Having the good camping gear makes a world of difference when you are out in the wilderness. I get my daily fix for all things outdoors from one of my favorites, Cold Splinters and the site’s author Jeffrey Thrope was kind enough to put together a special round-up of his ten favorite camping / hiking / outdoor items, exclusively for ACL. Check out his picks and thoughts below.
Practical for camping? No, not really. I wouldn’t recommend stuffing a pair of Round House yalls in your pack (I use an Osprey Aether 70) for a huge trek. But if you’re not going that far and you’re looking forward to the lounging time more than the hike itself, get to your campsite, throw down your stuff and change right away. There aren’t too many things as comfortable.
2.) GSI Outdoors Metal/Enamel Camping Cup
I prefer the metal to enamel, but both work real fine. Here’s why you need one. You’re not going to drink your morning coffee out of a water bottle and waiting for the liquor to be passed around the circle after every sip takes longer than expected, especially if the storytelling starts early. Plus it doubles as a bowl for your “just add water” oatmeal, grits, and mashed potatoes. GSI Outdoors makes both the metal and enamel, but if you’re living in New York, you can run on down to Chinatown, go to the back of any grocery and find them cheap.
Sure, cans of beer are real light on the hike out, but they couldn’t be heavier in your pack on the way in. I usually only bring beer if I’m going on a smaller hike, but every time I do, I’m reminded that nothing beats a beer around the campfire. Nothing except for a cold beer around the campfire. With that in mind, figure out ahead of time if you’ll be camping near a river or some type of water source for natural refrigeration. I know the people in these parts are partial to High Life, but I went to college in Colorado and have yet to kick my nasty Coors Light habit. Bummer? Nah.
If you’re camping where the weather is going to be a little cold when the sun finally goes down, heat up some water and throw it in your metal cup with a healthy amount of bourbon and pine needles.
Running shoes and hiking boots are never easy on the eyes because most brands only care about them being easy on the feet. Rightfully so. If you feel comfortable wearing your Red Wings on the trail, then do it. Edward Abbey hiked through the desert non-stop and he swore by a cheap pair of Army Surplus boots. But if you’re after a perfect combination of looks, durability, support and comfort, then go get a pair of brown Vasque Sundowners. Replace the laces with thick red ones, and you’ll be on your way. Nothing’s better.
Powdered milk I can do. Powdered eggs? Fuck that shit. My New York City camping/hiking partner-in-crime, Tim, and I each bought one of these things on a whim for a low key trip a few years ago. We were at Paragon in Union Square buying who knows what, saw these yellow beauties on the way to pay, and the next morning had fried eggs, tortillas, and green chili for breakfast. Tim and I were recently camping on Slide Mountain in the Catskills when he took a big fall, face forward, down a very steep scramble. His face and memory were a little screwed up but the eggs were fine. Wrap some clothes around the egg holder before you put it in your pack and you’ll be good to go. I’ve never had a single egg break while in the gentle arms of my Coghlans, so if it happens to you, you did something wrong.
You know why you need a Leatherman. Like the majority of Leatherman owners, I’ve got The Wave, and it does just what I want it to, which is basically everything.
7.) Desert Solitaire
You don’t have to be in the desert to enjoy this book. If you’ve ever spent any time over at my blog Cold Splinters, which I’m assuming you haven’t, you know about my adoration for Edward Abbey. Published in 1968, Desert Solitaire is one of Abbey’s first and most famous books, chronicling his life as a park ranger at Arches National Park (which was Arches National Monument at the time of his tenure). Abbey was a sarcastic, angry, eloquently outspoken critic of the government’s public land policies (“Of course I litter the public highway. Every chance I get. After all, it’s not the beer cans that are ugly; it’s the highway that is ugly.”) but he lived and breathed the American Southwest and had more appreciation for a slab of rock than most of us have for our own mothers. You’ll love this book and all of them that came after. I promise. Reading it before bed with a Petzl headlamp will keep your feet from hurting.
8.) 1984 – 1989 Toyota 4Runner
I’m not a car guy but the first generation of 4Runners make me weak at the knees. It’s the #1 way to head for the hills. The backs of these beasts come off, exposing your passengers to the elements and, fuck it, I’ll just say it….HOLY SHIT ARE THEY COOL LOOKING. Do I own one? No, I don’t. Do I want to own one? Oh my lord, yes. I’d like a yellow one with a black top. Just like the one that roams my neighborhood. The big bumblebee. The love of my life.
