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Camping Gear ~ what I take & where it goes

Click on the numbers to see what’s stowed inside

Kitchen Gear

Product:  Camco cutting board 43857  

Comments: Found a cutting board, complete with rounded cutout for the faucet.  Remove the adjustable feet, make a cutout/slot for the stove grate (drill works if that’s all you have). Perfect fit!  Only drawback is the price, but it’s a convenient plug-n-play option for those not caring to make their own (available in beige too).

Update 2015: Replaced with the more lightweight GoWesty version.

Product: Bus dishes

Comments: I had lightweight plastic dishes in the van, but plastic dishes with Buses on them are even better!  Available at Bus Depot.  Not in photo: Platter and giant salad/serving bowl (not used in my van so they’re in my house).  I did not get the matching utensils (for shame!) because I  prefer the plastic set I have.

Products: MSR Base 2 Pot Set; MSR Quick Skillet; square griddle with handle removed.

Comments: All cookware is non-stick for ease of cleaning and everything stacks for compact storage. Protectors are used to keep the non-stick coating from getting scratched up and to prevent rattles.   

A 10" Kuhn Rikon silicone splatter lid is used on the skillet and is stored on top of the cutting board.  

Product: World Famous Stovetop Camp-A-Toaster

Comments: Came with the van.  I had no clue what it was, but my parents knew immediately: Toaster!  It actually works great! (Mine isn’t as pretty as a new one, so stock image used.) Stows at the front, bottom of the kitchen cabinet.


Product: Collapsible dish rack

Comments: I hate towel-drying dishes (prefer air drying); found this small, collapsible dish rack that works perfect.  It sits on top of the microfiber dish mat (both are strapped to the rear table when driving). Downside: It does not have enough holes in the bottom, but I got my drill out and added a bunch, which solved the water drain issue.

Product: Jet Boil

Comments:  Used to quickly boil water for hot chocolate, coffee, tea, and soup.  While others prefer using a kettle, I prefer not running down the Westy propane tank merely for hot water.

Product: ARB portable fridge, 50 quart size

Comments:  After the trip to Laguna Seca in August 2014, I'd had enough of dealing with ice… Time to join the modern era!  Chose the ARB due to its features, 3 year warranty, overwhelming positive feedback, low power draw, cost (got a smoking deal via eBay) and size.  The fact that it's blue/gray to match the van was merely a bonus!

Product: Two 3-gallon trash cans

Comments: Inner can is for trash, outer can is for gray water; they are stacked and held in place with a vinyl snap strap. Used to have a collapsible version like GoWesty sells; while it was a convenient “closed” system, it’s a bitch to effectively clean out and stays rather stinky; the can is much easier.

Product: Cadac Safari Chef

Comments: Grilling, BBQing, cooking. Compact gas-powered unit that works great!  If interested in buying one, I recommend the Safari 2 as it comes with  less components and a better-designed griddle.

Product: Marshall fill valve extension (# ME574EXT)

Comments: Tired of seeing attendants struggle to fill the propane tank. Found this solid brass extension  in 2016 (eBay, Amazon, etc.) with bleed valve… attendants are now much happier to fill the tank! (I got it for $60; haven't seen it below $100 since.) Stows under rear seat in pencil pouch.

Comfort & Misc. Gear

Product: REI Flex Lite Chair

Comments: Compact, but comfortable.  Only downside is no head rest!

Update 2017: Added an Eno Lounger DL. Adjustable height, cupholder, pillow… super-comfy!

Product: Teton Sports foam pad (regular size)

Comments: Walmart memory foam topper I had been using for years finally wore out.  Bought a Teton version; not cheap, but convenience was a major factor.

Product: Ellery All Weather Blanket

Comments: Folding travel blanket… it’s a “just in case” blanket.  Stows away at the bottom of the closet.

