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Dances With
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Originally posted by bendable:
15 years worth ,long ago.
we had an F-250 super cab with 8 ft. bd.

we put a queen bed platform , similar to this:
in the bed
and a Stockland shell over it. similar to this.

the bed was carpeted and had three inches of foam under it.

the front of the shell had a window , we took that out and the rear cab window came out as well,
we had a waterproof seal made between the cab and the shell.

We would get off work at 5:00on tuesday .
shower change cloths and pack the food. and we were on the road by 8:00 or 9:00 at the latest.

drive till midnight or 1:00 then crawl through the back window get comfy and off to slumber land.

no messing with tents ground covers, stakes, finding level ground BAM ! we're done.
( all the bedding ,sleeping bags stayed on the bed)

set up the stove on the pic nik table, break out the camp box that was under the bed and we had breakfast in an hour.

many national parks , state parks, national monuments, county parks and national forests later , we have five photo books full of the good pictures and another 6 picture books of the not great pictures.

1) footlocker for the the kitchen stuff
1) plastic tote ,dry food box
1) cooler for ice and drinks.
1) shower water bag.
2) 2 1/2 gal. water jugs
4) gal. distilled water

I think we used a tent four times in 12 years.

1) cooler for ice and cold food

1) stove and can of fuel
one big duffel for both our clean cloths.
1) duffel for dirty cloths and towels.
1) 18 inch camp bow saw

1)small duffel emergency med stuff.

2) qts. oil 1) jug antifreeze

hand axe, shoval, 2) 20 ft. tow chains.
some fire wood, camp chairs , cloths line,
good hand held med narrow beam ,12 v spot light
was very valuable for finding roads, camp spots, signs, animal sign , potties , dumpsters,

always a handgun or two .
a bear bag to hang up w/ rope.
trash bags

our truck was a 4x4, this was before cell phones.
we always ! checked in with the rangers.

from Douglas and Bisbee, AZ to Burlington,CO
to North Yellowstone, San Diego and Grants Pass Oregon and the four corners region.
Been there. . . . . done that.

much new stuff on the market that I'd take with now, that was not available then.

6 days was about our limit in the out back,
15 days in a improved camp ground w/showers potties and laundry

Hey Bendable, that's really good info. Great job. Some people are taking a high roof van, like a ProMaster so they can stand up inside, and rigging the inside for camping use. If you have any trouble you just yank the curtain aside, jump in the drivers seat and roar off.

I built a chuck box off some inspiration of some on YouTube. 12 Volt spot lights are really hard to find nowadays.

However, you didn't list the Claussen Pickles and the Toilet Paper. Big Grin
Posts: 9186 | Registered: October 26, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I watched a half dozen YouTube's of of the $70,000.00 " glampers".

Some were even a.w.d..

They would work for a lot of people , I am sure.

The term "Car camping" is very
all inclusive. Our set up was put together over a half dozen ,4-5 day holiday get aways .

We got it pretty close to perfect by trial and error.

50-55% of our sleeping was done ,not in camp grounds ,but out in areas w/o
Any amenities, no nothing.

No one else to listen to or be annoyed by. No rules about when you could be in or when you had to be out and no one to scare when you got out for a 2 a.m. whiz.

Those were the days, I started a very good trip journal.
But that only lasted for four expeditions.
After finding them and reading them,I was a fool not to continue with them.

Safety, Situational Awareness and proficiency.

Neck Ties, Hats and ammo brass, Never ,ever touch'em w/o asking first
Posts: 50933 | Location: Henry County , Il | Registered: February 10, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of Beancooker
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Bendable, I think you may have lost the point.

Scroll past the mods and down to the “trips” section.

You will se equates the thread us about.