Two of the main concerns you often hear while discussing backpacking are weight and comfort. A lot of the time, the two don’t go hand in hand. For comfort, more often than not, you have to sacrifice weight and vice versa. I kept a Crazy Creek in the back of my car growing up after my discovery of the chair at summer camp in Bemidji, Minnesota. But I never really thought of strapping it on my pack when I’d go camping. It was an awkward shape and seemed like a ridiculous luxury. Crazy Creek recently sent me the HexaLite, their lightweight backpacking chair that rolls up to fit perfectly on the outside of your pack. Last weekend I went on an overnight to the Ten Mile River lean-to on the AT in Connecticut. I was by myself and, after a ten mile hike, I sat in my 14.8 oz chair and watched the river do its thing. Life was slow and good.
10.) And how about one thing not to bring?
Don’t bring your iPod. And definitely don’t bring your iPod speakers either. Not a gentlemanly thing to do. Especially if you happen to be sharing a campsite. You have wind, rivers, birds, crickets, and things that go bump in the night to listen for. Blast Highway 61 in your ’88 4Runner on the drive out and then talk about how fucking good that album is while your kindling is catching.
And always leave your campsite better than you found it.
Comments on “Camping Essentials by Cold Splinters”
Ha. I totally relate to the nasty Coors Light habit. College years (U of A) were all about the Silver Bullet. When you’re drinking like water like we did back then, it works.
On my second pair of Vasque Sundowners, can’t beat’m.
Toyota???!!! Nothing less rugged than that…get an old Bronco or Blazer and then you’re talking business. Word to the wise on overalls…size up 2 – 6″ in the waist as they don’t fit like your jeans do.
Toyota isn’t rugged? You ever heard of Landcruisers? I think they’re one of the most popular vehicles world-wide thanks to their “ruggedness.”
My dad’s got a ’67 Landcruiser pickup, which are crazy rare in this country, and the thing refuses to die. It’s been his work truck since the early ’70s, has 250k + miles on it, and still rocks the original, un-rebuilt engine. I’d take it over a Blazer any day.
Nice Michael, getting me all pumped for my excursion next week. 5 days at Picture Rocks National Lakeshore, should be awesome.
Loved this post!
this is perfect. love coldsplinters.
Interesting to see that the tradition of rejecting American made products runs intergenerational in your family Mr. Dixon…wink wink.
American made or not, I’m more interested in quality than signifier. Anyway, isn’t stuff from Japan really hip these days?
Less adversarially, Cold Splinters is great. Nice to see ’em getting some love from the mostly “indoor” set. Keep up the good work ACL + CS.
CS is a treat. seems like abbey is his muse
hate to quibble here, mr. menswear, but ain’t there somethin’ a little off about that can? coors banquet? that’s a mouthful of hay. coors light? now there’s a breath of mountain air. it’s the rare occasion where “light” doesn’t mean “just for ladies.” it means delicious-and-goes-down-extra-easy-after-a-long-day’s-work. if the can came with instructions, they would look like this.
IH Scout is THE vehicle to bring you to and fro the trailhead. Ideally, the back will store a metal cooler full of cold “banquet beer.”
Great post! Where’d you go to college? (I went to CSU undergrad and CU Law, so it kinda interests me)
If you want good Colorado canned beer, Dale’s Pale Ale is great. (The rest of the Oskar Blues (Lyons, Colorado) beers are terrible.)
New Belgium (Fort Collins) now cans a lot of their beers, so you can take Fat Tire out with you, too.
Vasque Sundowners have done me well from prep school to digs at Point Barrow.
It’s Lonestar here in Texas. Or Shiner if you feel like shelling out the extra bucks but Lonestar has always been the old stand by for most of us. That beer always brings back pleasant memories.
My ’90 Toyota has 255,000 miles on it and still running strong, while most of the old broncos and Scouts I see (here in Utah) are covered with tarps awaiting repairs.
Oh yeah; High Life beer and Merrell Wilderness boots.
My first car was a 1986 Toyota 4 Runner. My dad got it in ’86 and drove it across the US 4 times, then it sat down in our yard until I got my license in ’05. All it needed was gas and it was good to go. I was amazed. We foolishly sold it to a family friend and he’s decked it out but I really do wish I still had that car. Great Post!!
