A Short History of Camping

The Camp Stove

While a crackling campfire is closely associated with camping, it was the only smoky, sooty, ash-laden way to cook meals and boil water. Until...

1942 - At the midpoint of WWII, the Coleman Company responds to the U.S. Army's urgent request to develop a compact stove for battlefield use. The resulting single burner stove can burn any kind of fuel, function at -60 degrees F up to +150 degrees F, weighs 3.5 pounds, and is smaller than a one-quart milk bottle. Along with the Jeep, it's considered one of the two most important pieces of non-combat equipment in the war

1950s and beyond - The Coleman army stove evolves into the familiar fold-up, two- and three-burner stoves seen in many campsites today. Other manufacturers adopt the pressurized fuel concept and there are now several variations of the basic design.

The Cooler Chest

Unless you have an RV with a refrigerator, you have one of these at your campsite.

1957 - Coleman introduces an insulated cooler with steel shell and inner plastic liner to replace old-fashioned steel ice bins that would sweat, rust, and didn't stay cold very long.

1960 - Igloo Company goes one better and introduces the first all-plastic cooler chest.

The Air Mattress

With bulky, horse hair-filled bed mattresses being too heavy to drag into the forest, early campers had to contend with sleeping on the cold, hard ground. Luckily, ingenuity came to the rescue.

1889 - First air mattress invented in Reading, Massachusetts. Original design is still in use today.

1960s - Closed cell foam pads debut in the U.S. These are followed by self-inflating and manual-inflating pads.

The Sleeping Bag

A must-have.

1800s - Various European designs were combinations of sheepskins lined with wool, a sewn-over blanket with rubber bottom, or bags made of reindeer fur.

1942 - The U.S. Army issues purpose-designed slumber bags. Heavy and bulky, these are eventually replaced with down-filled bags--the precursor to today's modern synthetic-filled sleeping bags.

The History of Camping Treats

The S'more

The ubiquitous camping treat.

1927 - The first official recipe for s'mores appears in a Girl Scouts manual, Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts.

The History of Travel Trailers

Modern-day travel trailers trace their origins to gypsy travel wagons and the Conestoga Wagons built to carry settlers across the United States.

1910 - The first non-tent travel campers are built at the Los Angeles Trailer Works and Auto Kamp Trailers.

1916 - The first tent trailer arrives, built by the Campbell Folding Camping Trailer company.

1920 - Airstream trailers first hit the road. The name "Airstream" isn't used until 1936.

1936 - Airstream luxury trailer introduced. The "Clipper" features dry ice air conditioning, water tanks, electric lighting and kitchenette.

1960s - Fifth-wheel trailers appear on the roads, offering greater towing stability. Due to the unique hitching method, the overall length of the tow vehicle and trailer is shortened without giving up inside space.

1964 - The first pop-up trailers make their debut.

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