Archive for September, 2013

Camping Apps for the Techie Camper

Saturday, September 28th, 2013

Today, very few people do not have a cell phone and even fewer people leave their technological device at home even when they want to get away.  So understanding this fact can turn ones cell phone from a technological paper weight into a camping essential. 

Below are a few useful camping apps that one will find helpful and in some situations essential, especially if one is primitive camping.  Keep in mind though, that these apps are only good if one can get a signal.  In doing so, if you are camping in the backcountry do not solely rely on these apps instead follow all primitive camping safety rules. 

Oh My, I Forgot _____.  Apps to Help One Stay Organized

During my many camping trips, it never failed that I forgot something.  I always like to equate it to loading up the car with all the baby stuff and then forgetting the baby.  Now there are apps for cell phones that can help even the most disorganized camper get organized. 

Camping List by Engineered Stuff is just one of those apps.  This app is divided into to categories, which include clothes, cooking and dining, and safety.  You can click on each category, which in turn will open up with a list of supplies.

Another app that will keep your organized as far as planning your trip is Camp Finder by Camping Roadtrip.   This app allows you to view 18,000 campgrounds, RV parks and RV resorts.  What makes this app so nice is if you decide to be a free spirit and not prearrange a campsite, you will not be stuck staying on the side of the road or driving all around trying to find a place to stay.  A simple scan of the app and a few phone calls maybe all that is needed to find you a place to stay during that spare of the moment trip or poorly planned trip, make sure any app you get has web accessibility technology in case anything happens out there in the wild.


Apps to Help You Find Your Way

Where are we at is a question that has crossed every camper’s lips sometime or another.  One app that can help is the Spyglass by Happy Magenta.  This app is a compass, rangefinder, and gyrocompass all rolled into one.  You can tag your location, place it on a map and for those who would like to know where they fit in the universe, you can even add planets.

If you are looking for a more down to earth app consider the AccuTerra by NeoTracks.  This app will allow you to explore millions of miles of trails.

Consider MotionX GPS by MotionX if you are looking for a simple GPS system for your phone.  This app will allow you to plot a course, track your trip and share it with your friends.

What is That?  Apps to Help You Answer Those Nature Questions

Anyone with children knows that dreaded but important question, which is “What is that?”  But now you can answer that question with confidence or your children can answer their own question with this Field Guide App by Audubon Guides.  This app is organized by areas of the country and device.  You can not only use this app to answer the question about what was seen but also what was heard.  You can even record sightings and create your own lifelist of organisms you want to see.

And what about the questions from above, well yes there is an app for that.  The Star Walk app by Vito Technology can help you answer those questions about the stars.  This app will help you locate and identify over 20,000 objects in the sky.

Knot Tying App

Have you ever needed a certain knot for your tent, fishing pole or just to show off?  Well, if that is case then consider using the app What Knot To Do by Columbia Sportswear Company.  This app provides clear, detailed instructions on how to tie each knot and what is best is the fact that it is free to download.

Dutch Oven Charcoal App

The Dutch Oven Calculator app is very useful for campfire cooks or those who wonder how may briquettes they will need to get the Dutch Oven up to 350 degrees.  To answer your question, simply type in your pan size, temperature required and cooking method, and once the information is received you will know how many briquettes you will need.  At this point, there is no more guesswork.

Recipe: Chili in a Jar

Saturday, September 21st, 2013

Have you ever hiked to camp, set up, and then were faced with having to cook dinner?  Well, I have and I can tell you that it can be a drag especially if you get to your site late or it is raining.  But there is a simple solution to this problem and that is to prepare your dinner before you leave for your trip and this is where the chili in a jar comes in.

To begin this recipe, one will first need to decide how much homemade food they want.  What I mean by this is this recipe can be made with canned chili and boxed cornbread mix or you can make it from scratch.  I personally choose the later and in doing so my recipe will be based on that fact.