Nothing. Not anything…is as reliable in the outback as a Toyota. Check out UK show “Top Gear”s attempts to destroy the indestructible HiLux: http://www.topgear.com/uk/videos/killing-a-toyota
Sorry guys, but this mythology of my “Toyota has a million miles on it” is just silly. You’re gonna see more Fords/Chevy’s around period and probably ones that were more used and abused.
There are tons of Ford and Chevy vehicles out on the road with over 200k miles on them, but the owners are just too busy doing real work to sit and blog about it.
Matt, Matt, Matt…
“You’re gonna see…” is hardly an argument for anything. Where are all of these bad-ass Fords and 40-year-old Chevys? I love a classic Bronco as much as the next guy, but they’re scarce compared to the venerable FJ40. Were there less made? Or did they just die out?
Look, I’ve owned about 10 cars over the dozen or so years I’ve been driving, and I can say the American-made Dodge (’67 Dart) and Ford (’61 Falcon) I owned were absolutely the least reliable of the bunch. You know what never gave me trouble? A 1965 Datsun L320 (look it up- great little trucks), or my ’69 Benz, or my 1974 VW Thing.
Anyway, here’s an interesting article on the history of the Landcruiser: http://www.modernoffroader.com/history-of-the-toyota-land-cruiser-1950-2010/294/
Cheers, I gotta get back to “real work.”
My first car was a 1985 Toyota 4Runner and after driving it for 10 years I can attest to it being the toughest, most off-road worthy, most fun vehicle out there. It was completely gutless but it would take you anywhere you wanted to go. I don’t have anything against American vehicles (except Fords, they suck) but they are just too dang big. The Original 4Runner can squeeze between trees and among boulders that would leave a full-size truck scratching its giant head. Leave the full-size SUVs to the yuppie soccer moms; they don’t belong in the wilderness.
Another Cruiser owner here. My 85 FJ60 has 260K and is my daily driver. Aussie 5 speed and cold AC.
We took a family vacation to San Antonio and went to the Lonestar Brewery as a kid mainly to see the “hall of horns” Wasn’t it bought out from Pabst. Probably isn’t even brewed in Texas anymore. I think hipsters just like to drink it to be cool.
I’m going to bow out of this argument about Toyota’s because I know when I’m outnumbered…I will say that your statistical analysis and evidence is staggering (SIC).
J. Everett – BTW, I’ve owned over 10 FoMoCo vehicles that have all gotten over 150K before passing them on, including 3 Rangers, 4 F-150’s and several passenger vehicles. This perception that American cars are junk is total bull shit. I don’t think Toyota is on ACL’s “The American List”.
This Toyota argument is awesome. I drive an Astrovan so I am going to stay out of it.
I don’t hold it to be true that American-made cars are categorically shitty; likewise, I don’t revere them just because they’re made in the US. I have a deep love for my history, one that includes ancestors who came to the States during the Revolutionary War and then made their way out west on the Oregon Trail in the 1840s. I’m a 7th generation Oregonian, and I feel that in my bones. But the notion that “Made In the USA” is always– no matter what– a mark of superior craftsmanship or ethics is one I don’t buy. No offense, ACL, but just ’cause it ain’t on the “American List” doesn’t mean is isn’t great.
Besides, in our age of ultra-globalization, the minutiae of multi-national manufacturing is such that many Asian car companies are doing their building in the southern and midwestern United States, employing the very Americans that FoMoCo and GM apparently don’t give a shit about.
As for quality of build, I’m mostly speaking to my own experiences. Having grown up riding in the back seats of Suburbans, Landcruisers, VWs, and one hot little BMW 2002tii, I think my experience is valid.
For the record, I never said American cars were junk and I don’t want to be lumped into that camp. All my fords were great. My first was a 1970 F100 that my dad bought new and still exists under a pole barn. I did have a dodge dakota that was crap but it has a great dashboard for mixing drinks that made up for it. We are currently on our second suburban.
Great, it’s a free country, but it aint a free ride. Sure Toyota and Honda are employing Americans (that btw, I’m sure GM and Ford care about them) at a sub-standard wage and sending all the profit back to Japan. As far as how long your family has been here, what relevence is it to this argument? Some of my family were here before whitey showed up and took it all away (both Cherokee & Blackfoot). Globalization? You mean removing wealth from this country and re-distributing it? At least the Japanese government has enough sense to tarrif our imported vehicles to protect their wealth. Japanese innovation? More like immitation of everything great that comes out of the US.
