Lauren Couldn’t Go Without

35:41 – Favoured Snowys Products by Other Snowys Staff

42:09 – Tips for Taking Toddlers Camping?

46:36 – Best Coffee Makers for Camping?

49:58 – Best Ultralight Cutlery and Crockery for Hiking…at the Lowest Price?

52:32 – Do You Know Where I Left My Glasses?

Mentioned in this Episode:

Blogs:

Guide to Dehydrating Food for Hiking

Best Freeze-Dried Meals for Camping and Hiking

Top Tips for Family Camping in Winter

Podcasts:

Ep31 – Creepy Crawlies at the Campsite

Ep8 – Unexpected Wind & Rain When Camping

Ep10 – Camping With Teenagers

Products:

MSR PocketRocket 2 Hiking Stove

Rooftop tents

Back Country freeze-dried meals

Outdoor Gourmet freeze-dried meals

Freeze-dried meals

Radix freeze-dried meals

Go Native packet meals

Thermocell

DEET repellant

Mosquito head-nets

Aerosol repellant

Citronella coil

Box-style double mosquito net

Heavy-duty tarp

Gazebo

Sea to Summit sleeping bags

Regular-sized sleeping bag

Long-sized sleeping bag

Women-specific sleeping bag

Sea to Summit Amplitude range

Mummy-fit sleeping bag

Rectangular-fit sleeping bag

Darche Cold Mountain 1100 sleeping bag

Segmental swag pole repair kit

Dome swag pole repair kit

AeroPress portable coffee maker

First Aid kit

Swags

Scrubba Wash Bag

Collapsible Space Saving tubs

Sleeping bag liners

Trekking poles

Soft cooler bag

Portable fridge

Sea to Summit collapsible X-Cup

Pacsafe waist wallet

Delta insulated cup

Jaffle iron

JetBoil Zip portable stove

JetBoil MiniMo

Washing basin

Camp mat

Kids’ sleeping bags

Adult/standard sleeping bags

Wacaco coffee maker

Sea to Summit cutlery set

Sea to Summit Delta cutlery set

Sea to Summit Delta bowl

Sea to Summit Delta plate

Other:

Australian Gas Association (AGA)

How to Repair a Broken Tent Pole

Ben’s Arms…

Not so much a question as a very valid statement – a member of the Snowys Web Team has requested for Ben to continue using his arms when he presents during the podcast. An expressive talker, it’s previously been brought to Ben’s attention how often he uses his arms to explain and describe talking points throughout most episodes – and here at Snowys, we’re always thoroughly entertained.

Why Isn’t the JetBoil Genesis Basecamp Available in Australia?

While they hope this will happen in the near future, Ben and Lauren explain that the JetBoil Genesis Base Camp isn’t yet available in Australia due to the difference between Australian and American gas appliance standards. The authorities, such as the Australian Gas Association (AGA), are required to test and pass all gas appliances to a standard that meets the legalities of their respective countries. There have been cases where some US gas appliances – such as the MSR PocketRocket – were imported, although retailers for a long time lacked the authority to follow through with selling them.

Given the difference in standards, some appliances deemed safe in the US are regarded otherwise in Australia. For example, Australia sells many outdoor-use-only appliances that are meanwhile permitted for indoor operation in America. The process of approval can involve liaising with the manufacturing brand to make changes that align with Australian standards, often as simple as ensuring the brand packaging, marketing, and warnings reflect them.

Ultimately, the reason for some products not yet hitting Aussie shelves is directed back to the gas authorities, with very little relation to suppliers, wholesalers, or retailers.

On My Lap Around Australia, What is Recommended: Ute Canopy, Camper Trailer, or Caravan?

For those travelling as a couple without children, Lauren and Ben suggest using a Ute canopy as opposed to attempting to tow a camper trailer or caravan. Nonetheless, in cases where campers feel comfortable leaving them stationary somewhere for long periods of time, caravans and trailers can provide a roomy, humble alternative.

