Then I cut loose, stepped on the throttle, so to speak, and did my best to go Hamilton Laing one better by getting together a better camping kit
By W.H. Wallace
Photograph by the Author and Hamilton M. Laing
A few years ago I read in Recreation a charming article entitled "Becoming a Canoeist at Forty-two," the title of which fired my imagination. I did not want to become a conoeist, but I did last year blossom out as an even more devil-may-care recreationist, by becoming a motorcyclist - not only that, but a camper to boot. At - well, I'll not tell my age till I have to.
It is true I had camped before, "full many a time and oft," but the motorcycle called for a much more refined camping outfit. However, with the aid of Mr. Cave's "Boy Scout's Hike Book" and a few suggestions from him, I soon was on the right track of acquiring just the outfit I needed. Being of a practical turn of mind, it was but natural that, like every other camper, I should want to work out some kinks of my own. But with seemingly everything planned for me, there was a small chance, until I got into the midst of my preparations and found, with much joy, that the man who adjusts everything had not completely linked up motorcycling and camping. Then I cut loose, stepped on the throttle, so to speak, and did my best to go Hamilton Laing one better by getting together a better camping kit - inasmuch as against his two trips, from New York to Manitoba and New York to San Francisco and Portland, my little hikes around New England and New York State lay deep in the shade.
The "packing" capacity of a motorcycle is ample for all the requirements of comfort and convenience of the average man. The following list of articles includes everything necessary, and for a two weeks' trip will weigh under fifty pounds. This equipment is the same as the one used by myself in covering more than 1,500 miles, and while it is not claimed to be ideal it served its purpose well at a moderate cost.
Starting with a spring-frame Indian machine, I fitted to it the luggage carrier furnished by the manufacturer and which will safely carry 100 pounds. At Mr. Cave's suggestion I bought a pair of "panniers" and a "carry-all," the same rig recommended to Mr. Laing and which he reported so satisfactory, these being adapted to fasten to the luggage carrier by straps and having a combined capacity about equal to two suit cases. In order to prevent the panniers rubbing against the frame, cleats of wood faced with sole-leather were placed horizontally on the sides next to the frame, and it was also found necessary to place pieces of compo-board inside of the panniers next to the frame to prevent bulging and thus defeating the object of the cleats on the outside. These containers are made of waterproofed canvas and proved ideal for the purpose.
The remaining equipment selected can be divided into three classes, as follows:
FOOD STAPLES. - Flour (prepared), soup stock, egg powder, bacon (sliced), raisins, figs, cereal, sweet chocolate, butter, sugar, salt, pepper, coffee, tea.
TOILET AND MEDICAL. - Shaving outfit, tooth brush and paste, washing soap, wash rag, towel, tr. iodine, adhesive tape, antiseptic gauze, stearate of zinc.
GENERAL. - Tent, poncho, blankets, water bucket, wash basin, candle lantern, camp stove, rubber match box, fry pan, cooking pot, tin cup, tin plate, bread pan, knife and fork, tablespoon, dessert spoon, camp axe, trenching tool, canteen, sweater, change of underwear, cheesecloth, ball of cord.
There are several brands of prepared (self-raising) flour from which very palatable bread can be made by simply mixing to a stiff dough with water and baking over the fire in the fry pan - which should be well greased with butter - one side at a time, like you would bake a hot cake. For best results the dough should not be more than one-half inch thick, and the fire must not be too hot. Soup stock can be had in several different varieties, of which pea is probably the most satisfactory. This is a mixture of desiccated peas and bacon and is one of the most important articles on the food list. The egg powder is simply desiccated eggs and is satisfactory as scrambled eggs or omelette.
The cereal may be either Cream of Wheat, Hecker's Cream Farina or Wheatena, and as the matter of preparing it with the limited cooking outfit might puzzle some I will tell how it may be done with good results. Put three pints of water in the cooking pot and leave the pint measure in it lying down. When the water comes to a boil stand up the measure three-quarters full and after adding one-half teaspoon of salt, stir into it slowly - using a small stick for the purpose - three tablespoonfuls of Cream of Wheat or Hecker's Cream Farina, or four of Wheatena. Continue stirring until it becomes thic, when it is covered with the inverted bread pan and left to cook for twenty minutes or longer, being placed so that the water in the pot boils only moderately. If care is taken not to spill any of the cereal into the water in the pot what remains after cooking the cereal will be all right for the coffee, as "Washington's Coffee," the most convenient kind for camp use, is a perfectly soluble powder that requires only the addition of hot water.
