Living in New England at the blossom of summer means lots of things: packing away your sweaters, weeknight trips to the ice cream stand, fumbling over rocks at your coastal beach, and meal-time decisions to go with the fried clams (again).
But living in this region during summertime, like most other parts of the country, also means...camping.
When Henry David Thoreau resigned himself to the woods of Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts for two whole years in 1845, he was, in his own words, trying to “live deliberately.” In his mind, simple privileges like friendship or conversation (and even drinking coffee) were frivolous. Living in solitude, working to find the unity between nature and humanity, was what he considered to be the only life worth living.
The average outdoors enthusiast today doesn't come with that same cynicism toward the world, but what most of us do share with Thoreau is the sincere desire to – at least occasionally - remove ourselves from the daily hustles of society. To live among the wilderness. To live a more minimalist existence so we can enjoy the natural beauty of the world that sometimes disappears from our view when we get caught up in our everyday, urban lives.
This is Why We Camp
Today, some folks are opting for an upgraded kind of camping experience, called glamping, and while we understand lengthy stays out in the wild aren't everyone’s style, we definitely prefer to keep our excursions a little more unpolished.
This is How to Camp
When we talk about organizing an "unpolished" camping trip, we don't mean heading into the woods empty handed. For the record, that is never recommended, even if you see people on tv doing it. What we mean is that we take what's needed to get by and leave all the rest at home.
To get you started on bolstering your camping gear arsenal, we searched far and wide for the highest quality and functional outdoor tools and accessories a camper could use this season. Check them out...
UCO Gear, Established 1971
One new maker we're excited to introduce is UCO Gear. They're name stands for Utility, Comfort, and Originality, and they've been designing tools and accessories for outdoorsmen in the Seattle, Washington area for over 40 years. The wares they craft fit perfectly into our “Simple Survival” philosophy, so make sure to check out their entire collection.
Original Candle Lantern by UCO, $19.99
The product that originally drew us to UCO Gear is their Original Candle Lantern, a functional, compact lantern that's lightweight and absolutely ideal for overnight trips in the wild. It also has a creative design that spring loads the candle into the base so that as it burns it's pushed upward to keep the flame alive.
Part of the camping experience that we appreciate so much is the quiet seclusion at night, inside your tent, listening to the bugs chatter and running streams. It's the perfect moment to reflect on what your time in the wilderness means. Grabbing your trusty memo pad, using UCO's Candle Lantern to light the way, and writing down some of those thoughts keeps us mindful of the powerful effect nature can have on the mind.
UCO also makes the most reliable Stormproof Matches we've ever come across. They light even after being submerged in water, which is crucial if you're ever in a situation where your gear gets unexpectedly wet and you need to start a fire for warmth or food. The larger match-head design also makes it easier to ignite in windy conditions.
We put these matches to the test, and trust us they work really well. Just don't follow in our footsteps and light one inside!
United by Blue
We've been carrying products from United by Blue since BGS first opened it's doors in 2015 and we've never let them go. Primarily because they are truly dedicated to their craft of making high-quality, sustainable outdoor apparel and accessories as well as their mission of ocean conservation and preservation.
One of our favorite set of wares from United by Blue are the Enamel Steel Mugs that are hand-made in Europe and among the most reliable enamel pieces on the market.
Enamel Steel Mugs by United by Blue, $20
They're extremely durable and are campfire approved, meaning you can put them right over an open flame. We like boiling water right in the mug to make an easy cup of morning coffee after waking up surrounded by pine trees. The handle and rim are both double dipped in enamel to protect your hands and lips from extreme heat but you should still handle with caution.
Light My Fire, of Sweden
One of the hardest parts of starting a fire can be acquiring the right tinder. Depending on where you are, gathering good, dry, easily ignitable tinder is sometimes a struggle. Especially if you find yourself in wet conditions, like in snowy mountains or in a damp forest after a rain storm.
Light My Fire, a company based in Sweden, has solved that problem with a very utilitarian Tinder-on-a-Rope that we just can't give enough praise to.
Light My Fire, Tinder-on-a-Rope $4.99
Their tinder sticks are made of wasted stumps of felled pine trees that are sourced from a Maya Indian community in Guatemala, which Light My Fire founder, Michael Odqvist, stumbled upon by chance back in 1995. He worked with the community on a fair-trade deal to buy their leftover stumps of pine and in turn provided the group of 400 with higher living wages.
Tinder-on-a-Rope provides campers and hikers with a compact tinder stick, high in resin content, that ignites quickly and burns at high heat. The shaved tinder pieces light well even when exposed to moisture due to the natural resin element in the wood.
Light My Fire is also responsible for the extremely effective Firesteel Firestarter, a magnesium flint and steel originally designed for the Swedish Army that includes a built-in emergency whistle. It matches perfectly with Tinder-on-a-Rope for a seriously uncomplicated process of starting the classic campfire.
Best Camping Tip: Get Outside
No matter what you're using to make your camping trip a success, the most important part is actually making it outdoors.
John Muir, one of America's earliest and most important conservationists, spent most of his life speaking about the freedom you can achieve by building a relationship with nature.
"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves."
It's advice we believe in, and hope you will be able to find some time from your ordinary routines to follow it this year.
We'd love to see your experiences when you do find yourselves somewhere up on those mountains or in those woods, so make sure to tag us on Instagram @bostongeneralstore.
- The Boston General Store Team