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MSR PocketRocket™ & Titan™ Kettle

msr titan kettle pocket rocket

If ever there was a camping gadget essential I had to recommend to any type of outdoors enthusiast, the MSR [Mountain Safety Research] PocketRocket™  and Titan™  kettle that I bought maybe about 7 years ago is at the top of the list. Without question one of the best investments I have ever made.

I originally bought it when I used to travel Ireland a lot on my own. Put simply, it meant a cuppa whenever I felt like it and wherever. Since then the pocketrocket and titan™ kettle have been on every camping and great outdoors trip I’ve made. As a by the way, it says it’s a kettle… it’s also a big mug, a decent bowl and a small pot in one.

pocketrocket

Of recent years they were there when the electricity went and in a world gone festival where it’s a long way to your car and the coffee can be weak it’s even done Electric Picnic. For the size of it, you’d be surprised how many times it’s finished cooking the dinner when all of the shops are closed and one runs out of gas for the big stove. Of course it has also been road tested in the wilds whilst I was landscaping in Donegal when the cuppa was most welcome until the rains eased off.

The stats below tell a better story, but above all, it is tiny and pretty much unbreakable. The gas cannister fits in the kettle and the kettle fits in your pocket. I can’t remember how much they cost now – if anyone knows you might just leave a comment.

The PocketRocket stats:

  • weight: just 3 oz. (85 g),
  • dimensions: 4 x 2 x 2 in
  • output: Boils 1 liter of water < 3.5 minutes
  • Also: Tri-sectional Windclip wind shield protects flame. Glove friendly. No maintenance.

The PocketRocket stove tied with the MSR WhisperLite stove as Backpacker Magazine Readers’ choice for the best camping stove in 2005.

The Titan™ Kettle stats:

  • Ultralight titanium: Weighs just 4.2 oz. (118 g).
  • Compact: 0.85-liter capacity
  • Also: tight-fitting lid and drip-free spout for smooth, easy pouring.

Alpinist Magazine Mountain Standards pick 2005 for “the best gear available today.” Titan Cookware is so light it “feels like it’s not even in there when it’s in your pack.”

The reason why these two pieces of MSR kit are with me still today is pretty easy when you read the story of Neil Anderson, Jim Lea and John Burroughs that are Cascade Designs. There is nothing that I love more than a man who’s been there making something for a man who’s going there.

UPDATE:

I noted the video above on Facebook and tagged MSR, as one does. I got this email from MSR

Dear Peter Donegan,
I apologize, however Mountain Safety Research recently had to remove a video post that you added to our Facebook wall.  We really appreciate your enthusiasm for MSR products and for your participation, however we would remind you to review our instructions and warnings for your own safety when using any of our stove products:
All of our stoves are for outdoor use only and the PocketRocket instructions specifically state:

CARBON MONOXIDE HAZARD

  • This stove can produce carbon monoxide, which has no odor.
  • Using it in an enclosed space can kill you.
  • Never use this stove in an enclosed space such as a camper, tent, vestible, car, or home.

Thanks so much for using MSR products!

McKenzie Holden
Assistant to Corporate Counsel

CASCADE DESIGNS, INC www.cascadedesigns.com
MSR®  Therm-a-Rest®  SealLine®   Platypus®   Tracks®
INNOVATION   •   QUALITY   •   SERVICE   

msr titan kettle

5 Camping Essentials

camping

The Scouts motto when I was growing up was Bí Ullaimh – Be Prepared. Family camping is something very different and not really about pushing the barriers to the extreme. More than anything it’s about the adventure outdoors together. And if you go to the places I’ve been camping, you realise just how beautiful this country is and the stunning landscape that sits right on our doorstep. Lough Ennell was and is a prime example of that.

The following for me, are five camping essentials that pretty much make life in the great outdoors just that little bit easier. They also didn’t really warrant an entire blog post to themselves.

I hope this list helps. You can also leave a comment below if you think I’ve missed out on anything.

1. The Sealey Booster Pack

sealey booster pack

You may be a little surprised to see a booster pack, capable of jump starting my jeep as my no.1 but their is serious logic in this.

