Liz & Jake’s Favorite Camping Gear
Liz and Jake have been traveling the U.S. for almost four years in their motorhome. Liz works part-time on Campendium, fielding questions from the community, helping out with the campground data, and from time to time, convincing Jake to share his technical expertise with us. We couldn’t be more appreciative of the two.
While Liz and Jake may have a loose interpretation of “camping gear,” today they share their favorite items in and around their RV.
We love to hike. And we love to run. And sometimes like to mix the two things together into one adventure. Enter: my favorite shoe, the Soloman Speedcross.
These sneakers have cradled my feet during hikes up several Colorado 14ers, hiked down to the Grand Canyon’s Colorado River (and then hiked back up – don’t forget you’ve got to hike back up!), and mountains in Olympia National Park. They’ve provided me with a blister free barrier against root riddled dirt trails during her forays in ultra marathon running – and most recently they held up, and provided some semblance of a warmth barrier during a 24 hour race in 50* temperatures and pouring rain. They’ve been used for traipsing through (surprise!) ice and snow during a (surprise!) snow storm during a stay in Asheville. They’ve been used to run on the beaches of Myrtle and LA – providing a bit of extra grip in sand that will make your hip flexors start crying after a mile or two.
I love my Soloman Speedcrosses. As in, I don’t even ‘shop around’ anymore. When my current pair are sufficiently worn, I just hit ‘order’ on Amazon and carry on.
The Soloman Speedcross is an aggressive shoe – with knobby treads and a quick release / tightening lace system, making them great for mountain hikes or stabilizing on ice. They dry out quickly and breath really well. They also permit ankle mobility if you’re not into that whole ‘hiking boot’ thing. And, they are infinitely more fashionable than classic hiking boots, being available in a plethora of color combos from the wild to the mild.
And, with their functionality across walking, hiking, running, and (not sliding) snow galavanting they reduce your need for multiple shoe types across activities. Which means you have more room in your shoe rack for having Teva sandals in multiple colors – which is very important for fashion, and airing out your feet after an awesome run/hike in a pair of Soloman Speed Crosses.
One possible downfall of the Speedcross – they run pretty narrow. Not so narrow that those with normal feet width will have an issue, but, if you’re like Jake and have big honking feet (see: EXTRA WIDE), you may have to look into other options.
For the first 2 years of full-time RV traveling we used two old school style backpacks during our hiking adventures. Jake’s had really cool Super Mario Cart designs on it, mine was a Dinosaur speckled number that I had been toting about since 2006.
And then, one random day, we took the leap and bought new daypacks. And have wondered since that day why in the heck we didn’t upgrade sooner.
We now use Osprey Daylight Daypacks during hikes, while traipsing around a new city on our bikes, and when we decide to take out laptops to work out of a local coffee shop.
Osprey Daylight packs are nicely sized. They offer plenty of storage for snack, a change of clothes, a book and a camera – and the option of either a water bladder or water bottles for a day spent on the trails. A laptop will fit in the main pack area, with additional room for headphones, a book or two, and an extra sweater when we have coffee shop days.
There are different strapping options depending on that day’s adventure. In addition to classic over shoulder straps, the addition of an adjustable waist strap and an adjustable chest strap provide additional support and feel like a constant hug. I like constant hugs. If you don’t, the additional straps can easily be snapped and tucked behind you.
You know what we have a lot of in our rig?
You know what we don’t have a whole lot of?
Enter: Yeti Tumbler.
We each have a Yeti Tumbler, and oh dear do we use them a lot! We put coffee or cocoa in them for a sunrise walk on the beach, then rinse them out and fill them with water to sip on throughout the day. We’ve slipped something a little ‘extra’ into them for a walk to a festival in a local town. We’ve taken them to yoga classes and use them while lounging in our hammock.
They are extremely well insulted – and come with a cool lid system that makes the lid easy to clean, but also pretty darn spill proof. Which is important when you live with a cat who think that any open glass of water is set out specifically for her to drink from – then knock over.
One of the downfalls of living in a 40’x10′ box? Cooking.
We cooked fish on the indoor stove once and smelled it on our clothes (which are stored within a 10′ proximity of your indoor stove) for weeks.
And, if we choose to turn on our convection oven or propane stove when the outside temperature has climbed above 70 degrees, we better prepare to apply extra deodorant and wipe sweat from our brows. Not even two air conditioners can fight the heat output of cooking indoors on a warm day.