Balzé Halzé:
now I see that you're about as bright as a black hole, and twice as dense. Good lord.
The “lol” thread
Posts: 2166 | Location: Staring down at you with disdain, from the spooky mountaintop castle.  | Registered: November 20, 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Prepared for the Worst, Providing the Best
Picture of 92fstech
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Not exactly "car camping", but I built a camper out of a 6x12 enclosed cargo trailer about 5 years back, and we've had it all over the country. I've been pouring over the Tacoma guy's posts that Beancooker posted...that is awesome. His trip reports actually include some areas that we've been, but with 4wd, he was able to get to areas that we wanted to go but couldn't with a 2wd Suburban pulling a trailer. I'd love to do what he's doing someday, but right now I have 4 kids and we're not going to fit all 6 of us in a truck.

Our trailer has definitely opened up a lot of travel opportunities for us, though. When the kids were really little, we did a couple of trips with a tent. Getting rained on for a week in Acadia National Park ultimately resulted in the drenched and moldy tent getting wadded up and thrown in a dumpster when we left...and I knew then we had to come up with a better alternative.

The following year, My BIL was getting married out in California, and we wanted to go. I didn't want to pay for airplane tickets, hotel rooms, and car rental...and it seemed like a huge waste to fly over all that country that I'd never seen and wanted to. I also couldn't find a camper that would sleep 6 people that was small enough to get into the places I wanted to go, for a price I was willing to pay. So a few months before our trip I bought the trailer for $1400.

The basic concept is a tent replacement. I insulated and wired it, replaced the interior paneling, added windows, fans, a solar panel, and electric brakes. There are 6 bunks in it that can be folded out of the way (think navy ship berthing spaces, and you'll have a pretty accurate picture of the available space), a couple of fans, windows, some drawers for clothing storage and that's about it. We cook outside on a Coleman stove, have a portable camp shower, and avail ourselves of the campground restrooms, or when not available, a hole in the ground (the kids actually prefer's not my wife's favorite). The upside is that it tows easily behind my 1/2 ton suburban, is hard-sided so bears and other critters aren't getting to you, there's no setup or tear-down, so it's easy in/easy out of campsites, and no leaks in the rain. The bunks are way more comfortable than sleeping on hard lumpy ground, too.

We did one overnight at a local state forest to break it in, which resulted in a few minor tweaks, and then our first real trip was from Indiana to Bodega Bay, CA, and back. This was a little crazy, considering that we had a 7 y/o, 5 y/o, 3 y/o, and 2 month old at the time, but it was one of the best experiences of our lives. We took a northerly route, stopped at several national parks (Teddy Roosevelt, Glacier, Crater Lake), and camped on the beach in CA. We were out there for a few days for the wedding, then drove back taking a more southerly route, and hit more national parks (Yosemite, Bryce, Capitol Reef, Arches) on the way back. We saw all kinds of stuff that we never would have gotten to otherwise, and we've since taken quite a few follow-up trips to some of those places to explore them more thoroughly.

That same year in the fall we took it to the east coast. We drove through Shenandoah National Park, visited my brother in Richmond, took the kids to Jamestown and Yorktown, camped on VA's eastern shore, Assateague Island, and Gettysburg. It literally went coast to coast in that first year, camping at beaches on both the Pacific and the Atlantic. We've since had it to Wyoming a couple of times, Colorado twice, South Dakota, Utah, Arizona, Michigan's UP, and numerous other local camping trips. We've gravitated towards national forest campgrounds in recent years because they are less crowded and more peaceful than national parks...but we've also gotten our share of dispersed camping and boondocking in. We've even done the parking lot thing a couple of times when nothing else was available, but that's not my favorite thing to do.