Away for a bank holiday weekend lets say, the car sits stationary whilst acting as a power source for kids torches, or very simply the car is nowhere near your tent….

The Sealey booster pack comes with a cigarette lighter socket, which means it can recharge torches, lamps and as you can see here telephones. It weighs a bit, so it may not be one for the festival camper. I think I paid over 100 euro’s for this one. They can be got cheaper in some supermarkets, but do so at your own peril. I’ve already recycled one of lesser quality.

Buy in any good motor factors.

2. Thermos Lunch Bag

thermos lunch bag

The Thermos lunch bag is the absolute bees knees.

Whenever I go camping the food for the day is made in advance and usually a mixture of cold salads and what not from the garden. The trouble with Irish weather is that it may well be great sunshine starting out, as the food cooks slowly in the back of the car – but when you get there and it’s raining and the kids are staaaaaarving…. The front pocket fits the knife, fork and spoon set and the lining is leak proof.

3. Double Action Hand Pump

camping pump

Once again the no battery rule applies here and sure no-one likes them old foot pumps. But this baby is a real piece of basic principled essential camping kit.

For me it will do an air bed [which I personally dislike] in around 3/4 minutes. But the other side is it doubles up as a bellows, that assuming your place of camping allows barbeque’s or/ and fires. Outside of that, it comes with every connection possible so great for arm bands, or anything inflatable for that matter. It also does the reverse and deflates. Others seem to like the fact that I also use it to gently blows spiders out of the tent without hurting them.

4. First Aid Kit

first aid kit

Not the most exciting bit of camping gear I’ll admit….but definitely of the most important.

I think I paid around €30 for this first aid kit. The big tip on this is to overstock on the large plasters. More than not it has been used by others that camped near me too many times. And please for your own sake, make sure it is the last thing you put in the car, next to the food. Which means it is also first out.

5. Stanley Flask

stanley durable flask

I bought this pretty much unbreakable Stanley flask around 3 years ago. It cost a few bob [about €30] but a bit like my booster pack above – I prefer to but once and buy well.

It is the coffee on arrival after the tent has gone up, but far more important, flasks keep things warm as well as cold and as happened June bank holiday weekend just gone when temperatures hit 25 Celsius plus, it meant there was milk – that hadn’t been cooked – for breakfast the next morning.  This extremely durable beauty comes with a 15 year warranty for good reason.

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NB: I have always tried to buy as local as possible. In this, I found it difficult to make this list from Irish made. If you do know of any do let me know or/ and leave a comment below.

That aside, I like the slogan over this camping store.

outdoor trek camping shop

Review: Gelert Wind Up Lamp

gelert

This is the Gelert wind up lamp. I bought it in Millets camping shop in Mary Street. Not costing over €20, that I remember [I’m open to correction on this…. I lost the receipt so couldn’t double check], it is a pretty genius piece of what I now call one of my camping essentials.

gelert wind up lampI have another LED type light that I’ll review later but, this wins top marks for a few reasons.

I love the two light level settings. Really important when camping and considering others inside and outside of your tent. More than that it’s light enough that doesn’t wake a one year old by being too bright.

The big reason I like it so much, is the fact that one always forgets the batteries or leaves the light on overnight. In this case it doesn’t matter. I also left this outside over night in the rain for the craic, something that always happens with torches. It was grand the next day. It’s also quite durable and light wieght.

For this Irish camper it scores 10/ 10.

This is the lamp demo during the day. Recorded July 4th.

This is the lamp at night time. Recorded June 12th.

Lough Key Forest

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This actually comes under the [web] title of Lough Key Forest and Activity Park. Which includes a lot under its banner. I chose to go camping there for 4 days and try and experience as much as possible within the beautiful town of Boyle in Co. Roscommon. That’ll come later on the weblog.

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Lough Key camping

I arrived on a Thursday evening. The campsite reception was closed, but I had called in advance and so I just went ahead and pitched my tent. The next morning I went down paid my €22 per night. Overall the campsite is good. I chose it mainly because of the forest. There was a water tap nearby but that’s about as good as the right by your tent facilities got. Not a problem.

