Gear That Worked/Didn't Work
We just completed our second 5 day raft trip and I was contemplating gear that worked or didn't work. Last year I packed a little heavy and had to drag a bit. This year I tried to pack a bit smarter and lighter. Overall I'm happy with my choices but here's a few good and and maybe things I'd change.
15' NRS Otter and Oar Frame set-up. Worked great no changes needed.
120 qt cooler as a dry box. Works great until you get surfed in a hole and the boat is full of water. Next trip will include a proper metal (bear resistant) dry box.
MSR Dragonfly Stove. No need for the big Coleman and propane bottle. Cooks plenty fast.
Dutch Oven. No doubt, we had the best meals of the group. A must have for every trip unless weight is critical.
Water filtration. A borrowed Paltypus Cleran Stream system. Simply awesome to not have to pump water. Just fill the bag, hang, and soon 4 litres of clean water. I didn't like the zip-lock style closure and hence have ordered the Katadyn Base Camp system.
Eco-Safe Toilet System. It's a crappy job either way, but on a heavily used river like he Gulkana it's the responsible thing to do. As painless as it can be. Plus a nice comfy seat to contemplate the day on the river as you watch the current flow by.
Paco Pads. No doubt the best available for sleeping on a gravel bar.
Roll-A- Table. Great but also need another table for a large group.
NRS dry bags. I put them to the test by filling the boat unintentionally with water. Everything stayed bone dry.
Pelican 1500 for the dslr. No doubt the best solution possible for carrying an expensive camera. Drop it, step on it, get it wet...the camera is safe.
Ice cream on day 3. I packed a half-gallon of ice cream in dry ice for the trip. Everyone ws amazed when I pulled it out on day 3 and it was still mostly frozen. A spectacular treat on a warm summer night along the river.
Meals: Rice-A-Roni and canned chicken for a late night dinner - great
Moose meat tacos and burritos, salad, fruit - great
Stew and Bisquick /cheese dumplings, fruit - great
Pasta, marinara, crescent rolls, corn - great
Desert: smores- of course good, dutch oven brownies- awesome, ice cream - amazing, cobbler - good
Overall it was a great trip but one change I'd make is to just pack one kitchen and make everyone responsible for a meal. This would reduce the overall group weight and time to set-up and take down.
Add your suggestions of things that worked and didn't for your trips.
The Dragonfly is a great stove for most things, but if you're cooking for a large group, or just heating water for dishes, nothing beats a much hotter stove. This year I've been using the NRS Woodland Power Stove. (http://www.nrsweb.com/shop/product.a...58&deptid=2121) About 4x the heat when you need it. With a little help, it even works for frying eggs and other delicate foods.
Everybody on our group floats used to cook their own meals, but for the past couple years we've done them together. Generally, I make up the menu and food list, then shop for it all. It's a lot of work, but it makes for better camping. I really like your idea of everyone being responsible for one meal though. We'd get the same effect, but spread the work load.
Along the same lines, I've learned to think in terms of camps when it comes to meals. A camp starts with dinner, then breakfast, and then lunch. Who ever is responsible to cook for that night is also responsible to cook for that breakfast, and pack that day's lunch in a small cooler, and to see that it doesn't get buried in the bottom of some gear pile. We do the same thing with dish washing, camp fire duty and groover duty, and at the next camp we all switch tasks. When packing food, put all the special food for that camp in a separate box/bag/area, so the cooks can find it.
I've really gotten to like Dutch ovens. I have a cast iron and an aluminum, and find the aluminum version as good to use, and half the weight. They do cost more though.
I've used Paco Pads, and I formerly owned a Sotar version of the 3" Paco Pad. Nice, but the foam was too stiff. I've switched to the REI Camp Bed. The hide on it isn't nearly as tough, but I find it more comfortable. I suppose I'm just an old softy.
I also like Kelty Noah's Tarps: http://www.rei.com/product/627835. Far less cost than the NRS River Wing, and similar tarps, and they work well. They come in several sizes. I have the 12' and 16'.
