Boys & their toys: Grown men bonding over goofy stuff

I don’t buy new camping toys often. In a word, I’m a bit “tight.” I happen upon things at the store that would be cool to have. I even carry them in my hands as I make my way to the register. Then, that little penny pincher in my brain tells me to put it back on a shelf by whispering, “That’ll end up in the junk drawer at home.” Most of the time, I listen.

Last week before our weekend camping trip, I roamed the aisles at Atwoods. Most of the time I don’t do much more than wander. There is something about strolling around a farm supply store that makes me happy. That musk of wood chips, latex, and 2-cycle oil transports me to a calming place.

This time, in my aimless wandering I succumbed to impulse when I happened upon a toy I had never seen before that solved an old problem. I have often found myself camping and wondering whether I had enough propane left in the canister. While traveling in chilly weather, this can be a particularly important bit of information. My wife doesn’t enjoy sleeping in freezing temperatures.

And, so, I had mental justification to buy the Mopeka propane sensor. I quickly googled a price comparison on my phone. The $21 price was below anything I could find online, so I bought it.mopeka-monitor

That little guy traveled with us to the woods of Arkansas so that my bestie Joshua Martin and I could give it a go.

Here’s how it works. The sensor adheres magnetically to the bottom of your propane canister and syncs to an app on your phone via bluetooth. Then, in regular intervals, it sends a signal into the propane canister to measure the depth of liquid propane and report the fill level to your phone. You can even set up an alert so that when the propane dips below a pre-defined volume, it notifies you.


Even in the 30-40-degree temps, the reader worked as promised. Not bad for $21.

Of course, the far more valuable thing was the time spent geeking out about the little thing with a friend.


Joshua and I tinkered while the old women (my wife and Anissa) looked on mockingly.


I suppose it is a little funny that even at 40 years old, grown boys bond over toys. And, that was worth far more than the $21 I spent for the sensor.