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This week, Thousand Trails invited us to participate in a Twitter #TrailChat about favorite camping places, gear and essentials, alongside leading industry brands Airstream, Coleman and Teton Sports. Marc was working so I (Julie) was the “chatter” and because TT asked great questions, we’ve shared them along with our answers – plus a few additions you just can’t fit in 140 characters! This was my view (not bad, huh?) during the chat so pretend you are here, kick back and enjoy.
Q1: What are your absolute favorite camping items?
Well, for me (Julie) it comes down to anything that makes our lifestyle easier, more relaxed and enjoyable, so 3 of my favorites are:
Outland Propane Fire Pit: This is great for enjoying evenings outdoors with friends without getting your clothes, hair and eyes filled with smoke. We also like that we no longer have to hope a campground has one at our campsite (or pay extra to rent one) or pay extra for firewood, which you often can’t transport between states. We can easily hook up the propane tank from our Weber BBQ Grill and turn the firepit off at the end of the evening with a simple switch, which is much safer and less messy then putting out a wood burning campfire.
Stemless Wine Glasses: We like drinking out of quality glasses and the stemless kind are less likely to topple over and spill. We aren’t glass snobs and we’re very practical, so we use ours for wine, beer, champagne and even sparkling water with fresh lime. And while we prefer to mostly use our real glass wine glasses by Riedel we also have a set of shatterproof stemless wine glasses which would be better (and safer) for those who go camping with children.
Slow Cooker/Rice Cooker: I love being able to put on a meal or some rice, then head out for a bike ride or hike and come back to find it’s ready to eat! I also love the portable size of it which makes it easy to store, and the handy carrying handle which locks the lid, making it easy and safe to transport the cooker and contents in and out of the RV without spilling anything or making a mess. It makes multiple meals at once and is quick and easy to clean – which means less time cooking and more time out having fun!
Q2: What are your top sites and spots to buy camping and outdoor gear?
I have to admit Amazon is my number 1 choice every time. I love the ability to research what I’m looking for, the convenience of online shopping and getting best prices. As Amazon Prime members, we get 2 day free shipping and of course, we appreciate their hassle free refund policy if needed.
Q3: How are you camping this season: tent, RV or rentals?
Our own RV of course! It’s a a Class A gas motorhome – more about how we chose our RV here.
Q4: What are your top 3 camping gear essentials?
Rhinoflex Sewer Hose Kit: Obviously, a sewer hose kit is essential for any RVer and we started out with a generic brand. A little over a year into our travels, we upgraded to the Rhinoflex and Marc (who does all our ‘dirty’ work) is so excited about it! It’s kind of funny that someone would be excited about a sewer hose, but sometimes it’s the little things that make a really big difference. Personally, I think anything that makes the task of dumping the tanks easier, more pleasant or enjoyable has got to be worth it! According to Marc this one holds it’s shape, adjusts for length as needed, and is much more durable which is very important – the last thing anyone wants is a leaking sewer hose!
Tri-Lynx Leveling Blocks: Unless you have a diesel pusher coach which can usually level with it’s air suspension system, almost every RVer will need leveling blocks to get their rig level. We use these almost every time we set up camp and place them under out front tires as well as our leveling jacks. We carry 3 sets with us (30 in total) so we can level just about anywhere, no matter how uneven a site may be. It’s really important to keep your RV wheels on the ground (and/or leveling blocks) and not have your RV standing on the leveling jacks alone with your wheels in the air! If your leveling jacks were to fail or break, your RV would come crashing down and potentially damaging your rig, contents and more importantly, you and your family!
Thousand Trails Camping Membership: Technically, this probably isn’t considered gear but it’s definitely a camping essential in our view. Since joining Thousand Trails (first with a Zone Pass, later with an upgrade) we’ve saved a ton on camping fees, met a lot of great people and stayed in some beautiful places. It’s been an excellent investment for us.
Q5: How are you getting ready for camping season?
We’re full-timers, so for us every season is camping season! But right now we’re in the midst of a big spring clean, offloading stuff we no longer need or don’t use often enough to justify the space and weight they take up. It feels great to be decluttering, offloading, cleaning and lightening our load in general. It’s good for the RV and it’s good for the mind, body and soul. We’re also purposely laying low for the rest of April, enjoying a quiet time here at Thousand Trails Lake Texoma to catch our breath after a big and busy 4 weeks in Australia and another big and busy 6 months ahead!