Roll-A-Tables seem to be a rafter's staple, but I have not found them very stable. The legs mounts get loose with a little use, and they start wobbling pretty bad. Even new they wobble though. I prefer the aluminum roll up tops with the fold out aluminum legs. Far more stable. Check these out: http://www.rei.com/product/765280
We've done the same thing with ice cream. We packed a small soft cooler with dry ice, and placed it inside the large cooler. Nothing better than ice cream on a river.
I can't chime in on what works or doesn't because I don't have any experience yet, but this is some good info. I'm trying to get a 2 or 3 day float planned for next month. Thanks for the great info.
If weight is not a major issue, we bring the dutch oven. Baking bread and making baked deserts on multiday trips is fun. Our favorite meals to make are pizzas and calzones. The biggest problem is making the dough; the box stuff is messy and the refrigerated canned biscuit style isn’t the best tasting. Pizza Man in Eagle River sells delicious white and wheat dough for a cheap price. After you have your dough figured out, just add whatever you want. Kids love creating their own pizzas.
I am still struggling with a good breakfast recipe in the dutch oven.
I have one of each too and I agree, the aluminum roll tops are better, they can also have a hot pot set on them w/out melting.
Originally Posted by Jim Strutz
Sierra Trading post has a slightly better deal on them than REI. (assuming the shipping is reasonable, I bought mine a few years ago before REI had them)
You can get the REI sized one, 28x28 for $39.99, and a slightly bigger square one for a little bit more...
I've been thinking of getting one of the picnic table sized ones.
dutch oven breakfast
Betty Crocker has a muffin mix, just add water. 3 packs bake up great in the morning for a coffee cake. We like the blueberry, and the apple. Good ole hot biscuits and gravy is always good.
One of the easiest I made ( designed for the kids to prepare) was 2 cans of Dinty Moore stew with Bisquick/cheddar dumplings on top. Allow the stew to boil and then drop the Bisquick dough with shredded cheese on top. Allow the mix to bake 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Simple and delicious.
A couple of ideas, that maybe someone can improve on.
I took the burner out of a turkey deep fryer, bolted it into the bottom of a 10# coffee can and made a blaster stove like Jim referenced (http://www.nrsweb.com/shop/product.a...58&deptid=2121) . (It still scares me a little when I use it, could probably have better ventalation.) but it only cost $40 and makes use of something otherwise sitting around the garage 364 days a year. I use it for a quick hot lunch on those rainy days when I need to turn water into steam for a large group. I use a tin cup as a spacer and some expando-colander-thing I stole from my wife's kitchen. I fill the bottom of a pot with water, put in the tin cup, put the expando colander on top of the cup and fill it with cold cuts, cheese or whatever is for lunch. Boil water in the bottom, steam the meat in the top, and have cup-o-noodles and hot sandwiches for a lunch that takes about 2 seconds !
Like cooking over a jet engine ! and amazing for moral after a day of sitting in the rain !
For those with roll top tables, I made a fine set of table legs that collapse like an accordion out of broken hockey sticks the Zamboni driver gave me. The legs (hocky sticks) are fiberglass wrapped, graphite reinforced, light weight and free ! I sawed off the bottom of the hocky sticks and made a nice tall table that I do not have to stoop over. For years I have used piece of plywood with a piano hinge as a table top. but I have some boards used as bed slats that I will attach to a cam strap for a roll top, then everything can be transported as a bundle with the table legs inside.
One other idea to add to this thread. I now pack a minimum of two umbrellas for road accessable trips.
Golf Umbrella--After sitting for to many hours in the pooring rain on to many class I-II rivers, my mind had time to wander to devise a shelter that would still allow visibility and oar movement. After many complicated iterations in my mind involving tent poles and blue tarps, I finnaly settled on a simple big golf umbrella with a straight handle. I can lash it to a stick or spare paddle and jam it behind my seat. (I still do not have a solution for rain AND wind !). This also works great for the 3rd or 4th day of blistering sun with no shelter.
Beach umbrella.--When Kmart was going out of business I picked up a lightweigt beach umbrella. This is bigger but more flimsy than the golf umbrella. Works great for a quick rain/sun shelter for 3-4 people (or the whole family when the kids were smaller) when stopping for a quick lunch or as a wind break for the evening camp fire. (can also be jammed behind the seat to shelter the rower, but is more susceptible to the wind.)
