Traditional Camping Gifts for Dad

Traditional Camping Gifts for Dad


by Sterling Vernon

I did a lot of camping growing up in the 80’s. It was a transitional time, looking back. Gear was going from the solid-but-low-tech 50’s and 60’s classics to the tech-driven, Gore-Tex world of synthetics that we can’t seem to avoid now, usually for functional reasons. Heading out for a weekend with our rip-stop nylon tents, we would still encounter some waxed-canvas shelters out in the woods of New England. The weight of the heavy canvas duck material (“duck”, by the way, comes from the Dutch word “doek” meaning “linen canvas") lent a certain feeling of gravity to camping that modern materials seem to eschew.

I can’t say I miss that characteristic mildew aroma that often accompanied the canvas from its often-moist storage conditions. Backpacking stoves were a younger innovation at the time. They were small and light and of simple design – just a fuel tank with a burner on top and a metal grate over that. The tricky bit was pumping up the pressure in the fuel tank with a little hand-pump built into the filler cap. And the little stoves had a tendency to fall over, usually spilling your food or drink onto the uneven rock you thought might be much more level than it actually was. We used to envy the people who bore the extra weight to bring the suitcase-style two-burner stoves. They doubled their cooking ability and seemed to enjoy greatly increased chances of not having to pick pine needles from their pancake batter. But those memories of waking up near the lake, having emerged from the mildew-scent of your bivouac, to enjoy the curse words of your fellow campers whose stove just went over, spilling their coffee on the ground – priceless!

To update that trip a bit, here are a few things I’d like to get for a long weekend trip away with my family.

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