Sure, there's plenty that can go wrong. I've had to change a water pump in a parking lot in Medford Oregon. I drove the several hundred miles of the "extraterrestrial highway" in Nevada with a faulty oil pressure sensor that had me worried the motor was going to puke it's guts in the middle of the desert hundreds of miles from anything. We got hit by a wind storm on that same stretch of road that almost threw the whole rig off the road and into the only water we'd seen all day. This year I lost a fuel pump on the highway outside of Gilette WY, and had to get towed and pay the man to do a job I'd have rather done myself (and could have for 1/4 the cost had I had a place to do it). We've been hailed on a few times, had a tree get hit by lightning and catch on fire just outside our door in the Black Hills one night, and driven roads (youtube the Moki Dugway) that have caused my wife to leave permanent finger impressions in the "oh shit" handle on the passenger side. The worst by far was waking up one night to my oldest (who very unfortunately sleeps on the bunk above me) puking off the edge of the bunk...thankfully that was at the start of our east coast trip, and we were camping that night in my brother's driveway, so I had a place to put people while I cleaned everything up. It's all part of the experience, and usually the best things in life require a bit of effort and risk to make happen.
Posts: 3814 | Location: In the Cornfields | Registered: May 25, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of ruger357
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Thanks for the info so far.


Roll Tide!

Glock Certified Armorer
NRA Certified Firearms Instructor
Posts: 7208 | Location: Hoover, AL | Registered: November 06, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of IntrepidTraveler
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"Car camping" (or as was pointed out, "overlanding", if you have a 4WD vehicle) has many "flavors":

* Sleeping inside the vehicle (seats, back, topper)
* Some sort of integrated tent (e.g., roof top)
* Hauling regular camping gear and setting up camp where you end up

My definition is the last. I've done a ton of it over the years. Good tent, good sleeping mats (also as someone pointed out), and a relatively compact but decent set of cook gear. I've gone through many iterations of the above over the years. My latest iteration is as compact as possible, stemming from a few years back when I had a motorcycle and wanted to get away with it. The only thing that I didn't compromise on was the sleeping pad. I've used REI's Camp Rest 3.5 for a long time.

I've thought about a roof top tent. They definitely have the convenience factor - sets up quick, stows on top, all you need is a fairly level place to park. However, a few things keep me from going that route: cost ($3K or more); you can't leave it set up and go anywhere with the vehicle (which means if you are dispersed camping, you can lose your campsite to someone else); and age (I'm 62, so I get up to pee at least once a night and don't like the Gatorade bottle solution).

I much prefer dispersed camping, which is what the Ranger people call camping in places other than constructed campgrounds. No amenities (bathrooms and such), but it's much more peaceful, and I enjoy the solitude.

As far as safety, I'm sure there are still ax- and chainsaw-murderers out there, but in 4+ decades of camping, I have never knowingly met one.

To start off, if you're not going too far off the grid, you are probably OK with Walmart-quality gear, until you get to know what you like and don't. Read a lot, make your checklists, and go from there.

Oh, one more thing - get an Army-style entrenching tool, the real one with the triangle shaped handle. When you need to go, dig your hole, fold the shovel blade 90°, put the handle on the ground next to the hole, and the back of the shovel blade makes a convenient seat to park your butt. Beats squatting, particularly at 62 years old! (Extra-pro tip - if your buddy has a shovel, you can get 2 cheeks of support!)

Thus the metric system did not really catch on in the States, unless you count the increasing popularity of the nine-millimeter bullet.
- Dave Barry
Posts: 2778 | Location: Carlsbad NM/ Augusta GA | Registered: July 15, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I would have loved that 20 years ago but I’m way too pampered for more than two days of that in a row.
Posts: 1971 | Registered: January 25, 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Texas Proud
Picture of texassierra
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Originally posted by rburg:
You might want to do a search of "Wonderhussy". She camps in Nevada and had hundreds of youtube videos of her adventures. She'd pretty literate and does a good job. No skin because its youtube. For those of you who are sensitive about that kind of thing. She explores old towns, cabins and mine sites. She's non-political and isn't anti gun. All positive things. Just pretty enough to be watchable.

She doesn't sleep on the ground, but instead in her "rig". New adventures each week.

Also checkout Mav on YouTube. This young man travels around fishing and truck camping in his F150 with a camper top.

