Good Sam Camping Blog
TEST Header
Filed under: Comfort at Camp, Gadget Reviews, Menu Planning & Cooking, Preparation & Readiness, Space Saving


March 4, 2011 by · 7 Comments 


Nancy often calls me “The Goodwill Junkie”.

Goodwill is a non-profit company that provides training and job placement for people that may be mentally challenged or disabled.  In our community, they operate a large thrift store stocked by donations of unwanted clothing and assorted household paraphernalia.

You never know what you might find on their shelves – items change daily.

As I was perusing the shelves one day, I spied something in a box that really caught my eye.  It was a reflector oven manufactured by Palco Products.

It was only $6.25 – cheap enough for me to take home to explore possibilities.

An Internet search led me to the conclusion Palco was no longer in the business of making aluminum camping equipment.  Apparently the reflector oven I found was sold somewhere between 1955 and the early 60’s.  This one was brand new, in the box.  It had never been used.

The instructions on the front of the box suggested using the oven not only for baking, but drying tents and clothes.  I’m not sure how that would be accomplished.

The Woodalls Campsite Cookbook contains instructions, suggestions and details on using a reflector oven.  I’ll let you know how well it bakes a tube of refrigerator biscuits the first chance we get.  I am fascinated by it’s simplicity and efficiency.

We don’t always camp where there is an electrical hook-up.  While we do have a generator, I prefer not to use it.  So, how do you brew a good cup of morning coffee without the Mr. Coffee electric drip coffee maker?

Some might suggest “Cowboy Coffee”.  This was accomplished by grinding beans between two rocks and throwing them in a pot of boiling water.  Remove the pot from the fire and let it sit about 5 minutes.  Hit the side of the pot with a spoon or rock to knock the grounds to the bottom of the pot and enjoy.  Still, coffee grounds collect in your teeth.  Another method that eliminated the grounds was to take your boot off and throw the grounds in your sock.  Tie a knot in the top and throw the entire thing in the pot.  Supposedly, the coffee has a “unique” flavor and your sock comes out cleaner.

Personally, I’m not really in to Cowboy Coffee.

Goodwill produced a nice little aluminum percolator on one visit.  It can brew a good cup of coffee if you watch the glass knob in the top for the right color.  I like to use some basket filters to eliminate grounds in the coffee.






This next approach is basically identical to the method used by the electric drip coffee maker.  You first boil a pot of water over a fire or stove, place a cone filter in the top unit with some drip grind coffee, and pour in some hot water.  It will drip down through the grounds resulting in a great pot of brew.  You must watch the color in the glass pot underneath to determine how much hot water to add for the amount of coffee in the cone.  I use about four heaping tablespoons for a pot.

If I am only interested in one cup of coffee, I have this little device that works exactly like the one above, but on a smaller scale.

We have a propane fueled stove in the camper and another two-burner gas stove for outdoor use.  But, I often prefer to use this little one burner stove that screws on top of a disposable propane cylinder.  You have to be careful about balance or you can tip the entire unit over. Yes, I found this at the Goodwill store as well.  Of course, a campfire with a bed of hot coals makes a mighty nice heat source for boiling water without propane or a stove.


Keeping canned beverages cool on a hot day can be a challenge.  Once again, our local Goodwill provided an assortment of “Koozies”.  The first one on the right has a pop-up lid – great for keeping yellow jackets and flies away from the open tab top.  I really like the blue one second from the right.  It is filled with the blue stuff that you freeze.  When the can is placed in the opening, the drink stays cool for a long time.  Number three from the right is a mug that has a double wall and is filled with liquid.  Like the “Fridge” koozie, it must be placed in the freezer before use.  Last is the conventional foam insulation koozie.  Still a good gadget for keeping the cool in your drink.

The camper has an assortment of additional “stuff” I have found at Goodwill.  It is a fun place to explore and frequently produces some interesting finds.

If you have a Goodwill store, or for that matter, any donation supported thrift store in your area, give it a look-see sometime.  Yard sales can also reveal some interesting camping “stuff”.

On the coffee…… You can get grounds in bags just like tea.  It is sort of expensive on a per cup basis, but mighty easy to brew in a hurry.


Do you camp with a pet?  Please visit my No Pet Add-On Fees website at or by clicking on the blue highlighted and underlined text above for information regarding camping with pets in Virginia State Parks.

Private e-mails can be sent to:  RandynNancyageeatgmaildotcom (substitute a @ symbol for the bold at and a period . for the bold dot when entering the address into your e-mail program).


  1. Carla says:

    You are never too OLD for a treasure hunt!! Score!

  2. Tom says:

    On cowboy coffee, I found a good way back when I was a Boy Scout leader; Maxwell House makes a packaged coffee in a sealed filter pack. Designed to just place a filter pack in a drip pot cone, it works great just tossing the filter pack into a coffee pot on a fire. When done with the coffee, just throw the pack away, no grinds in the coffee to drink.

  3. David says:

    I have used my regular Mr. Coffee: heat the water in the pot on the propane stove, pour in the filter, put pot and filter in place. Problems: A true Mr. Coffee carafe has a plastic handle that softens so the handle is hot and squishy. Use a pan instead. It works best when you make only 6-8 cups. I miss my old percolator that I used for 25 years. The new ones are lightweight.

  4. John and Kathi says:

    Great post. enjoyable read…..

  5. Colin says:

    For great coffee while camping, I use a combination insulated stainless steel coffee mug with a french press. I purchased it online from A french press is a great way for a cup of coffee. Simply heat up your water on the stove. Place coarse grind coffee in the bottom of the french press mug (3 tablespoons), add hot water and put the lid on. Wait a minute or two and swirl/shake the mug to get the grounds to sink to the bottom of the mug, then press the filter/plunger to the bottom and drink your coffee.

  6. Hey these are excellent ideas. Thanks for sharing


Check out what others are saying about this post...
  1. [...] ALMOST FREE CAMPING GADGET FINDS!!! | Woodall's Campgrounds, RV … [...]

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!