I leave tomorrow on a monthlong road trip and couldn’t be more excited! In this video I talk a bit about the trip, and I also ask for your input on places I should see and things I should do along the way, particularly in northern California (east of I-5), southeastern Oregon, and southern Idaho. (Click here if you can’t see the video below.)
In this video I head up into the mountains of northern Utah and find the most beautiful campsite I’ve ever stayed at. I talk about some changes I’ve made to my camping setup and show off some new gear, including what may be the world’s most compact camp toilet! (Click here if you can’t see the video below.)
This video is part 1 of the adventure. Part 2 will be up on Thursday or Friday.
- Campsite Location: 40.968556, -111.796334
- The Walmart chair
- The inflatable solar lantern
- The other solar lantern
- The cooler
- The tie-downs I use as hammock straps (They’re much cheaper than “real” adjustable hammock straps and work great.)
- The privacy tent
- The windshield mount I use to attach my fake GoPro
(Note: This blog post contains Amazon affiliate links.)
I’m always on the lookout for tools to help me find free campsites. Websites I currently consult before going on a trip include FreeCampsites.net, Campendium, and Hipcamp. I recently found a new one to add to the rotation, and it’s called iOverlander. (There are Android and iOS apps too.)
I live in Utah and have extensive camping experience in the state, so whenever I come across one of these new websites or apps, I immediately go to Utah and see if there are any camping areas I don’t already know about. It turns out that iOverlander had several. I then looked down into Arizona and southern California (other areas I’m pretty familiar with) and found still more campsites I wasn’t aware of. In my opinion, iOverlander is the second best of the above mentioned campsite websites after FreeCampsites.net. (I’ve found that the other two websites, Campendium and Hipcamp, have campsites that are usually covered on FreeCampsites.net.)
You can filter the camps by type of camping (I usually turn all of them off except for “wild camping” and “informal campsites”) and by amenities you’re looking for (being able to find a paid campground with a shower, for example, could mean that you won’t need to pay for a shower at a recreation center or truck stop).
Head on over to iOverlander and take a look at the camping areas near you or that you’re familiar with. Did you find any campsites you didn’t already know about?
One of the problems I’ve had with my little solar camp shower bag is that I’m not always near a tree to hang it up. Plopping it on top of my SUV doesn’t work well because it’s not tall enough. This video covers two solutions that I’ve come up with. (Click here if you can’t see the video.)
I know that not everyone is into hammocking when they’re out traveling and camping in their SUVs, but I highly recommend it. I think it provides an unparalleled relaxation experience. One thing I’ve been fascinated with lately is the idea of being able to hang a hammock without trees, and one way to do that is to get a hitch-mounted hammock stand for the back of your SUV, truck, car, etc.
I’ve linked to the Blue Ridge Overland Gear Hitchhiker ($290 plus $33 shipping) hammock stand before, but I’ve recently come across a few more hitch-mounted hammock stands and wanted to share them in case anyone else is as weirdly interested in these things as I am:
This one is unique in that it also functions as a hitch-mounted cargo basket. If you’re into that, this looks like a great option.
If I had $400 burning a hole in a my pocket, this is the hitch-mounted hammock stand I’d get. With the arms collapsed and folded down, the thing is just 26 inches wide. Very cool design.
This one is brand new on the market. As you can see, it’s a much different design from the others. The good news is that it’s cheaper than all the rest. The bad news is that you’re really high off the ground when you’re in the hammock. Not good if you’re injury-prone. As for the $70 shipping price, that’s how much I was quoted for shipping to Utah from Michigan, where the Hammock-King is made. It may be more or less depending on where you are. Here’s a video showing the Hammock-King in action.
In this video I head off into the mountains of northern Utah to enjoy some peace and quiet and to test out some new gear. (Click here if you can’t see the video below.)
Here’s some of the stuff I go through in the video:
- My new kayak (was $179 when I bought it)
- The kayak roof rack holders (Amazon affiliate link)
- Coleman Xtreme 52 qt. Cooler. The lowest price I could find online was at Home Depot.
- Akaso EK7000 fake GoPro (Amazon affiliate link)
And here’s the map of the adventure (click here if you can’t see the map below):
What is the best shower option for SUV RVers and car campers? A video viewer asked me that question in an email a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve turned my reply into this blog post.
