Gearing Up for Spring Camping

Camp Kitchen

Hello Fellow Campers and Future Camping Enthusiasts,

Gourmet Girl Gail here.  A real chill has set in on the west coast, and it’s getting down to freezing in some areas. As much as I don’t consider myself a wimp, I”m holding off until the weather warms before I head up to El Capitan State Beach, Jalama, or Big Sur. In the meantime, this is when I take stock of my gear situation. I have three waterproof bins filled with pots and pans, candles, rope, extra batteries, and a whole lot more. I also have a knife pack that holds most of the accouterments for cheffing in the great outdoors.

If you’ve been car camping for a while, the gear head bug has most likely hit you. Since more and more people are getting outdoors and camping, there are a lot of new choices to make when you pack up your gear.

And there’s nothing more frustrating than not having the right tool for the job at hand, especially in your camp kitchen. Although the marketplace is flooded with many gadgets that we gourmet girls probably don’t need, some are invaluable time savers, and others are just downright convenient, especially if you like to cook!

At the top of the list is the mandoline. We don’t mean the musical instrument, but the one used for slicing and dicing vegetables evenly and quickly. They come with plastic or metal bodies and both have sharp interchangeable blades. You can dial in the thickness of the slices you want too. And the whole thing packs in a box that measures 16″ long, 6.5″ wide, and 3.5″ deep. So throw one in your box the next time you go car camping. It doesn’t take up much space and it will make preparing a cast iron ratatouille so easy!

Another great gadget is the Volcano Grill shown in these photos. It fits into a small round carry bag with comfortable straps and runs on wood, gas, or charcoal. Its compact size makes it a delight to take along. When you are ready to start grilling, take it out of its bag and it pops up into a volcano-like shape. It comes with an asbestos hood for baking as well. What a dream!

No self-respecting gourmet camper goes anywhere without their Dutch oven. It can be used to make delectable short ribs, Coq au Vin, a wonderful persimmon pudding dessert, and much, much more. Once it’s properly cured, it cleans up easily, and for those who just don’t want to fuss with cleaning up, you can buy parchment liners that fit perfectly. All you have to do after you’ve enjoyed your delicious Dutch oven meal is throw away the parchment and Voila!

Dueling Dutch Ovens

Camp stoves. Well, we loved our old Coleman stoves until one of the burners started turning the bottoms our pans black. It was a good friend until then. And you had to light it with a match or one of those frustrating butane clickers that work for about three tries, and then you are stuck with no fire. Well, the answer to that is an oven with a piezo ignition! You turn on the gas and push a button on the front of the stove and it lights up. This could be a life saver if it’s raining and your matches are wet. We highly recommend this feature on your next camp stove.

Another essential gear item, not related to cooking, is a hammock. The days of nailing a hook to a tree to hang your net-like hammock are over. The new hammocks come with straps that you loop around a tree and then you hook your hammock onto the strap, which has many loops so that you can dial in exactly the height you want. All you have to do is find two trees fairly close to each other, although the straps are long so you have a lot of room to adjust. And you aren’t hurting the trees that you have come to enjoy in the first place.

Some hammocks come with a rain fly, and mosquito netting that zips completely around the hammock from above and below. Who needs a tent when you can sleep in a hammock with all of these wonderful extras? All you need is a down sleeping bag and you are set.

We hope these few gear tips will help you enjoy your well-earned vacation and keep you loving the outdoors.

Do you have a favorite tool or piece of equipment you like to take along on your camping adventures? If so, please take a moment and follow this link to comment! New discoveries are a blast and we’d love to hear about yours!


Gail, Lindsey and Denise.


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