Those are some great money saving ideas ICamp. Do you have any pictures of the table and/or stove?
Precooked homemade meals like chili, stews, spaghetti w/meatballs, pork chops--augratin spuds--asparagus *whatever you like* all portioned out and vacuum packed. Reheat in boiling water and serve.
In most cases I spend all day at the oars in chest waders--invariably I have to get in the water for something--so by the time we make camp I'm clammy. I keep a set of "camp pants" and shoes (usually my Merrell slip-ons) in their own mini drybag for changing into before proceding with camp/meal chores.
This thread started as gear that worked didn't work, but the last few posts have centered around menu items.
So I will throw this out.
I lead a lot of youth trips. Smore's are a traditional staple.
The last few years I have used choc covered graham crackers rather than seperate Hershey bars & graham crackers. Once we were in the cookie isle, we also discovered Keepler fudge striped round cookies with the hole in the middle (they can be slipped on a stick and toasted as well), and mint choc covered grahams.
Get your cookies @ Carrs, they have the "big" 1/2-a-cracker-sized choc covered grahams, FM only has little teany choc covered graham cookies.
currently fishing around for the camera.
Perhaps I will start a home-made-ideas thread to exchange ideas for winter projects.
Originally Posted by Jim Strutz
check out this table linked to jomama's post
When camping with kids, I can keep a much cleaner camp (and cleaner cloths on the child), if I have them sit down to eat rather than standing or walking around while eating. Fewer spills and if food is dropped on the cround, I know where to check.
This little table could be nice for feeding the kids.
I've seen fancy mounts that bolt to the rowing frame for an umbrella, but I just took a piece of PVC, glued a cap on the bottom, and strap it to a thwort. Cheap and works great! That said, I have no recommendation on how to use an umbrella with an upstream wind.
I am a little new to the forum and posted a couple of home made ideas for a folding table and a stove in this thread.
I have put pictures and a narrative in the "home made" section of the forum
Hockey Stick Table
Turkey Deep Fat Fryer Stove
A couple of easy meals that have become somewhat of a tradition in my camps are: half a chicken (per person) spiced to taste and wrapped in foil along with red potatos also wrapped in foil and put in a good bed of coals then forgot about for an hour or so (while you suck down a couple beers of course) and some fresh steamed green beans or broccoli. It's almost impossible to over cook this meal. And another is I always bring along a cheap $4.00 free standing grille to pitch over the coals and grille up some thick Porterhouse steaks along with the potatos and veggies. Good stuff man.
+1 on Katadyn Base Camp and REI Camp Bed...
To extend Base Camp filter, we used a settling pond to clear silt before filtering water last year. Someone suggested to use coffee filters which sounded good too. The hang-it-and-forget-it filtering simplified camp chores a lot.
The REI Camp Bed is the next best thing to a cot in my book. Not compact and not ultralight, but no regrets the following morning.
Like to hear more from AkTroutbum's camp cookbook. Yowza.
Good thread. Thanks!.
I just used a 4 D cell battery operated pump for the first time (similar to this) http://www.campmor.com/outdoor/gear/Product___69799
Although it won't win any speed contests, it's probably just as fast as I am with rest breaks every few minutes when using a cheap little Wonder pump. 2 of them would be ideal and have enough juice to do at least 2 or more rafts.
Thanks to those that have posted about these in the past. I would not have thought of using this.
I've used one of those 4 D cell pumps on fly in trips a couple times. Each time I was able to inflate 2 full sized rafts (16' SB) one one set of batteries. A whole lot nicer than hand pumping them. Of course, you have to finish them off with something else, but they are a great time & labor saver.
I got the idea to use one of those 4D cell pumps from a previous post by Jim. I bought a Coleman at Walmart for 14 bucks, works like a champ. My wife is able to inflate the boat while I fish.
Oh, another piece of gear that works for all of us coffee junkees is the french press; it is way faster and does not use as much fuel as my old school perculator. And, of course box wine is better than bottles.
Also, a friend showed me how to make dutch oven cooking quicker. Prepare your meal at your house; wrap the inside of the dutch oven with plastic wrap; place your prepared meal in the dutch oven; freeze the meal in the dutch oven; take it out the next day and seal it up. I recently did this with enchiladas, and it worked great.