It’s something I don’t have a very good answer for, and that’s for a few reasons. First, I haven’t tried every camp shower out there, so I can’t really give a definitive answer in that regard. And second, the best one for you really depends on what you value most in your shower. And third, I myself haven’t made up my mind as to which I prefer. That said, here are some brief thoughts on different kinds of camp showers.
Do you want simplicity? Then a spray bottle and bag of wet wipes is a great solution. This is what I used on most of my early trips. It won’t get you as clean as a traditional shower, but it’s more compact and less of a hassle, in my opinion, than the other options below. It doesn’t get much simpler than this.
Do you want more of a traditional shower experience but don’t want it to take up too much space when it’s not being used? A solar camp shower (the kind that is essentially a bag that you fill with water and then leave out in the sun; this is the one I have) may be right for you. I used one of these showers on a couple of my early trips but never really liked it for two reasons:
1. I was never at a campsite long enough or during the hotter/sunnier parts of the day, so the water was never as hot as I would like.
2. I often camp in the desert or some other area that doesn’t have trees nearby. With no trees to hang the shower from, I had to resort to plopping the shower down on the roof of my car, but my car isn’t very tall. This meant that I’d have to hunch over to get the water flowing. Not ideal.
I’m currently giving the solar camp shower a second chance. I’ve gone a long way toward solving the first problem by doing this. And I’ve also solved the second problem, which will be covered in a video in the next week or two. The downside of this kind of shower is that, depending on environmental circumstances (cloud cover, temperature, elevation, etc.), the water still may not be as hot as you’d like.
A sprayer-style shower (like this) is great if you have a bit more room and don’t want to have to mess with finding a place to hang up the camping-style shower. I made a shower similar to the one in that video and liked it whenever I was using it, but found that it took up more space than I wanted when I wasn’t using it. Because my SUV (a RAV4) is so small and space is at a premium, I gave it up in favor of the more compact solar camp shower.
If you want ultimate comfort (i.e., a pressurized, heated shower) and are willing to give up some space for it, the Zodi heated camp showers are supposed to be great. Ted from this article has the Extreme SC and speaks highly of it.
(Note: This article contains Amazon affiliate links.)
In this video I take the little solar camp shower I have and figure out a way to strap it to the top of my car so that it can heat up while I drive. (Click here if you can’t see the video below.)
In this video I head into southeastern Idaho for a quick overnight camping trip and see a handful of interesting sights along the way. (Click here if you can’t see the video below.)
And here’s a map of the trip that includes everything I saw and did in the video:
These are the places I go to in the video as shown on the map above. Links to relevant information elsewhere online are included where appropriate.
- Bear River Massacre Site (Lower) – Learn more about the Bear River Massacre on its Wikipedia page.
- Bear River Massacre Site (Upper)
- Pretty campsite I didn’t use
- My campsite in Caribou National Forest
- Standing Rock in Weston Canyon – More info here.
- Weston Reservoir
- Oldest Department Store in Idaho – More info here.
- Samaria Cemetery – Home of the “One Man, Two Headstones,” which you can find more info about here.
- Davis-Jenkins Cabin – More info here.
- Washakie “Ghost Town” – More info here.
There were also several things I saw and did on this trip that did not make it into the video. This is for two reasons: 1) The video would have been about 45 minutes long, but more importantly, 2) I felt that the video footage I had of these places wasn’t very interesting. But for reference, here they are:
- Casper’s Ice Cream Factory Store (Richmond, UT) – This company makes the supposedly famous “FatBoy” ice cream sandwiches, and the store has factory seconds and other cheap ice cream. I got an ice cream sandwich for $0.84, including tax. More info about the company on its Wikipedia page.
- Franklin, ID Historic District (Franklin, ID) – Franklin is the oldest town in Idaho and has a nice little historic district.
- Oneida Stake Academy (Preston, ID) – A neat old Romanesque building that used to be a Mormon school. Get an overview of it here on Wikipedia. If you want even more info, here’s a website dedicated to it.
- Napoleon Dynamite House (Preston, ID) – Napoleon Dynamite (Amazon affiliate link) is a weird cult classic comedy movie. Much of it was filmed in and around Preston, so I drove out to where Napoleon’s house is.