Tag: Gear Guide

Beginner’s Guide

Beginner’s Guide on Camping

For those who are interested in travelling and/or camping in Australia, but don’t know what to bring or how much to spend?
We have created a list of what we think is the basic list of gear that is required, at a budget!
(Note: Prices shown are based on what we have seen and are guidelines only, not necessarily reflecting individual retail prices.)

Food and Water

Cast Iron Grill Plate 01   water

For beginner travellers/campers, the most important skill while travelling and camping is your survival skills.

Therefore, it is important to know how much food and water you will need for your trip. Australia is a big country and distances between township can be up to 300-400 kilometres!

Depending whether you are stationary at one location or always on the move, the amount of food and water you need to keep can vary.

If you are constantly on the move, you might only need to worry about 2-3 day’s worth, as you will be in the next township very soon.

If you have decided to stay and camp at a spot for a few days, the amount of food and water required can be up to a week’s worth!

Water is the number one important factor in terms of survival. Have plenty of water with you and spread between multiple containers. We normally use smaller drink bottles for walks, hiking and when travelling in the car. We use bigger containers for storage or when camping, such as 10L or 20L containers.

As a rule of thumb, a normal person requires about 2L of drinking water per day, and if in hot climate double that amount. Also, when camping, take into account the water required for cleaning. So for a normal person camping in a MILD condition, they will need to use about 5-10L of water per day. Therefore, if you can find other source of water for cleaning and cooking purposes (e.g. river or lake), you can focus on just carrying drinking water.

In terms of food, one of the best ways is to prepare a combination of pre-cooked food, fresh food and dry food. You will reduced the amount of cooling space required for fresh food, and the dry food has an extended expire date, which will act also as an emergency food.

If you are travelling or camping in a group, it is good to spread the load of food and water around.

Tents

Dome Tents (AUD$30-$100+)

Pop up Tents  (AUD$40-$70)

A humble little dome tent is a great way to start your next adventure! This is still by far the most popular camping option.

It is cheap, great for those who are on a budget. It is also compact and light weight, very popular amongst backpackers who have limited carry space.

Another option can be a little pop-up tent, it folds to be fitted inside a carry bag and can be set up within seconds! These are great options for beginners.

Sleeping Bags

Sleeping Bag  (AUD$50-$150)

A good sleeping bag to keep you warm at cold nights is priceless!

Make sure you choose a suitable temperature range for your style of camping. Ask the staff at the stores for guidance.

Beware to identify the shown temperature range on the sleeping bag is a classified as “Comfort Level” or “Extreme Level”.

Comfort level is where they estimate the temperature range a normal person can comfortably sleep at.

Extreme level on the other hand, is the temperature range a normal person can survive the night!

Some cheaper brands may only show the “Extreme” temperature range as part of their way of advertising.

Cooking

Portable Butane Stove (AUD$30)

LPG Stove (AUD$50-120)

Hiking Stove (AUD$50-$200)

There are many ways to cook at a camp site. Using a Butane or LPG gas stove is a popular and convenient way to cook at camp.

Portable Butane Stove (some referred as lunchbox cookers) are compact, portable and one of the cheapest option out there.

However, it was previously banned across various states in Australia, due to testing has found a fault with the cookers’ shut-off valves, creating risks that the units may overheat and could possibly explode.

Good news is, there are now re-modified models for sale out there. Make sure you buy the ones that has an Australian Standard Compliance number.

LPG Stoves are another popular option for cooking. They are powerful, also quite compact and light. They perform better in weather, as they generally come built in with wind shields. Yet, they do require a bottle of LPG gas, which can sometimes be heavy and bulky.

Another option would be to use hiking stoves. They are the most compact and light weighted options of all. Very popular for hikers and backpackers as they don’t take up much space!

The main concern with these hiking stoves would be against weather, as they are very small and cannot really withstand against wind or rain. Another factor to consider is the size of the stove, and hence, the pans or pots needs to be very small to cook on top.

Furnitures

Camp Chair (AUD$10-$20)

Unless you want to sit on the ground, a camp chair is your best option for travelling or camping.