NRA Life Patron
Posts: 1659 | Location: DFW | Registered: March 28, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
The Constable
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Looking at a 23 Zero roof top tent, queen sized model. Would go on a rack over the bed of my Chev CO. pickup.

Unzip the cover that protects the tent in transport, swing out the ladder, leverage yje tent open.

One is off the ground, lots of space, fairly easy set ip and take down.

I've motorcycle camped dozens of times, in MT, UT and Nevada. one can't take a ton of gear but you can do OK. A real vehicle allows for coolers, ice, lots of food & water, big sleeping pads & bags, etc.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: FN in MT,
Posts: 6899 | Location: Craig, MT | Registered: December 17, 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of ridewv
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While I camp when motorcycle traveling I never car/truck camped until recently. On a motorcycle I never took along much food or full cooking gear, and was often alone. More recently I have been car camping with my friend and having a car with all its room, and her Smile , makes it a lot of fun. In her CRV our dogs get the rear seat with all our stuff on the rear seat floor and back in the cargo area. On a recent trip we took along my two grand children which involved an extra tent, 2 more thermorests, sleeping bags, etc., we took my Honda Ridgeline because the combination of its bed and the large trunk under the bed gave us more room than her CRV.

We pack my REI Half Dome 4 tent, (2) 1-1/2" thick Thermorests which we lay together, real pillows, two sleeping bags unzipped, one for the bottom the other is our blanket. 3 little washable rugs, one for each dog to lay on and one at the vestibule door, a large cooler, a crate box with fresh vegetables and other food, real plates and utensils, fry pan, pot, coffee pot, old cat litter jugs for carrying water, and two gasoline cooking stoves. We both enjoy cooking and we do eat well (well until supplies get low and we get to a grocery store and replenish) dinner is typically something like seared fish with veggies or stir-fried vegetables over tortellinis just seasoned with curry or soy. Or maybe with pasta sauce.

These pics are from last October as we meandered down the east coast from Maryland to Florida.

Gourmet eating...

A view like this to wake up to most mornings is one advantage of tent camping.

Kumbrabow State Forest, WV with the boys meant more stuff.

No car is as much fun to drive, as any motorcycle is to ride.
Posts: 5278 | Location: Northern WV | Registered: January 17, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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If you will be driving for more thn 10-12 hours ,
the best investment we made for any of the four trucks were
custom Recaro seats. hands down , the best money we spent.

How they made seats that she and I both fit
is beyond me.

I am 6 ft. 4. , shes 5 ft. 3 in.

they are not only very comfortable in the long highway hauls ,
but the bolsters in the thighs and shoulders were great for keeping you in the seats when off roading .

Safety, Situational Awareness and proficiency.

Neck Ties, Hats and ammo brass, Never ,ever touch'em w/o asking first
Posts: 50933 | Location: Henry County , Il | Registered: February 10, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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20+ years in the outdoor industry, I've accumulated tents and sleeping bags for every single weather and environment. Backpacking, overlanding, car camping, backyards...I have a veritable store.

For simple pull-up and pull everything out of the truck camping, my go to's:

Tent: Marmot Limestone 6, family sized, with heavier floor, DAC poles, full rain-fly w/vestibule. Enough room she can stand-up in and the hound has his corner. I have many, many more backpacking tents if I need to shrink my footprint.
Pad: Exped MegaMat Max, queen sized, durable, inflatable mattress, also fits back of my Tundra if needed. Well worth the $$$, she likes it Cool
Stove: Camp Chef Denali
Cooler: Orion 65
Shower/Dishwasher: NEMO Helio LX Pressure Shower

All kitchen and food stuffs stored in 2-3 Rubbermade Action Packer boxes. Considering some Pelican knock-off boxes from Harbor Freight.

Rooftop tents I'm not a fan of. Practical for South Africa or, Australia but here in N.America I just see them as extra weight for minimal gain. Use the money to purchase for yourself a proper, well made tent and invest in a solid mattress/cot.
Posts: 10537 | Location: Wine Country | Registered: September 20, 2000Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Green grass and
high tides
Picture of old rugged cross
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I love to boat camp myself. Smile

"Practice like you want to play in the game"
Posts: 14998 | Registered: September 21, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Where do you build a camp fire on a boat ?

