Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Here’s the basics on what we brought plus some of our thought process and info on what worked and didn’t. Of course, there also happen to be links on some stuff through to Amazon to buy the stuff. If you’re gonna buy it anyway and use our links, we get a couple cents and would appreciate it!


Which and Why
Roof tent AutoHomeUS Columbus Variant
Went for a hard top model for more weather resistance, durability, and fuel economy. The Autohome’s look a lot like a big rooftop cargo box, and we feel are less conspicuous (though we did add a note in Sharpie “No hay nada a dentro. Solo para dormir/acampar.”) Chose the Columbus over the Maggiolina because we wanted the rear door to climb up hatch-mounted ladder, better venting, and better headroom (at least in the center). Added a memory foam topper from Target but note that the pad needed to be trimmed to accommodate the struts for the RTT when closed and adding mattress height reduces foot clearance.
Folding chairs Midheight, collapsing. Comfortable at beach or camp. Long narrow design easy to pack. Cheap enough to leave outside at night.
Awning (sun/rain) A month into the trip, we picked up a cheap “screen house” from one of the ubiquitous Walmarts which will give us a place to cook and hang out without getting chomped in the buggy areas. Though not the most stable thing in the world, the frame will also give us something to throw tarps over for a makeshift yurt if we get sustained rain. We considered a bolt on awning but opted against another thing that screams “EXPEDITION!” on the truck. We have some standard size tarps plus some telescoping poles and bombproof stakes. We picked up a couple of these that have tons of reinforcements and grommets. Could be adapted for the beach, etc. Those bungees with balls on the ends make a great way to attach tarps in a variety of places.
Rectangular sleeping bags Kelty Galactic 35 degree Down Bags (2) 
Can be used zipped as top and bottom, either used as comforter, or used individually for extra warmth or ”expeditionary olfaction mitigation”. Will be left in roof tent.
Linens/Pillows For roof tent mattress. Left in roof tent. We also have an extra set after some stories about less than ideal cleaning practices in some hotels…
Mosquito Net Rectangular that can be hung over hotel beds if needed.
Cooling Coleman Tent Fan
It’s not much but secured to the side canvas or in the bungee on the roof of the tent, a little air flow goes a long way. Uses D batteries which seem to last about 24 hours (3 nights for Ann, 3 weeks for me).
Stove(s) Coleman Exponent Feather 442 Dual Fuel Backpacking Stove 
Bringing two single multi-fuel Colemans – run on unleaded or white gas, easier to store than a two buner, share parts, and can be used as a two burner (eg: under a griddle). Some people report problems with the generators getting clogged from unleaded so I just bought 4 (!) extras for about $11 each. They’ve worked great running on unleaded for about a year now. Will bring some carb cleaner to de-gum them from time to time.
Lantern/Camp Light Coleman Exponent Dual Fuel Lantern
Works well, is bright, and could run forever on our unleaded reserves.

DC Flood Light
With a magnetic base that allows it to be mounted over the kitchen area or anywhere on the side of the truck and a 55W bulb which we replaced with a 9W LED bulb taking the draw from 4 amps to less than 1 (though losing a little brightness). You can also order these bulbs on superbrightleds.com (might want to bring an extra).
Pots / Pans / Griddle We started with a Lodge Logic Pro Griddle which fit over both stoves and was great for pancakes, eggs, bacon, fish, chicken, fajitas, paninis, etc but got concerned at how hot the built-in tanks on the stoves were getting. We’ve switched to a Lodge Logic Grill Pan which is nice because we don’t have to fire up both stoves and it’s deeper. Now we’re starting to find all kinds of good, savory griddle cakes and muffins. For the rest of the cookware, we’ll probably bring the 12 year old Calphalon from the kitchen and register for some good stuff for when we get back!
Other kitchen essentials Plates, bowls, silverware. Sharp knife and cutting boards. Spatula, tongs. Silicon pot holders/trivets. Sponge and dish soap. Coleman PVC Double Wash Basin. Olive oil, salt, pepper, soy sauce (known as “salsa chino” in Mexico), rooster hot sauce and a can of Pam.
Water storage 10L MSR Dromedary Bags (2)
Easier to store and compress than hard sided jugs. We hang one with the spigot attachment off the roof rack on the side of the truck for a gravity fed water source. Could leave one on the roof for some warm water. Those “Alhambra” water cooler bottles are available everywhere and 2 10L dromedary bags swallow all 20L up!
Water filter Katadyn Hiker
Bottled water should be available 99% of the time I would guess but a water filter is a good backup. Filters to .3 microns which will remove the smallest bacteria at .5 and above. Fatties.
Cooler Engel 17 Freezer/Fridge
This compressor fridge can actually get cold enough to make ice yet uses less power than some of the less effective thermo-electric options. We run it at a setting of 1 (and it goes to 6) which keeps it between 38 and 40 degrees F. Also got a nifty wireless thermometer made by Engel so we can keep stuff cold enough but not waste energy by overcooling. This model can run on AC as well which will override the DC so you can plug it in via an extension cord at a campground and save the truck battery. Bring a spare fuse? We also have a cheap Igloo cooler that sits in the rear footwell for fruit, tortillas, beer etc.
Windshield Sun/Privacy Shade

Popup deals from Kragen. Can be used in a buncha different ways to shade whatever part of the car we want.