For beginners, I would recommend to start with some basic ones, especially if you are on a tight budget.  These are light, compact and folds well to be fitted inside a carry bag. They are not the most comfortable options, but hey, better than sitting on the ground (especially when wet!) I say.

Camp Table (AUD$30-$50)

Another good piece of camp furniture to have is a good table. It can be as simple as a small card table, just to be able to cook sometime on top, used as a dining table, or simply putting your cuppa on it while reading a book!

Having a folded table will also save space when travelling.

Cooler / Ice box

Esky (starting from AUD$40 depending on size and brand)

Ice box (starting from AUD$70 depending on size and brand)

Portable coolers (a.k.a Esky) or ice boxes are important to keep your fresh food cool, so that it can be kept longer.

They can be found everywhere, even supermarkets. Depends on your needs and the number of people you are catering for, there are various sizes to choose from.

You will need to fill about 1/3 to 1/2 of the capacity with ice to be effective. Always keep out of direct sunlight for optimal performance.

Block ice or ice sheets will perform better than cubed ice, however, they need to be prepared beforehand.

Basic pans, pots and cooking utensils

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Gather some basic pans, pots and cooking utensils, use some imagination and creativeness, you will have yourself the most hearty camping meal you can ever imagine!

Camp cooking is all about using the simplest tools to cook the best meal possible. This task can also be shared amongst friends around the camp to make it more fun!

 

Mattress/Self-inflating mattress (Optional)

Self-inflating Mattress  (AUD$50-$150)

This can definite making sleeping much more comfortable at camp. As it can smooth out the roughness on the ground and be more insulated from the cool ground at night.

However, they can be quite expensive, depending on quality and brand. Therefore, we have listed here as optional for those who are on a tight budget.

There is an alternative by using thick yoga mats, foam mats, rubber mats or gym mats.

 

Well, there it is! This is the list we have come up with for beginner traveller/camper. We hope this will be helpful and wish you all the best with your next adventure.

One of the beginner’s mistake is not testing their gear before they go out on a trip! Therefore, we strongly recommend that you test your new gear before you go for your next trip.

Remember to go with an opened mind and enjoy it out there!

Our Gear 01 – Vehicle & Camper Trailer

Our Gear 06 – Power and Tools

Power & Tools

Dual Batteries

When camping in the bush access to power can be difficult. Therefore, we have to set up ourselves so we can run our fridge, lightings and even charge our mobile phones.

First of all, we have an auxiliary battery installed under the bonnet to run the fridge and LED light. We have also installed a Redarc Dual Battery Isolator, it will cut off the connection to the auxiliary battery when drawing too much power, to avoid a flat main battery.

We have an auto electrician installing all these to ensure they are properly fused, to have the correct type of plugs and correct sized cables to ensure correctly flow of current.

Dual batteries under the bonnet

Dual batteries under the bonnet. Main battery on the right, auxiliary battery on the left.

Redarc Dual Battery Isolator

Redarc Dual Battery Isolator

Solar Panels

Apart from the dual batteries, we have also got another battery installed in our camper trailer, mainly to run LED lights. We would use a battery charger to charge all three batteries whenever we have access to 240V power.

However, when we are camping in the bush, we won’t have access to main power and one of the way is to use a solar panel. There are people who would prefer to use a generator, but we personally prefer solar panels for is quietness and won’t need to purchase fuel to run.

Our 140W folded portable solar panels.

Our 140W folded portable solar panels & 15A power lead.

Basic recovery tools

We have a set of basic recovery tool kit in order to assist us when we may get stuck. We have rated recovery points installed to the front of our 4WD. We have a rear recovery hitch to be attached to the tow bar if needed. We have also got rated bow shackles.

We have a tyre deflator and 12V air compressor. This will help us to alter our tyre pressure to suit different road surfaces and conditions. A tyre repair kit would also be handy if we’re required to repair a tyre leak along the way.

Basic recovery tools

Basic recovery tools

Tool kit and spare parts

We’re expected to do our own basic servicing to our 4WD along the way, therefore a set of tool kit is required.