Q6: Where are your favorite camping locations?
This is always such a hard question to answer as we love so many different places for different reasons! But just a few of our top highlights include:
The Grand Canyon, AZ: We camped right inside the Grand Canyon National Park at the South Rim in March 2015. We’re looking forward to staying at the North Rim in September as it’s less touristy, but we’re glad our first experience was at the South Rim which has all of the amenities and lots of great places and resources to learn about the Canyon.
Sedona, Arizona area: We stayed at Thousand Trails in Verde Valley, about half an hour from downtown Sedona for about 2 weeks in March 2015. We love the beauty of the red rocks – the town has a very special energy about it that you just can’t describe. Plus, the roads in and around Sedona are awesome for Marc to go out road biking – cycling is his therapy and down time as much as it is an opportunity to get in some exercise.
The Oregon Coast: We stayed at several Thousand Trails locations during our visit to the Pacific North West, including South Jetty, Whaler’s Rest, Pacific City and Seaside. We loved the rugged beauty of the coast, the hikes, the lighthouses, the beaches that run all up and down the entire Oregon Coast. Our beloved dog Coda loved the beaches too, so aside from the natural beauty of that area, the Oregon Coast will always hold a special place in our hearts as those are some of our best memories of our travels with her.
Q7: What camp gear do you have on your ultimate camping wish list?
We’re pretty well stocked up with everything we need right now, but we do have one thing on our wish list – a couple of Strongback Camping Chairs. We recently sat in them while visiting friends and they were so comfortable! Much better ergonomics and better for your back than most camp chairs. We hope to get a couple of these soon.
Q8: What outdoor destinations or attractions are you hoping to visit this year?
Our travels are mostly planned out for the rest of 2016 and as long as nothing unexpected comes up, we’ll be visiting Graceland in Memphis, TN (I’m a big Elvis fan), returning to Garden of the God in Colorado, exploring Glacier National Park in Montana and placing the 48th sticker on our State Sticker Map in August when we get to Idaho – we’re really excited about getting to camp in Yellowstone National Park!
Q9: What are your tried and true camping and outdoor items?
Geez, again, so many! But here are a handful that we use often and we feel could be useful items for most campers:
Weber BBQ Grill: We got our Weber as a wedding gift and it’s been ideal for our RV lifestyle. Because we spend so much of our time outdoors we use it all the time, so we’ve since ‘accessorized’ ours with the portable stand, cover and griddle as well.
Coleman Portable Lamp: This was also a gift – from Marc’s mom before we hit the road – and we use it at night, especially when we’re cooking outdoors. It has multiple brightness levels, doesn’t get hot and the LED lamps will last practically forever.
Outdoor LED Rope Lights: No matter where we’re camping, we like to create a nice, cosy atmosphere inside and out and these LED rope lights create a great ambience, a soft glow and here’s a handy tip – the amber color is less likely to attract bugs!
Adventure Mate: We really love practical, multi-use items and this is our latest nifty gadget. It’s a sturdy, 5 in 1 tool with a hammer, saw, hook, hatchet, spade and hammer that also happens to be really cool and stylish. When we first started RVing, we carried several full size tools that we’ve hardly (or never) used so we’ve offloaded them into storage. Despite being much smaller than our full size tools, the Adventure Mate has proven to be extremely robust and able to handle anything we encounter outdoors.
Q10: Where are you most excited to camp this season?
We’re most excited about camping right at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, inside Yellowstone National Park and at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in October. They’ve all been on our wish list for a while and now we’re finally going to get to do them!
Thanks Thousand Trails for inviting us to participate in the TrailChat, we loved reading everyone else’s replies too and look forward to the next one! You can view the entire chat with comments from Thousand Trails, Airstream, Coleman and Teton Sports at Twitter #TrailChat.
You can find also more of our favorite camping items rounded up and organized by category right here at our Amazon store. If you make a purchase from one of our links, we will receive a small commission from Amazon which helps to support the free content and hosting that keep this site running, so thank you in advance if you do! Happy Trails!