Good Gear for Camping and Traveling

Cooking Hot Dogs on the BeachGood camping gear can make your life better. Bad gear can ruin a trip. Learn the difference here.

Here we will describe and rate travel and camping gear that we have tried. We are not attempting to try and compare everything in a particular type of gear. We will just tell you what we have and if we like it. So if we say this is the BEST tent, or BEST water shoes ever, then take it with a grain of salt.

Cooking Gear Ratings

The Dutch Oven

A Dutch Oven is basically a cast iron pot that is heavy enough to put directly over hot coals. You can cook anything in it you would normally cook in a pot on the top of the stove AND you can cook anything in it you would normally cook in an oven. It is the perfect utensil. Well, maybe not perfect. It is easy to burn things in it.

Rather than trying to be an expert in Dutch Ovens, I will direct you to someone who apparently is. See Byron's Dutch Oven Cooking Page.

We have owned a Dutch Oven for at least 10 years, but just recently we learned how to use it without burning everything we cooked. We bought the Dutch Oven Cookbook by a guy, and that helped a lot. Then we met one of the members of the Bay Area Dutch Oven club and went to one of their potluck picnics.

The Bay Area Dutch Oven Group plans events throughout the year where group members meet to use their Dutch Ovens to make a dish that the whole group shares. It is the ultimate Pot Luck meal. They also meet spontaneously when someone grabs a campsite (not easy in California.) You can learn more about the club by emailing their list serve. By the way, this group has a strong showing of teenage boys who got interested via Boy Scouts.

The picture to the right is of two dutch oven's sitting on top of each other, sitting in an oil pan. In each of the oven's there is a trivet, and a cake pan with cake batter in it. Around the bottom there are potatoes wrapped in aluminum foil. If you didn't believe we made a cake while camping, I have included a picture of the final product.

Frosting the Cake while Camping

Camper's Dream Ice Cream Ball

The Camper's Dream Ice Cream Ball is a good idea and does make ice cream and the ice cream is good, but it is not the best way to make ice cream while camping. They are available at many outdoor stores now, and online.

Why isn't it the best? Because it doesn't have anything on the inside that is stirring the ice cream. A regular ice cream churn, has a dasher inside that stirs up the ice cream. It puts air into the mixture and evenly mixes the ice cream so that it all has a chance to be close to the cold, icy sides of the container.

It seems like it might be a good idea to roll the ball to mix up the ice cream, but it is not a soft ball. The kids were able to kick it around on the grass. Instead we sat around the campfire taking turns shaking it and then when our arms got tired, passing it to the next person in the circle. It was fun, but you need a lot of people.

The end result was ice cream that tasted good. We put local black berries in ours. The texture was hard as a rock, however. You can take along a hand crank ice cream maker instead, but I think the best way to make ice cream when camping is to use the Ziploc Ice Cream recipe listed on the Food page here. It is just as much fun, and the ice cream is better.

Ice Cream Ball

Lands End Sea-to-Shore Sport Shoes

We bought Lands End Water Shoes to wear while tide pooling on the pacific coast. We wanted shoes that wouldn't be damaged when we got them wet. Sandals would do that, but they don't stay on your feet reliably. These shoes slip on easily and stay on. They are so light weight that they float when you swim in them.

Lands End says that these shoes do not get smelly after getting wet, but we have found that they do. We hoped that they would keep sand out, but that was unrealistic, considering all of the little holes in them. They do keep rocks out. Wearing sport socks protected my feet from getting rubbed in the wrong way, after a long walk in wet shoes. I still prefer going barefoot on a sandy beach, but these are great for walking on wet rocks.

Lands End Sea Shoes

The Perfect Clothesline

Why do you need a clothesline while camping? Don't worry, I don't expect you to wash clothes. No, clotheslines are needed to dry bath towels, beach towels, bathing suits, wet suits and dish towels. So as you can see, they are quite indispensable.

Why is this clothesline perfect? Because it has the clothes pins already attached to it and it has hooks on the end. The hooks make it easier to hang if up.

Coleman Tent Light

This little light is so clever. Instead of burning your tent down by trying to use your white gas lantern (Don't ever do that), you can use this tent light to play cards.

It is battery powered and has a strong magnet on the back. You just put one half of the magnet on the outside of the tent and the light part on the inside of the tent.


Weekend Destinations

Helpful bits of information about places we have been and things we have seen.

Food Fun

Recipes for Road Trip Food, Camping and Hiking Food

Traveling with Kids

How do Happy Families Do It?


Packing Check List

Don't leave home without these kitchen and outdoor gadgets.

Travel Gear

Reviews of Travel Gear