In the tool box, there are various tools that suit to service our vehicle, such as socket sets (metric), ring spanner, screw drivers, cutters, etc.

We have also included a few useful kits, such as fuel tank repair kit and windscreen repair kit.

In terms of spare parts, we have included engine oil, air filter, oil filter, fuel filter, brake fluid, belts and radiator hoses (top & bottom). We may need a few more parts along the way, however, if we stick mainly to the highways and major towns, we should have enough and can buy more along the way.

Tools & spare parts

Tools & spare parts

Other useful tools

Apart from the list above, there are a few other useful tools that we have brought with us.

Long handle shovel is a very versatile tool, it serves many purpose, such as digging yourself or your vehicle out of trouble. You can use it to handle a camp fire, and you can even use it to dig holes for our nature calls!

An axe can be used for firewood, a hammer if you’ve forgotten one. It may even serve as a self-defense weaponry, when under extreme situation.

Consider adding a small folded shovel to your tool list, as it can be easier to use for the ladies and children. It can also be used when needed to dig in a finite matter, such as near tyres or mechanical parts of the car.

Don’t forget to have a Drinking Water graded hose, when trying to fill drinking water in your tanks or jerry cans. Normal gardening hose will leave a horrible plastic taste to your water, while the drinking water hose won’t, this is from personal experience!

Axes & shovels are very useful and multi-purposes.

Axes & shovels are very useful and multi-purposes.

Our Gear 05 – Communication

Our Gear 05 – Communication

Communication

When travelling on the road, ways of communication becomes very important. Not only will it gives a peace of mind to your families and friends, but will save your life in a case of emergency.
We have equipped ourselves with the followings so that we can keep contact with the outside world, even when we will be camping in the bush.

In car UHF Radio

We have a Uniden 5 watts UHF radio installed to our vehicle. It is very important as we can use it to communicate with other road users, especially when travelling on highways.

It is also essential to use in case of emergency, as there are designated rescue channels. With the correct antenna installed, it can have a range up to 5-10 kilometres.

In car UHF 02

Our Uniden In car UHF.

Hand held UHF Radio

We also have a pair of hand held UHF radios, to be used when one of us go bush walking, fishing or running errands, while the other person stay at base camp.
However, these have a much shorter communication range.

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Hand held two ways radio.

Personal Locator Beacon (PLB)

This device can save your life and should ONLY be used as a last resort. Once you have paid a lump sum cost to purchase a device, you can register it on the government website with you and your vehicle details. Once activated, it will notified the emergency services to rescue you.

There are a few types of PLBs out there, mainly without GPS, with GPS and for marine use. We have purchased the one with GPS, which can reduced the position accuracy from 5 km to 50 m!

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Our GME MT410G PLB.

Mobile Phones

Mobile phones are essential for day to day communication, especially in towns. We chose to use Telstra network providers, as it has the biggest mobile network coverage in Australia.

However, even with the most coverage, it would still only be concentrated on the East Coast of Australia and mainly in towns. Once we leave towns, there will still be no reliable network, so we have to make sure to make all the necessary calls before we leave town.

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Mobile phones are handy for day to day usage.

Satellite Phone

Whenever we travel to places that has no mobile network coverage, a satellite phone would be very helpful to keep in contact.

However, they are not cheap! Not only the unit itself is expensive, the call rates also.

Given we are on a tight budget, we would only consider hiring one when we start travelling to more remote places or states that has far less mobile coverage, such as NT and WA.
Inmarsat and Iridium are your common types of satellite phones in Australia, they operate on different satellite systems.

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Satellite phone is handy when no mobile network coverage around.

AM/FM Radio

Never underestimate the power of going back to the basics. Imagine when you are at a beautiful remote camp site all by yourself, with no crowd, no noise and no mobile network coverage. Although it is peaceful and relaxing, but how are you going to find out about the news and weather forecast? Apart from by the newspapers from the nearest town, your best bet would be a good old analog AM/FM Radio. Not a digital one, as they only work in metro areas, once you leave the main city or town, they can hardly pick up any signals!

