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Just back from another weekend at Big Meadows in Shenandoah National Park. While sitting around the campfire pondering the tarp I'd just configured over the back of the E after much thought this summer, feet resting comfortably on my favorite footstool, reclining in my favorite camp chair, I thought: why not another favorites thread?

So I'm going to be listing some camping favorites and invite others to do the same. Some small (footstool, plastic wine glasses), some not, some not specific to camping (Gorillapod). Will post links and pics where I have them. Prob won't get much done tonight, have to get the gear ready for next weekend.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
I'd been considering for weeks how to configure an awning that would allow keeping the back of the E open and keeping a few people dry in a rain shower. I have a Eureka screenroom (Northern Breeze) and it is fantastic but it's 30 pounds of hefty aluminum poles and yards of nylon (12'x12') that's a bit much for a 2-nighter. So I bought a 12'x16' 1.9 oz nylon taffeta tarp and telescoping awning poles (9-footers). Have taken them on a few trips but did not put them up until this weekend in the drizzle.

I'd always thought these awning+pole contraptions looked so flimsy but this was my first time putting one up and it worked really well. However, this setup was not challenged by high wind and if it were raining hard then water pooling in the middle would have been a big problem. Therefore, I'm ordering a couple more poles, one of which may go in the middle in a hard rain. Would have to blunt the edge with something cushy to keep it from poking a hole in the tarp. If anyone has better ideas, I'd sure love to hear them.

Here's a link to the tarp, which I bought from Campmor.
http://www.campmor.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?productId=12167&memberId=12500226

And a link to the REI telescoping 9-foot poles.
http://www.rei.com/online/store/ProductDisplay?storeId=8000&catalogId=40000008000&productId=2097&parent_category_rn=4500661&vcat=REI_SEARCH
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Another priority for this project was to make it as easy as possible to get the tarp up, especially in the event it had to be done in rain. For me that meant minimizing how many knots I'd have to tie and having the stakes and guy line ready to go at each attachment point.

I spent a good deal of time at REI looking for means of doing this and found some inspiration in the backpack accessory section. To attach the guy lines to the poles I'm using zipper pulls to which I have tied the guy line. To attach the tarp to the Loadwarrior and the wheels I'm using backpack accessory straps (seen in previous post). Will save considerable time next time.

These are the zipper pulls ($3.50 for six), from REI:

Chisco Zipquix

$3.95 Item 701049
header. PLooney(27-Aug-04)




And they have these straps in a few sizes. I use small ones to attach the tarp to the loadwarrior. Longer ones for the wheels. Am leaving the straps attached to the tarp so next time it will be easier to sort out which is the 12' side, blah, blah

Camping & Hiking > Accessories > Straps > REI Webbing Strap with Side-Release Buckle - 1 x 24 Inch
REI Webbing Strap with Side-Release Buckle - 1 x 24 Inch

$2.25 Item 709043
functions to header. PLooney(27-Aug-04)

 

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Tarp

Hi Hiker Chick,

My discovery was a EZ up type shelter sold by Target with velcro attachable screens all around (or not) on sale for $40! Without the screens, it's up & staked down in 5 minutes. With screens, about 15! I just had an excellant weekend at Put In Bay on South Bass Island, Ohio (Lake Erie Area). I ride a recumbent trike & had a blast riding around the island for three days!

Kevin
 

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Wow, those are great pics hikerchick! BEautiful! My must-have is Reflectix- makes the inside of the E very cozy and private. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
jdiane said:
Wow, those are great pics hikerchick! BEautiful! My must-have is Reflectix- makes the inside of the E very cozy and private. :)
I'm with you, jdiane, and several others, on the Reflectix. I'll make a point of taking a picture. For those who are not familiar, you buy a roll of this insulation at Home Depot (one source) and cut it to fit the windows you want to cover in the E. All the window pieces roll up nicely together and I tuck that into the driver side rear side window, secured by the seat belt back there.

These ensure privacy and, as important at Big Meadows, protection from headlights of cars coming into camp late. And it does keep the E warmer if you're sleeping in it. Was a marked difference in temperature when I was still laying there yesterday morning and pulled down a couple of the Reflectix panels.

Here's a link to a 25-foot roll of Reflectix at Home Depot. $15

http://www.homedepot.com/prel80/HDUS/EN_US/jsearch/product.jsp?pn=100012574
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
My favorite camp chair. Just haven't found one more comfortable. Bonus features are two drink holders per chair and a magazine pocket on the bottom where I store mags or garbage bags. Here's a link at LL Bean (they call it the "Wilderness Recliner") where it sells for $49.50. REI was selling them but I just now could not find it on their web page.

http://www.llbean.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/CategoryDisplay?page=wilderness-recliner&categoryId=40280&storeId=1&catalogId=1&langId=-1&parentCategory=9051&cat4=9925&shop_method=pp&feat=9051-tn

Excellent little tent from REI. Last year's model which I got on sale early this summer for about $130. Serves as a great guest tent (I've slept in it once) or for storing gear to clear out the car. Easy up. I have no prob doing it myself in about 10 minutes. Here's a link to the updated version.

http://www.rei.com/online/store/ProductDisplay?storeId=8000&catalogId=40000008000&productId=47975664&parent_category_rn=40003501


This Igloo cube cooler fits nicely in the passenger seat once we get to camp and allows moving the seat up as far as it will go. I don't think it insulates as well as my bigger Coleman X-treme but it's sufficient for weekends in the mountains if it's not super hot.

