Handy hints on how to make camping easy and save some bucks MzansiBride

Winona Griggs

How

Easy Camping and Money-Saving Tips

Let me tell you about camping back in the 80s. It was tough, especially for my dad. He brought some stuff from his time in the army, and we camped just like soldiers. Our tents were a nightmare to set up – heavy and bulky, they took up all the space on our car’s roof rack. We also had army stretchers, water bottles, cutlery, sleeping bags, backpacks, and uniforms. It was quite the adventure, but not always in a good way. Most of our gear was pretty lousy, except for those awesome water bottles that you can still find at an army surplus store in Pretoria.

In the 1990s, the camping market underwent a significant transformation. Nowadays, there seems to be an endless array of outdoor products flooding the market, each one claiming to be a must-have. Many of us have spent a small fortune on fancy gadgets and gizmos, only to have them end up collecting dust and cluttering our space. While it might be tempting to invest in flashy items like the Bear Grylls survival knife, survival kit, and machete, do we really need them?

When it comes to camping from a vehicle, there are a few fundamental items that can either make or break your experience, whether it’s a weekend getaway or a months-long expedition.

Less is More

When it comes to camping, it’s important to choose good quality, versatile products that can save you both time and money. You don’t want to spend hours unpacking and setting up your gear when you arrive at the campsite, or have to frantically repack everything before you leave. Camping is meant to be a relaxing and enjoyable experience, not a hassle.

Unlike many other activities, camping is not a competition to see who can have the fanciest or most elaborate setup. In fact, my friends and I find it quite entertaining to watch others struggle for hours to set up their intricately designed campsites while we have our fire going and a cold beer in hand within minutes of arriving.

So, my advice to you is simple: avoid anything inflatable. While they may seem convenient and space-saving at first, inflatable products often end up being more trouble than they’re worth. They can easily get punctured or deflated, leaving you stranded in the middle of nowhere with no way to set up camp.

Instead, opt for sturdy, durable gear that will last and withstand the rigors of outdoor adventures. Invest in high-quality tents, sleeping bags, and camping chairs that can handle whatever Mother Nature throws at them. Trust me, it’s worth the initial investment to have reliable gear that won’t let you down.

Remember, camping is about getting away from the stresses of everyday life and enjoying the simplicity of nature. So leave the inflatable stuff at home and embrace the joy of setting up camp quickly and effortlessly. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

Keep it simple, keep it fun

Have you ever seen those huge inflatable mattresses on TV? The ones that are supposedly indestructible, but can actually be punctured by a tiny thorn? It’s a total disaster when you’re camping and your mattress starts to deflate, leaving you with a bumpy and uncomfortable night’s sleep on the hard ground. Trust me, I’ve been there.

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Luckily, there are some specialist inflatable mattresses designed specifically for camping. They may cost a pretty penny, but they’re worth every cent. These mattresses are thick and durable, able to withstand the unpredictable outdoors. And if they do happen to get punctured, they’re easy to repair. So, you can sleep easy knowing you won’t wake up on the cold, stony ground.

But that’s not all these mattresses are good for. They also make fantastic makeshift lilos for a day at the lake. Just imagine floating on the tranquil waters of Lake Malawi, soaking up the sun and enjoying the gentle rocking of the waves. It’s pure bliss.

Of course, it’s always good to have a backup plan. That’s why we also bring self-inflating mattresses. These ingenious inventions combine the comfort of an air mattress with the convenience of a self-inflating feature. Simply unroll the mattress, open the valve, and watch as it magically inflates itself. It’s like having a personal butler who sets up your bed for you.

Stay cozy in any weather

When it comes to camping, having the right gear can make all the difference. A good quality sleeping bag is essential, but your clothing is just as important. Don’t forget to pack thermal underwear and thick hiking socks to keep you warm when the temperature drops. And if you’re traveling in warmer weather, consider vacuum packing your extra layers to save space.

But that’s not all…

Staying dry is crucial when camping. Make sure you have waterproof gear, such as rain jackets and waterproof pants. Additionally, bring along a tarp or rainfly to cover your tent and keep you protected from the elements.

When it rains during a highveld thunderstorm, a good quality tent will keep you dry. Just remember not to touch the inner walls, or the moisture will seep through. Easy-to-erect tents are great. On our Landy, we have a very spacious roof top tent that easily accommodates 2 adults (even a 2m tall, 130kg person) and 2 children. It was quite pricey, but it comes with an “add a room” feature that zips onto the underside of the roof. It’s like a huge cave! Make sure to store fold-up camping chairs under cover at night to prevent them from getting wet with condensation. No one enjoys sitting on a wet butt in the morning.

Food

Before we set off, we always plan our daily menu and buy groceries accordingly. Braais are great, but after a few nights, my wife tends to get tired of them. Sometimes it’s not easy to find fresh vegetables, and storing food is always a challenge. That’s why we stock up on pasta, potatoes, onions, pumpkin, and butternut. These items are easy to store and prepare. Luckily, we have two fridges in the Landy, so we have plenty of space. Our trips usually last a month or longer. Remember, only open the cooler box when absolutely necessary and close it right away. If possible, keep beers and drinks in a separate cooler box. Frozen meat can double as an ice block, and by the time you’ve had a few beers, it should be defrosted if you follow the mid-morning beer prep routine. Here’s a neat trick: if you need to defrost meat after a long day of driving in the bush, put it in the engine bay and close the hood. It’ll defrost in no time. Oh, and cans are always better than bottles.

