Food and Drink: Camping Stoves and Water Filters
You've picked out your tent and sleeping bag. What else might you need for your camping trip? Food. You'll certainly want some grub to snack on after a long day of hiking, canoeing, biking and other outdoor activities.
Your camping menu will vary based on your level of comfort with cooking outdoors. If you consider yourself a backyard chef, most campgrounds provide grills that you can use to cook up a culinary masterpiece. Be sure to bring some charcoal, a spatula and some ready-to-make grub like hot dogs, steaks or hamburgers -- and of course, a cool place to store that meat until you start cooking.
If you prefer to cook over a campfire, bring a skillet and some pots. If you bring a propane stove or Dutch oven, you can even bake while camping. To use a Dutch oven, place it over a bed of about 10 charcoal briquettes. Then place 20 briquettes over the oven. This will heat the oven to about 350 degrees, and you'll be ready to cook. Propane stoves work like gas stove tops. When picking out a propane stove, be sure to buy one with refillable propane tanks -- you'll end up saving money in the long run, and it's better for the environment. Depending on your cooking skills and equipment, you can make quite a feast in the wilderness.
If you're camping near a source of clean tap water, then you'll probably only need to fill up your bottle before you set out. But if you're camping farther away from a clean water source, you'll have to treat your water. While fresh spring water is usually safe to drink, it's not safe to drink water in the backcountry. Since a variety of animals use these water sources, and substances like fertilizers run off into them, they're likely to be contaminated. You don't want to drink water that is polluted with a parasite like Giardia lamblia, for example, which can cause nausea, bloating, and diarrhea that leads to dehydration. If you can't bring enough bottled water on your trip, carry a few packages of iodine. This is a cheap and easy way to purify water. Other purification options include bringing water filters and boiling your water. You can purchase a good quality water filter for about $50. When filtering your water, choose the cleanest water before you filter it -- for example, use water from a spring rather than a pond. If you choose to boil your water, be sure to let it boil for 10 minutes to kill all the parasites.
Depending on what kind of camping you're doing, how long you're staying out and the season you're camping in, consider packing these other items too: