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photo courtesy Lisa Fotios, 11/30/2018. Photo was taken from: https://www.pexels.com/@fotios-photos

For many people, their morning just isn’t complete until they have that first cup of coffee. When we’re at home, this isn’t a big problem for us. We might brew our own with the Keurig on the counter, or on our drive to work we stop at our favorite coffeehouse for our favorite flavor, or we might just hold off until we get to work where we can have unlimited cups of coffee for free. However you do it, your coffee is a major part of getting into the groove for the day. But what do you do when you’re in the backwoods camping? The nearest Starbucks is miles away (at least) and unless you brought several miles of extension cord, you aren’t using that Keurig either. How in the world are you supposed to enjoy your relaxing camping trip without coffee?!

Fear not, for there are several ways that you can get your coffee fix while you are enjoying the great outdoors. And honestly, at least some of these options you could use at home anytime as well, so don’t just think these are for camping only. Brewing coffee, while appearing simplistic, can actually have a lot of subtleties, and different brewing methods can give you slightly different flavors. So check out these different brewing options for camping and see which one you want to try out on your next outing.

Instant Coffee

Instant coffee is perhaps the easiest option when you are out camping. All that’s required, besides the instant coffee itself, is hot water. There are lots of variety with instant coffee, but one of the nice aspects of it is the weight; its very light. This is because all of the water weight has been removed during the process of making it. Keep your instant coffee dry and it will keep for months, if not years, though the longer you keep it the less potent it will be when you finally use it.

There are single use packets of instant coffee, and there are bulk packages of instant coffee. It would be good to experiment some to find the brand(s) of instant coffee that you really like. Another added benefit of using instant coffee is that you can control the strength of the coffee by using more or less of the coffee crystals for each cup you make. This allows different members of your camping party to customize their own cup of coffee.

French Press

After instant coffee, other brewing methods require some additional coffee paraphanalia in order to make your desired cup of joe. The french press method of brewing your coffee introduces the french press device to your gear. Sometimes you will hear this device referred to by different names, such as a plunger pot or a coffee plunger. The use of a french press is straight forward: you add some ground coffee to the pot, then pour in near-boiling water and then add the top or cover, which houses the plunger. After several minutes of steeping the coffee grounds, you press the plunger down which separates the coffee grounds from the rest of the liquid. You then pour off the brewed coffee into your cup and enjoy.

What makes using a french press a bit more challenging is that you shouldn’t use regular ground coffee in it. The granules are too small for use in a french press. Instead, you would need to get coffee that is ground more coarse than normal. The reason for this is that the smaller the granules of coffee, the more surface area is exposed and the faster the desired attributes get released into the hot water. However, not all aspects of a coffee bean release at the same rate, so don’t go thinking that you’ll use an espresso grind for 30 seconds in a french press and get a good tasting cup of joe. Get the coarser grind and let it steep between 2-4 minutes and you’ll end up with proper cup of coffee.

photo courtesy Kaboompics.com, 5/17/2018. Photo was taken from: https://www.pexels.com/@kaboompics

Percolator

If the french press didn’t seem antiquated to you, then a percolator definitely will. A coffee percolator consists of a pot that also contains a vertical tube, upon which sits a basket that houses coffee grounds. This basket has a perforated cover to allow liquid to enter the basket, filter through the coffee grounds, and then exit out the bottom of the basket. Hot liquid is forced up through the tube and is dispersed over the top of the basket. Often these pots are designed to be used on a stove top, but there are electric versions as well.

The coffee grounds for this brewing method can be the usual grounds that one might use in a coffee brewer at home. There is no special grind needed for the percolator, making it easy to simply pick up a bag of ground coffee at the store to use right away. However, it is strongly advised that you also use special filters to prevent the coffee grounds from mixing in with the brewed coffee itself. When you end up with coffee grounds in the coffee, it is often referred to as “cowboy coffee” and you will be using your teeth as the filter while you drink it.

The percolator happens to be my favorite method for brewing coffee when we’re camping. Some percolators have a glass or plastic knob in the center of the lid which allows you to see the color of the coffee as it brews. Once it reaches your desired shade of brown, you can remove it from the heat and drink. Percolator pots tend to be larger and make coffee for several cups at one time. Because the grounds are separate from the coffee, there is no worry about the coffee becoming bitter.

Camping Coffeemaker

The camping coffeemaker is designed specifically for camping, and is also designed to be used on a camp stove, either propane or white gas. Coleman specifically makes one, but there are several others available as well. The basic idea is that it functions pretty much the same as your coffeemaker at home. You have a glass decanter that the brewed coffee goes into, a basket for the coffee grounds (use a filter here as well), and a reservoir for holding the water. The only thing this camping coffeemaker lacks is a heat source, and that’s where the camp stove comes in. The camping coffeemaker sits over a burner on the camp stove, and when the water heats up it is forced up into the basket with the grounds and filters down into the decanter.

