How to Camp Like a True Oregonian

We tapped a slew of Oregon experts for hard-earned tips and tricks for every kind of camping.

By Rachel Ritchie and Benjamin Tepler May 19, 2016 Published in the June 2016 issue of Portland Monthly

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Image: Amy Martin

Dine in Style

Water bottle btj0bl 

Maintain high standards for your campfire meals.
From: Poler cofounder Benji Wagner

Strap your headlamp around a clear plastic water bottle with the light shining inward—the resulting lantern is perfect for illuminating an alfresco dinner party. And the meal? The humble, deep-sided cast-iron is a one-pot meal machine, good for anything from stews and bakes to biscuits and crisps. Learn it and love it.

Fire Starter

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The secret to a perfect camping fire? Nestle one of these in with some kindling under a log, light the wick, and you’re ready to go.

From: A Woman’s Guide to the Wild author Ruby McConnell

Melt candle wax according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Scatter a mixture of tinder about ¼ inch deep in the bottom of two aluminum roasting pans. Pour enough wax into the first pan to cover the tinder by about 1/8 inch. Roll pinecones in the wax-and-tinder mixture. Dip a piece of candle wicking or sturdy string into the hot wax. Wrap this waxed string around the base of the cone, then press it lengthwise up through the tinder, with a ½-inch tail remaining at the top of the cone. Roll the waxed pinecone in the second pan of tinder to coat the wax and let it stand to dry. Store the fire starters in zip-top bags and tuck them into your camp bin so they’re ready for your next campfire.

Beat the System

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First things first: score the perfect campsite!

From: Sarah Smith and Kevin Long, founders of The Dyrt

Off-Season Is On-Season
Camping season extends way beyond the traditional Memorial Day–Labor Day window. Go during the off-season and get an entire campground to yourself.

National vs. State: Know the Difference
Want some space away from your neighbors? Campgrounds in national forests tend to be less cramped. Need a shower and running water? State parks are your best bet.

Early Bird Special
Pack the car on Thursday night so you’re ready to head straight to the campground after work on Friday. It always takes longer than you think.

Just Add Water

Feast upon Oregon’s best backcountry meals.

These scrumptious sustainable-seafood-focused pouches boil in under 5 minutes, and use almost all Pacific Northwest ingredients, from razor clams to Copper Mountain chardonnay. (Our fave: Albacore Thai Coconut Lemongrass)

Mountain House
Who knew these titans of the backpacking food world were based in Oregon? After dreaming up flavors for everyone from hikers to Special Forces, this crew has enough menu variety to keep you entertained for the entire length of the Pacific Crest Trail. (Our fave: Chili Mac with Beef)

Hungry Hikers
This Portland-born company is geared toward discerning eaters who need more than flavorless rehydrated calories, from creamy potato and gravy-filled Sheppard’s Pie to a Three Sisters Scramble with sausage, cheddar, and green onions. (Our fave: Murray’s Hurried Curry)

Bring the Pup

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Camping’s much better with a canine.

Source: The Bend-based staff at Ruffwear

Find a Dog
Ruffwear’s Adventure Dog Program helps outdoorsy owners adopt outdoorsy dogs through its matching program, and even pays for transportation.

Make sure to bring enough water for both you and your dog. (Ruffwear makes a Swamp Cooler doggie vest that does wonders for well-insulated companions.)

Pack It Out
Pick up after your dog. You can even make dogs pack out their own poo in one of Ruffwear’s doggie backpacks.

Pre-Mix That Drink

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Go big with a bottle of margaritas.

From: Clyde Common bar manager Jeffrey Morgenthaler

Just pre-mix 6 cups tequila2½ cups triple sec, 2½ cups fresh lime juice, 2½ cups fresh lemon juice, and 2 cups simple syrup in a gallon container, and refrigerate. To serve, pour the mixture into 16-ounce cups filled with ice (salted rim optional). You’ll be the most popular person at the campsite. “I love this batch for camping because it’s strong—like, really strong,” says Morgenthaler. “So a little goes a long way.”

Cook the Perfect Campfire Trout

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Fulfill your Huck Finn fantasies.

From: Olympia Provisions owner Elias Cairo

1. Catch a fish and put it to rest using your own chosen method. (You’re on your own for this part.)

2. Build your fire and let it burn down to hot, glowing embers; you shouldn’t be able to hold a hand over the fire any longer than 5 seconds.

3. Lay the fish on its side with its belly facing you. Using a sharp knife, cut the belly open, starting from the anus and working your way up to the jawbone, inserting the knife only a quarter-inch deep. Using your pointer finger and thumb, grab the innards at the anus, and pull toward the head; the entrails should come out in one movement. Cut the string of entrails where it attaches to the head, and discard. Rinse the inside of the trout with water.

4. Lightly salt the inside of the fish and stuff with lemon slices and fennel. Coat the outside with olive oil, salt generously, and lay over the grill. Cook for 6 minutes, flip using a spatula or knife, and cook 6 minutes more. Trout is done when the eyes are white and the meat near the “neck” is tender.

5. With the belly facing away from you, make an incision at the tail and cut away from the head. Turn the blade the other direction and cut along the spine toward the head, stopping before the head and cutting upward to free the top fillet. Remove the bones from the bottom fillet by slowly peeling the skeleton from the tail to the head. Squeeze with the cooked lemon slices, and serve.

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