Product: Window insulation blankets by JustKampers

Comments: Bought these in early 2011, if I remember right.  They are better than curtains at keeping the cold and UV/heat at bay.  They mount to the windows via suction cups.  That method didn’t fly with me so I added magnets around the perimeter of each and put Reflectix tape over the grommets.  Available through the usual Vanagon parts vendors.

Product: Mr. Heater Portable Buddy & storage bag

Comments: I don’t like the cold, need heat.  Bought a Mr. Heater on sale and it works spiffy!  (It is never left running while sleeping.)  

Update 2016: Portable Buddy's piezo igniter went bad. Replaced it with a Stansport deluxe heater, which is more compact and lighter in weight and doesn't rely on a stupid piezo (bought via Amazon).

Product: Little Red Campfire

Comments: Propane-powered portable camp fire, complete with ceramic logs and metal lid.  No nauseating smoke and legal for when fire restrictions are in effect (in most places).  Doesn't crackle, but produces decent heat. Runs off of five to twenty-pound propane cylinders, or, with an adapter, little 1-pound bottles.  I added an internal cover and strap to keep the logs from breaking during transport.

Product: Manchester 5-pound propane tank

Comments: This is brought along with the campfire… more fuel and less waste.  It can also be used with Little Buddy Heater and Cadac BBQ.

Product: O2 Cool tent fan

Comments: Strong magnetic base, it mounts to the pop-top latch cover, or other places in the van.  It runs off AC power, DC power, or 8 D-cell batteries. Puts out a lot of air, so it’s great for summer camping, and for white noise.  Battery pack gets stowed under the rear seat; fan gets stowed in a plastic tub behind rear seat.

Product: Sliding door screen; front window screens

Comments: Home-made for virtual bug-free camping.  See the Store page for details.  Stows away in the rear-most cabinet.

Product: Black Diamond Orbit lanterns

Comments: Compact LED lantern that’s bright and dimmable and doubles as a flashlight.  Uses 4 AA batteries and can be hung from anywhere (split loop hanger).  Stows under rear seat or in "spice tray".

Product: Texsport multi-mat

Comments: Folding polypropylene mat that goes in front of the sliding door.  It gets stowed in a plastic tub behind the rear seat, or in the Rola bag on the Hitch Haul.

Product: Lynx Levelers

Comments: Convenient and safer than using rocks. Easy to use and relatively compact. I have front/side level indicators to determine how many Lynx's to deploy at a given van corner,

Product: Zodi Hot Shower

Comments: Another item that came with the van. Failed to test it before its first outing though and discovered only then that the pump was shot. Bought a new pump and it works quite well, aside from not liking a breeze (need to make a wind break for it).  It’s not like your home shower by any means and it’s not exactly “instant” depending on how cold the water initially is, but for a quick camp shower (or warm dish water) it’s good enough.

Product: Reliance Fold-To-Go portable toilet

Comments: Sometimes, you just gotta go at inconvenient times. This toilet is compact (plus), but a bit low to the ground (minus)… it works for its intended purpose and that’s what matters most.  

Update 2018: Replaced Fold-To-Go with Black Pine Sports' Turbo Toilet. Much more compact and easier to deploy.


Products: Copper River privy (Cabelas); Ozark Trail Privacy Shelter (WalMart)

Comments: For when camped in one place for a few days.  Comes in handy for changing, toilet, shower, or just saving a camp site. Definitely watch the Cabelas video for setting up and taking down the Copper River privy; practice at home before taking it out on the road!  Downside: No rain fly for the top; if it rains, the inside will get wet.  I plan to make a fly for it.

Product: Electrical socket tester

Comments: When connecting the van to shore power,  I plug this into the van's interior 110V outlet.  This way, I know immediately by simply peeking into the van if power is flowing properly. It can also be used to quickly test the campground's outlets as well.

Product: Teton Sports cot tent

Comments: When Dad comes along, so does an oversized cot.  If there are biting bugs or inclement weather, that poses a problem. I found this tent online, but bought it locally at Sportsman's Warehouse. Can be used on or off a cot and is very quick to set up and take down.