Top 10: Very Best Gear (so far)

After 70 days on the road, here’s the very best gear we packed or picked up along the way


  1. MR. HEATER

Oh how we love you, Mr. Heater. You’ve brought warmth and comfort to us on the chilliest Autumn days in our very poorly insulated and increasingly holey Trailblazer. Although gassy at times, the stink is worth the heat.


2. Reading material

Our book bin is huge and heavy and we couldn’t help stopping by used book stores, garage and estate sales, and thrift stores to add a few titles to read. We also discovered Overdrive, through our local library, and have loved getting electronic check-outs for free! If you are still paying for the latest and greatest e- and audiobooks, you really need to check out (get it?) the offerings of your hometown library. You can even put books on hold and you will receive notifications when the books are available. Here’s a list of most of the books we’ve read or listened in the past three months on the road:

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the GalaxyUndaunted Courage: The Pioneering First Mission to Explore America's Wild FrontierRed QueenSimple GeniusThe Sword of ShannaraChicken Soup for the Teen Soul: Real-Life Stories by Real TeensMy Own Two FeetA Girl from YamhillSahara SpecialGuns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human SocietiesIllusionariumAll the Light We Cannot See
The CircleEncore to an Empty RoomBlink: The Power of Thinking Without ThinkingJohn Glenn: A MemoirMagoniaDon't Suck, Don't Die: Giving Up Vic Chesnutt
To Kill a MockingbirdThe Paris WifeCinderI'll Give You the SunThe Sky is EverywhereHatchet
The Life as We Knew It CollectionCarry OnThe NecromancerThe MagicianThe AlchemystThe Sorceress
Lost on Planet China: The Strange and True Story of One Man's Attempt to Understand the World's Most Mystifying Nation, or How He Became Comfortable Eating Live SquidOne Last Thing Before I GoSo B. It
We also have Next Issue for the magazines we can’t live without–such as Jason’s growing love affair with Sunset Magazine.

3. Comfy campfire chairs

We couldn’t–comfortably–live without out very lovely chairs that transform from breakfast nook in the morning to fire and stargazing most nights. Indi chose a bungee cord chair while Jason and Wendy opted for the high-backed version.


4. Folding table

Transformer. Not only is this bad boy a sturdy 48″ table that doubles as a kitchen counter, but it also folds in half AND has a handle for easy carrying and storage.


5. Hiking Boots

Boots

Boots from left: Jason’s Lafuma, Wendy’s Lowa, Indi’s Vasque

We hike, on average, five times a week and solid boots are a must. To tell the truth, all of our other shoes–other than flip flops–could, should have been left at home. Jason and Indi got their boots second hand at Next Adventure in Portland and Wendy got her boots–new–at REI. So far, and although Indi doesn’t love hiking quite as much as her parents do, there have been no complaints from the knee down.


6. Water Container

This was a sweet little find in the Casper, Wyoming Salvation Army. As the season wound down and campgrounds whittled away the amenities, we used this container more and more since water was less and less available.

Coleman Two Gallon Party Stacker


7. Comfy and warm bedding

Sleeping on the stock Jayco mattresses for a night or two is just fine as the knots and kinks are resolved with time. However, the thought of months and months of sore backs and sleepless nights sent Wendy searching for a thin (so that we could actually close up Trailblazer) but effective mattress pad. Eureka! The Simmons Beautyrest BigSleep 3 Convoluted Foam Topper with memory foam.


8. National Park pass

Here’s the math: Each national park entry is–on average–25 USD. The park pass was 80 USD for all the national parks in the States for one whole year. So far, we have been to 13 parks with many more to visit this year. Money well-spent.


9. Headlamps

Flashlight, reading light, coyote spotter. Enough said.


10. jet boil

For a few years now, the Jet Boil has been a backpacking staple. Currently, we are equally devoted to it as caffeinated campers. A bonus is that it’s small enough to use inside Trailblazer on chilly mornings (even though the directions warn us not to).


Honorable Mentions:

Ziploc Slider Bags in Quart and Gallon Sizes. So useful when your refrigerator is a cooler

Bath in a bag. Not only have these wipes helped us to feel okay about a lack of real showers + close living but, we will keep these little babies in mind for multi-day races, too.

The small, but mighty hatchet

The small, but mighty hatchet


Over the last three months, we have found that we have too much of just about everything and will narrow down our packing lists for the next leg of our journey, starting in January.  It does feel like the beginning of something transformative, something that will stick.

Stay tuned for the next post in “tiny living”: the top 10 things we didn’t actually end up needing, or will revise/upgrade to better suit our needs. . .

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