Camp Kitchen Australia
Ron and I have been camping all over Australia (and the world) for more than 35 years, so I think I can say we’ve got a little bit of knowledge as to what to take on a trip, and how to pack it.
This article was originally published in the January 2014 issue of 4X4 Australia.
But, what I need, and what someone else would consider necessary, may not be the same. There are some essentials, however, that I think anyone preparing for a trip should consider. The details and ideas in this feature will help you, whether you are a first-time camper, or a seasoned one.
KEEPING IT ALTOGETHER
The ideal situation is if you have a camper trailer or off-road van which you keep packed at all times, other than for food items, ready to head bush at short notice. But for campers with tents or swags it means repacking and unpacking the vehicle each and every trip. So the very first thing you need to do is to keep all your gear together in one place and, where possible, collectively in marked boxes so that you know what is in each box.
GETTING IT ALL IN
There are so many different ways to pack, and it all depends on whether you are just in a vehicle, have a camper, or an off-road van. Even if you have a commercial storage system with drawers, such as that produced by ARB or Black Widow, the following holds true.
The best advice I can give is to use sturdy, stackable, plastic boxes with clip-on lids to pack your gear in – you can also see what’s inside more easily. You can get different sizes and configurations – one drawer, two drawer etc, so it’s best to work out what suits the area you have. Use one for pots and pans and the like; one for cutlery and the like (and use a cutlery holder inside to keep the knives, forks, spoons, etc, separate); one for your plates, cups, etc; one for breakfast items, tea and coffee, sugar, etc; one for general food items you are more likely to use everyday; and one for your general food storage.
It’s also a good idea to label the boxes detailing the contents, or at least number the boxes and make a list of their contents. Make a note on the top of tinned food containers of what’s inside, so you don’t have to pull each tin out to see what’s in it. Bonus: if labels come off you won’t have to play a guessing game.
I find it’s still best to utilise plastic boxes, even inside a large-ish cupboard or drawer space, as I can keep food contained. Instead of pulling out lots of packages and cans – basically emptying the cupboard or drawer – to find something, I just pull out a box; it’s a lot easier. I know the containers take up a little bit more room, but the convenience of having items contained is, I think, worthwhile.
I also have a couple of good quality, heavy-duty small plastic drawers on top of the Black Widow sliding drawer we have in our Patrol, to make the best use of available space. I couldn’t let that space go unused. That’s the trick, use every available bit of space you have, as best you can and, in our case, these drawers are packed with everyday items we regularly use.
The most important thing while travelling on corrugated, rough, or bumpy roads is to stop items moving around and banging into each other as much as you can and therefore prevent any breakages. There’s nothing worse than opening a cupboard or box and finding a lid has come off a jar or bottle, or it’s broken, and there’s gunk everywhere. Pack everything firmly, especially if you have any glass containers. I use aprons, tea towels and the like to help fill in any gaps in storage boxes or cupboards. If it’s really rough, use packing tape around each lid to stop it unscrewing – believe me it does happen, even on a new, unopened jar or bottle.
I also like to pack glass bottles/jars into stubby holders, you only need to do every second one. Another great method is to use the strong cardboard six-pack beer-bottle carriers for storing sauces, jars and the like. They work well and stop glass bottles banging against each other. They will also survive inside the fridge for quite a while.
Use clip and lock, stackable plastic containers to store food supplies. They are clear (so you can see what’s inside), and secure, so there’s less change of spillage, and they keep food fresh. Great for rice, pasta, flour, cereal, biscuits and more.