Archive for April, 2010

5 Ice Chest Tips

Camping and ice chests just go hand in hand. The big question is: when you’re living out of an ice chest instead of a refrigerator and freezer, what can you do to make life easier? Here are five tips to help!

Look over your ice chest before you head out. Is the drain cover still attached? Are there any bubbles or cracks in the sides, bottom or lid of the chest? Does the lid still fit tightly? If your ice chest looks worn it won’t keep your food cold. That makes it a good ice chest for drinks (cans of soda pop won’t spoil if they get warm), but you should invest in a new ice chest for perishable food items.

Block ice will last longer than cubed ice. Just make sure that it is cooling the entire chest and keeping foods at an even temperature. Of course, you’ll still need a bag or two of cubed for drinks.

All items in your ice chest should be packed in watertight bags or containers. Who wants soggy lunch meat? Gross! Also, don’t put items in your ice chest that could be left out or stored in large plastic containers, like peanut butter or mustard.

Freeze some camp cooking ingredients to help chill the ice chest. Good examples are meat and cans of frozen juice. Just be sure that your dinner will be thawed by the time you want to eat it!

To remove odors from your cooler, wipe it with a water and baking soda solution. You can also leave it in open in the sun for a few hours. Make sure that it is 100% dry on the inside before you close the lid for storage.

The ice chest of choice.

As for me? Yeah, I totally recommend going for the one of the Coleman Xtreme® Coolers. You lose a bit of internal storage space, but the cooler will keep ice a lot longer than a conventional ice chest. This is the exact ice chest that the “Royal” Family uses when we’re out for adventures.

How do you use your ice chests? What tips can you share?

The Power of Batteries

Don't let this happen to you!

Don’t you hate it when you get to where you’re going and when you turn on your flashlight you discover that the batteries are dead? And, doesn’t it always happen when you REALLY need to use that flashlight to get somewhere? And, it never fails, you don’t have the right size battery to fit the flashlight!

My dad, ESP Boss, was a volunteer for the K-9 unit of Yavapai County Search and Rescue for many years. He quickly got tired of having the exact same thing happen to him. So, here’s dad’s solution:

  • Standardize all the equipment to take just one battery size. He uses AA (double A) because it fits his GPS, flashlight, walkie talkie, you name it!
  • If your equipment doesn’t take AA, replace it. He had a great flashlight that took 4 D-cell batteries. Not only was it heavy, he also had to remember to bring extras!
  • Bring several replacement packages of batteries so you have them on hand to replace ones that are dead.
  • After every trip, replace the batteries that you used. So, if you keep 8 extra batteries with you when you’re camping and you just used 4, be sure to replace them so you have them the next time you go out.

If you will be keeping the batteries in the flashlight between trips, you can flip one of the batteries so the ends are opposite of where they are supposed to be. This keeps the flashlight from turning on accidentally! Just remember to flip it back!

Another related tip: be sure to turn on all your battery powered equipment and flashlights before leaving home. It’s a lot easier to test them and make adjustments when you are at home rather than in camp, hours away from the nearest store!

Cabelas flashlight

Just remember, your flashlight might turn on, but that doesn’t mean that it is bright enough. Take it to a dark room to test the brightness of the bulb and then replace the batteries or bulb as needed.

And please, dispose of your batteries properly! Make sure they make it into the trash and are not left in the forest or at the campground.

I’m a big fan of Cabela’s Outdoor Outfitters and I get a lot of my outdoor equipment through them. So, here’s a link to all the excellent flashlights that are available through the website. Test them out and let me know what is your favorite!

What do you do to make sure all your battery powered equipment is ready to work?