How to Start Camping

How to Start Camping
March 31, 2021

Earl B Hunter, Jr. from Black Folks Camp Too joins Gearbox Talk to explain how to choose the right style of camping for you, common mistakes camping newbies make, Earl’s favorite way to prep camp food, choosing the right backpacking bag, and how to keep a campsite safe. 

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Essential Camping Gear


GSI Outdoors Glacier Single-Burner Camp Stove



Portable Mini Wood Burning Survival Stove

RealTree® Magnesium Flint Striker Tool

Realtree® 4-In-1 Paracord Bracelet


GSI Outdoors Escape HS Pot

GSI Outdoors Halulite Pot

GSI Outdoors Escape Collapsible Bowl

Coleman Camp Propane Grill/Stove

Camp Chef Big Gas Grill 3

Kelty Scree Trekking Pole



Brad: Trees are budding the birds are chirping and the trails are calling my name i am so ready to get out now that spring is here it's second nature for me to grab my day pack my tent but not everyone is comfortable with it that's why i have Earl B Hunter Jr. on the show today Earl founded black folks camp too and he's dedicated himself to opening up the outdoors to more people specifically the black community I'll be releasing another show with Earl where we talk about his mission with this organization it's going to be on my restless native podcast but for today Earl and i are talking about a few things like how to help people take that first step to get outside he's a huge hiking and camping enthusiast and he has some great advice on beginner gear selection we'll talk about how to choose the right camping gear for you common mistakes camping noobs make earl's favorite way to prep camp food choosing the right backpacking bag and how to keep his campsite safe now I'm curious if you want more camping episodes let us know this is your show drop some comments and tell us what you'd like to see on upcoming gearbox talks also be sure you subscribe and hit the bell so you don't miss a show alright we're gonna dive in this is gearbox talk with Earl B Hunter Jr. alright Earl man welcome to gearbox talk I'm i'm so pumped to have you on here you are one of the most positively infectious people I've ever talked to you and i did another podcast together on restless native and we're coming out of that now and I'm still hyped up I'm excited to get your advice for new campers out there today so the as you and i talked about in this other show there's a lot of options you know from from your tent camping and backcountry hikes all the way over to glamping right you know there's a lot of things you can dive into but if you're new to camping what's your advice on somebody that's trying to just find their way 

Earl: right what i tell folks is go to our website black folks camp too go to our website and learn some things because we our communication is for everybody right our our information for everybody i tell people to to gain some knowledge you know get some knowledge right understand what what you want to do first what you what you would you like to do maybe you've seen a video or something that you wanted to do maybe you want to go look do a little glamping or maybe you want to do a little tent camping get you some knowledge right once you get some knowledge then it'll make your experience way better much better 

Brad: awesome so what are some of the common mistakes you see people that are that are kind of learning to camp what are the people that are diving into it for the first time what are some of the things that you see and you find yourself coaching on a recurring basis here 

Earl: i think i think in regards to us as a company you know a lot of folks buy too much gear at first you know they they buy so much because what they've seen and rather than what they need and one of the one of the biggest things I've seen is that folks will maybe purchase a sleeping bag too small and not really understand that every sleeping bag is not for everyone right or every backpack is not for everyone every rv is not for everyone and things of that nature so a lot of times you have to get comfortable in what you do and how you feel and making sure that you have the right gear for that particular element right for instance if you if you know you live in areas where it's raining all the time you want to go backpacking those particular areas you need to find your raincoat right and make sure you have some covering to make sure your packs and things that nature does not get wet and moisture and moisture and all that kind of good stuff but the other thing is too is newcomers and new folks are packing their packs right what to put in your packs and how to put things in your pack and how to make sure things are situated in your pack that actually where it fits in your back properly and with your rv you know just making sure that you know when when you when you rving that you have the right vehicle to pull the to tow the the rv that is behind you or if you're driving an rv if you're using a if you're driving a class eight you know making sure you can actually fit and you can drive a unit that big on the road you know there's so many so many things across the board in regards to camping depends on how you want to camp and the way you want to camp so 