And this has been a real find -- a stool/footstool available at REI (and HTO, I believe) for $18. We love these! I have three and use them also as a writing table. Super compact, folds down very small.

Camping & Hiking > Furniture > Stools > Byer Tri-Lite Stool
Byer Tri-Lite Stool

$18.00 Item 674775
" Click for larger view.";// moved functions to header. PLooney(27-Aug-04)

Click for larger view.


LOVE THIS TABLE!! Easy up and down, folds tight. Very sturdy and handy. At REI.

GCI Outdoor Top Shelf Roll-Top Table

$35.00 Item 709074
= " Click for larger view.";// moved functions to header. PLooney(27-Aug-04)



 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
We've camped over a dozen times this year and to pick up and go on the weekends with minimal chance of forgetting something important, you can't beat staying permanently packed.

I use two large plastic tubs from Target (Wal-Mart, etc, no doubt carry them, too) for the tent gear, tarps and for my clothes cubes, blankets, etc. Those are the first thing unloaded and stored on the picnic table benches.

For more refined organizing I use these four little tubs -- always packed. One is my "PERSONAL" box (journal, book, little tent stake bags that hold things I need handy such as lotion, Petzl Zipka, pocketknife); "FIRE" box (hatchet, work gloves, fire starter, folding shovel, matches, citronella candle, newspaper); "FOOD" box (trail snacks, paper towels, marshmallows/telescoping s'mores forks, salt & pepper,etc.); "FLASHLIGHTS/BATTERIES" box (headlamps, Surefire lights, walkie-talkies, extra batteries).

Being clear plastic, it's nicely convenient to be able to see from the outside what's inside these boxes. They keep things dry in the strongest downpours. And they keep camp and the Element tidy. So easy to load and unload. And great for storage at home. $ well spent.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
jcskolman said:
I was at shenendoah last week and the fog when we were leaving on Monday 9-11 was so thick we could bareley see at times. Thankfully the speed limit is only 35. That sure is a fun place to drive the E though through all the mountain roads.
That is a fun road! It's what most tempts me to get a Harley. Would love to meander up there on a Heritage Softail Deluxe.

Was a little slow for my Miata to be fully appreciated.

:)

The fog up there can make for a tense drive -- Skyline's not big on guard rails. And earlier this summer, a baby Bambi darted out in front of us on a foggy morning. Barely missed them.

This past Friday was the first time I've driven Skyline after dark. Wow was it dark! A bear ran in front of us on Rt. 211 near the park entrance and after that I was going below the speed limit.

Would feel terrible to hurt any wildlife because I was in a rush to get to camp.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
A few more favorite [camping] things. With utility for hiking. And the last is just all-around good for life.

The "Gorillapod" tripod is a recent find and I've become a big fan of it for using my Canon Digital Elph (PowerShot SD700-IS) in low light conditions or for getting in shots. The little one -- suitable for little cameras -- weighs just 1.6 ounces! And it truly does wrap around a small tree branch securely enough to take a pic. Great for getting the camera level on uneven rocks. Love it -- a permanent hiking staple. Here's a link to the manufacturer. Got mine from Amazon. http://www.joby.com/

Surefire's "E2D Executive Defender" flashlight (like all their lights) is incredibly bright! I used to take a big rechargeable spotlight. For one thing, in case Gidget got away I wanted to be able to find her. Don't need the huge spotlight anymore, this Surefire is plenty. And oh-so small. It's called the defender because of the scalloped ends which have utility for self-defense. When Gidget is alerted by some sound in the forest after dark, I use the Surefire to see what she's looking at, or hearing. www.surefire.com

The rectangle item in the top pic is an Oregon Scientific weather station. This one is rudimentary (temp, humidity, barometric) and we've come to rely on it's forecasting on whether it will rain or be sunny-partly sunny. Remarkably accurate. Includes moon phases, time and can be used as an alarm clock.

Oregon Scientific Handheld Weather Forecaster

$31.95 Item 729989
view.";// moved functions to header. PLooney(27-Aug-04)



Bear spray -- next best thing to having a gun on the trail, in camp or at home. The only creepy experience we've ever had on trail was oncoming scuzzy hikers. Was glad to have the bear spray on my pack belt. (they were nice, jumped to assumptions but have been taught to go with gut instinct -- if a situation feels bad, assume it is) $35 at REI.

Petzl Zipka -- been using these for years as head lamps (for reading) but mostly as wrist lamp. Terrific and very stingy with batteries. Weighs a couple ounces. Always have one in my backpack.