Most people associate cereal with milk and sugar, but my favorite way of eating it is with butter, salt and pepper; which fits in nicely with camping ethics, as milk is more or less of a nuisance any way you take it, unless you can be satisfied with the powdered form. The cereal with bacon and coffee makes a good camp breakfast.
While on the subject of breakfast a few remarks in regard to starting a fire will be timely. The "one best bet" is a small wad of cotton waste saturated with gasoline. Make a bed of sticks on which to lay the waste - or other absorbent material - and after lighting place your best wood on top, starting of course with small pieces. This is peculiarly the motorcyclist's way of starting a fire, as they all have - or should have - a primer gun in the tank so that the matter of getting the gasoline is easy.
Regarding the manner of carrying the food staples, the cereal, flour and sugar are best carried in paraffined food bags, butter and bacon in friction-top tin cans, and salt, tea, etc., in cardboard provision cases. All of these containers can be bought at sporting goods houses.
No comments concerning toilet articles are necessary, but everyone does not know that tr. iodine is the best known germicide for cuts or abrasions of the skin. It will smart, of course, but this is surely better than lock-jaw or blood poison. It is best applied with a camel's hair brush, and in the case of an abrasion should be followed by dusting with the stearate of zinc. The wound should then be covered with antiseptic gauze, which is fastened in place with adhesive tape. This treatment, besides affording immediate comfort, insures against infection and causes the wound to heal much more quickly. This is not camping, but in event of a spill and scratched hands it is worth knowing.
In passing, let me add that adhesive plaster is a dandy thing to have around a motorcycle, much better than electrician's tape for the same purposes, and in addition makes a good emergency repair for punctures or small cuts in the inner tube of a tire. The tube should be thoroughly cleaned with gasoline and a large piece of the plaster pressed on firmly; and it helps to put a second patch over the first.
First under the heading of general equipment is the tent. The one selected was of the "tarp" variety and proved so satisfactory that I would not consider any other kind for the purpose. This tent is simply a rectangle of waterproofed cloth and can be pitched in a variety of forms, the most serviceable of which is the semi-pyramid, requiring one pole, cut anywhere, and six pegs.
My sleeping outfit consists of two army blankets and a poncho of pantasote, which is as waterproof as rubber and wears better. The poncho, by the way, is a most useful article of camp equipment, as it can be used as a raincoat, a ground cloth for use under the blankets, a cover for the motorcycle or anything else you want to keep dry, or even as an auxiliary lean-to tent in an emergency. With the latter contingency in mind it is well to risk having your poncho too large rather than too small.
The water bucket and wash basin, while not necessities, are a great convenience and may be of either waterproofed canvas or rubber, the latter being lighter and more compact, but more expensive.
For camp illumination the Stonebridge folding candle lamp is the best and may be had in either tin, sheet-iron or aluminum.
A camp stove is of course not a necessity, but the Stuart "stove" (commonly known as a "cooking jack") is so cheap, light and convenient that it does not pay to be without one. THey cost $1.00 at sporting goods stores and are well worth it. And when you are getting the "stove" do not forget a screw top hard rubber match-box. It is irritating enough to be unable to find dry wood for your fire, but wet matches are the limit.
The finding of a satisfactory mess-kit was rather a difficult job, as all of the "made up" ones I have been able to find have faults, chiefly in the matter of "nesting." My own kit was selected piecemeal from various sporting goods and tinware stores, with the result that the five articles on the list nest so perfectly that there is not even a "rattle."
The trenching tool and canteen were bought from a dealer in second-hand army and navy supplies. Although the former is not a necessity, it is a very handy tool around a camp. As the name indicates, this tool was designed for digging operations, but it may be made to serve for chopping also by sharpening one of the sides.
The cheesecloth is to keep out the mosquitoes when the tent fly is open at night, and I found that a piece about 6x8 feet did the trick nicely. A piece of cord and a little ingenuity is all that is needed to keep it in place.
The equipment as given saw good service last season and includes nothing that I would care to leave out. On the other hand, I sometimes felt the need of a saw, so a saw I shall have.