Brad: yeah i know you do a lot of back country hikes and you're passionate about it one thing i learned when i started doing you know multi-mile hikes is finding the gear you didn't actually need because all of a sudden you packing heavy stuff that you thought you were gonna use and you're like I just packed that big heavy camp light all the way over to the campsite and back and i never even took it out of the bag or the camp shovel or like whatever the thing is I'm just throwing out a couple 

Earl: yeah there's a few things that i don't i don't i do not forget which is a rope duct tape first aid kit and water right and of course food as well so you know because your food you know all that stuff can be determined on what you want to eat you know if you're going on a day hike or you can you can take pre-made food i never go wrong by taking my ramen noodles i never go wrong man that's my that's my go-to yeah and so you know but water is essential though in regards to because there may be a space where there is no water or limited water you want to make sure you have enough water to so that you don't dehydrate when you pack it 

Brad: one thing i was going to ask you about because i know you you've told me you know across this interview we've done i know you love to cook at camp what's your setup like man what do you what do let's let's say for i know because this is going to be very different there's going to be your back country set up and then maybe your car camping set up that a little more luxurious I'm kind of curious we'll talk about your backcountry approach first you mentioned ramen noodles but you got to cook it on something yeah what's your setup 

Earl: you know basically what we use is a campfire right we use a campfire or we use a small stove we use from gsi they're one of our partners in the industry and we use the small bowls and sometimes we we use small bowls and we use small small pots to do so i do my i do my my my soups and also my my coffee in the same containers right and so with me and also in our sometimes in my cup right i use i use the same utensils every time i go out on packs right and I'm a young packer right when it comes to that I'm a young I'm a young packer i haven't been doing it very long so I've learned to adapt to those things right i learned to adapt to those particular spaces what i really like though is that when I'm not backcountry backpacking and i get a chance to get to a campground i try to take what i cook at home right into to the to the campground where i mean i like fried chicken and fish man that's my thing so i like to do that when I'm at campgrounds and what i love about cooking at campgrounds no matter where you're back country or when you're at campgrounds everybody when they smell the aroma they come around and they want to find out what you're doing and that's how you get people around the campfire to start having conversations 

Brad: i started saying I'm hearing this now and i bet it's foundational to your strategy with your organization it's like alright here's step one cook something that smells really good 

Earl: yeah i like spices i like noodles I'm a noodles guy but at the same time you know I'm again you can't i can't go wrong with some with some fish and some chicken man that i mean I'm a meat guy but also like you know i like i like to cook easy things prepar things that are prepared before i leave the house right yeah at the same time you know you have to be comfortable depends on what your what your what my pack is I'm going three three four days or three days when i know i need to get prepared with my noodles right if I'm if I'm going on a day hike or a day pack or i know i can take me some pre-made food and i can actually have that stored away and make sure that i have the food ready and and for a hearty meal for that night and also for breakfast that next morning 

Brad: one of my first episodes on this podcast with gearbox talk was with cody rich who is the founder of back country fuel box and cody is so it's like a subscription box that you hardcore hunters and hikers can get every month you're getting all this new food and I'll link to that show in the show notes for people if they really want to like if you if you really want to get like no man i don't want to do a car but i want to dive into like back country he had some great advice if anybody wants to check that out I'll put a link to it too have you done any of the like packed dried freeze-dried stuff 

Earl: i have you know what i was re so so i graduated from a military college right i went to a military college and so we did some mres and so the first thing i thought was is that the food is going to be like that and i was like no i don't want it right right but but i actually tried some some some some hydrated food and this it was good yeah dude the problem i have 

Brad: yeah the problem i have is like i get it and then i end up just want to eat it before i even go get a chance to use in the background it's like I'm at home just filling this stuff with water and eating it 