That said, Ben agrees that an easier-to-set-up sanctuary is more economical and beneficial for a dynamic duo. The money saved on a camper trailer can instead be invested in upgrading your vehicle’s Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) to accommodate a substantial rooftop tent. Ben suggests a thorough investigation into the style of rooftop tent you purchase, given some are easy to set up while others require the use of pegs and guy ropes.  

What Food is Best to Leave in the Pantry for Short Overnight Stops (Product Review on Back Country or Outdoor Gourmet Food Brands)?

While Lauren and Ben have previously tapped into freeze-dried and dehydrated meals, they plan to present a more hands-on, detailed demonstration that offers a better sense of how these packet foods look, taste, and cook. Until then, Lauren offers her opinion, essentially describing them as hit-or-miss. Ben and Lauren often have opposing views depending on the brand or choice of meal, which is ultimately suggestive of how subjective freeze-dried and rehydrated food reviews really are.

The appeal of freeze-dried meals comes from their convenience on lightweight adventures, and so aren’t a pleasing enough substitute for a meal on occasions when standard food would otherwise be consumed. For example, Ben’s go-to pasta recipe on his most recent camping holiday used canned vegetables which, in comparison to packet meals, allowed a ‘fresher’-tasting dinner. That said, the Radix brand of freeze-dried food is commonly preferred over others, with a greater resemblance to standard meals.

Overall, Ben suggests canned or long-life food to keep overnight in the pantry, given no refrigeration is required. On that, products displaying a ‘best before’ date often has greater flexibility around the consumption timeline than that of a ‘use by’. That said, the further it surpasses its date stamp, the more it drops in quality and flavour.

Other alternatives include the Go Native brand of packet food, preserved via ‘retort packaging’. This method involves sealing the cooked food while still hot, as opposed to dehydrating. From here, the packet simply requires reheating with boiling water. Ben recommends this as a hearty alternative to other packet meals.

What is the Best Option for Managing Mozzies When Camping?

As Ben’s wife is a mozzie-magnet, he suggests using EVERYTHING!

Some repellants include Thermocells, DEET, mosquito nets, sprays, and coils in still climates. For chemical-free prevention strategies, cover bare skin with long-sleeved clothing, keep screens and panels securely zipped, and simply factor a barrier of any kind into your camp set-up. For more tactics, check out Ep31 – Creepy Crawlies at the Campsite

Tips or Tricks to Help While Camping in the Rain?

In previous episodes, Lauren and Ben have touched on some logistics surrounding camping in wetter weather. Nonetheless, Ben encourages campers to enjoy the pitter-patter of raindrops on the still, damper days.

To prepare for the no-so-pleasant occasions, assess the weather predictions via the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) or your local agency. At the campsite, ensure guys ropes are taught, the fly is fully tensioned to ensure efficient funneling of rain, and establish a sheltered space for cooking and socialising, such as a spare tarp or gazebo.

When Will Snowys Open a Store in Sydney?

Unfortunately, to Ben and Lauren’s knowledge, this won’t be a move Snowys will make in the foreseeable future. That said, the ever-evolving, ridgy-didge website successfully accommodates every Snowys supporter around the country!

Best Sleeping Bags for Bigger People?

For the taller campers, Sea to Summit offer longer-style sleeping bags. At 185cm, Ben fits a regular sized bag, while at 191cm tall Lauren’s partner is better suited to a longer design.

For those who are simply broader – or as Lauren calls it, ‘cuddlier’ – women-specific designs by Sea to Summit are narrower in the shoulders but allow more room in the hip area. Additionally, their Amplitude and Basecamp series mirror a large sack, feature two warmth ratings, and are significantly more spacious. Lauren describes their appearance as a fluffy balloon, boasting a huge internal circumference for star-fishing and spreading wide. These particular styles are popular among motorcycle tourists too.
Unlike the Mummy shaped design – wide at the shoulders, tapering at the feet – the rectangular fit maintains the same measure of room from head to toe. The Sea to Summit website indicates the internal circumference of their sleeping bags, as well as hip and shoulder measurements.

