These Make It Darn Close To ‘Glamping’
A lot of our friends have trailers or RVs, but John and I like to throw our gear in (and on) the Jeep and just set up camp wherever we find a beautiful place to stop. But, just because we tent camp doesn’t mean we’re roughing it! I’ve been camping for decades now, and we’ve fine-tuned our gear to give use the most comfort for the least weight and space. With all the advancements in technology these days, it’s easier than ever to take the comforts of home with you, even on a tent-camping trip. I’m not sure that what we do would qualify as “glamping”, but in my book it’s darn close!
First Priority: Sleeping Comfortably
I’ve always said that people who say they hate camping probably slept very uncomfortably on the ground or with one of those tiny little inflatable mats. Been there done that. No thanks. The best thing we ever did was to buy a Kamp-Rite Double Tent Cot. This bad boy sets up very quickly and is so comfortable you’ll sleep like a baby.
One of the things we like best about the Tent Cot is that when you have to get up at night you just swing your legs over the side just like in your bed at home. No sleeping on the ground! We bought the Kamp-Rite double self-inflating mattress and it’s fabulous. Super comfortable because it’s a combo: a foam mattress that is self-inflatable. The only down side is that the bag it comes packed in is almost impossible to use once you’ve had the mattress out. We ended up buying a large cargo bag and some heavy duty Velcro straps to save our sanity. Great decision!
No Bag On The Ground
The Kamp-Rite Compact Tent Cot Double is $350 and the double mattress is $185. They also have a lot of other sizes, including a kid’s cot, and I know you will never go back to putting a sleeping bag on the ground or an air mattress again! The cot and the mattress both store small and fit on the roof rack of the Jeep with tons of room to spare. We couldn’t be happier with them.
Kamp-Rite also has a SAC-It-Up Cornhole Beach Chair that doubles as a cornhole game board and has a pouch to store the bean bags! It reclines in 8 different positions so you can be seriously loungy. It costs $110.
Packing Your Camping Bedding And Pillows
We tried inflatable pillows and hated them. So I take full-sized bed pillows with us, as well as a sheet for the tent cot mattress, a small quilt for Mochi, who sleeps in the tent cot with us, and some light blankets for warm nights when we don’t need the sleeping bags. I get all of that stuff into one duffel bag, along with slide-on slippers for those nighttime potty trips and a light nylon skull cap to keep John’s head warm. How? Space Bags!
I have a Ryobi One+ power station that fits on an 18V Ryobi One+ battery. We charge up our Apple watches with it in the evening, power a light if we need one, and I also use it to power a small pump that I use to suck the air out of the Space Bags so all my comfy bedding fits in a small duffel. Genius, right? They also make Space Bags with a one-way valve that you can just roll up. One thing I do NOT use it for is recharging my Yaesu handheld ham radio, because the output is not a true sine wave. But for a pump or a light or charging a watch via the usb ports, it’s the nuts!
Around The Campfire
If we’re lucky enough to be allowed to have a fire, we usually just use our BioLite stove. It’s so nice and small it fits inside a pot, and it runs on twigs! Not only that, while it burns it produces a fan (2 speeds!) so it really puts out the heat. It even has a grill that attaches to it with plenty of room for 4 burgers or a couple of big steaks. Plus it has a USB port on the side so I can charge my phone with it while I cook.
If you don’t know about them yet, BioLite is an amazing company that has helped people and whole villages all over the world by supplying them with stoves that can charge their phones and run lights for them, while drastically reducing the hours that the women have to spend searching for fuel. It also cuts back enormously on their carbon emissions and the smoke that definitely damages their lungs. Check them out at www.bioliteenergy.com.
They’ve got portable stoves, fire pits, head lamps, power stations, lighting, and even solar! Their little solar panels are fantastic – they’re adjustable and they’ve got a little window that helps you get them pointed perfectly for the maximum solar power – just line it up so the shadow is in the center of the marks! Their camping lights are great, too.
Dinner, Breakfast, Whatever
I confess that most of time (almost EVERY time), dinner for us is a Backpacker’s Pantry entrée. They are seriously yummy and each pouch is two servings. They also have a lot of tasty vegan options, so that’s perfect for me! When we stop for the night I basically just set up my little kitchen (a tiny folding table) and fire up the JetBoil (https://jetboil.johnsonoutdoors.com/us). It boils water in about 90 seconds flat. I add a couple cups of boiling water to the Backpacker’s Pantry package, seal it, and set it aside while we put up the Tent Cot. Fifteen minutes later dinner is ready!
Hot, Fresh Java
I also have the French Press parts for the Jet Boil, but I find it more convenient to make coffee in the Stanley French Press. This thing is awesome – big and roomy. I can make a pot as soon as I get up, pour us both a coffee into insulated mugs with tops, and put the rest in the Thermos. Then I can make another pot real quick while the Backpacker’s Pantry breakfast “cooks” in its bag and I make my morning protein shake. Pretty soon we’re fed, coffee’d up, and ready to hit the road with a full Thermos of hot fresh java!
