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You’re ready for camping. How about your gear? (2012)


Propane and battery lanterns shine in even the heaviest of rain storms.

“We need mantles for the propane lantern.”

“No, we don’t. We have packages of mantles stashed in the camping boxes.”

“Are you sure? I know we used the last ones.”

This conversation happens at least three times before my family’s first camping trip of the year, and continues through the summer and fall. Don’t let it happen to you; start your prep work now. Spring Break is just a month away!


If you stay in a cabin or yurt, you don’t worry about the roof over your head. Those that “rough it” have an intense interest in their tents. Think back to your last trip. Is there a tear in the screen or a rip in the material? Mosquitoes will find that hole quicker than a heat-seeking missile. Uh, oh! When you came home from that late season coast trip, did you dry out the tent? Mildew is never an attractive wall decoration. How to clean your tent

Don’t need a tent? OK, so how’s that sleeping bag looking? Does it need to be cleaned or the zipper fixed? Don’t need a sleeping bag and are fine rolled up in a blanket, thank you very much? You’re just showing off! How to choose a sleeping bag

Cooking box

Our cooking box is filled with castoffs from our home kitchen–mismatched forks and spoons, dull and nicked knives, toxic pans (the scratched non-stick pans that may be bad for you). Now is the time to reorganize, restock and relax. Need a new can opener, corkscrew or spatula? Remove the old one from the kitchen drawer and reorganize it with the other misfit utensils in the cooking box. Restock and relax with retail therapy at your favorite thrift or kitchen store.

If you’re really ambitious, try re-seasoning the Dutch oven or removing the 6-month-old grounds from the coffee pot innards. Dutch oven re-seasoning tips & recipes

Odds & Ends box

You have a home drawer filled with things that don’t belong anywhere else, right? The odds & ends box is the same, only PORTABLE. Do I need to mention that lantern mantles are stored in this box, as well as tarps, extra tent stakes, garbage bags and ratty old towels for drying the dog?

Don’t forget the “connecting/attaching” tools–bungee cords and zip ties. A bungee cord attached to the food box and lid keeps out prying raccoon paws and zip ties work great for attaching tarps to tent frames (but not to trees or picnic tables).

Your turn. What goes into the Game box?

Chicken Foot (dominoes). Kings in the Corner (cards).   What’s your favorite game? Send us a comment (below) and share with our Go Guide readers.

Oh, we could solve the lantern mantle problem by switching to a different type of light. But then the yearly conversation would start with, “Do we have batteries for that new lantern?”