Petzl Duo Headlamp - the big yellow one. One of the bulbs is halogen and that's what I use around camp most of the time. Eats batteries but I like the bright beam.

Bed & Bath Aromatherapy Eucalyptus Spearment -- bath gel, shampoo and conditioner. So refreshing after a long hike, or a long day. Highly recommended! (I do opt for campgrounds with showers)
 

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Hiker Chick for what it's worth we have found the ez up cabanas are well worth it. Sets up in less than 5 minutes. If you had to set up in the rain you could place the cabana over the back & still have some shelter to start.

The last northeast camping adventure was a wet one so to give me more room I put a tarp over the side doors to the cabana. To avoid water pooling I turned the pole upside down near the side doors. As long as I didnt hit the pole it stayed up with no lines. Not perfect but it worked. I'm still working on better ideas. Just ordered a Yakima roof rack & plan on putting extension poles to the front & back of the rack for attaching a tarp. Guy at work did this in the past says its easy. I'll definately share when finished.

To give you an idea here's a pic of the first night on the way to St Louis. I was able to keep the moonroof & the back open all night.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
msgail said:
Hiker Chick for what it's worth we have found the ez up cabanas are well worth it. Sets up in less than 5 minutes. If you had to set up in the rain you could place the cabana over the back & still have some shelter to start.
.
Ms. Gail - you and Bentbox make a compelling case for the EZ-up so I'm going to check that out. Looks like a bargain.

Igneouss - I was unaware of the Friday meet. Unlikely I could make it on a Friday but will check it out.

Adamstl - thanks for the nice comments.

:)

Aw - why doesn't Honda take note of all the Element campers and commission a custom Element tent for us to buy as Kelty makes for the new Airstream/Nissan "Basecamp" trailer??
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
Gift to camping neighbors

These rubber stake mallets are a kind gesture to campground neighbors -- especially if you pull in late at night. It quietly pounds the stakes into the ground. Holds up very well considering I use it on on fairly sharp-edged aluminum stakes.

Coghlan's Rubber Tent Peg Mallet/Stake Puller
http://www.rei.com/product/674917
$4.00 Item 674917






My favorite tent stake.

http://www.rei.com/product/682543

MSR Ground Hog Stake

$1.95

(Item 682543)






 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Firestarters

With these and a Duraflame under the wood -- your fire will be blazing in no time. Not supposed to cook over Duraflames but we rarely do -- mostly marshmallows late in the inferno.

Diamond Strike-a-Fire Matches

$2.60 Item 407008
view.";// moved functions to header. PLooney(27-Aug-04)


 

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For the java junky :D



My favorite camping chi-chi. small, lite, extremely durable. It dumps directly into your cup so it cleans up super easy. I use a metal cup so if my coffee cools I can stick the cup on the campfire to heat it back up :) I've tried various types of french presses & percolators but this one works best for me. It's strictly a 1 person deal but I'm usually the only coffee drinker in the group.

Hmmm...like the backpack strap idea. looks like that may work better than my current setup for securing my diy internal bike rack...bike tite screwed to a 2x4 held in place w/bungees attached to the back 2 tiedowns. :rolleyes:
 

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HikerChick>>Didn't you use to use something along the lines of an SUV Tent, or am I thinking of someone else? If it was you, why the switch?
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
WG Wood: those are amazing pics! All of them. :-o


3rd Honda: I have a veritable tent collection -- including the SUV tent. What I take depends on where/how long/with whom we're going. This summer a friend (sometimes two) and I've been running up to Shenandoah after work on Fridays and coming back on Sundays so have adopted a minimalist approach for those weekends.

For the short weekends, we haven't even been taking a campstove. We just grab coffee and food at one of the restaurants up there. Big Meadows Lodge, by the way, does great takeout pizza.

:)
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
Rocket Dog said:
Oh Hiker Chick....thy goddess of all that is outdoors...I kneel before thee.

I was a boy scout for years, camped and hiked a lot but then as I grew older I left that behind. One reason I bought the E is illustrated perfectly in this thread. Thanks very much for the boost.
Rocket Dog - Sounds familiar. :) I grew up in Los Angeles and my family's favorite vacations were at a primitive campground at Mt. Lassen in northern California. Those are my very fondest family memories and I think of them often since my father died.

My summer job during college was as a park aide with the Oregon State Parks in the Columbia River Gorge. After graduation I didn't step foot in a campground for a decade. Then I got a dog and the eastern shore beaches are not dog-friendly in the summer so we gravitated to Virginia's state parks in the mountains.

Virginia has excellent campgrounds so go forth and explore! I adore them because all are dog-friendly and even the cabins that many of the parks offer (my favorite being at Douthat State Park) are dog-friendly ($5 a night per dog in the cabin).

Here's a great resource for scouting campgrounds - The Best In Tent Camping series. Here's the one for Virginia:



My last cross-country drive was in a Miata. Can hardly wait to make that journey in the E.... No more motels.
 
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