Thursday, February 14, 2013

Article: Literal Car Camping

Read a great quick article on camping in cars (as opposed to my typical car camping in a tent) today over at adventure journal.

"When you set up your tent, you’re making a statement, you’re there for the night, you’ve arrived. You park your car, you could be gone any time, maybe you’re just closing your eyes for a minute. You can sleep in your car in far more obvious places — Walmart lots, for instance — than you can camp. Especially in the West, where so much land is public, you’ve got options."

Head over to check out the full article: Overlandia: Sleeping Alone in Your Car

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Day Hiking 101

Picture of hiking under Matterhorn by Esme_Vos
Whether it's the highlight of a camping outing or just a standalone weekend activity, day hikes are one of my favorite ways to spend time outdoors. They're a great way to get good exercise while seeing some incredible things in nature.

We'll be going on a day hike at Point Mugu in a few week now, so I figured we could go over some basic advice  for day hiking including places to find a good day hike, rules you should follow, and what you need to pack.

Finding a Place to Hike

I have a bunch of sites I use to find day hikes with a couple favorites, although the best hikes are often found by word of mouth from fellow hikers. 
  • My favorite site to find trails. The hikes are well documented with reviews, difficulties, directions to the trailhead, maps for the hike, and detailed directions for the hike.
  • LocalHikes- My second favorite site to find good hikes. Although text organized and centered around certain locations, you can find some pretty incredible trails on this website (if you're in the correct area). The trails have a summary, directions to the trailhead, best times to go, and reviews.
  • Sierra Club Trails- A limited number of trails, with text directions. This is just another place to find locations to hike for me.
  •  Requires a paid subscription for detailed directions, but I use it to find new places to hike as it's database is really large. Once you find the new place, you can search the web for a trail guide or directions. They also offer free topographic maps that you can save as images. 
  • Yelp- I often use Yelp to see if there is a page for the hike I've found above and how the reviews are for that site
  • NWF- Only shows parks, but will often give you a good idea of places that will likely have good trails to hike. 
While there are a lot of different resources, it only takes one of them to find an awesome hike, so pick one and see if you find something you like! Let me know in the comments if you have a different favorite site!

Rules You Should Follow while on a Day Hike 

  1. Always let someone know where you're hiking and when. This way, if something goes terribly wrong, at least one person back in civilization knows where you were last. This narrowing of a search grid can help a search party find stranded hikers in a fraction of the time they would with no leads.
  2. Always check the weather before you head out. Bad weather can sneak up on you in the wild, but modern radar often has the upper-hand in spotting malicious weather patterns far before the skies turn all dark and gloomy. Checking the weather also helps you bring along the appropriate extra layers or rain gear, if needed.
  3. Dress in layers. Even on a cool day, you can really heat up while hiking, and being able to strip off extra layer while remaining appropriate for the trail can make a hike far more enjoyable.
  4. Bring extra water. Although you may have calculated the exact amount of water you may need, you should always be prepared to spend more time on the trail or consume more water than expected. Rationing water is also a good idea when out on a longer hike.
  5. Don't be rude. Follow general hiking etiquette and don't be those annoying people on the trail.
  6. Research the hike beforehand. No one likes to go out on a hike just to realize that a section of the tides have come in and covered your path home for the next 3 hours or that the hike required a bit of climbing and you wore your hiking heels.

Gear (and other stuff) to bring on a Day Hike

  • Backpack- Any comfortable backpack with some carrying capacity will do.
    • My old school backpack from years ago
  • Map of the Area
    • As mentioned early, you can use to download topo maps or print out a google map
  • Compass
  • Water Bottle- disposable or reusable (greener!)
  • Flashlight- something light, but bright for signalling or finding your way at night
    • I use a small Cree LED flashlight I got years ago. Any light will do, but LEDs will last much longer and shine brighter than any incandescent on the same battery 
  • Water Purification Tablets- if worst comes to worst, these can be literal 'life savers'
  • Food Containers- to hold snacks of course!
  • Sunscreen- sleeping on the ground is FAR worse when sunburnt
  • Extra Layers- as mentioned earlier
  • First Aid Supplies- More safety precautions!
  • Lighter or Matches- in a waterproof bag.. Another precaution in case things go awry

Hopefully this article gives you a good idea on how to find a place to go on a day-hike, guidelines to keep in mind, and the gear and items you should bring along. Let me know in the comments if there's anything big that I missed!

