Back in the summer of 2014 I wrote a post all about our Essential RV items. While that list is still relative, since then we have acquired a few more items that deserve a mention.
For many years we resisted buying good pairs of hiking shoes or boots. Instead we got by with sturdy walking shoes (you know that type that you can take hiking or walk around town with). The problem with these shoes is that they never lasted more than a 4-5 months before the treads wore down and . We also noticed as we’ve worked our way up to longer and more strenuous hiking that they simply didn’t provide the kind of support we needed. So this winter we broke down and got ourselves some real hiking shoes.
Tim went with the Vasque Talus Trek Mid UltraDry Hiking Boot. After spraining his ankle last summer he was feeling like he needed extra support, and liked that these were not so tall that they felt like full-size boots, but tall enough to cushion his ankle. So far the only complaint about these boots is that during this summer’s hot weather they are a little on the warm side.
I too got a pair of hiking boots. I went with the KEEN Women’s Targhee II Mid WP Hiking Boot which I used for a few months (i.e. hiked all over Utah with them), before they developed an annoying wrinkle in the toe area of the foot bed. I brought them back to REI where I learned that this was a common problem with this particular boot and ended up exchanging them for the KEEN Women’s Gypsum WP Hiking Shoe. It’s not that I didn’t like the boot, I simply felt like it was a little more shoe than I needed. The Gypsums have the same stiff, supportive foot bed, are wonderfully waterproof, and have a beefy traction that has been great in all conditions.
By the way, the links I provided for these shoes go the Amazon.com, but we bought ours from REI. While we love Amazon for so many things, when it comes to shoes — especially hiking shoes — we felt it was important that we try them on. Also, with REI’s excellent return policy and generous member rewards program it only makes sense to buy from them.
One of the most common questions we get from blog readers is about the type of camera we use or recommend. I know a lot of travel bloggers are really into photography and enjoy the latest and greatest fancy, schmancy cameras. That is NOT us. We are dedicated point and shoot photographers (and to be honest, I often find my iphone camera is good enough). I have no interest in fooling around with camera settings or lugging a bag filled with giant lenses all over the place. Give my something small and compact that I can tuck into my backpack or pocket and I’m happy.
For several years we had a Cannon PowerShot. It was a great little camera until it developed the dreaded “Lens redaction error message.” Instead of sending it somewhere to be fixed and potentially waiting for many, many months, we decided to just get a new camera. After much research we choose a Sony Cyber-Shot. The exact model we got is a DSC-HX60V/B. That was back in December and so far we love it.
The 30x optical zoom is enough for our needs, the size convenient (although a bit bigger than the Cannon), and the picture quality quite good for the price. If you’re lazy like me and prefer the camera to do all the work, don’t want to lug around a heavy beast strapped to your chest while hiking and biking, and enjoy things that are simple to use, the Sony is a great choice.
This camera comes with a single battery and a basic 120V charger. I would highly recommend getting a few extra batteries. We have had good luck with Wasabi brand camera batteries in the past, so we got a 2 pack of batteries that came with a compact charger which includes a 12V plug perfect for off-grid RV living. I have noticed that the Sony battery lasts a tiny bit longer than the Wasabi, but for the price — $18 for 2 batteries + the charger — I feel like it’s worth it.
Finding the prefect camp chair has been an ongoing struggle for us. I actually wrote about this in my first Essential Items post. Shortly after, we ditched the heavy, cumbersome gravity recliners and bought some fabric folding chairs from Dick’s Sporting Goods. I don’t remember the brand, but they were complete crap. Tim’s ripped within the first month, and the open and close mechanism on mine eventually stopped working.
This winter we noticed a bunch of other RVers with Helinox chairs, and after trying them out a few times around the campfire thought they might be the solution to our chair problem. We debated for awhile, and ultimately it was our desire to bring chairs on our overnight kayaking trip in Voyageurs National Park that clinched the decision.
I ended up with the classic Chair One, while Tim went with the taller Sunset Chair. These chairs are a little on the pricy side — the Chair One ranges from $80-100, and the Sunset runs around $150. But they consistently get excellent reviews from people who have loved them for years. They are also lightweight, compact, and fold down into a portable package which is perfect for our lifestyle. Best of all, they are really comfortable.
