Camping and wheeling, just like peanut butter and jelly, guns and ammo, and upside down trucks in the Tank Trap can be considered one of those pairings in life that seemingly were meant to go together. Fortunately, like the things listed above, it doesn’t have to be expensive to do and is enjoyable for just about any budget.
To prove our point, we enlisted Editor Cappa and Tech Editor Holman to set up opposing campsites that would represent each extreme of the spectrum: a modern, hi-tech campsite in the vein of the popular overlanding movement, and a low-buck, but functional, redneck campsite using things most of us have laying around the house (J-truck, not withstanding).
Our duo of campers mays have symbolized opposite ends of the price scale, but neither suffered from a lack of enjoyment in the backcountry. Take a look at the products that we assembled and decide for yourself which ones fit your camping style and needs. Keep in mind that while we have listed the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, most of these items have a much more affordable street price.
1 PowerFilm 60W Foldable Solar Panel
About: PowerFilm’s foldable solar panels come in a variety of outputs, but the 60-watt version is powerful enough to run a fridge. It is also quieter than a generator and allows you to keep your batteries topped off when you are trying to conserve your fuel supply.
2 ARB Series III Simpson Rooftop Tent
About: ARB’s rooftop tent makes for easy, safe camping, getting you away from insects, snakes, and other hazards on the ground. Comfortable and with plenty of interior room, it can be folded with all of the bedding inside, freeing up valuable interior storage space during travel.
3 Trasharoo Trash Bag
About: The Trasharoo spare tire trash bag is a great way to keep smelly garbage out of the inside of your rig and on the outside where it belongs. It is also a convenient receptacle for around the campsite, or on-the-move trail cleanups. Perfect for those who like to pack it in and pack it out.
4 Kanz Field Kitchen K120P
About: The Kanz Field Kitchen is an ice-chest-sized container made from durable marine-quality aluminum and Baltic Birch that stores a two-burner camping stove and cookware. The silverware drawer, shelves, and dividers for storing the cookware items are dimensioned to fit most available lightweight cookware. Available accessories expand the features of this kitchen-in-a-box.
MSRP: $1,500 (fully furnished)
5 ARB Fridge Freezer, 50-Quart (not pictured)
About: Once you own a portable 12V fridge, you’ll never go back. Gone are the days of sloshing ice, leaking coolers, and soggy sandwiches, replaced with a thermostat-controlled fridge. ARB’s 50-quart unit can hold up to 72 12-ounce cans, and can freeze as well as refrigerate.
6 Power Tank, 10-pound
About: Whether you need a source of reliable air to re-inflate your aired-down tires, or need enough air pressure to power pneumatic tools on the trail, Power Tank CO2 kits are up to the task. Available in several sizes and affordable to re-fill, Power Tank products carry a lifetime warranty and are made in the U.S.A.
7 Rubbermaid ActionPacker, 8-Quart
About: ActionPacker boxes are durable and stackable storage solutions that are perfect for the trail environment. Store anything from food to tools, even chemicals, and never worry again. The rugged construction means they will stand up to abuse, and positive-locking latches ensure the contents won’t spill out on their own.
8 Expedition One Geri Cans
About: Available for fuel (international only) or water, Expedition One Geri Packs are made from a hi-density polymer plastic and have a 4-gallon capacity. The containers are designed to handle loads of up to 800 pounds stacked on them.
9 Apple iPad
About: Whether you want to play Angry Birds or identify constellations in the Milky Way, Apple’s iPad has the right apps to make it a great device for the outdoors. With an all-day battery life and optional cellular antenna, it can also be used as a mapping solution or come in handy in an emergency.
10 Coleman Retro Rechargeable Full-size Lantern
About: Coleman’s brightest rechargeable lantern has an 11-watt fluorescent spiral U-tube for a brighter, whiter light. It can be recharged using a 120-volt outlet or 12-volt outlet and features a built-in nightlight. Cool to the touch, it is perfect for families or tent camping.
