I used to think that camping in anything but a bare-bones tent was soft. But as I got older, I realized there was no shame in wanting to be comfortable, and elevating my setup could allow me to spend more time doing the things that brought me out to nature in the first place—fishing, biking and skiing. (And okay, maybe I got a little soft).
I invested in a Go Fast camper for my truck, and have since outfitted it with things that allow me to stay in the mountains longer without a resupply run. Whether you tow an Airstream or have committed to #Vanlife, here are the top splurges that will make camp feel like a second home.
Dometic CFX50 Fridge ($999)
Switching from a traditional cooler to a portable fridge is the best way to improve your adventuremobile. No more soggy sandwiches or running out of ice means less time wasted on trips into town, and since it connects to your car, solar panel, or re-chargable battery, it'll keep you at camp until you run out of food. At 46 litres, this one holds more than enough sustenence for two people for a long weekend, and it weighs as much as a comparably sized Yeti cooler.
Dometic PLB40 Battery ($849)
To power that fridge (and your phone, camera, or GPS) for an extended trip, you’ll want a solid battery. At up to 40 hours on a single charge, this is the longest lasting one I’ve ever tested. You can connect it to a solar panel or regular outlet at home, but it’ll also plug into your car’s 12 volt slot while continuing to juice your devices. It’s a great feature for when you forget to top it up before heading out (guilty), an allows you to travel further and stay longer off the grid.
Road Shower ($399)
(Courtesy Road Shower)
Sure, there’s nothing more luxurious than a warm shower after a long day of hiking or biking, but this nifty tool serves another practical function. A hose pressurized with a bike pump creates a four-gallon, high velocity camp faucet to wash dishes, clean dirty bikes, or spray down smelly dogs. On a sunny day, it will heat up as it sits on your rig, and the lack of failure-prone electrical parts makes it low maintenance and stress-free for long stints on the road.
MPowerd Luci Solar String Lights ($35)
No more stumbling around camp with a headlamp. String lights have long been a tasteful way to illuminate a trailer or van, and this set is my favorite for it’s smart, compact design. First, a built-in solar panel charges them throughout the day for up to 20 hours of life—even when I’ve run them on the super bright 100-lumen mode, there’s enough power for a few nights at camp. The 18-foot, nylon-braided cord winds into the base battery, making for easy transport and storage without kinks or tangles. Plus, there’s a USB port to keep your small electronics juiced up as long as the sun is shining.
Rhino-Rack Batwing Compact Awning ($649)
Summer days in the West tend to switch from sweltering to monsooning, making an awning a godsend for those who don't want to spend the afternoon huddled their truck or tent. This one provides 270 degrees of shade and rain protection with almost 70 feet of heavy-duty, water and mold resistant ripstop nylon. Plus, it’s incredibly easy to set up and take down—the legs fold right back into the awning and pack into the rooftop carry bag, no need to struggle with rolling and squeezing it back into shape.
Nemo Star Gazer Luxury Recliner ($219)
A fair warning: taking a seat in this camp chair will make it difficult to go back to any other. The design suspends you in the air like a hammock, and allows you to recline for a nap as if you're in your favorite easy chair. Built with aircraft grade aluminum, waterproof nylon mesh, and boasting a lifetime warranty, it’ll stand up to the elements and won’t grow moldy when tossed in your trunk. The odd design and hefty price tag may have garnered some weird looks from campmates at first, but after seeing it in action during a meteor shower in Sedona, my friends now fight over who gets to use it.
Lifesaver Jerry Can ($230)
Take a step up from that 5-gallon jug that’s been bouncing around in your truck bed for the past decade with this portable purifier. The burly, BPA-free plastic container comes with a built-in pump filter capable of removing virtually all traces of bacteria, viruses, and cysts from over 5,000 gallons of water. Since it works on demand, there’s no need to lug gallons of drinking water or wait for a gravity filter.
Eureka! Gonzo Grill ($143)
This three-in-one cooking system saves on dishes and space and lets you cook virtually anything. Throw some fresh-caught trout on the grill, flip some pancakes on the griddle, or cook pasta on the classic single-burner stove. For larger group undertakings, it comes with a port to hook up to any other Eureka! or Jetboil stoves, allowing you to whip up a feast on a single bottle of propane.