Everyone has their own priorities when camping. For some, it’s access to a beach or nature reserve; for others, the prospect of getting ‘off the grid’. The gear you pack is no doubt shaped by these priorities.
We’ve probably all got gear that we don’t leave home without – whether it’s a favourite fishing rod or camp chair.
Well, if you haven’t done so already, you might want to add cordless tools to the ‘must haves’ in your rig’s cargo hold.
Many of us have been using cordless drills for years to assist in deploying the stabiliser legs of our campers. Now, consider how else a cordless drill can help around camp and on the road. Certainly you can use it for its primary job – making holes.
Consider their utility when drilling-out a busted rivet, so you can install a new one before the fridge door comes off. Or how helpful they are with removing, replacing or tightening screws and the like. Whether it’s to save your back – or simply to speed up the job – the added weight of a cordless drill is easy to justify.
DRIVING HOME THE ADVANTAGE
So, if a cordless drill is a camper’s friend, what about the added features you’ll get from a cordless impact driver? Impact drivers are specifically engineered to drive screws – and they’ll do it quicker and easier than any other tool. Use them on your stabilisers and you’ll likely cause less strain on the tool than if you used a cordless drill.
The key is that, unlike a drill, an impact driver will increase power when it senses resistance. And this has the added benefit of giving you better control and causing less strain on your wrist. Then, if your stabiliser breaks – whether from wear and tear or because it’s been stowed improperly – an impact driver will help remove it and replace it.
Consider too the value of an impact driver if you’re fixing a burst hose clamp on a water system or replacing wheel nuts when you’re changing a tyre.
Do this job efficiently and you’ll be back behind the wheel more quickly – and the less time you spend crouched by the side of the road by a stationary vehicle the better. There are simply too many potential risks from passing road users – and none of us want to become road-kill.
CIRCLES OF FIRE
One of our favourite cordless appliances is a circular saw. With its 18V power and 6.5 inch carbide blade, this little beauty can cut 2x4s at a 45-degree angle in a single pass. It could probably even cut certain 4x2s in half, if it came to it!
It’s easy as to use, and takes up very little space in the cargo hold. Given that chainsaws are big, noisy and depend on fuel and bar lube, a cordless circular saw is no doubt the best option if you’re planning on being the camp’s firewood provider. An added benefit is that a cordless circular saw probably looks less scary than a chainsaw – so you may be more welcome around camp with one in your hand. It also sounds less scary, being battery powered.
Remember when you’re on the road, these days there are restrictions on firewood collection in state-owned lands. So, instead of spending $10 to $14 for a 15kg bag of kindling at a service station, why not stop-in at hardware stores on your way through towns and ask for the pine pallets? With your circular saw, you could have your roof-rack full of cut wood in no time.
However, I’d better point out here that not all pine pallets are suitable for burning. So look at the markings before selecting your firewood. HT means ‘heat treated’, DB means that the wood was ‘de-barked’, whilst KD stands for ‘kiln dried’. These are fine to burn, but beware of pallets marked MB. This acronym stands for methyl bromide which is a pesticide and indicates that the wood has been treated by fumigation. Simply Google methyl bromide and you’ll see words like neurotoxin, carcinogen and accumulative – which are pretty dodgy fire-side companions.
THE FULL MONTY
All the major brands of power tools have developed clusters of models with interchangeable batteries. So, once you’ve committed to a brand, and bought one (including battery and a charger), a whole suite of man-toys becomes available. Now, all you have to do is part with your hard-earned cash and buy them.
To encourage you to open your wallet, combo kits are available. So, you’ll find hammer drills packaged with impact drivers nestled neatly in handy carry-cases. Or perhaps you’d like a reciprocating saw to help trim branches off deadfall, or to cut-down the supplied wood at a formed campsite to a more suitable size. It’s this sort of tool, too, that can cut through metal, so you could even find yourself offering life-saving assistance at a car-smash.
Some combo packs come with a variety of flexible floodlights which are handy under the bonnet, for fixing the tow-tug in low light, or when you’re peering into the cramped confines of the storage area looking for gear that you hope you packed.
So, the real question is not whether you should pack a cordless power tool. Better to ask ‘which one am I likely to get most use from?’ With any luck, you’ve got room for several. After all, we shouldn’t rely on the local mechanic if things go pear-shaped when we’re on the road. On remote tracks, like the Gunbarrel Highway or the Burke Development Road, it can be nearly 500km between service centres. So it pays to be self-sufficient.
CHANNELLING YOUR INNER CAMP CHEF
Chances are that, in your kitchen at home, there’s ‘that drawer’. You know the one. It’s filled with obscure kitchen aides left over from appliances that you’ve long-since ditched.
Next time you’re sniffing around, see whether there are any whisks, beaters or similar, left over from kitchen mixers you no longer own. Consider adding them to your camper’s kitchen and then get jiggy with your cordless drill.
Whip it, whip it good
Insert a whisk attachment into your drill and use it to whisk eggs and you’ll be guaranteed light, fluffy omelettes, scrambled eggs or pancakes.
Now – consider how popular you’ll be around your favourite campsite at breakfast time. Or maybe you’re planning to make cakes in your Cobb Cooker or Eco-Pot. Your cordless drill may turn out to be your secret ingredient.
Use a Liquid Blending Rod to create cocktails on demand. Maybe daiquiris on a summer evening? Or mudslides in the High Country as the wind blows? And you can probably guarantee being the World’s Best Parent if you can rustle up smoothies for the kids. Think: banana, yoghurt, milk, honey, Milo and frozen berries from the Engel. Result: at least five minutes of peace around camp, with only the sound of contented slurping.
Things are getting fishy
Now it’s time to really think outside of the box. Have you ever thought of using an egg beater attachment to scale the day’s catch? Believe us when we say it works a treat.
No more scratching around with the back of a butter knife because you left the fish scaler at home. On the whole, it’s a less slimy, hands-on experience. We wish we could say you could fillet the fish using a drill too, but we haven’t figured out a way yet!