As I mentioned in the vlog last week, I’ve never been properly camping. The last time I went “camping” was over 20 years ago in high school, and that was when we had cabins, beds, heat, electricity and teacher supervision. Needless to say, I was quite worried about whether or not I would be able to survive this #5DadsGoWild camping trip. I mean, we could’ve been eaten by bears and I had nowhere near the appropriate camping gear or survival skills for the occasion.
But it’s not like I was alone. This was five dads go wild, after all. When “Social Dad” James Smith first started brewing up this idea, it was dubbed “Dads Go Outside” and it eventually evolved into #5DadsGoWild. The weekend approached quickly and, truth be told, it felt like we may have been ill-prepared. Or rather, I was ill-prepared. I didn’t have a tent, a sleeping bag, or an air mattress. I didn’t know how to start a fire or navigate without GPS. What could possibly go wrong?
We had originally planned on camping in Skagit Valley Provincial Park. Less than two weeks before our trip, however, we learned that the park was still closed due to damage from the wildfires. We arrived at a quick consensus and James re-booked us for the Lone Duck 1 group camping site in E.C. Manning Provincial Park instead. This is a space that’s meant for 15 to 50 people… and there were just five of us. Talk about having the place to ourselves!
Truth be told, I think being kicked out of Skagit Valley may have been a blessing in disguise. I thought we really had to “rough it” for this trip. And while we didn’t have any electricity or cell phone reception, the campsite in Manning Park had flush toilets (!), a sink with running water, and even a rustic shelter with a wood-burning fireplace. It’s almost glamping. Almost.
In case we weren’t completely confident in our food preparation skills — there was neither refrigeration (aside from Mother Nature) nor on-site cooking facilities — we packed along some beef jerky, pork jerky, and mini pepperoni sticks from McSweeney’s. This made for good snacking in between meals; I particularly enjoyed those L’il Peps. Just enough of a slow heat with a satisfying chew.
But cook we most certainly did! On our first night, Dale Allen Berg of Parenting 101 whipped up some amazing burgers. He put together his own secret blend — I think there was bacon inside — and he grilled them up on the the biodegradable BBQs from CasusGrill Canada. These are amazing little products. They’re 100% made from sustainable materials like bamboo and lava stone, giving us over an hour of 400F cooking.
Many people are naturally skeptical about using a cardboard grill with what appear to be bamboo chopsticks, but I’d say the results speak for themselves. They’re probably better suited for warmer conditions than we had and you’ll get better results if you cover whatever you’re grilling with some foil. You probably wouldn’t cook with an open conventional BBQ either, right? When we were done, the spent remains of the CasusGrill made for great campfire fuel.
After nabbing what winks I could, I met up with Stacey Robinsmith of A Dad in the Burbs who was also emerging from his slumber in the wilderness. Every morning has to start with a great cup of coffee and that’s exactly what we got courtesy of Blue Moose Coffee House.
They set us up with some Ethical Bean coffee and these slick black coffee mugs. We prepared the java via pour-over and French press. I personally prefer the latter for the bolder flavor.
Do you know what’s even better than a great cup of coffee? Enjoying a great cup of coffee with some great company, even if some of us were a little grumpy from a less-than-perfect night’s sleep. This is roughing it, boys!
Of course, when it comes to camping gear, we have to look the part too. While I may not know how to chop down a tree or trap some wild game for supper, I can look like I know what I’m doing thanks to Filson. The Wool Cuff Beanie kept my head toasty warm all weekend, and the durable and rugged flannel long sleeve shirt almost had me cosplaying as the guy from “The Log Driver’s Waltz.”
But seriously, these were some remarkably comfortable and well-made duds that I could see myself wearing in the city just as much I would wear them in woods.
Okay, so maybe I’m not really suited for this whole rugged outdoorsman thing. That’s a fair critique. And that’s why Ben Sherman might be an even better fit. Wouldn’t you say Stacey and I look properly dapper in our Ben Sherman outfits here?
The Slim Stretch Chino were surprisingly suitable for our short hike, and the Textured Pattern Crew Neck is stylish and understated. And I mean, just look at Stacey. He could wear that to his day job and be the best looking chap on campus.