You can get a Stanley French Press in a variety of colors for $70. It holds a whopping 48 ounces and will keep your coffee hot for 4 hours. I really love it – I love it so much I got one for our son and one for our granddaughter too! The Stanley stuff is so rugged it will last for generations – John and I use the Stanley Thermos that used to belong to my dad!
Another thing I always like to have for breakfast is a vegan protein shake. I’m not a big fan of the ready-to-drink ones in the cartons because they are usually too thick and have a bit of an aftertaste. I put a single serving of vegan protein powder in snack-sized ziplock bags, and pack some fruit. I make a morning smoothie with my BlendJet 2 – it’s a rechargeable personal blender with an incredible amount of power. It takes up very little room since the blender jar is the glass, and it really comes in handy for all kinds of things, not just smoothies.
This thing will make 15+ shakes on one charge and it’s strong enough to blend ice, leafy stuff, fruit – whatever. I suppose you could make frozen Margaritas with it! Plus you can drink your smoothie without even taking it off the base if you want too. The only difficult thing about the BlendJet is choosing a color. To clean it, you just put a little soap and water in it, give it whirl, then rinse.
You won’t even believe how many different cool colors you can get with the BlendJet 2, and since I use it at home all the time too I think $50 is a bargain. I got one for both of my granddaughters too and they love them. In fact, all the girls that work with them ended up buying one too! Right now you get a free large (20 oz) jar when you buy a BlendJet 2. You should check them out at www.blendjet.com. They’d make a great gift even for non-campers. They’re just perfect for a smoothie in a hurry – you can just take the whole thing with you! Make a shake for lunch at work or your next tailgating party.
Taking Popsicles Tent Camping
John and I are big fans of solar. We’re not usually stopped long enough to use it on camping trips, but we have a lot of gear we can charge up at home and it will last a whole camping trip. Much of our gear is from GoSun.co. NOT com! Our favorite is the Chillest, which is a cooler with two compartments. We can set the big compartment at 40° for a fridge and the small one at 0° for a freezer. We actually took popsicles with us on a camping trip! We charge it up at home – only takes a couple hours, then plug it into the back of the Jeep in the cigarette lighter socket in the back.
At night when we’re not running the Jeep, the Chillest just hums away on its stored battery power. It’s so nice not to have all your stuff full of water from melting ice! They make two smaller sizes too, and we recently bought the Chill for shorter trips. It has just one compartment so no popsicles. LOL! They are such nice coolers and when the power went out at the house we turned both sides of the Chillest into freezers and were able to keep our frozen food intact!
GoSun has even has a folding table that is a solar panel – the entire top produces power to recharge your gear. We also bought their little generator. Charges up at the house really quickly and has power to spare for everything we want to bring with us so we stay comfy and entertained.
Wood Stoves For Longer Trips
A lot of our hunting buddies set up giant canvas tents and stay out for weeks. For them, a wood burning stove is ideal. BioLite has a rocket stove they call the EcoZoom Versa that is perfect for camping as well as emergencies. It has a sturdy cast iron top and an insulated body and is built to last for years. Find out all about it at www.bioliteenergy.com. It costs $149.
Little Things That Make Camping Life Easier
One thing I use a lot is a lighter. Whether I’m using the BioLite Stove or the JetBoil, I need to light it. The JetBoil has a push to light function but sometimes I get it wet and it won’t work. So my favorite thing to have in my kitchen duffel is a True Tactical Kit. It has four great little tools including a tactical knife, a Plasma Lighter XR with a bendable neck to get in under those pots and light the stove, a tweezer tool that’s invaluable for splinters and such, and an LED clip light that you can hook to your belt loop. They’re all well-made and sturdy and no doubt will last me forever. The whole tactical kit is $100 at www.true.acgbrands.com.
Keeping My Sweet Mochi Safe And Comfy With Ruffwear
I’ve been buying nothing but Ruffwear for Mochi since she was born. Their dog gear is so well made and sturdy you’ll never have to replace anything unless they grow out of it. Puppies! They make amazing harnesses, and I really like the ones that have two chest straps for extra security. I also like that I can get a lot of stuff in bright orange which makes it easier to see her and let hunters know she’s not a javelina!
Check Out Ruffwear
They also make some of the nicest dog boots I’ve ever seen. They fit well and protect from hot streets as well as sharp rocks and cactus. These guys even make portable water bowls and toys. If you’re a hiker you’ll love the Trail Runner stuff that lets you attach the leash to a belt so your hands are free. Mochi has three of their harnesses for different things, even a cooling harness that you can soak in water to keep your pup cool on these ferocious Arizona summer days. Check all their stuff out at www.ruffwear.com.
What’s your favorite item for camping? Please tell us in the “Comments Section”.