Our Picnic Kit
In between the hot days and the rainy days, there have been a few just-right evenings in Minneapolis lately and Tom and I have taken advantage by heading out for picnics. Whether at the lake or in our neighborhood park, there are a few things we almost always have along.
- Our reusable plastic plates and silverware (not plastic!). I sort of hate plastic knives and forks, so we’ve got a pair of picnic-dedicated metal sets as well as 4 generic red plates that I’ve had since just before college (thank you, Sarah!) that are great for dining outdoors. They’re lightweight, durable, and stack neatly to fit into a slim space. Preserve offers a similar set of 8 plates.
- A waterproof fleece picnic blanket. The waterproof backing on this blanket has allowed us to picnic in many spots and at many times when we might have otherwise decided the ground was just too wet. It packs up very small and is easy to carry, whether by itself from the included shoulder strap or clipped to a hiking backpack.
- Pretty paper napkins. At home, we’ve been using cloth napkins for a while, but on picnics we continue to use paper napkins culled from the supply I built up before kicking my prettypapernapkins buying habit. They make it easy to wipe down our dishes at the end of a meal and add some color to the spread. My favorites are from IKEA, Finnstyle, and Klippan’s designs like the Tulips above, available online and in various Scandinavian shops in the Twin Cities.
- A giant tote (or pannier, if bike picnicking) into which picnic supplies can be liberally tossed. Again, IKEA is a great source.
- Camping mugs, far classier than an opaque Solo cup.
- An insulated, soft-sided cooler. I found ours for under $10 (new!) at a thrift store, so at $90 Menu’s similar version (pictured above) seems steep, but I like that its liner can be removed — you might be able to use it with other bags or panniers.
- ENO’s doublenest hammock. We use ENO’s “pro” straps with our hammock so that it can be hung from almost any pair of trees at the park or by the lake. It provides a nice spot to wait for the grill to warm up or for dessert to settle before heading home.
- Bodum’s portable Fyrkat grill and grill brush. After owning this grill for two years, I’d say its only downside is that the enamel easily chips (and I’m not the only one who thinks so…). The handle stays cool even when the rest of the grill is firey hot, the clamp-on lid makes Fyrkat bikeable and more totable than its counterparts, and paired with the matching grill brush, clean up is quick and easy. The grill cools down almost instantly once any remaining charcoal has been dumped.
I’m leaving out the obvious —food— but I didn’t want to miss mentioning another must-have: games. We usually bring ring toss at a minimum and sometimes include cards, a frisbee, or a board game that travels easily. After learning Kubb (and painting faces) with Nina at the Walker’s recent member night picnic, we’ve got our eye on a Kubb set from ASI to bring a little more challenge into the competition. If any Kubb players are reading, I’d love to have your input on which set might be best.