Like Sea to Summit, Darche also offer a 1100 sleeping bag that aligns with a King-King-Single size. While this doesn’t quite meet the same volume of space as a double, it is larger than a single and thus still offers a roomy alternative.

Two campers are tucked inside their dome-style tent talking as the golden sun begins to rise. The female is wearing a white beanie.

For the ‘cuddlier’ campers, there are a range of roomy sleeping bag styles available. Credit: Sea to Summit

Where Can I Find Mattress Toppers for Swags?

For those who are unfamiliar with a mattress topper – this is a corresponding product that provides added padding and comfort to an existing mattress. Where some have walls like a fitted sheet, others are simply a mat of synthetic fibre, down, merino or wool. Lauren recommends merino for adequate temperature regulation, while Ben simply utilises a fitted bed sheet that he tucks beneath the mattress sides.

While residential mattress sizes don’t align with those of swags, Lauren suggests visiting Target, K-Mart, Spotlight, or other hardware and homeware stores for adequate options.

When Will Snowys Stock the Zempire Airforce 1?

To this question, Lauren and Ben have a bittersweet response.

Some brands allocate certain models in their range exclusively to particular stores. As the Airforce 1 by Zempire is a Tentworld-exclusive model, Snowys won’t be stocking this product. That said – those who crave it can still claim it!

Fixing Snapped Swag Poles

For snapped fibreglass or alloy poles, the swag pole repair kit by Darche is a helpful henchman. For aluminium repairs, Darche offer two different kits – one for angular, segmental swags, and the other for arched hoops found in dome designs.

Replacement fibreglass poles of the same diameter can be sourced and simply cut to length, while repairing a breakage or snap is often done using the small tube-like sleeve (ferrule) included with most swags. Simply slide this over the top of the rupture and secure with duct tape for a temporary, stable fix lasting the remainder of a trip. Lauren demonstrates how to approach this in a Snowys YouTube video.

As for alloy poles, these are more difficult to repair or replace. Lauren and Ben suggest returning to the respective manufacturer for assistance.

The Snowys Products Ben and Lauren Couldn’t Go Without

A coffee connoisseur at the campsite, Ben’s response – an AeroPress – is hardly a surprise. His commonly coined nickname ‘Safety Ben’ has him sheepishly admitting that his choice should probably be something more along the lines of a First Aid kit or a swag. Nonetheless, he can’t go without coffee – and wasn’t that the question?!

On the other hand, Lauren claims that her Scrubba Wash Bag and Collapsible Space Saving tubs are the most-used, well-loved, not-to-be-forgotten tackle in her pack. After not taking her washbag on her last getaway, she missed it more than she expected – while her collapsible tubs now allow far more room in her kitchen, holding large pats of butter, avocado halves, and wads of bacon.

Favoured Snowys Products by Snowys Staff

Jess from Customer Service: a sleeping bag liner. Versatile throughout both warm and wintery weather, this product also keeps her sleeping bag clean.

Sam from Customer Service: trekking poles. Be it for relieving pressure from the knees, hoisting herself up hills, checking the levels of mud holes before heaving across hip-deep, or flipped upside-down for use as tent poles – Sam believes that trekking poles offer true camping comradery.

Laine from the Web Team: a soft-sided cooler and luggage scales. Too often has he left beers behind at a BBQ in someone else’s fridge, so his cooler is now his personal, portable cranny for the cold ones. Thanks to his luggage scales too, he now beats getting burnt at the JetStar luggage check-in, previously packing too much tackle that wavered over the ideal weight.

Cory from IT: his fridge (for keeping his beer), Sea to Summit collapsible X-Cup (for drinking his beer), and Pacsafe waist wallet (…for buying his beer).

