Not long gone by I've had cause to tidy up a storage room, and with in that effort I happened upon some of the misplaced gear I've used for camping. Our outdoor equipment also doubles in function for emergencies.
Where I live power failures are not uncommon in the winter, in fact some of the life long residents have told me they've experienced interruptions that have lasted days, even weeks. The first winter living here we lost the power half a dozen times, once for 16 hours. We made adjustments, started heating with wood, picked up oil lamps when we saw them at garage sales and junk shops. My wife found a couple of twenty pound blocks of wax for five dollars and started making candles.
I can cook now as well, since we've bought a wood burning cook stove for the kitchen. I'm not turning my back on electricity - grid or other source. Heck I've even bought a generator. I'd like to get some solar panels next, and I like to experiment a bit with passive systems. Peltier thermoelectric seem to have potential. I've also built a passive heat exchanger - it's too easy. A kid could make this thing. In fact they probably should have kids do this in school. It's fun and it gives them a real skill. Turning garbage into resources they can use directly.
Part of sorting out my camping equipment was testing it. I assembled the tent, putting all the extra poles and pegs in with it, added some cordage, and let it air out. I think a tent should be opened every year and I've been neglectful. No harm from mildew or mold, thankfully. I've added a couple of tarps and a decent ground sheet - making it a more complete bundle. Next I inspect my mess. I've got a good camp kettle, a cooking pot with dishes, bowls with cup inside, cutlery. It all clips together and closes up on itself. Everything fits into the bottom of an old Airborne knapsack, with enough room above it for several days rations. It's clean but I wash it all anyway, allow to dry and then put it away. I like to include a small pair of binoculars, a compass, a hunting knife and two dry canteens with water purifier tabs already in them in this kit. I'd like a second kit like this and I'm resolved to keep my eyes open for the gear at my usual foraging spots. It took some time to put this together but it cost me very little. A lot of people dump this stuff cheap. I paid five dollars for the tent, a buck for the tarps, the mess kit came from different sources at 25 cents a piece here, maybe a dollar there. Everything, binoculars, knife, canteens, even the knapsack, all used, all in good shape, all very inexpensive.
I've picked up a couple of camp stoves over the years too. I have a Whisper lite, and I really like it a lot. I need to rebuild it though, replace some of the O-rings. It still works, but I believe it's always better to fix things before they reach the point of failure. I know from a difficult childhood experience that the time to find out your stove isn't going to cook anything is not when you've canoed a full day into a national park during a "no camp fire alert".
These little stoves are very simple to rework. Simple to operate as well. I'm going to keep it in my truck I think. Take sup no room at all and it's great to have along.
My other stove is a dual burner Coleman, model 413F. It's fifty years old. I bought it used for $2.00, because it wouldn't light up. I like these units quite a bit. They are generally very reliable, throw tremendous heat, and miserly with fuel consumption. I cleaned out the tank, took apart the aspirator and cleaned off the vanish, scrubbed out the generator. Nothing, would not spray fuel. I was perplexed, because there's just not a lot to these things. I finally decided that the pump must be seized. I pulled off the half ring and slide it out. It still had a good leather bellows head, or seal if you prefer, but it was dry as a bone. I oiled it up and poured some more oil into the camber, then I worked the open close rod till I could get a full turn from it. I slipped the pump back into place, installed the locking ring, turned it open and pumped it up. I flipped the value lever up and opened the cock, fuel sprayed out in a steady jet. One minute later I had beautiful blue flame on burner one, and when I opened the second burner it lit right up as well.
The time to trouble shoot equipment is when there's no urgency. Fixing stuff during an emergency is terrible, and can often make things much worse if fuel's involved. Even if it doesn't make things worse it's demoralizing when you have something you were counting on fail.
I think I'll make a cup of tea with my cook stove now, and I'm going to run both stoves at least once a week so I know they're working. I may even cook breakfast on them!