Homemade Chili


One pound of ground turkey

Large can of tomatoes

8 ounce can of tomato paste

2 cans of chili beans

1 chopped onion

Chili powder

Spaghetti, optional


  1. Place ground turkey and chopped onion in a skillet and brown.
  2. Once the meat is cooked and the onion is translucent, add chili powder, tomatoes, tomato paste, and chili beans.
  3. Simmer.
  4. Optional:  Boil water and cook desired amount of pasta.
  5. Once the pasta has cooked, add to the chili and simmer.

After the chili has cooked, place in quart mason jars.

Homemade Cornbread


1 cup each of cornmeal, and flour

¾ cup sugar

4 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 egg

1 cup of milk

¼ cup of melted butter


Combine the ingredients and spoon into each Mason jar described above.  Preheat oven at 375 degrees.  Once that temperature has been reached, place the jars in the oven and bake until a toothpick comes out clean from the cornbread.  This generally will take about 20 to 25 minutes.

Once the cornbread is done, remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before placing the lid on the jar. 

While this is a basic recipe, there are a few extras that can be added.  If you like your chili a little spicy, consider packing a few jalapenos to add to the top before eating.  If you like cheese with your chili, think about sprinkling shredded cheese on top of the cornbread either before or after baking.  Finally, if you want a moister cornbread, top the bread with a dab of butter  or add a little sweetness by adding a dollop of honey on top.

Camping Tips: How to Lighten the Load when it comes to Personal Care Gear for Camping

Saturday, September 14th, 2013

Believe it or not, camping requires a lot of stuff.  Cooking gear, tents, clothes and food are just a few of the things that one will need to take with them.  But how do you pack everything, including the kitchen sink, in a light and compact way?  Well, the hints below will help you meet your camping needs in a neat and organized fashion without having to get another bag or leave some supplies behind.

The trick to this approach is two-fold.  One make the necessities of life as small as possible and two, pack items that serve more than one purpose.  Below are hints that will address both these approaches.

Personal Care

Everyone loves to have a clean body, fresh breath, and required medication without having to pack the medicine cabinet.  But how do you this?  One approach is to use travel samples but even those can take up too much space.  The second approach is to create your own compact travel size supplies that do not cost extra and use what you have.  Below are just a few ideas of how to use this second approach.

  1. A clean body is something that can be achieved without carrying bottles of body wash or soggy bars of soap.  The first thing that needs to be done is to create a soapy washcloth, which is one that has a built in bar of soap inside.  To create this, simply create a pocket in a washcloth you have or make a drawstring pouch out of a washcloth.  After that is done, simply place a bar of soap in the washcloth.  To use, get the cloth wet and use as usual.  When using this approach, make sure to hang up your soapy washcloth to dry before packing away.
  2. A dry body is just as important as a clean one but drying off can leave a damp towel that is hard to dry.  In this case, do not pack a traditional bath towel; instead consider packing a super absorbent towel that has a wicking nature to it.  Many of these towels can be wrung out and air dry very quickly, which makes packing easier since these towels are not bulky. 
  3. Nothing makes a morning then to have a clean mouth.  But who likes to pack that tube of toothpaste that always ends up in the bottom of a backpack or tube squished.  Well, no more.  Create your own travel toothpaste in one of two ways.  One approach is to create toothpaste straws that contain just enough toothpaste for one brushing.  To do this, cut a straw into four equal pieces.  Once that is done, take a lighter and seal off one end of each straw piece.  Then, fill each straw piece with toothpaste and seal off with a lighter.  After they have cooled, place in a small plastic bag along with your toothbrush.  To use, snip off one end, squeeze, and brush.  The second approach consists of rolling out some wax paper, making dots of toothpaste on that paper and letting the dots dry until hard.  Once dry, peel off the wax paper and place into a plastic bag.  To use, place one dot in your mouth and chew on it until soft.  Then use your toothbrush to brush your teeth (find care tips from Midtown Manhattan dentist).
  4. Having you meds is another important factor when it comes camping.  One approach is to pack all the bottles but if you do not need your medicine in the original bottles consider using a medicine organizer.   There are several different styles to choose from but most have the days of the week labeled.  Utilizing this approach can help you lighten the load while making sure you do not loose or forget to take something.

So before you next camping trip, consider giving these hints a try.  They will lighten your load, help you stay organized, keep you clean, and make your experience more enjoyable.