Earl: just add water to it right yeah yeah so so yeah so the food has gotten better again I'm a young backpacker so some of the folks that told me about the food was they told me the food was gonna be good and when i look at a package and i see dry food the first thing I'm thinking like nah bruh I'm not doing that right yeah when i when i when i when i the moment i pour that hot water and i give it 10 10 12 minutes man it's a good hearty meal man and it hydrates your body as well so it's good hearty food 

Brad: yeah man it's good stuff it is really good quality a lot of them taste like it does not taste like what you if i had brought it to you in like a fancy gourmet bowl you would have not thought anything about it you've been like yeah this makes sense right if i remember I'll pull the link from the our team will go and see what cody recommended to and we'll pull that over for the newbies alright so it on a car camping setup I'm kind of curious like what do you have like a grill or anything yeah what's your favorite like what what's your setup man 

Earl: so i got mint so so i got a cool uh collapsible grill that i take with me you know has a cool little little propane that i hook up to it what i love about it more than anything though it's it's a small grill but man it packs a big punch so i can put my pork chops on there you know i season the real it's all about the seasoning by the way you know yeah yeah seasoning on there not just salt and pepper i got my own little special seasoning i like to use but but but i like to cook corn on a particular place but i could also boil and do everything on that one grill though right and so i can cook toast on that grill you know i do it the conventional way i just put the put the bread on the grill and just put me a little butter on there let it seep through you know what more my favorite to do is is to go buy the pre-made apple pies right they come in a little packages right and then unwrap those and put them in aluminum for you and put those on the grill and then you got your dessert man 

Brad: yeah yeah nice that's smart 

Earl: but when you're car camping though it's almost like tailgating right you can take everything with you i take a small a grill that i use my my little propane grill that i use if I'm going to fry turkey i fry shrimp in those and make po boys i mean i oh dude i do it all man 

Brad: man I'm going to come camp with you Earl now i know you work with a lot of brands so sometimes you can't name drop is the grill one that you you don't want to name drop on I'm kind of curious what you're using 

Earl: well actually i tell you I'm not working with this brand when I car cam it's a coleman grill though 

Brad: okay you got you like a coleman fold out okay yeah cool oh yeah nice man 

Earl: yeah it's pretty cool and but i think one of the things is we have a lot of gear companies right now that are sending us things and want us to try and all that kind of good stuff and i just haven't tried very very much because going into 2021 season though we're gonna try all kind of stuff right and and really what i what i love doing more than anything i like to go into everybody else's camp and see what they're doing let's see what they're doing yeah but here's the thing though Brad nothing beats nothing beats that campfire man yeah dude you can actually cook over that campfire and for the first time you know i was able to have i forget the name of it it was potatoes you they wrapped the potatoes in the in the aluminum foil and just threw them i think this i want to say the kettle i don't know not kettle corn but kettle potatoes or not they threw them in the fire and just let them just do the thing I've cooked them like that at a camp man that was that was good man dude you know what a great new thing now 

Brad: uh a dessert we learned to make i was camping in the rocky no i was in the tetons and we met you know these two girls came over to our camp and we're hanging out kind of like you said people just kind of start smelling food and kind of start talking and they ask us and now I've seen this 100 times this will probably not be new to anyone like it was to me but they said do you have dessert we said no we didn't bring in desserts and they brought over bananas and chocolate bars slice them yeah now it's like a thing i had never seen it at the time this was which this was 10 no 13 years ago but for anybody that hasn't done it you slice a banana yeah to unwrap the candy bar stick the candy bar inside wrap it back up and throw it in the coals for i don't know however long until you get squishy 

Earl: i gotta tell you now I'm i'm a s'mores guy but now I'm a really a roars guy i like using instead of using oh man what's the roars well you use reese's cups instead of just the instead of just the the hershey bar 

Brad: oh dude i bet 

Earl: you so instead of having s'mores they're called roars 

Brad: i like that man you try that man yeah on the grill front too that if anybody's looking to camp chef has another fold out and again I'm not I haven't I've used them once and i it was it's a similar setup to what you're talking about right we used them last year we were we were canoeing and we had a guy that was it was with our team and he set up dude he had one of these little tailgate things too i think traeger also has a portable one and and when you start looking at these portable setups these days it's kind of like you said a second ago like there's so much stuff you can do with all these things right now like this was like a multi-burner set up i think coleman has ones very similar though 

