Leigh & Brian’s Favorite Camping Gear
With over nine years traveling full-time in their Airstream, Campendium co-founders Leigh and Brian share many of the items they consider favorites including some household items that anyone might find useful even if they’re at home just dreaming of camping.
Zamp Solar 200P Portable Charge Kit
We’ve gone as long as six months without paying for camping, and we’re able to do that because of solar energy. We have four 100 watt panels on the top of our trailer and carry the Zamp 200 watt portable panels to get us through the short winter days. One summer, when the connection on our top panels failed, the 200 watt portable carried us until we were able to get the connection up top repaired. For us, the Zamp portable panels are a must have.
Mr. Heater Portable Propane Heater
Running the heat in our Airstream requires power, and when we’re boondocking during the cold winter months we want to stay warm and conserve energy. Thanks to the Mr. Buddy we’re able to do both, and rather than use one time use propane bottles that you can’t recycle, we have a little gallon propane tank that usually lasts a couple days when we’re running the heater in the morning and evenings.
BPA Free One Gallon Water Bottles
We don’t drink out of our fresh water tank because we don’t think it is BPA free. We wanted an eco-friendly solution to drinking water on the road and these reusable one gallon bottles work great! We fill these up at reverse osmosis machines located in grocery stores including most Whole Foods and Walmarts. The water tastes great and usually costs about 40 cents a gallon.
The Nespresso Pixie is the perfect sized coffee maker for small space living and we use it every day that we’re plugged in to shore power. The only down-side is we have to plan ahead and mail-order our pods, but we prefer the flavor of the coffee over the Keurig and it’s really easy to keep clean.
When we’re dry camping, we use the Personal Coffee Brewing Travel Mug. Since Brian drinks regular and I drink decaf, we only make single servings. The filter is super easy to clean and the insulated cup is just a bonus.
Coffee Gator Pour Over Kettle has the perfect spout for making pour over coffee and it also has a built in thermometer so you don’t overheat your water. This also comes in handy for making tea.
Like the Pixie Coffee Maker, this is one of those items many of our friends have and for a good reason. The CGear Sand-Free Mat is a lifesaver when we’re camping by the beach. We keep another mat on top of it to wipe our shoes on, and since getting it we’ve really cut down on dirt in the trailer. (We have the 6×6 foot mat).
For years we relied on gas stations for filling the air in our trailer tires, and as a result, we rarely checked and filled the air in our tires. This is not a great safety practice considering they say you should check your tire pressure before every trip. Had we realized how small and reasonably priced a portable air compressor was, we would have bought one before we ever hit the road. Oh, and it’s also nice to have after you air your tires down when driving on sand.
Over the years, we’ve tried a few different water storage methods, and have found that in addition to being BPA-free, the Reliance Rhino Water Jugs are sturdy, the easiest to hold while emptying into our tanks and have a nice slim profile for storage.
Yes, it’s a stretch to categorize blog hosting as camping gear, however, our blog has been an incredible way for us to keep track of our travels and keep in touch with our friends and family. Since our blog is a hosted WordPress blog, it actually shows up on Google search results pages for phrases like “Airstream blogs” and as a result, we’ve connected with a lot more people than we ever would have expected! We’ve been with Dreamhost for years and have found it to be easy to use and their customer support responsive. Plans start at just $2.59/month.
Swapping out our toilet seat from the flimsy plastic seat that came with our Dometic toilet to a wooden seat was both inexpensive and absolutely worth it. We loved this upgrade so much, we actually bought another for some friends as a gift. It’s that great. Really.
In addition to the two fantastic fans we have in the roof of our Airstream, we also have a 12 volt Endless Breeze fan that comes in really handy on hot days when we aren’t plugged in to shore power. This fan is also great for cooling the pets down, as you can see by the photo above, our dear old Curtie really appreciated it.
I’m sensitive to light and noise when I sleep, so having a good eye mask and earplugs is critical for me.
I love the PrettyCare 3D Sleep Mask because I can open my eyes while wearing it and the fabric doesn’t rub on my eyeballs AND it’s super soft and doesn’t dig into my face or let light creep in.
Two friends of ours recommended Mighty Plugs World’s Finest Ear Plug and I concur, they are the finest earplugs I have ever tried. The plugs are malleable like Play-Doh and mold to the shape of your ear. They’re a bit large, so I break mine in half and they fit perfectly. I can’t recommend these enough if you sleep next to someone that snores or camp in noisy location.
This mat has made it possible for me to work long hours in our Airstream. The cushions that came in our trailer hurt my hips, even after replacing them with better foam. Then we replaced one of the benches with a fancy ergonomic chair, but even that isn’t as comfortable as standing for hours on this mat. The flat part of the mat provides great support. You can stretch your toes and calves on the sides, or massage your arch with the bump in the middle. It’s amazing.
We LOVE our Dyson cordless vacuum and have had it since 2013! It comes with a long reach stand-up extension for when you’re trying to cover a lot of ground, and a few other extensions depending on what you’re trying to clean. We use the one pictured above all the time for getting in corners. It’s a compact yet powerful vacuum – great with pet hair – we highly recommend it.
Side story about our Dyson vac. A couple years ago, it started to act funny. I can’t remember the exact issue, but I called customer service and they had me jump through some hoops, but they ended up sending us quite a few parts until it was fixed, and now we even have an extra battery! I can’t say enough about their customer service.
We love our rechargeable Fatboy lamps and use them on our bedside tables. They have three brightness settings, I use low for reading when Brian is sleeping and medium if he’s awake. I only use the high setting if I’m trying to find something and need more light to see. These lamps are also great for bringing outside and using on a picnic table. They’re a little expensive, so we bought one to see if we liked it and immediately bought another. There are lampshades available too if you’re interested in making them more decorative.
As full-time RVers and regular boondockers, we rarely have traditional campfires. When you’re trying to conserve water in the middle of nowhere, you don’t get to shower every day and campfires can leave your hair and clothing quite smokey.
Last New Year’s Eve, we fell in love with our friend’s propane fire bowl. It’s an instant fire that actually puts off heat as well as providing a cozy ambiance. We loved it so much, that shortly after that visit we ordered our own and use it all the time.
We hope to make *Favorite Camping Gear* a regular feature on the Campendium blog. It’s a great way to help the site earn affiliate revenue while helping your fellow campers learn about great gear. If you’d like to contribute, please email photos with links to the product details on Amazon, along with a couple sentences about each item to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include any blog or social media accounts that we can link to. Thanks in advance!