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debbiej
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2011 7:00 am    Post subject: Helpful camping tips Reply with quote

there may be several similar threads. sorry if there is already one like this. I've seen some about packing and mods and such.

but I've also gleaned a lot of tips here and there from different threads. so just thought maybe a tips on 'camping in westy' thread?

for me, coleman solar shower on top of luggage rack is nice. I read someone else's suggestion about boiling food in bags.. ah ha, the hot water could be used for washing up. rubbermaid shoe boxes are the perfect size for dishpans for rinse water and to hold rv dish drainer. all fits on steel burner cover and all three nest and store in the compartment under the rear table.
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BillM
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2011 7:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

We used to struggle with pot and pan storage until we found a set that nest all in the big pot. Got them at Defender Marines warehouse in Waterford,CT.
Open box special during one of their events. They fit right in on one of the shelves in the rear cabinet in our Westy. I'll see if I can fnd a link to them.
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TopBud
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2011 8:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

for a family of 4, this has all the plates, bowls, and pots. Super high quality, a bit pricey, but awesome. makes packing easier.

http://cascadedesigns.com/msr/cookware/basecamp-cookware/flex-4-system/product

the other one is this one. http://www.gsioutdoors.com/activities/pdp/bugaboo_camper/car_camping/

check out both brands they are good. I think MSR is a bit higher quality.
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Sheesh
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2011 9:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A family of 5 and a dog, we're concerned about packing but not so much so that we spend tons of cash on specialized equipment just to save space. Reminds me too much of people who obsess about a few ounces on a backpacking trip......the few onces isn't worth the time, effort, money OR obsessing rather than doing what it is you intended to do in the first place.

As a rad enviro, those kind of folks drive me nuts.

We like to yard sale and that is where we get much of our camping essentials. We also lateral think about how things we find may be used in many ways or for a different use than was originally intended. I recently found a stainless fire pan I've been thinking about since a river trip this past spring. Perfect (3' x 18" x 3" (lip)), it isn't designed as a fire pan but it will do the trick after I find or make some legs.

For the most part, we have added storage space. We have a box-style (weekender) jump seat installed behind the front passenger that provides for storage under the seat; we have three yakima racks that contain a spacecase AND a basketcase; we use 2 rubbermaid tough(whatever) bins that fit nicely over the engine bay (and can be stored outside when camped (used as campfire benches sometimes) as they are non-submersible waterproof); we use the stowage provided above the front.

OP: no offense, but don't sweat the small stuff. Existentially, take your time, think laterally and have a mental list of the stuff you'd like and how you'd like it to perform.
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vanagonjr
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2011 9:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

TopBud wrote:
for a family of 4, this has all the plates, bowls, and pots. Super high quality, a bit pricey, but awesome. makes packing easier.

http://cascadedesigns.com/msr/cookware/basecamp-cookware/flex-4-system/product

the other one is this one. http://www.gsioutdoors.com/activities/pdp/bugaboo_camper/car_camping/

check out both brands they are good. I think MSR is a bit higher quality.


MSR and GSI are both great companies. Have their products for back packing and kayaking, never thought of them for car camping.
We currently use spare pots and pans and some of our back packing gear. One product we like is an roll up metal table. Great to cook on, doesn't take too much room. I plan to buy a seat back organizer to store stuff. If I didn't have so many unfinished projects, I consider sewing one.

Really like the dutch oven! Highly recommended!
John
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Californio
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2011 11:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The big problem for me is doing the dishes. If you're in a campground with running water, fine, but if you're out someplace in the desert with only that 13 gallon tank, and it's what you're planning to drink/cook with for a week, the water you use to wash dishes becomes a problem. Also, of course, the tiny sink...

My best solution has been to learn to cook one-pot meals, especially using boiling water. If I'm alone, I sometimes, well, often, end up eating chili out of a can, which can be heated in boiling water and eaten from a single bowl. That solves the problem, but then, you're eating canned chili, something the more genteel among won't put up with.

Anyway, cooking and all the rest of it is easy, just doing the dishes...
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stormforge
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2011 12:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

People always seem to talk about washing dishes and what sink to use, etc... which sounds like so much trouble.

We've always just washed our dishes like backpackers -- eat everything in the pot, add a little splash of water and biodegradable soap, scrub with a paper towel which you use to mop up any food bits, rinse with a spash of fresh water - done, no sink or dishpan needed. I can usually do a whole meal's worth with one paper towel that goes in the trash.

Cheers,
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The Raven
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2011 12:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

is it possible to wash dishes with sand in the desert? Then clean the dust off with a damp rag? I know it's possible with your hands and grime/goo/etc
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fredn
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2011 6:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think you could wash with sand or rocks from the desert. Its like when you scrub a pan in the river by scooping up some river rocks and swirling them around.
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jacklndn
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2011 6:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sheesh wrote:
A family of 5 and a dog, we're concerned about packing but not so much so that we spend tons of cash on specialized equipment just to save space. Reminds me too much of people who obsess about a few ounces on a backpacking trip......the few onces isn't worth the time, effort, money OR obsessing rather than doing what it is you intended to do in the first place.