Earl: you can you can grill you know they're there there's some they have fried baskets on it i mean listen when you get in the outdoors you start car camping it's just like tailgating you know anything you wanted to bring you can bring your grill to grill yeah right for sure you're in the back country man you know you want to use that i like to use that campfire more than anything 

Brad: yeah I do too man yeah it's funny though I'm actually a big green egg guy more like anything yeah that's my go-to like last night i cooked korean barbecue and so i made ribs venison ribs and you parboil them you get basically boiled to to done and then throw them on like 400 degrees i took it up to 600 to get my great hot and then i threw those things on there and they got that perfect char like it's hard to beat charcoal in that situation 

Earl: man i tell you what listen you can definitely you can definitely tell the difference between charcoal and gas yeah yeah you tell the tape the flavor is different all of it is different but again when you're backpacking versus when you're camping man you have to do what you got to do right yeah you just get luxuries when you when you're car camping or when you're campground camping you can you can you can you can be more creative in that particular space and you can be creative when you're backpacking too you just got to make sure that you have the right foods and right hydration and things that i need you to do what you need to get done one thing i know we're coming up on time here soon but 

Brad: one thing i wanted to ask you about because you've gotten really hardcore in the backpack and you've started doing some some longer trips you told me you started doing the appalachian trail some chunks of that if somebody really wanted to get into backpacking and doing some tent camping what's your advice on thinking through the bag because that's one of the more intimidating things to look at when you're doing research and also man like there's there's so many freaking types of bags there's price the price ranges are crazy so what's some advice on things that you think are important on these bag selections and maybe some things that aren't 

Earl: i think one of the biggest things that folks have to really i had to do this my first time really is to get fit make sure you get the right bag that's fitted for you right when you go in it's almost like you're going and trying on shoes man you go in and make sure the bag fits you and then you get a tutorial on on how the bag fits around your waist and on on your shoulders and things of that nature i always tell folks you know this is this is no nothing new to folks you know packing your bag and putting your heavy stuff in the middle and and putting everything into the bottle i tell you this one thing though from newcomers though i would tell you this what i had to learn i learned this i learned the hard way and i was told this all of your rain gear make sure all of your rain gear is at the top of your bag right because when it starts raining you certainly don't want to be digging in the bottom of your bag 

Brad: that sounds so simple but when when you screw that up you definitely learned 

Earl: man that lesson i screwed it up and i was wet but i recovered yeah i recovered because as a matter of fact at one point my trail name was gonna be yard sale because i pulled everything out of my bag it was laying everywhere right and and so that's one thing we choose the right path but the other thing is too you're you're you know trying to decide if you're gonna use a water bladder or a water bottle you know yeah i found both to be to be good you know i tend to like the water bladder a bit better because it gives me an opportunity to keep pushing and not necessarily to be to use much of my hands i can the the spout is right in front of me but what i the the third thing is probably one of the biggest things that i would tell folks in regards to backpacking is to make sure that your pack is actually not when when i say it's fit but also make sure the tension on it is is right so when you're going when you're actually packing when you're trailing you know you feel the weight and it's not necessarily so much on your back man it's pushing you forward or backwards it's right it's really even on your back right yeah so whatever backpack you use right whatever backpack you use you want to make sure that backpack is for you i tell people to camp your own camp and hike your own heights 

Brad: that's good advice man yeah I've definitely even on just a couple miles if you come out hunched over and you're kind of leaning around dude your back will be hurting for days and you could potentially really hurt yourself if you don't know what you're doing 

Earl: well right on I'm gonna tell you the last thing too that i learned I'm i'm call i was a being an athlete you you think you can run through walls and what you find out isn't backpacking though you know you trail and you you get a rude awakening and one of the things i did early on in my career and my in my backpacking career that i changed quickly is i use trekking poles for sure now and i use these trekking poles not because I'm not strong these trekking poles actually help me guide me so when I'm when I'm weak they help me help me get to the places i need to be yeah so I'm a trekking pole guy 