That said, these are not the perfect chairs for everyone. If you like to recline in your chair for hours reading a book, this won’t fit the bill. If you absolutely need a cup holder, or a flip up table, or a giant pocket for all your stuff, don’t get this chair. However, if you want a well-made, compact chair perfect for sitting around the fire, bringing on a picnic, or tossing in a kayak or backpack this is the perfect chair. (If you MUST have a cup holder, Helinox does make a clip on version.)
I would like to note that there are several other companies that make similar chairs. After extensive research we decided that none of the others compared in terms of quality. We also tried the REI version in the store and found it less comfortable and not as sturdy.
Who does’t love a hammock? As a kid I used to spend hours swinging in the hammock with my stuffed animals and Strawberry Shortcake dolls. I would pretend the hammock was a boat and we were on a grand adventure. The problem with hammocks back then was they were made of woven rope that left uncomfortable lines on the back of your legs and arms (also, all those big holes meant I had to go on a lot of rescue missions when my dolls fell off the “boat”). I’m sure you can still buy rope hammocks somewhere, but these days the nylon hammock is all the rage.
Not only is nylon more comfortable on the skin, it’s also stronger, lightweight, and easy to stuff into a tiny sack.
Much like the Helinox Chairs, there are tons of brands selling similar nylon hammocks. The price ranges widely from around $60 all the way down to $15. We decided to go middle of the road with the Swift-N-Snug Double Hammock for $40. It gets great reviews on Amazon, is rated to hold up to 400 lbs, and is more than big enough for two adults (or a bunch of kids).
So far the only issue we’ve had with this hammock is finding a place to put it up. We got it last December when we were in the southwest and had to wait several months to use it because there were no trees. When we finally found some trees, we got in trouble twice for using it in campgrounds that have “nothing hanging from the trees” policies. Oops. We enjoyed it most in Minnesota where were able to hang it right next to the lake.
When you live in an RV, the best items are those that serve multiple purposes. Food containers are no exception. I do a lot of cooking in the RV and purposely try to make larger meals so we have leftover for lunch or to freeze and eat on travel days. We also eat a lot of “picnic” dinners and lunches while out hiking or kayaking. All this means food storage containers are very important.
I have a good number of glass pyrex containers in various sizes that I use at home, and some BPA free plastic containers that we take on our picnics. Neither of these are really ideal for RV living though. The Pyrex are heavy, don’t stack well so they take up a lot of space, and the plastic lids are crappy. The main problem with the plastic containers is the screw on lids leak like mad when filled them with watermelon and put sideways in a backpack. So I set out to find an alternative and these Stainless Steel Tuperware Food Storage Containers were the winners.
What I found are stainless steel, leak proof, and lightweight. They come in a set of three that fit nicely inside each other, and the leak proof lids have an amazing seal on them. (Delicious leftover pork, rice & pineapple not included).
*If you click on the provided link you will notice the lids are pink instead of blue. Unfortunately, the blue version is currently unavailable. I really hope it comes back because I was wanted to get a second set and I’m not a fan of pink! Also, the blue version has a lot more reviews so be sure to check it out if you want to read what people are saying about these.
I don’t know about where you are this summer, but around here it’s been hot, hot hot! Fortunately, we spent the last month at a full hook-up campground where we could run our AC. That is not always the case though. In fact, just this week are dry camping in central New Hampshire where it’s rediculously hot and humid. The only things that’s saving us is our trusty Endless Breeze Fan.
Not only does this fan move around a fan-tastic amount of air, but it runs on 12V power which means no need to use the inverter or generator. The fan has three speeds, 2 plastic feet for sitting on a table or the floor, and a plastic handle that we’ve attached a strong rubber Gear Tie to so we can hang it in our bedroom. We first bought this fan back in the winter of 2015 while in the Florida Keys when we were having lots of problems with no-see-ums in the Airstream. It worked perfectly and since then we have used it all over the country.
The only issue has been the flimsy plastic feet. Both have partially broken and now the fan is slightly tippy when on a table. Not really a big deal since we prefer to hang it, but according the the Amazon reviews it’s a common issue.
For more great recommendations be sure to check out our Full-Timing RV Essential Items post from 2014. It was recently updated with new information.
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