Therefore, your car radio or a portable radio unit would be your best friend. As you can always tune to pick up the national broadcasting channels via AM signals, or your local town FM radio stations. This will give us a peace of mind of what kind of weather is expected, and more importantly, whether we needed to evacuate from the camp site at the earliest possible time.

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Portable Analog Radio

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In car dashboard radio

Our Gear 04 – Cooking & Utensils  |  Our Gear 06 – Power and Tools

Our Gear 04 – Cooking & Utensils

Cooking & Utensils

Cast Iron Grill Plate 01

There is nothing quite like cooking on a camp fire.

Stoves

There are many different ways to cook while travelling or camping.

One of our favourite ways is to cook on an open fire. There is nothing like cooking on a camp fire, the heat, the smell and the visual sensation. We just love it!

However, there will be times where we won’t be able to start a camp fire, such as staying at a caravan park, camp sites that prohibits open camp fire, or weather conditions like raining or fire ban.
Therefore, we would need to have other method of cooking. We have two types of stove that we carry with us a LPG two burner stove and a butane gas single burner stove.

LPG Stove

LPG two burner stove

The LPG stove is very powerful (11,000 BTU each burner) and easy to use. You could use it to boil water and make a nice gourmet meal in no time!
The downside of it would be too powerful for frying an egg or making pancakes.

Portable Butane Stove

Butane Gas Stove

This is a less powerful stove, but it has more control over its flame output, which is handy for those delicate cooking. It is also very portable, which we can carry with us easier in our car when we drive around and want to stop by for a warm lunch.

hiking stove

Our little hiking stove.

We have even got a little hiking stove, so when we go hiking, we can still have a hot cuppa or a warm snack.

Utensils

Apart from stoves, we have a variety of pots, pans and utensils in our kitchen collection. We have learned that it maybe best to ‘box up’ when it come to kitchen things and dry food.
Therefore, we have a few boxes for our kitchen need. We have a box for dry food, can food, tea & coffee. We have another box for cleaning and garbage bags. We have a box for all our pots, pans, coffee plunger and billy. We have a box for cutlery and crockery, and a box for all cooking oil, herbs and spices. Once you have spend some time sorting things into categorizing and into different boxes, cooking will be a whole lot easier at camp! We will also carry our camp oven and a thermal slow cooker with us.

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Our kitchen needs in boxes.

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Cutlery & crockery.

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Cooking utensils.

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Cleaning and tea & coffee.

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Herbs and spices.

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Pots, pans and billy.

Water

Water is very important and we have a few jerry cans to carry drinking water with us. Our camper trailer also has a 60L water tank. So we can be sure we have up to 1-2 weeks worth of water on board if we ever needed.

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10L water container & 20L water jerry can.

Fridge

We have an Engel 32L fridge/freezer for our need to keep food fresh. It is not a big size fridge by all means, but if we strategically place our food, it would how enough food for two of us for four to five days.

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Our 32L Engel fridge that lives in the back of our 4WD.

Our Gear 03 – Camp Furniture  |  Our Gear 05 – Communication

Our Gear 03 – Camp Furniture

Camp Furniture

Camp Chairs

Jet Tent Pilot Chair

While we are travelling, we won’t have our couches or sofas with us, so our camp chair will be our main chair to be sitting on all the time.

Hence, we have gone for the more expensive Jet Tent Pilot Chair. It has more back and lumbar support, structurally more durable.

It is more bulky and heavier than our previous camp chairs, but we think these new ones should last much longer.

Tables

20160124_120620   20160127_171349

We will be bringing some compact light-weighted camping tables.

They can be used anywhere and will fit in the camper or vehicle without taking so much space.

More importantly, they are light enough for my wife to set up and pack up by herself, which is very handy.

Portable Toilet (Optional)

 

We have this portable toilet just in case we have gone somewhere that has absolutely no amenities provided, and the situation is not ideal to dig holes.

This is also a peace of mind for the wife at camp.

There are other people who would prefer to have other types of camp furniture, such as wardrobe, kitchen bench, stretchers, etc.