You should end up with coffee that tastes nearly the same as it would if you brewed it at home. Of course, not only do you need the coffee and the water, but you need the coffeemaker and a camp stove as well. This is a lot more equipment than instant coffee, but if you are bringing your camp stove anyway, this might be the best option for you as the operation will be nearly identical to your home coffeemaker.

Other Options

Like almost everything else in this world, the options you have for coffee are seemingly unlimited. You can get coffee grounds in a small packet like tea and steep the packet for several minutes in hot water. There are a variety of pour over methods that are similar to a coffeemaker, but yet not really. You can also get hand-held and human-powered espresso machines that fit in the palm of your hand, if you like that sort of thing. All of these are more on the fringe of coffee making while camping, so I don’t go into detail here, but you might find you prefer one of these other methods over the four I’ve written about today. Personally I would LOVE to get my hands on one of the hand-powered espresso makers to test them out, but I also owned a coffeeshop for two years and loved making espresso drinks.

photo courtesy rawpixel.com, 3/9/2018. Photo was taken from: https://www.pexels.com/@rawpixel

Wrap Up

Coffee helps make the world go ’round, and it helps make a camping trip that much more enjoyable. There are lots of ways to get that cup of coffee in your hands, it really just depends on how you camp and what you want from your coffee. Try a few of these methods to see what you like and don’t like about each. And be sure to let me and the other readers here know your favorite method.

Got some feedback on this topic? I’d love to hear from you! Comment below, send me an email or share it on social media! Happy Tent Camping!

Featured Image photo courtesy Dominika Roseclay, 7/14/2018.  Photo was taken from: https://www.pexels.com/@punchbrandstock

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photo courtesy James Wheeler, 8/28/2011. Photo was taken from: https://www.pexels.com/@souvenirpixels

Time flies, as many like to say (or perhaps lament), and Thanksgiving in 2018 is upon us. Actually, it is happening at the earliest time in the month that it ever does, but that provides little solace when you consider that mere weeks later, the Christmas holiday will bombard us, then it’s New Year’s, and then we wake up in a new year. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

Thanksgiving is a really good time of the year, but it always feels to me to get overshadowed by the Christmas holiday. I work to push back against that, and this post is just another way that I strive to remind people that they need to take stock of their lives and to be thankful for the blessings in our lives. This might be one of the only times during the year that some people do this, so that makes it even more important to emphasize this time of thanksgiving. To that end, I wanted to do a Top 10 list of the things that I am most thankful for this year. Really, I could go on for hundreds and hundreds of items, but with the focus of this blog I’ll keep it to only 10. You’re welcome. Now, the list, in no particular order.

This Blog

I am thankful that I was able to start this blog. It started originally as a side project, one that meshed well with my personal interest in tent camping and the outdoors, but it quickly moved into the realm of ‘more important’ with the choice I made to leave my job to seek greener pastures. One of those pastures is this blog, and it requires a lot of work. Fortunately, I’m enjoying the work, and writing these posts and interviewing interesting people is definitely a great way to define my new “work”. This blog helps to give me purpose and gives me something important to do, and provides me a schedule, albeit relatively easy, but a schedule nonetheless to adhere to of posting every other Tuesday. I like to rely on that, and you the reader hopefully finds this comfortable and enjoyable, knowing that you have a new post to look forward to on a regular basis. Growing is being stretched outside of our comfort zone, and I’m definitely growing with this blog, and for that I’m very thankful.

My Tent

I am very thankful for the tent that we have. This is a tent that we purchased a few years ago for a driving trip through the upper peninsula of Michigan. It is a Coleman Hooligan tent that is for, at most, 4 people to sleep in. That means that it’s perfect for my wife and I and our gear. Within days of us first using the tent, we experienced a heavy rainstorm. That little tent was up to the challenge and we stayed bone-dry all night long. Dried it out the next day and continued on our driving trip. It’s very quick and easy for us to put up and take down, and I can see us using it for many years to come.

My Lanterns

While these are not flashy in any sort of way, they are workhorses in our gear set. One of our two lanterns that we have was a gift to me by my brother when I was a groomsman in his wedding. That was 23 years ago, and the lantern is still going strong, so this one has sentimental value for me, in addition to just being a reliable piece of equipment. (You can read more about this lantern in my equipment review HERE) The other lantern I actually found at a flea market several years ago just outside one of our favorite state parks to camp in. It is a double mantel, dual fuel lantern that came with a case. Normally a setup like this would be nearly $100, but I scooped it up for only $20! A heck of a deal, and it’s been working like a champ from day one. I always bring the “twins” whenever we go camping, and I’m very thankful that I have them.

