Before my recent backcountry archery elk hunt, I decided it was time to upgrade my old PUR Hiker water filter. During my research, I realized filter technology has come a long way in the past decade and was torn between two different systems: the MSR MiniWorks EX pump style filter or a Platypus GravityWorks filter that uses, well, gravity to transfer water through the filter. In the name of research and my ongoing fear of commitment, I decided to try both. The MSR would stay in camp to filter water there, and the lighter Platypus system would be carried in my hunting pack to purify drinking water while on the trail of trophy elk.
Last fall I replaced my Cabela’s CG-15 vacuum sealer with a new model from FoodSaver—the GameSaver Silver (GS-500), which is marketed toward sportsmen. I had originally picked up the CG-15 as a refurbished unit in Cabela’s Bargain Cave, but after probably a decade of hard use that included several elk, a couple dozen deer, a few bear and antelope, and several seasons worth of geese and ducks, it was starting to show some wear and tear. When the folks at FoodSaver reached out offering a test model of their GameSaver Silver, I was happy to take them up on it. If nothing else, I wouldn’t have to cart that beast of vacuum sealer that was the CG-15 up and down my stairs anymore.
For the past couple years I’ve been scratching my head with wonder as the market for premium coolers has exploded. Every time I open a catalog or step into an outdoor store it seems like yet another brand of cooler costing $300 or more has appeared, all with apex-predator names. There are Grizzly coolers, and Orcas and, or course, the Yeti. (Yetis are apex predators aren’t they?) I just keep asking myself and friends in the industry, who are the people spending upwards of $500 bucks on a cooler? No one seems to know.
Back in college, I spent one of my first federal student-aid checks on camping gear. I bet I could make a pretty convincing argument that spending the money on outdoor equipment was a better investment than paying my tuition. Or, at least, that’s how I rationalized it at the time. I will say, much of what I learned in college has been long forgotten, but I still use some of the gear today, including my trusty Coleman Dual Fuel 2-Burner Stove.
If you don’t make a habit of reading The New York Times, you might have missed this article about camp cooking. It is a bit high-brow, what with its talk of crème fraiche and fava beans, but it does illustrate a few good points, most notably that a well-stocked, yet minimalist kitchen is key to camp cooking success.
Years ago, I picked up a bargain bin chuck box and filled it with a few essentials, including a Coleman camp stove, coffee pot, skillet, and 2-quart saucepan. I also carry my trusty and dusty Boy Scout mess kit wherever I go and it’s come in handy over the past 25 or so years. Utensils are simple and multi-functional: a spatula, wooden spoon, and tongs. Throw in a good knife and an odd assortment of silverware, and I’m ready to cook and eat most anything, anywhere.