Roy Scribner, the “Gadget Guy?”

author image

January 9, 2008

Roy ScribnerWhen RV.Net asked me to write a weekly column on camping gadgets, my first reaction was; wow! Then the reality of writing 52 articles on the same general subject settled upon me, and I began to get nervous. You see, I am not much of a “gadget guy” at all. Sure, I carry a cell phone – who doesn’t? But my method of navigating the western byways is with a trusty paper map. No fancy GPS device for me, even though I have worked in the GPS industry for years. Don’t get me wrong, I would not mind owning a GPS navigation system, but I can buy a lot of paper maps for $250 and I really don’t get lost very often (at least not that I will admit to – my wife may have a different opinion!). I generally use three tests that I weigh any potential camping-related purchase against:

  1. It must solve a specific problem for me
  2. It must provide enough benefit to justify the cost
  3. It must be durable enough to survive the rigors of camping

A GPS navigation system, for me, fails two of the three tests; I am not having a problem with navigation, and the cost does not provide enough benefit (for me) to justify the purchase. Now, just because a GPS navigation system does not pass the test for me, does not mean that it would not pass the test for someone else. Anyone who frequently travels in unfamiliar territory might find a GPS navigation system an essential tool for ensuring that they spend more time camping than they do trying to get there.
Flameless CandleProblems do not have to be major, like getting lost, in order to justify purchasing a gadget. The Scribner Clan predominantly camps in state parks, without the luxury of any hookups. One problem that we have been having is that without the luxury of unlimited power, we are reluctant to leave a light on at night, and our three children will not get out of bed to use the bathroom in the dark. We recently picked-up one of the new flameless candles that have become so popular, lately, to see how it would workout as a night light. The candle is powered by three AAA-size batteries, so we were a bit concerned about how long it would last. We have put about 50-hours on it so far, though, and it is still going strong. The LED bulb flickers like a real candle and, in fact, the candle’s body is actually wax so it has the heft and feel of a real candle. Real wax means it might not be the best solution for backpacking, without some kind of protective carrying case, but for all campers it is certainly a viable and safe alternative to open flames.

Happy camping!

Leave a Reply


  1. Pingback: url

  2. I definitely need to go to Australia, Noel! My father worked in Melbourne for about 8 months last year, and I was very jealous. I’m afraid the closest I have gotten is to do some work with your embassy, here in the states. Not nearly as entertaining!


  3. Noel

    Hi Roy

    You need to go to Australia to find all the smartest and most useful camping gadgets.

    Coleman in Australia have got the very first tent peg tool that actually works. It bangs pegs in with ease and uses impact to get them out even easier. They demonstrated it pulling tent pegs out of set concrete – it’s an amazing little gadget. It’s not available in the US yet – don’t ask me why. Maybe you should ask Coleman when it is coming. They call it a Coleman “wakjak” here.

    There are a few other gadgets here that should be in all US based RV’s.

    Get your boss to send you on a trip to Oz or at least look at the Australian camping magazines. You’ll have plenty of material for your articles.

    Best regards from Down Under


  4. Thanks! I must have been caffeine-challenged on the “too”, and just plain possessive on the “camper’s” 😉

  5. couple errors…

    “(at least not that I will admit too – ”


    ” but for all camper’s it is certainly a viable and safe alternative to open flames.”