Winter is here, so Unsealed 4X4’s Tim Stanners and Dan Lewis list their five favourite bits of gear for this time of year.
Balaclava Not recommended for wearing into a bank, but always packed alongside my winter camping kit. Wear it rolled up as a beanie, pulled down as a neck warmer or, when the temp really drops, pull it down over your face and neck.
Camp oven On a winter night, what’s more satisfying than a belly full of hot and hearty food, cooked fresh in your camp oven? A camp oven seems to add an extra ‘secret ingredient’ and a flavour that can’t be repeated in other styles of cooking. I use a couple of antique cast iron ovens and my most recent acquisition was a 12-inch Camp Chef – plenty big enough to cook a roast for two families. A clever trick is flipping the lid over in the morning to use as a hotplate to cook bacon and eggs on.
DIGITAL SLR CAMERA Cloudless winter nights bring very, very clear skies – perfect for taking photos of the night sky. It’s actually quite simple and there’s plenty of websites which give you tips on setting your camera up for a long exposure to capture scenery, stars, planets and even star trails. Check out improvephotography.com as an example. I use a Nikon D90, which gives me the ability to vary my night shots through adjustable ISO settings and shutter speeds as well as letting me adjust aperture settings for depth of field at night.
Down sleeping bag Being a cold sleeper, my wife used to dread our winter camping trips – until we picked up a couple of goose down sleeping bags. Zip them together and you’ve got yourself a cosy little cocoon for two! With a comfort rating of -10 degrees, these things are guaranteed to keep those cold winter nights hotter than you think.
Wine glass Cool evenings, a campfire, a romantic dinner and only one thing missing (because they break so easily) – a ‘glass’ of red wine. We use a shatterproof polycarbonate wine glass by Strahl. Wine officianados may well turn up their noses, but the ability to have a glass of velvety red wine after a day on the road is simply bliss! Oilskin vest I love the seasonal ritual of digging out my tired oilskin and bringing it back to life with scented beeswax to protect my torso from cold wind and rain. My wool-lined model is made by Aussie company Bushskins. Head torch The days are shorter, the nights are longer, so a good light source is invaluable. You can buy a head torch for bugger all these days, but I opted for the Rolls Royce, the award-winning Black Diamond Icon. It’s sturdy, waterproof, has great battery life and throws a powerful beam a very long way.
Brazier What beats a fire on a cold night? A brazier means the burning wood is higher off the ground and better able to warm your torso. And if you use a tray beneath it you won’t leave a fire scar. My brazier is a heavy, handcrafted model. For something lighter that takes up less space try a “flat pack” folding fireplace from Easy Steel Solutions.
Chorizo This spicy Spanish sausage is the perfect winter food. You can buy it vacuum sealed, so it keeps beautifully in your 12-volt fridge, and it keeps you warm on those cold desert nights.
Sky guide The winter night sky is beautiful, but to know what you’re gawking at get a book (Australasian Sky Guide produced by Sydney Observatory) to help you out, or an app (Star Chart) that lets you point your smart phone at the night sky and have it tell you exactly what stars and planets you are looking at.