Headlamp

I remember the days before headlamps became popular. If you wanted to see what you were doing, or to go to the bathroom, you needed to grab a flashlight. These handheld devices are great for providing light where you need it, but sometimes it gets difficult to do things when you need to have one hand on the flashlight to direct where you want the light to go. Sure, you can have a friend or family member hold the flashlight for you while you do your work, but some things just don’t lend themselves to having a friend with you. (hello, bathroom stall??) Enter the beloved headlamp! With this wonderful device, you can once again have both hands free to do whatever you need to do. And they are getting better all the time. My newest one, which was a replacement for one that was several years old, has a red light which is great for late at night when you don’t want to blind yourself or others with harsh light. It also has an auto-dimmer feature that provides infinite adjustment to your lamp so you can adjust from a soothing ambient glow to a powerful spotlight. It also features several bulbs that work in various combinations, so you can have additional light adjustment that also works to extend your battery life. All in all, I’m quite thankful for my headlamp.

Ratchet Straps

Now this might be a weird thing to be thankful for, but I’ve found that ratchet straps can be VERY useful. So much so that I now have at least one of them in my tent camping gear for a variety of situations. Of course, we use them for tying down things on our vehicles, such as the canoe on our Jeep or truck, bikes on our hitch hauler, and other things. But I’ve also used them as clotheslines, lantern hangers, handwashing station straps, and many other uses. I’ve actually done several posts about them, and you can read Part 1 HERE, Part 2 HERE, and Part 3 HERE. I’ve got a fourth post in the works, because they are so versatile. As you might imagine, I’m quite thankful for our ratchet straps.

photo courtesy Pixabay, 3/18/2018. Photo was taken from: https://pixabay.com/en/flame-smoke-heat-danger-inferno-3308420/

Totes For Our Gear

This was a great investment that we did years ago to house all of our camping gear. We actually own two totes: one we keep our cooking equipment in (dishes, silverware, cooking utensils, pots, etc.), and the other has our other necessary gear (tripod, insect repellent, hatchet, saw, lighters, etc.). These totes are great because they allow us to load up for a camping trip very quickly. Additionally, we don’t have to worry about what we might have forgotten because it will all be in the totes. It also helps to keep things organized while we are camping, and prevents the need to “hunt” through everything to find an item. We have a couple of the Rubbermaid Action Packer totes, and if we wanted to add small locks to them we could for extra security. Every time we load up for our next trip, I’m thankful for those totes.

Our State Parks

My wife and I live in the great state of Wisconsin. We are blessed as a state to have many natural resources. Wisconsin was the first state in the nation to have a state park in 1878, a mere 30 years after our official entry into statehood. It was called “The State Park” in the northern wooded area of the state. Several decades later a second state park was created, Interstate State Park, in 1900. Since then many other state parks have been developed, and I have personally visited several of them so far (my goal is to visit all of them at least once in my life). From an island in Lake Superior (Madeline Island) to the highest location in the state near Wausau (Rib Mountain), and from amazing waterfalls (several, including Copper Falls and Amnicon Falls) to many other natural and historic wonders, the Wisconsin State Park System is, in my opinion, the envy of the region, if not the nation. With our enjoyment of four distinct seasons each year, the state parks are a place I am always thankful to visit any time of the year.

Our Camping Friends

There are a few friends of ours that we tend to go camping with several times over the course of a year. These friends are great and we get along very well. They camp like we do, and have many similar interests to us. I would hope that others have great friends that they could go camping with as well. If you don’t go camping with friends, I highly encourage you to find some. You’ll be able to share responsibilities, get introduced to new camping recipes, have great conversations about different equipment, and just generally have a fun time sharing an activity with others. I’m so thankful for the camping friends that we have, and I hope to find more friends to share camping experiences with.

Our Pie Irons

First off, if you don’t know what a pie iron is, or a pudgy pie, or a mountain pie, then you need to do some research so that you know what these are. Think of them as your own personal hot pocket-style sandwich. You can put whatever you can imagine in them, then cook them over the fire. OMG! I’ve been using these since I was a kid (we’re talking 30+ years ago), and I enjoyed them so much I even created my own recipe book (check out Pie Iron Recipes on Amazon). Dessert pies are my favorite, but you can make tasty sandwiches for any meal of the day. These always come with us, and whenever we talk about going camping with anyone, pie irons always come up for meals and desserts. This is a tasty thankfulness, for sure!

You, The Reader

Yes, I am very thankful for you reading this post and other posts. I’m thankful for any assistance that you provide by way of telling other people about this blog, sharing a post on social media, commenting on a post, or sending me an email. Without readers, this blog is merely words that have no impact on anyone. With readers, like you, this blog lives and breathes and provides information, and hopefully to benefit other tent campers so they have better outings with friends and family. So thank you, dear reader!

photo courtesy Clem Onojeghuo, 5/29/2016. Photo was taken from: https://www.pexels.com/@conojeghuo

Wrap Up

The above 10 items are just scratching the surface of all of the things that I have to be thankful for, and that’s just in the realm of tent camping! So many things to be thankful for, and I’d like to hear from you. What are the things you are thankful for?

Got some feedback on this topic? I’d love to hear from you! Comment below, send me an email or share it on social media! Happy Tent Camping!

Featured Image photo courtesy Caleb Wood, 11/9/2017.  Photo was taken from: https://www.pexels.com/@caleb-wood-229552

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