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Cutlery

Let me tell you about Greensport – a fantastic little company that makes really clever compact products. I’ve been using their 5-in-1 pot and pan set for years, and it’s amazing how beautifully it packs up. And their cutlery set? It has everything you need, and it folds down almost flat. It’s so convenient!

When it comes to cups, plates, and bowls, Plastics for Africa is the place to go. They have great options that are affordable, and you can easily replace them if needed.

Looking for a kettle that will stand the test of time? Check out the Hart aluminium kettle. It’s incredibly durable, and it boils water super quickly. Just remember to only boil what you need to save energy.

If you’re in the market for a new frying pan, I highly recommend getting a family-sized one with a sturdy metal handle. It’s a smart investment that will last you a long time.

And here’s a pro tip – get yourself a thick medium-sized braai grill with a cover and a tri-pod. It’s perfect for those outdoor cooking adventures.

Now, let’s talk about potjie pots. They’re incredibly versatile, but I have to admit, they can be a bit of a pain to pack. Just something to keep in mind if you’re considering getting one.

Clothing

Hey there! Nobody wants to end up looking like a stereotypical tourist, right? I mean, nobody wants to be that person. You know the one. The guy in the khaki zip-off shorts and the old T-shirt. It’s not a good look, trust me.

So, when it comes to packing for your adventures, it’s important to take into account both style and practicality. You want to look good, but you also want to be comfortable and prepared for anything. And let me tell you, there’s a fine line between looking fashionable and being a walking disaster.

First up, let’s talk about shorts. I’ve got this amazing pair of Hi-Tec shorts that have seriously been with me through thick and thin. They dry super quickly, which is a huge plus. I mean, who wants to be walking around with wet shorts? Not me, that’s for sure. For a month-long trip, I usually pack around four pairs of shorts. It may sound like a lot, but trust me, it’s worth it. You never know when you’re going to need a fresh pair.

Next up, let’s talk underwear. Okay, I know it’s not the most glamorous topic, but trust me, it’s important. Dirty shorts are one thing, but dirty undies? No, thank you. I always make sure to pack plenty of underwear – about ten pairs, to be exact. It may sound like a lot, but hey, you never know when you’re going to need a spare.

Now, let’s talk jackets. I don’t know about you, but when I’m on the road, I like to be prepared for anything. That’s why I always pack my trusty K-Way jacket. It’s got this removable inner layer that makes it super versatile. I can wear it on its own when it’s a bit warmer, or I can layer up when the temperature drops. Plus, these babies are built to last. I’ve had mine for about 10 years, and it’s still going strong.

Alright, let’s move on to footwear. A few pairs of flip flops are an absolute must. They’re great for walking around in warmer weather and they’re so easy to slip on and off. Plus, they won’t take up much space in your bag. And of course, you’ll also want a good pair of hiking boots. Trust me, your feet will thank you. They’ll provide the support and comfort you need when you’re out exploring nature.

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Oh, and let’s not forget about Ugg boots. These things are an absolute lifesaver when it comes to camping in cold weather. They’ll keep your feet warm and cozy, even when the temperatures drop. Trust me, you won’t regret packing them.

Odds and sods

So, here’s the deal. I’ve learned a thing or two about camping, and I want to share some insider tips with you. Trust me, you’ll thank me later. Let’s start with the car chamois. It’s like magic when it comes to drying dishes. Forget about those flimsy towels, this is the real deal.

Now, let’s talk about fixing stuff. You know those everyday problems that come up when you’re camping? Well, Ziploc bags, cable ties, elastic bands, Q20, and Duct Tape are your secret weapons. Seriously, they can fix almost anything. Keep them handy and be prepared to feel like a superhero.

Oh, and speaking of being prepared, you need a ‘start up’ box. Trust me, it’s a game-changer. This box should have all the essentials you need to set up your camp. Trust me, it’s a small investment of time that will save you heaps of stress later on.

Now, let’s get organized. Gather all your must-haves in one place. I’m talking about your mallet, pegs, matches, spare car keys, firelighters, dishwashing liquid, mozzie repellent, batteries, and a small first aid and sewing kit. Can you imagine how much easier life will be when you’re not rummaging through a million bags? Convenience is the name of the game.

Okay, let’s talk about some luxuries. Don’t laugh, but a small hammock is worth its weight in gold. Trust me, it’s an absolute game-changer on those long-term camping trips. Just imagine kicking back and relaxing in your own little cocoon. Bliss, right?

Now, let’s shed some light on the situation. Head torches are all you need. Those big, bright camp lights are just overkill. I mean, seriously, you want to see the stars, don’t you? Plus, a fluorescent torch is perfect for spotting those cheeky scorpions at night. They light up like nobody’s business under that glow. Just be careful, those little critters can be quite the surprise.

As for tools, there’s one name you need to know: Leatherman. This baby is a game-changer. It’ll take care of all your cutting and fixing needs. No need for shovels and axes, unless you’re out in the wild, of course. Keep it simple and save yourself the hassle.

Now, let’s talk about fuel. Gas is a great option for cooking. Trust me, it lasts forever if you only use it for that. So, make sure you’re smart with your fuel choices.

And finally, my last piece of advice. If you can, borrow before you buy. Camping gear can get expensive, so it’s always good to try things out before committing. Oh, and one more thing… don’t forget the can opener. Seriously, it’s the little things that make a big difference. Happy camping!

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