I'm kind of amazed I haven't seen this all over sambas cooking and equipment threads. It was a given in the bus conversion (think Greyhound, not Splitty) community: Get a nice 6 qt steel pressure cooker and a couple of steel bowls that will fit it in and practice with it at home.

As a rule of thumb, a pressure cooker will cook most foods in 1/3 the time of conventional methods, and most of that cooking time is over a very low flame. Prepared foods can be pressure steam heated with just 8 ounces of water. Huge fuel savings, you can feed the family from one pot. Multiple foods can be cooked at once without the flavors mingling.

It can do double duty as a 6qt standard pot, and can serve to sterilize things in a pinch. New, about $60, but used are availabe for $10 up. You can go with aluminum for less $, but I always use a steel bowl inside an aluminum pot.
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2011 7:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What's a Arrow Arrow "rad enviro Question Question Question Question

Brick wall

radical full of envy ? well now let's not get into politics Laughing Laughing
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Californio
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 9:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Washing with sand sort of works, but you still have to get the sand and dust out, harder than it seems esp. if you've got some kind of grease in the pan. Let's say you have two cooking pots, three dishes, three glasses, and six pieces of silverware, that's 14 items to be cleaned with sand or with whatever, and if you don't want to eat dust, you use water. That's only for one meal. Lot's more water than I'd like to use. I'm not sure there really is a solution other than bringing more water, or using disposables.
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j_dirge
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 10:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Californio wrote:
Washing with sand sort of works, but you still have to get the sand and dust out, harder than it seems esp. if you've got some kind of grease in the pan. Let's say you have two cooking pots, three dishes, three glasses, and six pieces of silverware, that's 14 items to be cleaned with sand or with whatever, and if you don't want to eat dust, you use water. That's only for one meal. Lot's more water than I'd like to use. I'm not sure there really is a solution other than bringing more water, or using disposables.

In Baja (desert camping - low humidity), we would wipe the pots, dishes, and cups clean with a paper towel. No water.
Let them dry in the sun and the rest would usually dry out in the sun and flake off.

No dirt or sand. Shocked

We'd burn the paper towel... bury the remains.

Of course, care is taken not to burn food in the pot.. but even there.. with good stainless, it typically would dry out well enough to flake off, anyway.

Near the ocean, salt water cleans nicely with or without certain soaps.
Cooked with ocean water too.. Pres-seasoned! Laughing
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j8
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 5:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The camping lesson we seem to learn every trip is that we didn't pack right. We always seem to pack wwwwaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyy too much, except for the two times in eight years that we didn't pack enough of the right things. Why didn't I leave the heavy blanket in the van, even in late June? (We ended up sleeping with all our clothes surrounding us and on top of us, like westy hobos.) Why did we skip dinner, eschew the store, and pull in to a spot very late with nothing but an apple, a handful of roasted peanuts, and a single can of ginger ale for a meal to split between two people? (We still liked that there was no clean up that meal!)

Every other camping experience, even when we shave the list, has too much.

Priorities!
*Sleeping gear in layers. Stash unnecessary layers in back closet.
*Tea, mugs, a kettle.
*Basic silverware.
*Matches and a knife.
*A deck of cards.
*Basic shelf stable foods, buy anything special.
*Basic tool set and hatchet if we're not seriously off in the middle of nowhere. Random clean rags in the toolbox.

We can travel on that. But we don't. We're fine traveling on that. But we don't. We seem to pack half the house, and that's after I've put more than half of what we packed back out of the van. There's almost too much room in these vehicles. Don't even get me started on the clothes, OH THE CLOTHES, WHY DO WE PACK SO MANY CLOTHES?!?!? I am literally tugging on my hair at home right now. I can't stand all the bags of clothes and the laundry bag when we're usually just wearing jeans or shorts and a t shirt with a sweatshirt hanging in the closet.

So anyway, we still keep paring away trying to get it more simple and smart. We do just fine with less, and we enjoy the camping more. We're on a continual pursuit to minimize the westy shuffle! So that's the do-what-I-aspire-to part, and here's the no-really-this-works-for-us part....


Tend it.
We're not supermechs and we don't do massive repairs at the campsite. We DO keep it maintained and pay attention. Inside try to keep the westy really organized during the day and wipe down the counter/table after every time we eat. We get rid of our trash and recycle consistently, and wipe down the dash before leaving a site, even if it's only a rest stop. While on the road we check the tire pressure, oil level. We give the engine a good sniff - oh, a smell can diagnose so much - and clean the windshield every gas stop. We listen to the engine and give the van a good eyeball/once-over from luggage rack and pop top to the under carriage each day. It's just plain more pleasant to camp in a tended van.