In the interest of full disclosure, although I've listed items that I own above, I am an Amazon Affiliate, so anything you purchase through my links will get me a small commission. this will hopefully be enough eventually so I can get a REAL domain! Thanks for stopping in!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Banana Chocolate Walnut Granola Bars

Photo from DirtyGourmet

Dirty Gourmet just published a new blog post with a recipe for what looks to be some awesome granola bars for a camping trip or a day hike! Recipe looks extremely easy too, so I'll definitely be trying these out soon.

"I came up with this recipe for Banana Chocolate Walnut Granola Bars. They turned out great and would be perfect for taking on a long day hike or a backpacking trip" -DirtyGourmet

Check out the post and recipe at Dirty Gourmet.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Pancakes while Camping

Photo by d.loop
Just wanted to share this short article on pancakes while camping with you. It had some great tips, including mess free batter mixing with a ziploc bag and how to pack condiments.

Take a quick read over at

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Point Mugu Weekend Menu

I need to put a menu together for the Point Mugu trip. The weekend will be a two night, three day trip, leaving us with two breakfasts, two lunches, and two dinners. I'm looking for quick and simple menu items, preferably using all but a few perishables within the first 36 hours to save on ice. I also only have one burner so far, so the meal can't take too many d to prepare


Getting in around 2pm, so we'll have plenty of time to set up camp and not be rushed into a quick dinner.


  • Foil Packs
    • Create a bowl out of heavy duty aluminum foil. Fill with ground beef, chopped vegetables (potatoes, onions, carrots, etc.). Season with salt, pepper, and whatever else you have on hand. Fold up foil pack and seal on top by folding over several times. Put on hot coals and let cook for 20-30 minutes. Open pack and check for how well the meat is done when time is up. Here's a good article for more on foil packs: Art of Manliness- Foil Packs.
  • Hot Dogs- for those that can't wait for the foil pack to cook.
    • Cook these over the fire with sticks


Looking for something hardy for breakfast, something we can pack for a lunch on the beach or trail, and a full meal for dinner.


  • Scrambled Eggs
    • Scrambled in the cast iron skillet
  • Fried Potatoes w/ Onions
    • Sautee onions in oil on camp stove. Add potatoes and cook until crispy on the outside
  • Breakfast Sausage
    • Cooked in cast iron skillet


  • Sandwiches
    • Have everyone prepare sandwiches after breakfast with their choice of lunch meats, sliced cheese, whole grain bread, and condiments.  Pack the sandwiches in the day packs.
  • Chips
    • Either buy individual bags of chips or fill up baggies from a larger bag of chips or pretzels
  • Cut Veggies
    • Cut up veggies and fill up a large bag to share with everyone. 


  • Baked Potatoes
    • "Slice potato in half, smear each half with butter, place onions inside, put potato back together, and wrap with foil. Poke holes over the potato with a fork before you wrap it to allow for even, speedy cooking. Place potatoes on the coals or at edge of campfire. Let them bake for approximately 30 minutes or until fork tender." from Joy of Camping
  • Baked Beans
    • Peel the label of a can of beans, crack the lid so it doesn't explode (bean explosions are fun for no one), and set next to the hot coals to heat it up. Make sure you have something to grab this can with before you go this route though.
  • Grilled (or Pan Cooked) Italian Chicken
    • Marinate chicken breasts in Italian dressing in plastic bag for at least 30 minutes, or all day if you do it in the morning. Cook until well done. 


I was looking for something quick so we can pack up and head out on time.


  • Pancakes
    • Use a quick mix, possibly one that just calls for water and make sure to oil the pan well so they don't stick.
  • Scrambled Eggs (again!)

Hopefully this menu will make everyone happy, and is catered to this trip to make it simple and quick for all the meals!

Shopping list:

  • Ground Beef
  • Breakfast Sausage Links
  • Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast
  • Lunch Meats
  • Sliced Cheese
  • Baked Beans
  • Potatoes
  • Onions
  • Carrots
  • Bags of Chips/Pretzels
  • Pancake Mix
  • Whole Wheat Bread
  • Italian Dressing
  • Seasonings- salt, pepper, etc

Friday, January 25, 2013

Car Camping Equipment Essentials Checklist (and not-so essentials)

One big thing everyone needs to be sure of for any camping trip is having the correct equipment...
Photo by Lan Bui

Which can end up being a lot.