Brad: if you I went to italy and did some some hiking along the coast and you could tell the germans when they were coming because there'd be like 20 of them and they'd all have those poles and at first it was kind of funny but then you get like six miles into this hike and you're like man i could use some trekking poles right about now 

Earl: the first thing i did my first time backpacking was a 15 mile pack first time i ever did it it was a straight incline it was scrambling too i had a lot of scrambling going on and the bottom line is man with three miles in i was being all cool and trying to be tough without my trekking poles well after that about third mile i said let me pull these things out and i made sure they were adjusted to my height too buddy 

Brad: yeah yeah that's a good advice right there too alright man last question for you here you're all about making somebody feel comfortable and getting outside you know it's right at the core of your mission I'm curious what are some of the important ways that you you can keep a campsite safe you know you a lot of your work you're working with families to try to make sure that they're you know comfortable getting little ones out whatever this advice could be I'm just you know a lot can happen when you're camping what are some of the ways that you really encourage people to have that comfort level and and to stay safe in the outdoors 

Earl: well one of the biggest things we want to make sure everybody those those leave no trace principles right but the the biggest thing is understand your surroundings particularly when you're backpacking you know use your bear box you know make sure you get your food away from you yep i always say 300 feet you know get them away get the food away from you you're you're in an element where you where there are animals so you want to make sure respect them you know if they're hungry they come looking for food just making sure you're not the food so don't have the food near you that's one of the biggest 

Brad: don't put food in your tent 

Earl: exactly don't put it in your tent this is the big that's 

Brad: people do that man 

Earl: check it checking your bag though making sure that you have that candy bar out of your bag the one that you thought you ate and you didn't eat make sure you get that candy bar out of there right but the third thing is i tell folks is kind of really just look around and your surroundings and get to know if you're around folks you know get to know who those folks are right and that way you know for us you know that's why we actually have a in an amazing amazing times because we believe that to be safe in the outdoor you certainly have to be prepared if you prepare yourself for any element you'll be you'll be you'll be well off right 

Brad: yeah man I've got a couple other shows too that we'll link to that have some really great breakdowns on emergency kits so if anybody's curious on having a survival kit or an emergency kit I've got I've had some really interesting guests on including naked and afraid star laura zera came on oh right on me yeah yeah she was cool man I've had her on several times and and she she came on and showed her bag so I'll drop some links to some of those relevant shows too alright man that was my last question tell people where they can connect with you because you guys have a cool story awesome mission and if anybody i don't know the order of these shows will come out so whichever but i will say if you're listening to gearbox talk you should definitely check out my restless native with Earl but tell people how to connect with you on your website and social media 

Earl: you guys can find us on on our website at or you can find us on all of the social media sites as black folks camp too blocks and folks camp too listen we always tell folks you're gonna have to go through something to get to something in regards to camping and we like it alright so welcome you we're gonna change the world 

Brad: you're the king of like great little snippets like that like there's so much knowledge I've sucked in and inspiration dude thanks for coming on the gearbox talk thanks for coming on to restless native and giving us your time today man i love what you guys are doing and I'm all about it 

Earl: right on my friend thank you so much i hope you have a fantastic day 

Brad: yeah you too thank you Earl you have to love earl's enthusiasm for affecting change and getting more folks outside i love it make sure you subscribe to restless native if you really like this conversation with Earl you don't want to miss my full interview with the guy we're going to get really deep in the weeds in his mission and why he started his organization also i said last week i had a huge name guest that was coming and it was coming out this week and i was mistaken because it's actually next week i swear I'm not just saying this to make sure you keep coming back week after week that would not prove to be a very thoughtful or or very good tactic as I think you would pick up on this after a few weeks i literally just screwed that up it's next week where i have a really big name guest but here's one hint since i screwed it up until valhalla holla


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