Breathe easy.
Always open the windows when cooking inside. We burn a simple candle after cooking, or if it's too hot to cook and we're just eating fruit we still burn a candle daily. Just a short time while cleaning up. It takes care of cooking odors and keeps the "two or more people who may or may not have showered and possibly a wet dog have been sleeping in a very small space" funk at bay. Trust me on this. Try it. You'll never go back. When people stick their heads in our van and ask, "Are you sure you camp in this?" I think of our cheapo candle lit during our counter/dash wipe down and grin.
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Californio
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 8:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

OK, here's a question on the packing thing. I always feel like there's plenty of room in the closets, and that's what they're there for, and there's no need to have the various bags around. But the SO, the GF that is, insists on bringing two bags, which have to be shuffled between the dance floor and the back compartment while cooking, eating, putting the bed down, and all the rest. What to say? Not exactly a big deal but...?
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debbiej
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 13, 2011 8:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

we use the closets for clothes and towels. there is plenty of room for clothes if you just pack directly into the space. I put them in a laundry basket and take them out to the van to put away. my husband is the clothes packer. he will bring way too much. but, I have to be very careful if I need to ask to borrow a sweatshirt.

my goal is to have everything packed away before we drive away. so far, it hasn't happened.

firewood, tools, sleeping bag & pillows, guitar and dog stuff usually is not stowed.

longer trips require ice chest and extra water.
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BillM
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 13, 2011 9:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

j8 wrote:
We burn a simple candle after cooking, or if it's too hot to cook and we're just eating fruit we still burn a candle daily. Just a short time while cleaning up. It takes care of cooking odors and keeps the "two or more people who may or may not have showered and possibly a wet dog have been sleeping in a very small space" funk at bay. Trust me on this. Try it. You'll never go back. When people stick their heads in our van and ask, "Are you sure you camp in this?" I think of our cheapo candle lit during our counter/dash wipe down and grin.



We did the same thing burning a candle. Usually when its just the wife and I waiting for the kids to come in. Blowing it out when they open the door. Until this last time over thanksgiving when right after I blew it out my daughter kicked it over with all the wax landing on the Westy rubber floor. Still trying to find something to clean it all up with. Just glad it didn't land on the seats or carpet. My son said after wiping off the wax that also spilled on his bare feet,"it's a great place for a stick up".
One of the best storage items we bought is the Thule box on top. It really opens up a lot of space inside the van. I still don't know how we fit all the stuff when our kids were only 2 and 3 years old. We used to have lines of their babies (stuffed animals) staring at me from every nook and cranny. Wish we had the box on top then.
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DAIZEE
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 13, 2011 10:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I use sheets and blankets layered. What I don't need goes on the bottom of the pile. It's there then if I need it. This way it does not take up storage space.

I started tripping and camping mid August last year and always had way tooooooo much. So my winter project is to cut back. So instead a 4 place setting of everything, I'm just taking 2. Anyone who comes for a meal can bring their own dishes. Instead of having different wine glasses, I'm pulling back to 2 plain big glasses. The wine will taste just as good.

Whether its the stove or the BBQ I always have a full kettle of water on a burner when cooking. I have a short round pail that I put a wee bit of soap in pour a bit of water in and wash dishes. I'll use a big pot instead if I've had one in the works. I carry an empty collapsable water carrier for getting hose water for washing etc.. I drink tons of water and so I buy disposable water bottles. I do not do this at home tho. A half glass of water is cool for teeth and one really doesn't need a lot of water to clean ones hands. Now with disposable wipes things can be even easier. As for disposable dishes, etc... I just can't do it

So here's hoping that I can be more efficiently organized and carry less in 2012! Also I got the rear hatch Paulsen so some of the clutter inside will go back there. Clothes will be the next challenge. In muggy sticky weather I need clean. Most of my travelling will be in or near civilization so finding a laundry mat every 2 weeks will have to be a goal. Packing for all seasonal weather will be a challenge but will consider it next spring. Again layering will probably be a solution.

Buelah did 7000 miles in 2 weeks and one shower, 2 people and from desert to snow. So it can be done! I am obligated to try but over months instead of weeks! Smile
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campism
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 13, 2011 11:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Do a shakedown trip every season and make lots of notes. We just got back from our first trip this year (busy year) and despite our lists and knowledge from previous trips we forgot stuff that we really needed on the trip. The hard part is remembering the stuff that eventaully migrates into the house or the basement during the off-season. You'll probably never remember it on your own. Make checklists and use them.
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Timwhy
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 13, 2011 4:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A couple of things come to mind, when trying not to use up the water. I made ziplock omlets
and then you could use the water used for boiling them as dish water later in the day.
Another thing is canned potatoes, maybe the diced and not the sliced? I use them for home
frys without all the preparation that goes into them. Open the can, drain out water and fry!
I like to use dehydrated pouch foods, like potatoes, pasta, rice etc... Basically anything
of the sort that doesn't take up too much room. The food is pretty damn good too.
I like to bring empty water containers with me as well. When I get to my destination then I fill the
containers, no sense bringing all that weight with you from home. I have even contemplated
filling the house water tank too, but opt to fill at home. I always have two to three gallons
of spring water in my Westy, just for the pooch and our coffee and drinks.
Lastly I find that we do indeed pack way to much food, I think that extra space should be
dedicated to bringing more beer with us!!
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