Safety, Situational Awareness and proficiency.

Neck Ties, Hats and ammo brass, Never ,ever touch'em w/o asking first
Posts: 50933 | Location: Henry County , Il | Registered: February 10, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
I have a very particular
set of skills
posted Hide Post
While we've since moved up to 'glamping' (renting furnished cabins with bathrooms at various destinations), back in the day, I did a car camping trip down the coast. Back then, pre-inescapable connectivity these days, that was about the only real way to 'get away' from the office.

'Hey, can you check your email while you're on vacation?'

Nope, sorry, I'll be in a campground somewhere. with no land line'

(Surprisingly, despite being 'out of contact' for two whole weeks, the world didn't spin out of orbit).

I also did a couple tent trips with another person a few years later using a mid-sized SUV. We used several tubs that were easy to stow and unload...helped keep things organized.

Anyhow, back then, for the coast trip, it was a single person tent and working out of the trunk/back seat of the coupe. I don't recall having such easy access to today's readily available Intex $15 inflatable mattresses which would have made it WAY more comfortable. The older you get, the harder the ground gets.

For the SUV/tent trips, large multi-person tent, which we practiced with and good pretty good at setting up in about 10-15 minutes.

While the truck bed rigs seem interesting, I'd be leary of anything on a roof unless you weigh about 49 pounds and/or its a 'beater' rig you don't mind, well, beating on...

The truck rig would be better in inclement weather (keeping you off the wet ground).

Otherwise, a good tent, with enough of the inflatable mattresses (and pump with extra batteries), stove, good sleeping bags, etc...

The caveat is, IMHO, while it can let you go places you otherwise couldn't, tent-type camping is best for mostly cooperative weather. If it turns wet/rainy, not tons of fun IMHO. If you have younger kids, think trying to take them to the bathroom at night in the middle during a rainstorm.

Hence, the invention of 'glamping'...

Perhaps in the next year or two, we'd like to rent a nice ~20 ft. trailer and give that a go...

$.02 worth.


A real life Sisyphus...
"It's not the critic who counts..." TR
Exodus 23.2: Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong...
Despite some people's claims to the contrary, 5 lbs. is actually different than 12 lbs.
It's never simple/easy.
Posts: 4590 | Location: In the arena... | Registered: December 18, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of IntrepidTraveler
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I have two motivations to car camp.

1. When I was young, it was the only way I could get out and travel cheaply. I never lost that habit.

2. It lets me get to places I couldn't otherwise. It's very inspiring to be in the middle of nowhere with no one else anywhere close on a clear night.

Granted, as Boss1 states, the older you get, the harder the ground is. But I still do it. A good sleeping pad (inflatable, at least 2.5"+ thick, wide enough so I don't roll off of it) is a necessity. It's worth what you pay for it.

Thus the metric system did not really catch on in the States, unless you count the increasing popularity of the nine-millimeter bullet.
- Dave Barry
Posts: 2778 | Location: Carlsbad NM/ Augusta GA | Registered: July 15, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Our version of "car" camping this weekend.

Posts: 688 | Location: Dayton, OH | Registered: October 07, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
blame canada
Picture of AKSuperDually
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I grew up "car camping" and backpacking. My mom had a honda civic, and we'd fill it with our gear at camp at various campgrounds around Idaho. IMO, car camping has an excellent number of great things going for it. It's the most affordable, easiest, and arguably safest way for most people to camp. In bear country, you can easily and cheaply control your food and keep it away from your sleeping area. When everything goes wrong, you can always sleep inside your vehicle. If the location becomes unsafe, you can leave. You can get away with cheap, heavier gear (Walmart specials) because the stakes are low and your vehicle is used to get it to the campsite. State and Federal campgrounds area cheap, and most are easy for a vehicle to access.