Enter the Weber Portable Grill. We love our Weber Portable Grill. It folds up small enough to store in our bays – and keeps stinking cooking projects outside. Also, the sweet blue color is highly fashionable, and lets our neighbors know just how cool we really are. Metaphorically – and literally.
Bonus: Weber grill cover.
I’m a big reader. Carrying books along with us in the rig would be silly – and take up space and add weight. I’m also a clutz and tend to drop and break things frequently. So to fend off the creep-up of books in the rig, Jake purchased a water resistant kindle for me this past year. It is awesome. We pair it with a library card and have an endless supply of (almost free) books downloaded directly to the device. Since we didn’t apply for a library card on the one visit we made to our home domicile, we pay for a library card (yearly) through the Rochester Pubic Library, where library cards are offered to anyone – even out of county residents – for a small fee.
It hangs up quickly, packs up small, and is extremely fashionable – especially if you choose the rainbow edition. We love our Eno hammock! It was given to us as a gift – and is one of the best we’ve received since we started RVing full time. It’s perfect for a sunny day reading session or nap. And, because it’s a double, we can both fit in it. Usually, it’s just one of us – and the extra fabric provides protection from the sun and bugs – and some privacy from nosey neighbors too.
To hang the hammock, we utilize the Atlas Straps (from Eno) Suspension System. These deploy very quickly, and allow you to spread your hammock across a range of distances. We’ve set it up between trees and under a boardwalk near the ocean – and are always on the look-out for other hanging options.
When you’re finished swaying in the breeze, the straps and hammock fold up nice and tight and can be maintained in respective small baggies. We can set this thing up in under 2 minutes – and spend hours gently swaying in the breeze of wherever we happen to be.
Fire building is not one of our talents. But with Qwick Wick fire starters, there is no shame in that! We don’t have fires frequently, but when we have one, we like it to be an easy experience. So, we pull out one of our fire starters, light it up, and bask in the glow of respect everyone else in the campground is definetely giving us, due to our super fast fire starting skills (thanks to Qwick Wicks!)
We are thorough and cautious when it comes to driving our behemoth from one location to the next. We run through our checklist – and then check the checklist to make sure it’s been thoroughly checked before putting our beast into 1st gear and slowly pulling out of our current spot.
Manually checking the pressure of each of our 8 tires for proper weight before take-off was the most dreaded task on that checklist – until we committed to a TPMS system. Now checking tire pressure takes about 10 seconds and does not involve greasy hands.
And, as an added bonus, we can now monitor our towed vehicle while we’re in motion! Which is probably good for the safety of everyone on the road – and also eases my anxiety that we’ll have a blowout or slow leak in the tires on our towed and we won’t notice it until we’ve ground our towed wheels up to axle. Hey, we’ve heard horror stories.
Over the span of almost 4 years on the road, we’ve been through two towed vehicles – but we’ve kept our bike carrying system the same across both.
We’ve found the Thule Bike Rack system to be efficient and safe across use on both our RAV4 and our Jeep Wrangler.
It takes bout 2 minutes to load our two bikes onto the back of our Jeep. We then have the option of using the Thule’s built in lock-and-key system, or wrapping our bike lock around the system. We usually do both.
And, if you were wondering if the Thule system can be used for more than just bikes, well, yes! With the help of a few extra bungee cords or tie-downs, we’ve attached our snowboards to the rack, and recently attached a Christmas tree to the system – and then hauled it over 800 miles, without a glitch.
We don’t roll without candy. I could literally live off of candy alone – and Jake knows that to keep me happy, candy needs to be stocked in the rig at all times. If we’re heading out into the yonder, away from civilization for any extended period of time, we stock up.
We also always carry a batch of what we call ‘Drummy Bears’ with us. These delightful morsels of vodka or rum soaked gummy bear candies are perfect for those times when a new neighbor unexpectedly invites you to sit around their campfire and chat with them. We keep a small pyrex dish tucked away in the back of our RV fridge and can pull them out at a moments notice. Our fridge isn’t big (it’s no residential), but the space taken up by Drummy Bears is well worth it for us.
Tip: Drummy Bears must be made in a glass container, or else they congeal. It has something to do with science. Our very favorite gummies to use are Albanese 32 Flavor Bears. They are 32 flavors of glory – and people are always impressed that there are so many flavors to try! We usually order them from Amazon when we’re somewhere with a mailable address.
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