Showing posts from February, 2015

Field & Stream Wilderness Lodge 6-Person Tent

The sale of our previous adventure vehicle, the Montero, included much of the kit we've acquired along the way, including the Kodiak canvas tent reviewed below. Hated to see it go, but for our needs it was a bit of overkill. As we build up our kit to fit in our current vehicle with substantially smaller storage, size and weight are old considerations from our moto-camping days that we're back to observing.

This time we've gone with something lighter, but still with room to enjoy inside in wet weather with two dogs, as well as tall enough to stand in. This kit has a spacious 8 by 12 foot floor pan with a huge screen window at the back with a full-coverage fly that creates a protected vestibule in the front.

Can't beat the value at under $250 at Dick's Sporting Goods. Best to waterproof the fly and all opaque surfaces on the tent.

Kodiak Spring Bar Canvas 10X14 Tent

We traded out the roof top tent with something more pragmatic and comfortable. Navigating the ladder out of the RTT for the 2:00a pee was perilous at best, challenging even the best bladder control, not to mention getting arthritic limbs to move in ways best left to primates.

We replaced the Oasis II with a spring bar Kodiak Canvas tent, a ten by fourteen palace giving us ample room for upgraded sleeping arrangements and the ability to stand and walk around as was intended for most the homo-erectus species.

Now that we're traveling and camping with two medium-sized canines, this space accommodates them well and gives us a place to go in when the weather turns wet.

The spring bar design deploys in a few moments and the canvas will make this the last tent we ever buy. (Famous last words.)

While the RTT was cozy and comfortable, this made you think you could also order room service.

Black Canyon Privacy Tent

The last shelter we bring along is the shower/lu. Made by Black Canyon, it's a 4.5X4.5 foot privacy tent with a vented shower floor, shelving and towel rack.

It ships with a sun shower but we replaced it with a heavy-duty garden sprayer I converted to a shower by replacing the hose and sprayer with a food-grade tube and shower head from an old solar shower. Pumped up it provided great water pressure for washing dishes and showering.

Oasis II Roof-top Tent

Mounted atop the Thules on the Montero was an Oasis II roof-top tent (RTT). Yes, we slept up there. A little bigger than a queen size mattress, this RTT has the room and accoutrements of a luxurious two-man tent without the fuss of worrying about scorpions, snakes, and fire ants, though it does make it easier for bears to access since they don't have to bend over to tell if you're sleeping.
The Oasis II was made in France by Trekking and had a limited distribution in the States, primarily through Rogue River Trading Company which appears to be no longer in business.

We chose the Oasis II over conventional RTT's for its weight, just under 40 pounds where other RTTs weigh more than one hundred pounds. That would limit the amount of kit we could pack on top. It was also considerably less money, under $1k. Other RTT's can run into $3k to $4k but are certainly more substantial and rugged. This suited us fine.

The image below shows the RTT mounted with the door to the rear…

ARB 1250 Awning

The Eezi-Awn taught us a lesson or two in what to look for in our next awning. The first being weather protection. We picked up an ARB 48" awning. It's enveloped in a heavy duty nylon reinforced pvc bag, completely weatherproof.
The second is in the hardware. The legs are height-adjustable and use a solid locking cam system that instills more confidence in the structure's integrity.
 The shade is made from a thick pvc lined polyester.
 All hardware on the awning is aluminum and nicely machined and finished.
The third lesson is in its engineering. The stanchion junctions include an oversized black disk that keep the legs and stanchions secured in their channels until they're deployed making one-person set-up quick and easy. The Eezi-Awn required two people and was awkward to deploy.
The shade secures to the frame with stout velcro strap and the corners are reinforced. The frame is channeled as well to accept mosquito netting and add-on rooms with floors, all ARB acces…

Eezi-Awn Awning

This was first awning we purchased and used extensively. It attached to the Thule racks on the Montero.

This awning is Australian made. The collapsible frame and casing is aluminum with a canvas textile. The struts and supports use an offset cam design that locks the three-piece legs into place regardless of height, We've found them tricky to deploy and a bit hard to trust.

The awning provides ample shade, a valuable resource in a land of few trees.

It stowed in a hard aluminum case that was a bit vulnerable to the elements with dust and moisture seeping in through the seams.

Westfield XL Roll Table

This is the Westfield XL Aluminum Roll Table, 43X27X27. It collapses into a tube sack and has an adjustable leg to even out the ground. Lightweight and packable alongside other long, narrow items, we found the hardware to mount the table's slats to be flimsy, and the plastic finishing items were pretty fragile.

GCI Express Lounge Chair

For seating we picked up a couple of GCI Outdoor Express Lounge Chair from Sportsman's; comfort and packability being the key factors in the choice.

They're easy to collapse, have a small storage footprint and are stable. We've gone through a pair in one season of camping, not too impressed with their rigidity, a weak link being a plastic coupling at the junction of the arms and seat. A hose clamp is a quick fix and reinforcement.

Pelican 1500

I created a smaller, easily packable mess kit for the H3 that includes a small table, a GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Dualist mess kit, two Brunton stoves, a JetBoil, a cutting board and gas canisters along with an MSR water purifier not pictured here. It's all packed and protected in a Pelican 1500 case.

MSR MiniWorks EX Microfilter

Indispensable is the MSR MiniWorks EX Microfilter. It pumps clean water up to a liter per minute and is maintained with built-in cleaning tools. 

Brunton Stove

Brunton makes a 3.9 ounce stove that packs into a tiny case but pumps out enough BTU's to cook quickly and well.
The burner has a piezo igniter and a variable regulator that offers a good range of temperature.


The JetBoil is our coffee press, and my favorite piece of kit.
The cup holds one liter and sits atop a high-performance burner with a piezo igniter. It boils water in less than 90 seconds.
The press and burner stow inside the cup for easy packing. JetBoil makes a compressed fuel can that fits inside as well.

GSI Micro Table

Holding our kit is a GSI Outdoors Micro Table. It can stand just over four or six inches tall with a 15.5x11.25" surface. It supports up to twenty pounds and weighs a pound and a half.
It deploys with two rods that thread through each slat and interlock with the folding legs.

GSI Pinnacle Dualist

The GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Dualist mess kit is a smartly designed, compact kit we've used throughout our moto and kayak camping adventures.
The kit packs a 1.2 liter Halulite pot with a Lexan lid with an integrated strainer, two 20-ounce insulated cups and two bowls that nest within.
The kit weighs less than 21 ounces and fits together in a bag that we use to fetch water. We keep a pair of multi-tool utensils in the kit making it a complete setting.