One Foot Outdoors: Prep well for a happy trip

People say that camping is relaxing. I don’t know who these people are, or where they are going camping, but in reality camping is a lot of work. It isn’t without reward though.

Once the tent has been set up, and the wood has been chopped, and the fire has been built, and the food has been prepared, and the mosquitos have been swatted, and the dishes have been done, and the camp site cleaned up…I forgot where I was going with this. Oh yeah, relaxing!

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Yes, camping is a lot of work, but most of us would agree that it is entirely worth it. When the chores are done, sitting around the campfire with family and good friends is one of the greatest feelings in the world.

So what can you do to make sure you have less work and more play? Work smarter, not harder! Planning, although not my strength, can save you hours of frustration at the campsite. Not to mention probably a few trips to town as well. My wife makes lists, I make trips.

While I’m not good at planning, I’m pretty good at eating. Meal prep is one of the easiest ways to be more efficient with your time at the campsite.

Pre-plan your meals – not just what you are going to eat but how you are going to prepare it. The more prep work you can do at home, the less work you will have to do at the campsite and the less stuff you will have to carry. If you know on the first morning of your trip you want to make pancakes, decide whether it’s worth it to you to bring the eggs and milk to make them from scratch, or is a box of Aunt Jemima more appropriate? And if you do opt for the box mix, don’t bring the box! Measure out exactly how much you are going to need and bring only that amount.

While we are on the subject of food, I’m going to digress for a moment and tell you about my campfire favourites. We’ve been concentrating on eating healthier and cooking with fresh food more often. Even at the campsite it doesn’t have to be all hot dogs and hamburgers cooked over the fire. There are some great 30 minute or less recipes out there, but you just can’t compete with meat on a stick cooked over an open flame. If you visit me at my campsite, I can promise you that you can get garlic sausage on demand, and don’t be surprised if I whip out a steak to cook on the grill for a midnight snack. If meat isn’t your thing, try grilling pineapple or your favourite veggies over the fire. Cooked in tinfoil is okay, too.

Another important part of planning is to dress for your trip. If you are driving to your camp site and plan on spending most of your time sitting around a camp fire, you probably don’t have to put a lot of thought into what you are wearing. If you are planning a 12-mile hike, take the time to research what is appropriate. Chances are good you aren’t the first person to trudge this trail. People who like to hike also like to talk about hiking, and chances are good there is a blog or a site review on the internet somewhere that will describe in great detail every minute of their trek.

Tip of the week: Your footwear is the most important piece of clothing you will wear, so make sure you choose something appropriate for the terrain. Always err on the side of caution. It’s better to be over prepared than under prepared. However, if you are the guy with a hydration pack and two hiking sticks, be prepared to be laughed at by the family who are walking the same two mile trail with their five year old wearing Crocs. Thanks to Twitter for that nugget of wisdom.

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