Posts tagged #camping

Tips from the Archive #011

Sportsman's Camping Guide

Sportsman's Camping Guide

Some gold from Leonard Miracle, this comes from "The Sportsman's Camping Guide" which is part of "Outdoor Life Magazine's" Skill Book series. This is his deceptively simple firewood rating system of common trees. I love the cover photography too – plaid and a packboard.

Tip #11 – Good Firewood

The good firewood that is repeatedly mentioned is wood that lights easily when dry, burns with a hot, long lasting flame, and forms a hot bed of coals. The less smoke the better. A tendency to throw hot sparks downgrades the wood. Wood that chops easily and splits easily ought to have extra credit, perhaps, but most of the soft, easily worked woods are short on the other virtues.

A chunk of white ash green with summer leaves and soaking wet can be split into small sticks and will burn briskly. Dry ash is superb wood. Ash is reasonably easy to cutting split wet or dry. It burns steady and long, produces good coals, doesn’t produce excessive smoke or flying sparks. White ash is tops. Willow, which is east to cut with an ax, is fuel for those who have nothing better. It rates along the least common campfire woods.

Ash, Hickory, Oak, Holly, Dogwood, Apple, Birch, Maple, Locust, Mountain mahogany.

Beech, Mulberry, Buckeye, Sycamore, Tamarack, Pine, Cedar, Juniper, Spruce, Cottonwood, Fir, Aspen.

Willow, Alder, Chestnut, Magnolia, Tulip, Catalpa, White elm, Cherry
— Leonard Miracle - Sportsman's Camping Guide, 1965

Vintage Campsite Brochures

Vintage Campsite Brochures

Vintage Campsite Brochures

I was fortunate enough to be sent a collection of vintage American and Canadian campsite brochures from the 60s and 70s.

The collection was sent to me by Justin V. Clark who came across them while archiving the papers of Grady Clay. Clay, now in his 90s, is a veteran American landscape, architecture and urban planning journalist, he has led an extremely illustrious life. He is the author of many books, was a long-time editor of Landscape Architecture magazine and also the former Urban Affairs Editor of the Louisville Courier-Journal. Clark believes these brochures are from the many cross country trips which Grady took during his research. You can find out more about Clay here most of his books are still available from Amazon.

 You can view large versions of the entire collection here.

Posted on January 6, 2013 and filed under History.




Damper is an iconic Australian bush bread - a staple for stockmen, swagmen, drovers and indigenous Australians alike. It is similar to bannock but is traditionally cooked directly on campfire coals or in a Dutch oven. The recipe is simply water and self raising flour, but everyone seems to have their own unique spin. The recipe I followed is from Viv Moon's incredible "Outdoor Cookbook"

Basic damper recipe

3 ⅓ cups self raising flour
Pinch of Salf
Beer (any kind)
Place flour into a mixing bowl and make a well in the centre

Add any other ingredients you wish to add. Mix in enough beer to form a soft pliable dough. This is usually more easily done with hands rather than spoons. If the mixture feels too moist, sprinkle over more flour. If too dry simple add more liquid.

Do not overwork the mixture as it will become tough

Roll into a ball shape that will fit into your camp oven. The camp oven can be lined with foil to protect the base, if desired.

Place in a moderate preheated camp oven and bake for at least 20 minutes before checking
— Viv Moon - Outdoor Cookbook
Mixing the Dough

Mixing the Dough

This was very simple and very tasty, I followed Viv's recipe to the note. I used a trivet in my oven just to lift the bread a little and get the heat circulating. As ever with a Dutch oven it took a while to get the really good coals ready but it can't be rushed. I preheated the oven and dropped the dough in, checking after 20 minutes - the bread had risen nicely and giving it a tap I got the tell-tale hollow sound. I added more coals and increased the heat to try and get a little more colour and gave it another ten minutes.

The Finished Product

The Finished Product

The results were great. It seemed to rise more than bannock but didn't quite get the colour of the skillet bread. Taste wise it was light, fluffy and delicious. We ate it with campfire chilli and had enough left for breakfast the next day. I will definitely be making this again.

Head to head against bannock I preferred damper; although it tasted similar it was a much lighter bread. It does however take longer to cook and requires a camp oven not just a frying pan or skillet.

If any body else has tried damper or has their own spin on it I'd love to hear about it.

Posted on July 4, 2012 and filed under Recipe.