Cupboards for convenience
  |  First Published: July 2005

It’s the perfect time to go camping at the moment. The warm days are great for catching a few fish, while the cool nights can be spent chatting around a campfire.

Before you can enjoy all this though, you need to pack all your gear and set up camp. Packing for a few days away is sometimes a real pain, but a bit of forward planning makes it a lot easier. There are various styles and sizes of plastic crates, which can be used to transport all your camping gear on your travels. We generally use two in our 4WD – one is permanently packed with crockery, cutlery, pots, pans and odds and sods; the other one stores all the foodstuffs.

Boxes and square containers are easier to pack, so I usually transfer items such as flour and sugar into plastic takeaway containers. These are available at most $2 shops and they seal and stack really well. If you take the time to put these items into re-sealable containers there will be no broken or split packets and the food box will stay clean. Nothing upsets the supplies more than tomato sauce mixed with flour, particularly when there are no shops within cooee.

Once at the campsite there are a several cupboards that can be set up to ensure everything is within easy reach. We usually set up at least one cupboard so that the cutlery and plates are easy to get at and we don’t have to dig around in boxes (which sometimes results in cut fingers).

For storing food, I recommend a cupboard with ventilation, as your supplies will keep better if there is some air circulating.

These days, cupboards are not only used for food and cooking items. There are now also wardrobes in the range of cupboards, so for those people who will be camping for more than a few days, clothes can be stored and hung with ease. Some models even have a shelf capable of supporting a small TV.

There are various cupboard styles available and quality is usually determined by price. Prices range from $40 to $70 for vinyl and from $100 for quality canvas. There is a choice of free standing or hanging styles. The ease of construction varies from basic to very complicated, so make sure you read the instructions carefully.

After you have acquired all your camping gear, it’s important to practise putting it together before you leave home. This way you are familiar with how to assemble it and you will also know that all the bits are there. There’s nothing worse than getting to the camping ground to find that there is a piece missing.

Your ‘must take’ list should be reviewed regularly. We did this recently and discovered that we needed to add a few items due to recent purchases and the fact that we have been doing a lot more bush camping.

We also added a few good books. It is so nice being able to identify birds and fish correctly when you can see them in real life. Besides, if the weather is too inclement to fish, there are only so many card games you can play in one day.

KEEP IT EASY HINTS for camping

Depending on your destination you may need to carry water for all your needs. Small containers which hold 10L are easier to use and pack in the vehicle than 20L ones.

Always be prepared, especially when it comes to biting insects. Take a selection of both cream and liquid insect repellents. In extreme conditions a mosquito net may be required for outdoor activities, while the new insect bracelets are great for kids and adults alike, especially if you have sensitive skin. You should also buy some citronella candles or lamps to burn outdoors. Use them under the tables for reasonably insect-free eating.

A mat of some kind outside the door of the tent stops a lot of sand and grit from being walked in. An off-cut of shade cloth makes a cheap and effective mat. A large shade cloth ground sheet will keep the bottom of the tent clean and dry.

Use small plastic bottles and containers for liquid items such sauces, detergents and shampoo, as they are lighter than glass and won’t break in transit.

If you have an ant problem around your tent, sprinkle talcum powder on the ground around the tent. Always keep zippers closed, even during the day, as critters don’t know they are not welcome.

When travelling for long distances, pack a supply of snacks and drinks (including water) in the vehicle within easy reach. Always pack your vehicle so that the items you need first are on the top. After travelling for several hours the last thing you want to do is totally unpack the whole vehicle, just to find the tent.

Don’t forget that once you are there everyone will want to relax. Make sure that the esky is stocked with food for the first night and that there a few cold, refreshing drinks for everyone.

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