Camping and fishing go hand in hand in Queensland and over the next 12 months or so we are going to work with a few of our writers to bring you their camping set ups.
This will be an interesting look into how they go about setting up a camp for a purpose, what they use and why they have chosen that particular product. I am going to tee off with a look at the camping set up I take when we go camping at the many dams across Queensland. The camp is designed for a two night stay with three people and, importantly has no power. So let’s get into it.
I have used the Coleman 9CV dome tent for about 18 months now and it is just one of those things that has made camping so simple. We’ve reviewed this tent in previous issues of QFM (Dec 09) so I won’t go into it too deeply, but suffice to say that three separate sleeping areas makes this tent very comfortable for three mates to stay in. The size is a little daunting at first, however the extra storage space, coupled with the quick set up time, makes this tent ideal for camping at lakes where the ground is essentially level and clear.
Other features of this tent that make it perfect for this type of camping include a wheeled carry bag that is big enough to take the tent and fly easily, a very good record in wind and rain and the ability to run power cords to all the rooms if needed.
The tent can also be set up without the fly when you know the rains will not come. This allows you to open up every internal flap and let any breeze blow through the tent keeping it cool on hot days and allowing you to see the stars at night. I particularly like setting the tent up like this whenever possible.
A camp stretcher is a must if you have the space in the car or boat. They simply make things more comfortable. What I like about the Coleman XL stretcher is that it is oversized and rated to 130kg, which means it’ll comfortably fit most anglers. It also feels nice to sleep on, however I do make one small addition to the stretcher: I place an OZtrail swag mat on top and sleep on that. The two combined make for a very comfortable sleeping area, which is just the thing for tired anglers after a long day casting at snags and hopefully catching a few fish.
I’m getting a little soft these days and the cold really is no fun so to combat that I have a -5 sleeping bag from OZtrail. It’s a cracker and has kept me warm when needed and I can unzip everything and use it as a blanket in warmer weather.
The Compact Series bag I use packs away to a very small unit so it fits just about anywhere in an already full car. Just to add a little more comfort to the package I have two large Coleman camping pillows I use. These pack away to a small parcel and provide a very comfortable headrest, but I had to get two as I found one compacted too much for my liking.
So sleeping is never an issue on a short stay camp with only a few items that all pack away into small, neat parcels.
This is easily the best cooker I have used when camping. I attach it to a 2kg gas bottle that doubles as a cooking light with an OZtrail extension pole and LPG mantle lantern. But back to the Even Temp Grill. I own the version that comes with a non-stick griddle and this allows me to do just about everything you’d want. The flames can be turned up to high for cooking steak and the like, or dropped right down for a gentle fry when needed. The non-stick griddle is super easy to clean and is an added benefit as the last thing anyone really wants to do is the dishes.
Add in a billy for boiling water, some utensils, cutlery and crockery and the cooking and eating side of the short stay camp is sorted.
For years I didn’t really appreciate the need for camp protection until we had to sit out some torrential rain one day on the Murray River. We had a small tarp of about 10’x12’ and it allowed us to tuck our seats under the tarp and stay relatively dry.
Since then the tarp has expanded to an OZtrail Ultrarig 18’x24’ tarp with all the poles and spreader bars needed to keep the tarp taught. I have chosen to go the extra mile and use sprung ropes on the corners, but only use standard ropes in the middles, although I am thinking of upgrading this. I also try to angle the tarp to shed off water if it rains.
The big tarp easily accommodates the cooking area, storage space for dry food and utensils, an eating table and three camp chairs, plus there is room to walk around without banging into everything. It really is an eye opener when it is done right just how good a proper tarp set up is.
However the poles and spreader bars are heavy and cumbersome, so if I was travelling by boat anywhere, it’s unlikely the big tarp would make the trip and we’d suffice with a smaller tarp.
Keeping cold food cold is a priority for any camp, regardless of its duration. Luckily, a short stay camp allows us to pack up the Engel fridge freezer, plug it into the car and keep perishables at the right temperature for the trip up.
The car we take away will determine if we take the Engel generator as well. My car does not have a reserve battery, so if I am driving the generator comes too and is used for a couple of hours a day and again at night to keep everything in the fridge cold. If we take my mate’s car, his extra long life auxiliary battery runs the fridge freezer the entire time we are away!
This sort of ice free cooling is priceless as you do not end up with a gooey, moist mess of everything in a traditional esky. So the Engel fridge freezer is one of the most important items packed.
We also take a 65L Esky for drinks. This is packed full of cans and water bottles which are then surrounded with crushed ice leaving no air in the esky. If you’re careful with the opening and closing of this esky the ice will last easily and your drinks will always be cold.
We also take a dry food storage box to hold everything that does not need to stay cold. I use the clear tubs that you can buy from just about anywhere for around $10. You can buy the size that fits your needs and you’re not going to cry too much if your overweight mate decides to sit on it and crack the sides. I actually take two of these cheap boxes: one for food and the other for utensils and cleaning gear. These boxes make it easy to find things you need and also are a breeze to pack neatly in your car or boat.
This chair is the chair for me. It’s rated to about 120kg, is larger than your average chair and it just fits me well. Chairs are personal preference, but after a long day on the water, it makes perfect sense to at least be comfortable when you sit down.
The last thing I’d want is to be wriggling around trying to avoid an unfortunately placed aluminium cross brace or worse, trying to spot repair a cheap seat so that I could even sit down. And don’t laugh, on my last trip to Victoria a mate found himself in this position with very wet ground. Needless to say we helped him get over it by laughing at his predicament.
So get a good chair and try out a lot before you buy to make sure you will be comfortable – and do not crimp on price: if the expensive one is the best fit, get it.
Having a lightweight and robust table is an essential. The Easy Table 6 takes a lot from the earlier model aluminium tables that are so popular around camps these days, and it has upsized everything. This table is 140cm long and fits the Even Temp Grill on it with room to spare for food preparation and serving area. And it’s solid, easy top erect and takes a massive 30kg of top weight. Other good features include its lightweight, easy bag storage and ease of cleaning, making the Easy Table 6 one of the must take items in my camp kit. Now to get another one for tackle rigging!
Apart from the light already mentioned for cooking, I take two utility lights with a hook hanger in my camp kit. I set one underneath the tarp and use the other in the tent and they are easily powered by a small motorcycle battery. Simply clip the battery on or off and move it. I could take a second battery but that just complicates things a little further.
When we have the generator going we can also plug these into the power board without impacting on the generator’s ability to keep the fridge going, so they are a handy little light source around camp and in the tent.
However, on my next camping trip I am going to take away a set of Camp Lights from KORR. These LED lights are strung so that you can tie them around your tarp or around your cooking area and make any area almost as light as day. Additionally the camp lights can be adjusted with a dimmer switch and because they are LEDs, they draw very little power and a small motorcycle battery is all the power you need for a few nights away. I am sure there’ll be more to say about them in the coming months.
As with all camps the list of items changes and modifies with time but at the moment I have a comfortable camp for three blokes on a weekend fishing trip. Camp set up takes about an hour, or a bit longer if you dawdle through it. Breaking camp takes about the same time too. All of the gear fits in the back of my car, however I do carry some of the gear in the boat just so there is a little more people room in the car.
There are many, many more products suitable for camping and plenty I’ve never discovered or used and I look forward to seeing how a few of our other writers set up their camps for short and extended trips fishing.Reads: 3156