by Gary Hawkins, March 1st, 2019
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Eighteen months ago, I wrote the article Five Helpful Things We've Added to Our Teardrop Camper List. After two more seasons of teardrop adventures, I thought it might be helpful to update this to include several more items we now often take:
- CAT Power Station: I picked up this primarily to supplement my 4runner emergency gear - this unit should jump-start the SUV if we get a flat battery when dry camping. However, it's proving to be very helpful for a whole host of other tasks. The air compressor is ideal for inflating tires, the 4 USB ports great for keeping our electronics ready for use, and the 200W inverter provides enough power to run my astrophotography set-up. It even has a built-in LED light. Unfortunately, we don't have a 12V DC output on this model; the 3 in 1 - CAT Professional Power Station With Jump Starter & Compressor has that covered as well. All-in-all a very handle device.
- Dutch Oven - If you like to cook, a dutch oven can produce yummy meals. Sure, it's not for everyone since cooking this way can be time-consuming. I'll be publishing a more detailed post on my fledgling dutch oven experiences soon. If you've ever considered a dutch oven, the place to start isn't with equipment but by acquiring the book, "The Camp Dutch Oven Cookbook: Easy 5-Ingredient Recipes to Eat Well in the Great Outdoors" by Ronald Donovan. This little masterpiece covers everything from buying the right dutch oven, seasoning, the accessories you'll need, preparing and distributing the cooking coals, and a fantastic selection of simple recipes.
Yummy Sausage, Granny-Smith Apples, Cabbage, and Mushroom Stew!
- A Tent - You might not think of taking a tent with you when your tear-dropping but it can be extremely useful. We recently upgraded our tent to a Coleman Evanston 6-Person Dome Tent with Screen Room, and this provides about 70 sq ft of space under the dome (which you can stand up in), and an additional 16 sq ft under the vestibule. Typically, I sleep in one giving the girls more room at night. But even if this was not the case, I would still take it as it can provide a dry area where you can eat, a place to ride out a rain shower in comfort, somewhere discrete for a porta-potty, or a convenient place to store stuff.
- A Thick Air Mattress: One too many bouncy sessions from Xaria caused my last air mattress for the tent to give up the ghost, and it's proved to be a blessing in disguise. My new air mattress is eighteen inches deep, and this results in staying warmer at night since you're further from the ground. With a built-in pump, it is quick to inflate and deflate with the CAT Power Station. No more running a power cable from the 4runner invertor! As to its durability, that's too early to tell. If it proves successful, I'll include a purchasing link.
Remaining in our packing list from the first article:
- Walkie Talkies: These can be useful in a couple of situations. Firstly, they help when reversing the trailer into a parking spot - no more shouting out open car windows and hoping your partner hears. Secondly, they're great if you want to stay in local contact. For example, Sophia likes to take Xaria for a walk in the stroller before bedtime, and it's an easy way of finding out where they are in the campground. You could use a phone but I'm sure many of you have discovered more than one campsite without mobile coverage - we certainly have. GMRS/FRS mobiles are available in multi-packs for around $50 from a variety of vendors. The Ansoko Long Range Rechargable FRS/GMRS Walkie Talkies Pack of 4) offer great value and get excellent reviews on Amazon.
- Propane Fire: There's no denying the sight and sound of a crackling campfire is difficult to beat. However, if you're away for more than a few nights we've found a propane fire is a good alternative. It either saves transporting a lot of wood or buying expensive firewood locally. We purchased the Outland Living Firebowl Deluxe Portable Propane Fire Pit for around $125. It produces a whopping 58,000 BTU of heat and includes cover/carry kit, pre-attached 10-foot hose with regulator, and a decorative rock set. This type of fire is often OK to use when campfires bans are in place during high fire risk situations, and it makes a great fire pit for the back garden when you're enjoying time at home.
Camping with A Friend - Portable Fire in Action at Joshua Tree NP
- Portable Grill: Typically, we try and keep cooking simple, and that frequently involves reheating homemade chili or stew. However, sometimes it is nice to grill, and for that, we have a Nexgrill 2-Burner Portable Table Top Grill. The grilling surface is large enough to cook four large steaks, six to eight burgers, and as many as twelve hot dogs. The Nexgrill can be made to run at a high temperature, so it's also good for searing fish. If we take the grill, we usually take the propane fire rather than wood since they both run off the same fuel source.
Xaria Looks On in Expectation of Yummy Hot Dogs Cooked on Table Top Grill
- Solar Lights: Recently, I picked up a couple of solar garden lights from Home Depot; they were about twelve bucks for the pair. Since our teardrop is pretty distinctive, we've found these are perfect for showing off her looks after the sun has set. If I'm sleeping in the tent away from Sophia and Xaria, it's also easier for me to quickly see what's going on around them in the middle of the night.
Our Little Guy 5 Wide Teardrop Nicely Illuminated By Two Solar Garden Lights
- Earplugs: Sadly, we've found that earplugs should always be carried. You never know when you're going to get noisy campsite neighbors, and there's nothing worse than getting a bad night's sleep. We use 3M E-A-Rsoft Uncorded Earplugs. Make sure you get the small or regular size initially. We once got the large size by accident, and these were far too big to be useful!
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