11 ARB Sport Camp Chair
About: Because of their increased size over standard camp chairs, ARB’s Sport Camp Chairs actually fit real humans. They also offer enhanced toughness thanks to aluminum construction and Oxford-weave fabric, but are still compact enough to be folded and packed in a carry bag.
12 Teri Cigar Company
About: Family-owned and operated Teri Cigar Company in Santa Ana has been hand-rolling cigars with aged tobacco from around the world for over 40 years. On occasion you’ll find us enjoying the mild smoothness of Teri’s Cuban Round Largo in the Maduro Sweet wrapper around the campfire.
13 Smittybilt Contractor’s Rack
About: Nothing makes a better roof rack than a true pickup truck lumber rack. We opted for this universal Smittybilt Contractor’s Rack (PN 18604). At a fraction of the cost of other roof racks it has a massive 800-pound capacity. We simply added a 4x8-foot sheet of ¾-inch exterior plywood to create a tent platform and seating balcony. A 4x10-foot sheet of plywood would make an even bigger balcony, something no other rooftop tent on the market has.
14 Two-Man Tent
About: With a solid rooftop platform all we needed were some sleeping quarters. We rolled the Hillbilly Express on over to Big 5 Sporting Goods where we found a common 6x5-foot, two-man tent that fit up there just about perfectly.
15 US Leisure Low Back Resin Chairs
About: Folding chairs can be expensive and uncomfortable. Since we had plenty of room for stuff in the back of our pickup we swiped these US Leisure Low Back resin chairs from mom’s backyard. You can often find them at secondhand stores for almost nothing, but if all else fails, Target has them.
16 150-Watt Portable Clamp Lights
About: Forget about futzing with finicky and problematic gas lanterns and flashlights that require batteries. We went all out with a pair of 120-Volt Harbor Freight 150-Watt Portable Clamp Lights (PN 35149). With this much lighting how could we go wrong? You can clamp them onto anything using the included clamp, or hang them from the included hook.
17 Portable Gas Grille
About: It just isn’t camping if you don’t have some way to cook meat products. If you truly are on a real budget you can build a campfire and cook some hot dogs on a wire hanger. We decided to step it up a bit with a small gas barbeque we found at Target. There are several different styles to choose from, including a less-expensive charcoal version.
18 Rope Hammock
About: Don’t care to climb up to your tent for the night or just need a noon-time nap? No problem! When you have a hammock you can just as easily hang from a couple trees or 4x4 towhooks. We bartered for this hammock in Tijuana, Mexico, and got it for $20, but you can find something similar at Target.
19 Predator 3200/4000 Watt Generator
About: When we considered all of our power options we just couldn’t pass up the Predator 3200/4000-Watt generator (PN 68527) from Harbor Freight. It easily produces more electricity than we’ll ever need to charge cell phones, run a mini-fridge, power nighttime lighting, run a blender, cook with a George Foreman Grille, and more.
20 Mini- Fridge
About: With 120-volt AC power on hand why not bring a mini-fridge? We had this fridge in our garage but you can find a similar-sized fridge at Target. It even has a freezer section where you can make ice cubes!
21 Coleman 54-Quart Stainless Steel Belted Cooler
About: No one wants to listen to the generator run all night long, so a cooler is still handy even if you have a generator and fridge on hand. Using the fridge/freezer you can make ice cubes in the day to keep your food and drinks cold in the cooler at night while you and your fellow campers sleep in peace and quiet.
22 Gas Can
About: It’s just a regular ol’ Harbor Freight gas can (PN 67997). The five gallons of fuel inside almost costs more than gas can itself. It can carry extra fuel for the generator or your 4x4.
23 Second-Hand Golf Clubs and Balls
About: Need some in-camp entertainment? Some old golf clubs and a bucket of balls will keep you and your buddies busy for hours. Even after you lose the balls, you can hit rocks across camp.
Info: Visit your local second-hand store or a garage sale
24 Stainless Steel Ruger Vaquero Revolver
About: Shoot targets or vermin intruders from the privacy of your own rooftop-tent balcony. The .45 caliber Vaquero has more than enough accuracy and punch to tip a pop can or take down a sod poodle.