Electronic Gadgets


Which and Why
Laptop After using my Dell Mini 9 for a buncha trips, I upgraded to a M101Z with dual AMD processors. This little guy can handle HD video and everything else I’ve thrown at it! Will also have an external DVD drive from Dell for watching movies and trading music etc.
Hard Drives Western Digital Passport
I keep one with all our media (DVD’s and music) and use the other for a hardware agnostic backup through ShadowProtect which would allow me to restore to a new laptop should mine… uh… “disappear.” Careful not to get a newer drive with the non-standard mini-USB cable. They always seem to pull out.
Aux Stereo Input Monster iCarCharger 1000
Plugs into the cigarette lighter with one cable running to an aux input on your car stereo and another to the bottom, digital input of your iPhone to play music and charge. The best feature having a Play/Pause button within easy reach as you approach a toll or mind boggling roundabout without having to unlock the iPhone, enter your PIN, go into iPod mode and tap pause. There can be some engine/electrical “whine” on podcasts but it’s bearable and can be EQ’d out.
External Speakers X-Mini II Capsule Speaker
Very small and surprisingly good sound (though keep your expectations reasonable). Recharges off USB from your laptop. 
GPS device(s) Garmin Zumo 660
Bought this for motorcycle trips but it works well in the car. Running Garmin’s World Map and the Smelly Biker/Wanderlust maps though I don’t expect too much accuracy from them. More to give us an idea of where we are, to help find GPS waypoints we get from others and to keep a “snail trail” of where we’ve been.

Spot Tracker
Transmits our location which can be displayed on our blog and can be used to send pre-set status messages to family. For $12 extra, we bought additional search and rescue coverage. Check the Spot site for details.
Digital Camera Canon G10
Recommended by a friend who’s a pro photographer. Full manual mode. Can shoot RAW and JPG. Offers long exposures.

Canon S95
A lot of the same features as our bigger G10 but tiny and with HD video. I have a feeling this will become our main camera. Plus, stick it in this waterproof case and it works underwater!

ContourHD 720p HD Helmet Camera
Add a universal tripod mount and a suction cup arm and the possibilities are endless. Worked great on motorcycle trips in the past and I’m interested in stickin’ this little guy all kinds of fun places. That sounded bad…
Portable Tripod Gorillapod Magnetic Flexible Tripod
I thought the original Gorillapod was awesome but after replacing a lost one with a copy that fell apart immediately, I found this one, now with magnetic feet! With a small camera like our Canon s95, it’ll hold on poles, beams, the side of the truck, wherever in addition to being able to use the fingers on railings, trees, etc. For low light settings like churches or long exposures like stars or the moon, you need this. Also grab a couple extra tripod heads for your video camera or audio recording device.
Aux Battery Duracell Powerpack 600
Gel battery with 28 amp/hrs. Can be charged by AC, DC or solar. Has DC sockets and AC inverter. Also acts as an emergency jump source for car.
Solar Charging Brunton Solaris 26 Solar Panel
Recently spent 5 1/2 days parked at a bluegrass festival with the Engel 17 running, iPhones charging, and some minimal use of an LED area light and the panel kept us charged. Maybe we could get some of these donated for projects needing remote power.
Rechargeable Batteries Charger works on AC or DC. Space for 4 AA’s or AAA’s for mini-maglites, headlamps and other small electronics.
Extension Cord If you’re camping out of the Church & Church book, you may find yourself at a lot of places with power outlets. A 20 foot extension cord can be used to power your fridge and/or fed up into the roof tent to charge laptops, etc through the night.

Personal Stuff

Which and Why
Headlamp Petzl Tikka 3-LED Headlamp
Can’t beat these small LED headlamps for anything from cooking to reading to changing a tire.
First Aid Kit Day to Day:
  • Tweezers
  • Antibiotics – 1 course each and we can get more?
  • Thermometer
  • Band-aids
  • Moleskin
  • Heavy shears (seat belts, jeans, etc)
  • Small scissors
  • Hydrogen Peroxide (will have a sep bottle for hair coloring)
  • Neosporin
  • Steri-Strips
  • Large gauze pads (4 @ 8” x 8”?)
  • Medium gauze pads (4 @ 4” x 4”?)
  • Small gauze pads (4 @ 2” x 2”?)
  • Flexible tape
  • Stiff tape (athletic)
  • Sling material
  • Headlamp
Misc Repair (also see truck toolkit in Vehicle section)

List not complete but here are a few to get started…

  • Dremel Tool with misc bits (can run off Duracell Powerpack)
  • Soldering Iron and spare wire/electrical connectors
  • Spare fuses (fridge, etc)
  • Basic sewing kit
  • Seam Grip
  • Super Glue
  • Duct Tape
Work Gloves Heavy duty leather and some thinner, more dexterous carpentry/mechanics gloves. Also have some latex in the first aid kit and tire repair/flat kit.