I don't generally prefer to do "car camping", I do a modified version with ATV's/SxS's that is similar but closer to overlanding. We utilize trails or trailblazing to get where people aren't. The stakes are higher, more can go wrong...but it's still not as serious as backcountry backpacking. Here's a hiking hammock setup from a while back:

Kids can backpack to. We try to keep their weight to less than 20% of their body weight

Here's a photo of our rangers from my hammock at sunset earlier this summer (at around 1 am...)

We prefer hammocks if possible, but sleeping in a hammock either works for you, or really doesn't work for you. My wife doesn't love it. We typically also bring a tent. Sleeping on the ground isn't always possible in Alaska. Sleeping in the trees...isn't always possible either. In a campground, I might not love hammocks, I want privacy. That can be created though, with tarps. Tarps are cheap, and so is paracord. You can make an elaborate campsite with tarps, paracord, and stakes. You limitations are your imagination.

If I'm using my truck to take me somewhere to camp...I'm bringing my air mattress and/or cot. I have a vertical wall tent that mounts inside a pop-up awning. It's a fairweather setup, but it creates a 10'x10' vertical wall tent that you can stand up inside. I love it, we setup a queensize air mattress with side tables and lamps. For car/truck's a great setup. I tried googling it, and looking on Amazon, and I can't seem to find it. Perhaps the company went out of business. ANY cheap tent works for truck/car camping though. That's what's awesome.

All you gotta do is cover the basics. Food, Water, Shelter. Start small, and enjoy the time. See what works for others, and slowly build up to what you want to do. I'd encourage you to cover your basics, then analyze your camping mission and buy quality once. Sleep in a cheap walmart tent, and figure out what you like and need, and what would work well...then buy a quality MSR or other quality tent. Same for sleeping bags. Start with a Coleman, and then once you figure out what works for you, invest in your $500 bag.

"The trouble with our Liberal not that they're ignorant, it's just that they know so much that isn't so." Ronald Reagon, 1964
"Arguing with some people is like playing chess with a pigeon. It doesn't matter how good I am at chess, the pigeon will just take a shit on the board, strut around knocking over all the pieces and act like it won.. and in some cases it will insult you at the same time." DevlDogs55, 2014 Big Grin
Posts: 12775 | Location: On the mouth of the great Kenai River | Registered: June 24, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I have an old Army trailer that I built an elevating frame for and have a roof top tent on it and I keep my gear inside it. I started out with the tent on my FJ Cruiser but now with the trailer I can leave it at camp and venture forth. I have been "Overlanding" for the last 30 years or so. It didn't have that moniker back then.
Posts: 86 | Registered: January 07, 2020Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of Gascan
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(Not sure if posting the photo works)

I car camp with my better half and a small yorkie... it is AWESOME!

On roof top tents...

A roof top tent keeps you off the ground; if it rains through the night and you’re in a low area, you’re still dry without a care in the world. Creepy crawlers like ants, spiders and snake won’t bother you (great selling point for the better half). All your bedding (I’m not sure about the pillows) stays up in the tent when you break it down for travel, including the (usual) 2.5” foam mattress most tent come with. There is some inherit security in having the high ground when you’re most vulnerable; I don’t know if it’s a phycological effect or something but it’s there for both the camper and the no-gooder outside the tent. And, if you’ve ever built a treehouse or a fort as a kid, that’s exactly what it feels like ever time you climb into a roof top tent.

If you only bring one cooking vessel, bring a cast iron skillet. It will let you cook camping essentials like hash browns, bacon & eggs or steak to an actual pizza.
There is a night and day between cooking on an open flame and using a small propane stove; bring the stove.

A cooler will work just fine but a 12v car fridge might work even better. I’m about to try one out shortly, but this will likely lead down a rabbit hole of dual car batteries and vehicle mounted solar panels.
Posts: 108 | Location: Sunny St. Pete | Registered: March 02, 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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