Getting a touch too jingoistic for my tastes.
Keep up the great work Michael- ACL is a treasure.
Not sure if needs any clearing up, but I by no means meant that you should use a 4Runner (or any car for that matter) for running over rocks and going off-roading. That’s a bad idea.
And because I don’t know anything about the make of cars, I’ll stay out this argument too (but keep arguing for christ sake!). Since this post is about camping, I’m sure we can all agree that no matter how you get to the trail, walking still beats the hell out of driving.
To borrow a quote from the Ed Abbey’s introduction of Desert Solitaire, the book mentioned in the list above, “You can’t see anything from a car; you’ve got to get out of the goddamned contraption and walk, better yet crawl, on hands and knees, over the sandstone and through the thornbrush and cactus. When traces of blood begin to mark your trail, you’ll see something, maybe.”
Thanks again Michael for asking me to write this.
* Not sure if THIS needs any clearing up….
Your comment that “Toyota and Honda are employing Americans (that btw, Iâ€™m sure GM and Ford care about them) at a sub-standard wage and sending all the profit back to Japan.” isn’t exactly accurate. You should check out this article from a recent New Yorker:
It discusses how American plants of Japanese Automakers have created more jobs for Americans than Detroit’s managed to lose, as well as provided benefits that many of these people wouldn’t have had otherwise. Being readers of ACL, i think it’s safe to assume that we all have faith in the production and quality of domestic goods, but it’s an incredibly complex topic.
ACL – this post on camping has led to a really interesting discussion on something completely different – nice work, as always.
i always wished that people from oregon were referred to as “oregonizers.” how cool would that be?!
Seriously though, when I’m goin up the country it is in a Ford AeroStar (not Astrovan as previously stated).
That’s a sweet ride right?
gotta love the Dustbuster van!
Funny, I’m re-reading Desert Solitaire again after 40 years and was just remembering those very practical 7 0z beer cans you pictured that we used to drink when it was too hot to down a full one and still operate a Skilsaw. They fit well out of sight in ones tool belt as well. Do they still make them I wonder?
I have nothing against “American made” trucks, I think they are good for the most part. But I must add that I just rented a Chevy Colorado (more than likely assembled in Mexico) for the weekend and that thing just could not compare to the 2005 Tacoma (built in California) that I drive everyday. You could tell just by sitting in the Colorado that it was cheap and wouldn’t last long. I’ll take my go anywhere Taco over a made in Mexico GM thank you very much. If someday GM builds a truck that can compete with the Tacoma I’ll buy that. . . as long as they build it in the US.
Ride a bike!
I have a pair of those Pointer low-back overalls and absolutely love ’em!
Sam – interesting article, but the profit from the company is still sent back to Japan (Japanese board of directors deciding where the money goes?).
Also, doesn’t touch on the fact that these states have probably provided some pretty huge tax breaks in order to provide these jobs. Thanks again Republicans! What happened to the party of smaller government and human need?
The fact is that Japan protects it’s market with import tarrifs (about 40% on imported vehicles). while we have allowed Japan to pretty freely set up shop and build theirs here. Try getting a Ford or GM plant on Japanese soil!
Further, would you be as motivated to buy a Honda Civic if you had to pay $22,000 instead of $15,000?
J. Everett – Jingoistic? Are we getting as bad as Britain in the 1980’s where it was racist and zenophobic to fly the flag or have any national pride?
POINTER overalls! i owned a pair of roundhouse and was shocked at how poorly constructed they were. within a month or so the stitching came undone around the fly and one bib pocket! also, the elastic in the lowback straps was warped after a few months!
Pointer brand make the best overalls and their hickory stripe jeans? MAGNIFICENT!
and by the way, both a toyota and a chevy truck will last a good long while, but the toyota aint good for any real work. not alot of torque.
oh, and i don’t know what jingoistic means, but america is #1 and anyone who doesn’t agree should be destroyed.
This is getting more absurd by the minute, but I’m laughing.
Good point, Matt. It stands to reason that they would send profits back to the home company – otherwise, why even bother setting up shop here? I just wanted to point out that it wasn’t entirely without benefit to American workers.
U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!
Yeah, that’s what I said…everyone else but us should be destroyed. How about we should just grab our ankles and let everyone else have a go?
Ramirez – gotta agree on Pointer (several chore jackets and pants), never owned any Roundhouse, but I got a pair of the lowbacks on order.
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