Wecome To RVs and OHVs

This blog is all about RVs (recreational vehicles) and OHVs (Off Highway Vehicles), camping, and survival
and how they work together to provide wholesome family fun and great learning opportunities.
Many posts are intended to familiarize novice campers and RVers with RV systems and basic camping and survival
skills. But even experienced RVers and campers will enjoy the anecdotes and may even benefit from a new
perspective. Comments, questions, and suggestions are encouraged.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Camping Checklists

Why use checklists? I've mentioned checklists here and there in lots of other posts. I find them useful enough to dedicate an entire post to them. To some folks checklists may be the domain of overly obsessive campers. Some people may consider them unnecessary, but if you've ever arrived at camp and discovered you left some significant item at home, you'll appreciate their value. I have created one for my motorhome, one for my dirt bike trailer, and one for each of us for our personal riding gear. Each one evolved after arriving in camp hundreds of miles away from home and finding we had left something behind. Now, by running through each checklist BEFORE we leave home, we almost never find ourselves leaving anything critical at home. I am not going to give you specific checklists here. You need to develop your own, ones that will meet YOUR specific needs. However, if you're stuck and need a starting place, I will be happy to share mine. Just send me your email and I'll send you a copy of the my Excel spreadsheets. What I do may well be too detailed for you, but it may at least give you a place to start. My email is desertrat@desertrat.org.

Lest you think checklists are for sissies, consider that air line pilots, surgeons, and astronauts all use them religiously.

RV Checklist. My RV checklist goes over routine safety checks like tires, belts and hoses, lights, fluids, brakes, fuel, and clean windows. Also making sure the antenna is down, the awnings are secured in travel position, and the step retracted. I also like to test all the interior lights and all the appliances, including TVs and other entertainment devices. My list also includes a verification of provisions -- edible, medical, tools, sundries,clothing, and recreational/entertainment items. Major kitchen utensils are also on the list as are sundries such as soap, shampoo, and shaving supplies. I have organized mine by "room" or area to save running around. It only takes a few minutes to run through the checklist and it has saved us from coming up short on things on more than one occasion. Checking off things like making sure antennas are down, awnings are secured, and the refrigerator door is latched prevent accidents and spills that quickly spoil a trip or cause expensive damage. You don't have to use my checklist. In fact, mine wouldn't probably be very helpful to you.  Make one of your own that meets your needs. For the first few trips it will be a work in progress as you figure out what else needs to be on it -- or what you thought you needed that you've since rejected. Once you have refined it it will be a very useful tool.

OHV Checklist. I use a separate checklist for each of our dirt bikes and the supplies in my dirt bike trailer. The list includes routine maintenance items and safety checks on each bike, fuel and (when appropriate) two-stroke oil, as well as making sure we have all the bikes (with 8 riders in the family, leaving one behind was a possibility). The list of tools and supplies can get quite complex so having a detailed checklist is important for making sure nothing is missing. It is also a good way to make sure you have replenished spare parts you may have used up on a previous trip. I keep things like goggle cleaning solutions and SC-1 detail spray in my dirt bike trailer for use as needed during an outing so those kinds of supplies are also on the checklist. Because fasteners tend to come loose and get lost on the trail, having an adequate supply of appropriate replacements is essential to keeping your rides rideable. Spare parts, like brake levers, master links, hand grips, spark plugs and and inner tubes are essential to keep things running without having to make trip to the nearest motorcycle shop, which, by the way, might be a considerable distance from camp.

Personal Riding Gear Checklist. It is really disappointing to get to camp and find out you've left some of your riding gear home -- or some of it is in need of repair before you can go riding. You shouldn't have to worry about the latter if you're performing your post-trip procedures properly because you will have already cleaned and repaired all your gear. However, the checklist is a good last-minute verification that all is well. I have a separate column for each member of the family and list each piece of riding gear. I encourage each rider to check his or her own gear. It not only saves me time, it helps instill a feeling of responsibility in the kids and helps them learn the value of doing routine cleaning and repairs in a timely manner. Then, if they come up missing something it is no one's fault but their own. I've seen desperate riders try to get by with flip-flops and duct tape when they left their boots at home and I never want to be one of them. Doesn't work very well, especially if you're kick-starting a big-bore bike!

Tent Camping Checklists. You don't have to be camping in an RV or riding OHVs to benefit from pre- and post- trip checklists. There are many pieces of equipment necessary for a comfortable and successful tent camping trip. You don't want to be setting up camp when you realize you didn't bring the tent stakes or tent poles or left your axe or mallet at home. Your checklist should include, at the very least, all the components of your tent, sleeping bags and pads, cots (if you choose to use them), stoves, utensils, pots and pans, tools, food, water, lighting (flashlights and lanterns) spare batteries, lantern and stove fuel, matches, paper towels and napkins, first aid kit, clothing, tools, and games and recreational equipment. Once again, you will find it useful to develop your personal list over a few trips until it fits your needs and eliminates the ordeal associated with having to "wing it".

Personal preparation. You may want to create a checklist for personal preparation. This may be most useful when you have small children or aging parents, but can be helpful for anyone. Personal preparation might include pre-trip hygiene, hydration, clothing, sundries, medications,and personal entertainment.

Checklists? Check 'em out!

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