Camping Equipment Reviews

Camping gear reviews and commentary on today's latest and greatest camping gear!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Clear Lake Oregon - Global Warming Has Hit

My son and I took a trip up to Mt. Hood yesterday to explore. We love getting into the car and heading to a trail or lake that we've never seen.

Clear Lake - Mt. Hood, OregonWhen we got to the lake it was a huge disappointment. What once once an obviously beautiful lake is now a shallow pond surrounded by fetid, decaying ground with flies buzzing all around. The graveyard of tree stumps and long lost bottles litter the lake shore.
Clear Lake - Mt. Hood, Oregon
I felt like we were at Chernobyl or someplace where a nuclear accident had happened.

The lack of snowfall this past winter and over the last 10 years, led to this lake drying up to almost non-existence. Of course I have no way to prove it's because of global warming, but the evidence does point in that direction.

Maybe Obama can bring about some action when he speaks at the National Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas today.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Sprongs Camp Utensils

Did you know there are 13 types of forks? Dinner, Fish, Lunch, Lobster, Fruit, Salad, Dessert, Ice Cream, Pastry, Seafood, Strawberry, Snail, and Oyster. My favorite has to be the Ice Cream Fork. How does that work?

There are also 14 types of spoons: Iced-Beverage, Oval Soup, Dessert, Place, Cream Soup, Teaspoon, Five-O'Clock, Ice Cream, Citrus, Bouillon, After Dinner Coffee, Chocolate, Demitasse, and Salt. The most interesting would be the Five-O'Clock. It was made for an era when afternoon tea was taken at five o'clock.

Sprongs camp utensils
Sprongs Camp Utensils
There have been Sporks and Foons, but finally someone invented Sprongs. A brilliant, yet simple design that turns the fork and spoon into a third, desperately needed camping utensil--tongs.

The Sprongs are made from durable, light-weight nylon 66. They are food safe and will not melt. The spoon and fork lock together for easy storage. They have a lanyard hole so you can hang them from your pack or around your neck. They are approximately 8.5 inches long which allows you to reach the bottom of dehydrated meal pouches easily. The spoon is actually exactly 1 tablespoon in volume so it doubles as a measuring tool. The fork has a bail hook for lifting hot lid handles without burning yourself.

As with much of my finds, this one comes from kickstarter. You can pre-order a set for only $10. I "Sprongly" suggest you get a set. You see what I did there? Pretty good, huh?

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Cacoon Hammock - Alien Spacecraft or Pleasure Craft?


Cannon Beach, OR - At approximately 2:30 AM PST, an alien craft was spotted over the Oregon coast near the town of Cannon Beach. Witnesses were able to take a photo of this strange orb as it approached the coastline.

Eyewitness Clem Mayhill happened to have his Kodak pocket camera handy and snapped the grainy photo seen here.

"Me and the Mrs. were out for an evening stroll along the shoreline, when we dang near got hit by a freakin UFO! I was too flabbergasted to do anything, but the wife slapped me and shouted, "Take a picture, Clem" and I whipped out the camera and took a shot. I didn't know if I had gotten anything until we developed the photos this morning."

Mrs. Mayhill commented that the object hung in the air for what seemed to be 5 or 10 seconds then shot away from them at light speed.

"I could swear I saw two beings inside the craft," said Mrs. Mayhill. "They seemed very comfortable and relaxed, almost like they were on vacation and looking for a place on the beach."

She went on to say that she imagined herself inside the cozy-looking nest and said that it wouldn't take her more than a few minutes to fall asleep inside the cacoon-shaped vessel.

Other witnesses mentioned it's uncanny resemblance to a new product called just that - The Cacoon. The Cacoon is a hammock-type enclosure that can be hung from any strong branch or other suitable support. It's safe and strong, small enough to carry yet big enough to share. Its weather-proof fabric is resistant to all the elements. It’s been tested and hung in all types of environments – in the garden, on a hike, in the woods, by the coast, in the office, in sports and leisure centers, in bedrooms and dens, in hotels and adventure playgrounds – inside and out, just hanging out and giving people a lot of fun.

The Cacoon comes in three sizes, Single, Double, and Bonsai (for one child.) You can get your Cacoon Hammock by visiting

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Sleeping Bag Hammock | Bison Bag G2 By Clayborne Outdoor

One of my favorite shows growing up was Gilligan's Island. Well, maybe it wasn't my favorite show, but it was the only decent one of the three available when I got home from school (it was the 70s.) In fact, the show frustrated the heck out of me. After one or two times of Gilligan sabotaging their chance to get off the island, I would have made sure Gilligan didn't get off the island if you get my drift.

But I did like how they lived. Those cool grass huts were really decked out. And Gilligan and the Skipper had hammocks to sleep in. I begged my mom to replace my bed with a hammock. Of course, she did not, so my dreams were dashed.

My dream was reignited when I saw what could very possibly be the perfect hammock. Why is it perfect? Because it's not only a hammock, it's a sleeping bag too! It's one of those inventions that make you say, "Why didn't I think of that?"

