In my last blog post, I talked about Lynn and my month-long road trip camping, mountain biking and exploring Oregon, Washington and British Columbia.
With a month on the road, more than a dozen campsites, a bunch of bike rides and almost 3,000 miles on the road linking it all up, I think I can safely say we put our gear through the ringer. Some of it we’d been using on past #toasterroadtrips, while other items were wedding presents from generous friends and family members. Here are some of the highlights:
Big Agnes Tensleep Station 4 Tent:
At 5’11” and 6’3″ respectively, Lynn and I were ready for an upgrade from our little two-person backpacking tent. After a month of camping in it – I’m happy to give this one a glowing review. Tall enough to nearly stand up in (huge for getting dressed), long and wide enough that we can sleep pointed in any direction inside the tent depending on slope, and with plenty of pockets – it gave us all the room and comfort we wanted. Add on a huge vestibule for storing wet gear in the case of wet whether, an easy setup and tons of guylines to stabilize the tall structure, and I can’t think of a single complaint.
Nemo Cosmo Insulated Sleeping Pads:
So. Freakin’. Comfy. I’ve had a Nemo Astro sleeping pad for a while, so I was already familiar with the comfort of their thick, horizontally baffled design, but add on the extra width and length, plus the convenience of a built-in foot pump, and I can say I consistently slept better camping than I do on an average night at home. My only nitpick is the built-in pump makes re-packing tricky, but we got the hang of it pretty quickly, and Nemo doesn’t hose you with a stuff sack too small to ever use again.
Goal Zero Yeti 150 and Nomad 20 battery and solar panel:
I’d like to say we unplugged, forgot electronics, and harmonized with nature, but electronics – especially on a month-long trip, are pretty key. Keeping our phones and cameras charged has been an ongoing challenge in past trips – but with this solar setup it was a breeze. Both Lynn and my iPhones have pretty crummy batteries, but we never went without power thanks to this super useful setup. We charged both with solar at campsites and 12 volt off my car on longer drives, and the Yeti never dipped below 40 percent.
Yeti Tundra 35 Cooler:
We’ve had this for a while now, and while it is better insulated than an average cooler (by a long shot), it isn’t made of magic, and has a learning curve for packing and accessing to keep its cool. Those thick walls also mean a small interior volume compared to the amount of space it takes up in the car. Still, we never had any food spoil from getting too warm, so it did its job.
Yakima Rocketbox Pro 11:
It was clear that the toaster – my Honda Element, needed a little help in the storage department for such a long trip. Lynn and I combined our REI dividends to pull this one off, and were pleasantly surprised how little it effected gas mileage and wind noise. We did, however, discover that it isn’t waterproof. Pools of water formed inside after driving through rainstorms, meaning we had to store any gear inside the box in plastic bags for a little extra insurance.
As seekers of swimming holes and hot springs, and generally in no position to turn our noses up at campground showers, Lynn and I have been a fan of the light, absorbent and quick-drying Packtowl. The robe version makes deck changes in and out of bike clothes at trail heads easier, and walking to and from hot springs, showers etc more comfortable. The only small downside with the really absorbent fabric is it tends to stick to wet skin, making putting the robe on when wet a little tricky.
Sea to Summit Collapsible … everything:
This was a popular wedding gift for us – collapsible cups, bowls, even a metal-bottomed pot you can put on the stove. Accordion silicon sides not only let these pack down tiny, but made them easy to clean, mildly insulating (compared to our normal stainless steel cups). Our number of visits to local breweries rivaled our number of campgrounds or mountain bike trails, so the cups in particular got a lot of mileage after we filled our growler and headed back to camp.