Whilst there were some queries over the cleanliness at the cooking and preparation facilities, more importantly and for those with kids, there are tumble dryers and washing machines in the main area [require tokens] and the showers [also token] were hot and clean as were the bathrooms and washing areas.

I liked the fact that the security man came by at night time to make sure no sticks were being burned from the forest and warning the dangers of. A more polite way for everyone to note that he was around.

The great thing about the forest surrounding the campsite really is the fact that one could go for a wander through the woods. For those with families this is a great way to keep the kids entertained and dry-er when the rain really does fall. There are many dry spots to be found under shelter from the trees. Whilst that was the ultimate for me and no one minds a tree that fell over or gave rebirth to another, it would have been nice if greater attention could be paid to the rubbish within the woods. That said the setting is brilliant.

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Activity Park

The activity park is an odd one depending on who you talk to. There is a €4 charge on the barriered car park which most avoid and simply park outside. For me it was simply a short walk from the campsite.

Inside there are options to pay for a tree canopy walk, an activity challenge called boda borg and a [paid] play ground. There is also a coffee shop/ restaurant.

On one hand if you are camping you get discount on these activities with a pass given from the camping reception. On the other, if you are on a budget it can easily mount up. That said whilst there is a free playground and picnic areas outside the children tell me the pay for play area is really good. Adults obviously go in free. The tree canopy walk I chose not to do but it also got good reports.

The reality is though that for me to come here for a weekend is one thing. The flip side is when it is right on your door step…. and on this fact alone I’m inclined to disagree with Lough Key on the €4 car park charge. They can say it goes to the forest maintenance – but I don’t know any park or outdoor variant in Dublin that charges for this.

The Forest Park and Lough

The walk through the surrounding park is brilliant. Brimmed with history, watching the boats, feeding the ducks… I could literally walk and sit here for days and if I were living in Boyle it would be free [apart from the car park of course].  But, from a campers point of view it is the reason I went there and for that alone I am so glad that I did.

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Overall

I thought it was great. Absolutely brilliant for families. Would I go again ? 110% in the morning. In fact I actually had that moment where I wanted to stay the extra night[s]. The down and upsides, were my little gripe with the car park. There is also the option to buy imported bottled water in the café but/ and at the same token there is free water in the coffee shop where they also supply free bread to feed the ducks.

The campsite needs a little tlc – but after that it is camping and it is amazing. As to the paid for activities, well I guess as long as you know in advance you now have an option to do or not to do so.

Either or Lough Key as always was made for me by the people I met, those who chose to sit and talk with me and of course the natural surrounding setting which are absolutely amazing. Go there. Visit. Camp. Stay. Lets the kids run wild. Run wild yourself while you are at it. I did. I loved it. I will return.

More to follow.

View more images of Lough Key Forest

Courtesy Wikipedia:

Situated just off the N4 is Lough Key Forest Park, a fantastic parkland area that has been tastefully revitalised by an addition of a Visitor Center and Activity Facilities including Boda Borg, a puzzle solving activity centre which is a Swedish concept originally unique to Irelandbut now has locations in Sweden and plans to expand Worldwide[7]. The park covers 800 acres (3.2 km²), and was formerly part of the Rockingham estate. The Moylurg Tower, standing on the site of the old Rockingham house, now stands overlooking the wonderful lake to the north and impressive lawns to the south. This was the seat of the Stafford-King-Harman[8] family until 1957, who at the end of the nineteenth century owned over 30,000 acres (120 km²) in north County Roscommon and County Sligo. The impressive Rockingham House itself was badly damaged in a fire in 1957 and was demolished in 1970.

There are many interesting islands on Lough Key. The impressive Castle Island is a well-known visual icon of this area. Trinity Island contains the ruins of a chapel, linked to the Cistercian monastery in the town. There are two trees growing on the island with interlinked branches, said to mark the graves of Una Bhan Mac Diarmid and Tomas Laidir Mac Coisdealbhaigh, two ill-fated lovers, celebrated in the poem Una BhanUna Bhan is a standard text on the Irish school curriculum.