Sleeping Bag Hammock | Bison Bag G2 By Clayborne Outdoor

The Bison Bag G2 by Claybourne Outdoor is an improved version of their G1. The G2 has a polyester design featuring triple layer insulation to ensure that minimal body heat escapes during sleep in the great outdoors. The G2 is rated to 55 degrees Fahrenheit but can be used in lower temperatures if using a sleeping bag pad. An included sleeping bag sack allows you to carry the sleeping bag, hammock, carabiners and rope.

Here are the stats:
  • Size:  Sleeping Bag 190X 100cm/rectangle 
  • Size:  Hammock 98cmX280cm
  • Material: 170T polyester
  • Filling: polyester microfiber 220gsm 
  • Zipper: #5 double head 
  • Weight Limit: 215 Lbs
I am so looking forward to camping without being trapped in a tent. To be able to wake up and the first thing you see is a beautiful lake, the tops of the trees swaying in the wind and the smell of dew on the ground. Not the stale recirculated air in a stuffy tent.

The Bison Bag G2 is part of a kickstarter campaign where you can be one of the first to get your hands on this hammock. You can also find out more information at their website,

Friday, May 29, 2015

StowAway Hitch Cargo Carrier

Stowaway Hitch Cargo Carrier
Last weekend our family went for a trip to the coast. We rented a small beach house that had everything we would need for an enjoyable stay. But my wife packed our vehicle like we were moving in permanently.

"You never know," she said. "They may not have comfortable mattresses, so we should bring the sleeping bags" and "what if they don't have a fireplace poker? We should bring ours just in case."

And the kids were no better. "What is there to do at the beach, dad? We better bring the Wii and some games."

Luckily, we had just purchased our StowAway Hitch Cargo Carrier. The Max version holds a whopping 16 cubic feet of stuff. That's considerably larger than the competitors. We were able to get 4 suitcases, the espresso machine, a hammock(?), and the coveted Wii console in it. My wife may have a hoarding problem.

The StowAway Hitch Cargo Carrier has a swing-away feature that lets me get easy access to the trunk contents. It also comes pre-wired with tail lights that hook up to your car's electrical system and it even has a license plate holder. They thought of everything!

Well, the weekend was a success. 9/10th's of the stuff we brought didn't get touched. But as my wife was quick to point out, "Luck favors the prepared." By that reasoning we must be the luckiest family in the world.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Best Pocket Chainsaw

best pocket chainsaw

Finally! A saw you can fit in your pocket! We have been waiting for years for this invention. A little background. I come from a logging family. For 5 generations my family has made their living by cutting logs and hauling them out of the forest. Are you familiar with Easter Island? Yeah, my family took care of that. Before we got there, it was a tall forest of Douglas Fir. But how is anybody going to see monolithic statues when they're surrounded by trees? Want an example more close to home? How about Mt. Rushmore. Believe it or not, Mt. Rushmore was covered with Christmas trees. Poor Abe Lincoln looked like he was spiking his hair. They called us in to take care of that.
So suffice to say, we know what we're talking about when it comes to saws. In fact, we've tried to invent a pocket saw ourselves, but with horrible outcomes. My great-grandfather Boyd almost lost the family jewels after his spring-loaded pocket saw uncoiled in mid-step. So, while we're a little sad that we didn't come up with this unique design, we're glad someone did.
This Pocket Chainsaw is the best pocket chainsaw you'll find. It's made of high strength, heat-treated steel and it's coated for rust resistance. It'll fit in your shirt pocket, pants pocket, coat pocket, hot pocket, or any other pocket you can find. Ah, Hot Pockets...couldn't you go for one of those right now? Me too. Check out Jim Gaffigan's take on Hot Pockets here. The saw is 28" long and weighs in at only 6oz. Heck, that's like saying it floats on air! What's more, it has 124 Bi-directional teeth. See ya later, Alligator! There's a new sherriff in town! And best of all, it can be used by one or two persons. Make a new friend by inviting them to saw wood with you. You may get slapped a few times as they infer that this means something else, but it will be worth it when you find a true friend. 

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Campside Old Fashioned

When I lived in the Midwest, my friends Peach, Boss, Todd and I would go camping the first week in May in upper Wisconsin. For those of you who know anything about upper Wisconsin in the Spring, you know that it's still damn cold. We liked to find lakes that were uninhabited by any other campers, which, at that time of the year was most of them.

One of the rituals we developed was having Old Fashioneds after dinner. Peach had a special recipe that really hit the spot. But it was a lot of work for a campsite. Luckily, he had his travel cocktail bar, containing almost everything needed.

The Ingredients are as follows:

  • Kessler Blended Whiskey
  • 7-up
  • Angostura Bitters
  • Maraschino cherries
  • cherry juice
  • sugar
  • orange
  • lemon slice
  • cinnamon sticks

The process is as follows:

Pour a couple of ounces of 7-up into a highball glass, then add two teaspoons of sugar and two jiggers of bitters. Muddle. Then add ice to the brim of the glass. Now add 1 ounce (or to taste) of Kessler. It has to be Kessler. No other blended whiskey works as well. Believe me, I've tried.

Now stir with a cinnamon stick. Add zest of orange, slice of orange and slice of lemon. Add jigger of cherry juice. Stir again and drink.

There is nothing better than sitting in your camp chair sipping your Old Fashioned and staring at a roaring campfire on a cold, crisp Northern Wisconsin night (and listening to the Chief on the radio playing country & western songs...right guys?)