Or, you know, if your fashion sense is as adventurous as that of Stephen Fung, you could rock that yellow Geo Duck jumper and bright orange toque with the best of them. There was no way we were going to lose this Pokemon.
The #5DadsGoWild weekend was a great opportunity not only to reconnect with some fellow parents, but also to reconnect with nature. Living in the city, I don’t do this anywhere near often enough, even though I recognize the value of raising a wild child. There’s just something so peaceful about being surrounded by trees and water.
But when you’re in the middle of the wilderness, disconnecting from society and reconnecting with nature, you don’t exactly have access to regular power outlets. That’s where Anker stepped in for us social media and gadget
addicts enthusiasts by supplying some portable power solutions.
I already have a few power banks kicking around, but nothing close to the Anker PowerCore 26800. The number in its name indicates the massive 26,800mAh battery. For perspective, my smartphone has a 4,000mAh battery and that’s considered on the big side for phones. This little power bank was perfect for charging my phone, my action camera, my 360 camera, my Bluetooth speaker and more. And even if it ran out of juice, I could top it up with the PowerPort Solar charger.
This combination is perhaps a good representation of modern camping gear essentials.
One company that really came through in helping us survive the weekend was House of Knives. Most of us brought some sort of lantern or flashlight with us, but ended up all relying on the Favourlight Rechargeable Headlight after it got dark. And, let me tell you, it gets dark very quickly in the middle of the forest. One moment, it seems fine. The next moment, you’re practically blind.
The headlamp comes with three brightness settings, plus a “red” mode, and it’s rechargeable via microUSB. The Anker power bank came in handy for that, even though the battery on my headlight easily lasted through two nights of usage.
We were also set up for a number of knives and tools that were perfect for food prep in the forest. In addition to the EdgeLogix whetstone, truing stone and honing steel, plus the Kussi knife guards, peeler, knife roll and meat thermometers, the real highlight were the new FUSION paring knife and chef’s knife. The goal with this line is to provide a great product at a more affordable price point than the premium brands.
Here, you can see Stephen getting some corn ready for our hot pot night (the header image at the top of this post). This was also the chef’s knife used to take apart two whole chickens; Stephen and Dale helped to walk Stacey through the process for the first time, and it’s clear enough that it’s way easier with a great sharp knife! Do you know about the “pinch” grip for safety and control?
And speaking of hot pot night, we decided to class up the joint with some fine wine from Sumac Ridge Estate Winery to celebrate the occasion. I’ll admit that I may have had a glass or two of Merlot while I was waiting for dinner to be ready.
My personal favorite of the bunch was the Gewürztraminer, which just may be my preferred varietal of white wine these days. It’s best served chilled, so I guess things worked out with it being so cold outside that night. The Savoir Wine Chiller from House of Knives helped with naturally aerating the wine as it was being poured too. Delicious.
And of course, a rugged adventure in the rugged outdoors requires a rugged vehicle to get there. The folks at Ford Canada stepped up by loaning us the newest Ford Explorer and F-150 for that purpose. I won’t go in depth here, as I already did in the Ford Explorer review earlier this week. Check that out if you haven’t already done so.
Leading up to the #5DadsGoWild camping trip, I definitely had my reservations. I still have no idea how to do any of these outdoorsy kinds of things — I watched James start a couple campfires, and I helped take down a couple of tents, if that counts for anything — but this will definitely be a weekend to remember.
As busy parents, juggling all sorts of responsibilities, we don’t often get the opportunity to bond with one another in any sort of meaningful way. Online communities are great, but they’re not replacement for face-to-face time, away from the stresses and anxieties of everyday life. But maybe next time we should do #5DadsGo5StarResort instead. 😉
Look for the #5DadsGoWild vlog to drop on Monday. And a big thank you to all our sponsors for making this all possible.
Disclosure: The companies mentioned in this post provided sample products and/or other compensation in support of the #5DadsGoWild camping event. These products were provided at no cost to us in exchange for coverage by the five dads. The trip would not have been possible without their generous support and we chose to partner with brands that align with our core values. All opinions expressed are wholly our own.