However, from our experience we have found that less is more, simpler is better. We can use plastic tubs for clothes storage instead of a wardrobe, a bucket for fetching water and doubled as a camp kitchen sink. If an item does’t have more than one application, unless it is essential, we won’t be taking it with us. Not to mention the limited amount of space we have!

Our Gear 02 – Sleeping & Bedding  |  Our Gear 04 – Cooking & Utensils

Our Gear 02 – Sleeping & Bedding

Sleeping & Bedding

Sleeping Bags

20160127_171157   Sleeping bag 02

We have chosen to take our Denali duck down sleeping bags with us.

It is warm, light weight and compact. They have a comfort rating of -10°C (The Wife) and -4°C (Myself)

Yes, it is a bit more expensive, but we have bought identical ones that can be zipped up to be a combined big sleeping bag. So we thought it was worth it.

Self-inflating Mattresses

20160127_170749   4WD Mattress 02

In order to be more comfortable at sleep, we have gone with the Wild Country 4WD self-inflating mattress.

The 4WD mattress are thicker (8-10cm) and more bulky in general, however, it provides more comfort and more insulated to ground temperature.

We have camped in these mattresses many times, and has made sleeping in the wild much more pleasant.

It can be used either in the camper trailer or in our tent.

Pillows

bed-945881   pillows-1031079

 

One of the most important item but often overlooked!

Very often,  a bad night of sleeping experience is what causes people to never camp again!

Therefore, we cannot stress enough, bring your own pillow with you when camping or travelling. Having a pillow that you are used to will result in a much better night sleep, which will also lead to more energy and better mood the next day.

Hot water bottles

hot-32933    warm-559113

 

A basic item that is old school, but works without the need of electricity.

Forget fancy heaters or electric blankets, when you are camping in the bush, there won’t be power for you to plug in a heater.

Therefore, the simplest way is to boil some hot water and put inside a hot water bottle to keep your bed or sleeping bag warm!

Our Gear 01 – Vehicle & Camper Trailer  |  Our Gear 03 – Camp Furniture

Our Gear 01 – Vehicle & Camper Trailer

Our Vehicle & Camper Trailer:

2002 Toyota Prado Diesel Automatic

Our beloved Toyota Prado

We have chosen this vehicle for a number of reasons:

  1. It fits within our tight budget and it already came with a few handy aftermarket upgrades, such as a bull bae, tow bar, UHF radio and a snorkel.
  2. Being a Toyota it is known to be reliable and tough, also very common throughout Australia, which means easier to find parts and/or someone that knows how to fix it.
  3. Having a few factory safety features on this vehicle like Front Air bags, Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Traction Control, certainly bring peace of mind to the driver and passengers while travelling on the road.
  4. An Automatic vehicle with cruise control meaning it adds comfort to long distance travelling on days where we will need to knock off extra kilometers.
  5. Finally, being a diesel vehicle, it should have no trouble in finding fuel along the way, it should provide more guts while towing and in a long-term it should be more efficient on long distance travelling than a petrol powered vehicle.

Johnno’s Allrounder Soft Floor Camper Trailer

Johnno’s Allrounder Off Road Camper Trailer

Although it is a soft-floor camper, it only takes around 15 minutes to setup for an overnight sleep, which is good when you will be arriving camp later than expected.

It has a lot of space for storage, including large front tool box, and varies compartments on the trailer’s side. It also came with a built-in kitchen.

It has a large living area, a queen size foam mattress, and able to sleep off the ground from animals and crawlies! (Important for the wife)

This is an off-road model, which offers extra toughness to get off the beaten track, but also make sure it can make it back in one piece.

Wild Country Tourer 320 Canvas Touring Tent

Wild Country Tourer 320

This touring tent is spacious, quick to set up with a centre pole. We can also stand tall inside to change!

When we go to places that are hard to reach with our camper trailer, the touring tent will be a good option!

Also, if anything happens to the camper trailer, we still have a backup camping option.

Back – Beginner’s Guide  |  Our Gear 02 – Sleeping & Bedding