Leece from Customer Support: like Ben, an AeroPress – plus a Delta insulated cup.

Michael from the Web Team: a round jaffle iron! Leading up to his travels, Michael would purchase McDonald’s cheeseburgers to keep in the fridge. At the campsite, he simply cooked them in the jaffle iron over the campfire for an even faster fast-food fix!

Brett from the Web Team: the JetBoil Zip. Simply fill, clip, and boil – the perfect stripped-down, lightweight option for fast adventures, covering your coffee fix or for reheating a Radix meal. Lauren owns the JetBoil MiniMo – a short, stocky alternative – which perches perfectly and patiently for her prior to brewing a coffee or tea. An all-round, well-loved product in the Snowys family!

Tips for Taking Toddlers Camping?

Having only touched on camping with teenagers, Lauren and Ben maintain their suggestion to allow children the freedom to explore in safe areas (i.e. away from spaces prone to snakes). Navigate the nooks and crannies with them, and foster a respect and wonder for natural environments. 

Along with old, worn clothing, Lauren recommends packing your child/ren a waterproof over-suit for winter camping, thrown on with a pair of gumboots for perfectly protected play among the mud puddles. She also comments that camping in caravan parks often presents more problems than setting up out in the open, where cars and other children tearing up the tracks on bikes can create a cramped and crowded space for toddlers. In the bush, parents can instead establish the clear perimeters their children can roam to, and eliminate any worries about washing. On that, Lauren suggests doubling a trug as both a washing basin and a bath.

For sleeping, Ben recommends creating a barrier either side of your child to prevent them from rolling off their mat. Especially in the winter, waking up in the middle of the night on the cold, hard floor can make defying the outdoors the following day difficult – and in some cases, cause sickness. Additionally, Lauren strongly suggests avoiding kids’ sleeping bags. In her experience, they’ve never offered the same level of warmth, longevity, or adequate length as the adult designs. Instead, simply purchase a standard sized bag, and either fold in half or block off at the end to prevent your pocket-sized humans from slipping too far into the sack.

Oh, and of course – be sure to not to skimp on the snacks!

Best Coffee Makers for Camping?

A good question for Ben, who maintains that the AeroPress or Wacaco are the most ideal coffee brewers out bush. While an AeroPress can simply be filled with water before a dash of cold milk, the Wacaco produces a traditional espresso shot that requires heated milk to produce an equally hot, hearty cup.

For the super hardcore hot coffee fanatics, some large silver stove-top setups produce espresso and steam milk simultaneously. Boiling the water builds up pressure, creating the shot and concurrently steaming the milk.

Best Ultralight Cutlery and Crockery for Hiking…at the Lowest Price?

Our podcast hosts both agree that the Sea to Summit polypropylene set is the most cost-efficient and effective hiking cutlery at just under five dollars per set. Bundled as a fork, spoon, and knife, simply link with a carabiner for a no-fuss food-friendly system. The Delta range of cutlery is shorter, constructed with durable polypropylene and the same reinforced nylon plastic, finished with a flexible plastic carabiner for keeping neat and collected amongst your clutter.  

For crockery, the Sea to Summit Delta bowl and/or plate is a lightweight option. When hiking, a bowl is generally all that’s required, while the additional plate often bodes better for a camping-style holiday.

Ultimately though, Lauren insists that if your camp cutlery isn’t comfortable to hold, the eating experience is thrown completely off course! For that reason – and all lightweight, cost-effective suggestions aside – she carries a set of standard steel cutlery in her camping kit.

Outside their tent, two campers are sitting in camp chairs and one is standing nearby. All three are eating lunch and chatting. The campsite is green and leafy, and the campers are rugged up in dark clothing.

If your camp cutlery isn’t comfortable to hold, the eating experience is thrown completely off course! Credit: Oztent

Do You Know Where I Left My Glasses?

Given this comment was left with our podcast hosts some time ago… on behalf of everyone here at Snowys, we hope you’ve found them by now!

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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