For my trip to Point Mugu, we will be car camping (parking nearby and carrying the gear a minimal distance), so the weight and amount of gear is of little matter. At Point Mugu, we will also have picnic tables and a fire pit grill.

I have the following lists of important gear, optional gear, and items you need to regularly restock. Sorry, I currently have no specific gear listed, but I will update this later with links to all the gear that I currently own, and how you should or should not make the same purchase/mistake that I did.

Main gear for all car camping- what you need:

Shelter and Sleeping

  • Tent w/ Rain Fly- unless you plan on sleeping/passing out on the ground by the fire.. no judgement
  • Ground Tarp or Footprint for Tent
  • Good Tent Stakes- the included stakes aren't worth the headache more often than not
  • Rubber Mallet
  • Sleeping bag- get an appropriate one for the weather you'll be camping in
  • Sleeping pad (or air mattress, see below)- because sleeping on the bare ground sucks
  • Pillow- basically necessary
  • Rain Jackets or Ponchos


  • Fire Starters- matches, lighters, flint kits, or all of the above
  • Way to cook your food:
    • Camping stove
    • Cast iron cookware for cooking on fire
    • Portable Fire Pit Grill
  • Cookware- Pots, Pans, Bowls, Knives
  • Oven Mitt- cookware tends to get a little warm
  • Water Kettle- Campsite water quality is often iffy pre-boiling
  • Coolers- to keep your perishables cold
  • Plastic Storage Totes- to organize dry foods and keep them dry
  • Water container(s)- be it a 7 gallon tank or lots of plastic gallon jugs

General Campsite Setup

  • Seating- foldable chairs, sturdy coolers, stumps at the campsite, etc
  • Lanterns
  • Paracord- for hanging clothes, lanterns, tarp shelters, etc.
  • Extra tarps- Creating temporary shelters (in depth post eventually later)

Day Trips/Hiking

  • BPA free water bottles/Nalgenes- 7 gallon tanks are no fun to take on a hike
  • Backpacks- for the day trips and hiking
  • Compass


  • Plastic Storage Totes- to organize everything and keep it relatively waterproof
  • Duct Tape- it'll fix anything, including a tear in your tent
  • Utility Knife- cut rope to size, open beers, defend your campsite, etc.

Optional gear- it's nice but not really critical to a trip:

Shelter and Sleeping

  • Air mattress (for the glampers out there)
  • Way to inflate air mattress (if applicable): rechargeable pump, hand pump, lungs of steel, etc.
  • Portable/Travel Alarm Clock- if you don't exactly rise with the sun


  • Reusable plates and silverware- go green!
  • Wind Screen for your heat source
  • Coffee Press- if instant coffee in boiling water isn't good enough for you

General Campsite Setup

  • Battery operated speakers- I have the GoalZero Rockout speakers
  • Foldable Table- if your site has no picnic table or you just need more surface room
  • Hatchet/Axe- if you feel the need (and are allowed) to get your own firewood
  • Flip flops- if your campgrounds has showers you'll probably want something to cover your feet

Items to restock every time you go camping:

  • FOOD- who doesn't like to eat
  • Sunscreen
  • Trash bags
  • Paper Towels- lots
  • Disposable plates and plasticware- Protip: paper plates burn far cleaner than plastic
  • Dish washing soap
  • Plenty of Booze- not so optional
  • Firewood- although bulky for transport, is often overpriced at the campgrounds
  • Stove Fuel Source (if applicable)- propane tanks, charcoal, alcohol fuel, etc.
  • Aluminum Foil- good for cooking, storing food, cool hats, etc

Hope that gets everyone started on getting their gear together and thinking about what all they'll need for a car camping trip.  Let me know in the comments if I missed anything vital!

Coming up, I'll be putting together a camp menu with some easy recipes.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Welcome to Camping Intense!

I've created this blog to write about anything remotely related to camping, hiking, and anything else outdoorsy that I feel like. I'll be writing on topics like hikes that I've gone on, camping trips that are coming up, What to bring for a camping, camping menus, gear reviews, and much more!

The first series of posts will likely be about planning for my upcoming camping trip over President's day. I'll be organizing a small camping trip with friends up at Mugu Point in Malibu (Yelp Link), and I have plenty to plan and prepare for.

I'm hoping this blog will be fun for everyone, so remember to drop by and check out what's new very once and a while!