Tis the season for buying useless crap for friends and family. If you’re shopping for anyone who enjoys hiking and/or RVing, here are some items we’ve found particularly useful or enjoyable during our travels! Disclaimer: some of these are affiliate links, so if you purchase anything through them we get a tiny kickback. Thanks!
We took this pack on pretty much every hike we did on the Big Trip. We also have a second, slightly bigger Osprey day pack for longer hikes where we need to carry a lot of food and water for the three of us, but this little guy is our primary hiking pack. It’ll hold, for example, two extra water bottles, two burritos, a small container of dog food, and a pile of snacks.
In Santa Fe we both bought Brooks trail runners and loved them so much we quit hiking in our boots and just wore these for all hikes and trail runs. Bonus: with our new hiking shoes, we found that we could fit longer hikes into a day by jogging the flats and downhills. Now that we’re home, these are still our go-to hiking shoes, and we only wear our big boots if we’re backcountry camping and need the extra support while carrying packs.
For the Yard
These mats are fantastic. We use two as our “yard” at campsites: they keep our feet (and therefore the Airstream entry) clean, they’re soft and comfortable to walk on, and they don’t kill grass underneath–although some campgrounds have a blanket “no mats” rule and don’t care that your mat is fancy. If you look at many of our campsite photos you’ll spot the orange mats in action, like in Houghton, Buena Vista, and Cortez.
Usually when we set up our yard, we put up a fence so Bugsy can hang out with us and not be tied up, as she doesn’t tie well. Or at all. We have three of these exercise pens; using the included bolt snaps to connect them, we can pull them out into whatever shape we need, with the Airstream closing the shape. To keep Bugsy from ducking under the trailer on the Airstream side of the shape where there’s no fence, we unroll a segment of low wire garden fencing. Works like a charm.
We have two Helinox camp chairs: one that swivels, and one that doesn’t. These chairs collapse down into bags that are small enough to strap to a backpack and take backcountry camping (which we have done, to the amusement of our camping buddies), which means they stow away nicely on the Airstream. And, they’re comfortable! We’re big fans of Helinox.
The Airstream comes with a nice sound system, but for relaxing outside the trailer you’ll want bluetooth speakers. This compact cylinder has done a good job brightening our yard with music, and is easy to pack away when we don’t need it.
For the Living Room
This bed fits perfectly under our dinette table, and has withstood crazy Bugsy’s playing, toy mauling, and energetic napping. You can see how nicely the bed sits under the table in the What’s in Bugsy’s Suitcase post.
This switch may not seem very exciting, but what it gives you access to is: This is what you use to connect a DirecTV box (and Dish, I assume) to the Airstream entertainment system. I am hoping J will write a post about using DirecTV on the road, but as a brief overview: The Airstream comes with a one-to-two HDMI splitter that splits a single input from the DVD player into two outputs, for each of the two TVs. The 2×2 splitter allows us to have an additional HDMI input from the DirecTV box go to the TVs. We travel with a DirecTV dish and tripod, and a DirecTV receiver borrowed from our house. More on this soon.
For the Kitchen
Didn’t everyone get Corelle for their first set of dishes? They’re not fancy, but they’re lightweight (always a consideration for trailer provisioning), sturdy, microwaveable, and come in many cheerful patterns. We have the set pictured, plus two bigger bowls (about twice the size of those in this set) for the bowl meals we like to make.
These piggies are the best. We have a larger version at our non-wheeled house, and have given several as gifts. If you like to microwave food but don’t like to clean explosions out of the microwave, you need a piggy. This size piggy covers our Corelle bowls nicely.
This is my favorite knife at home in my “real” kitchen, but when we started our Big Trip, I thought I’d be okay with a lesser knife. Wrong. The first Amazon Prime order we placed from the road included this Victorinox knife. Its performance is great, and way cheaper than high-end chef’s knives.
J is the tea drinker in the family, and this is his favorite kitchen gadget. He steeps tea-for-one for a few minutes and then sets the tea maker on top of his mug, which triggers the release of the tea through the filter. Easy peasy.
We got this because it collapses (and on in a trailer you’re always looking for space savers), but we use it so much that it’s never dry enough to collapse for travel, so when we are on the road it sits in the sink. Also, because we use it so much, it sits out on the stove all the time, so it’s nice that it’s interesting-looking. It does collapse down to nothing, and it holds enough water for both J’s tea and my coffee (I use a pour-over brewing cone for my coffee, if you’re interested.)
If you’re an RVer, you need this paper towel holder. It’s pretty and it sticks to the counter. What more do I need to say?
For Cleaning and Comfort
I can’t find the actual topper that we have, but it’s basically like this ComforPedic. The Airstream mattress (and I imagine any RV mattress) leaves a bit to be desired, but with our foam topper we are happy campers at night. The experienced Airstreamers at AirForums recommended at least a 3-inch topper in order to sleep comfortably on an Airstream mattress, and now that we are also experienced Airstreamers, we can report that we concur.
At the start of the Big Trip, we thought we could get by with just a hand broom. No. You need a vacuum of some sort (especially if you’re traveling with a dog… and a man), and this one has been great for us. In Utah, with its fine red dust that gets EVERYWHERE, I was vacuuming multiple times a day!
Three exhalers in one small metal tube → condensation on the windows. I had a smaller dehumidifier on this list initially, but we had to upgrade to this more powerful model, and it does a fantastic job keeping our house dry. Be warned: it’s big, but we think it’s worth the space it takes up.
Living full-time in a metal box through a Virginia winter requires a lot of propane if you’re mostly relying on your furnace to keep you warm. Since we brought this little room heater into our house, we’ve been toasty as can be, using maybe 1/3 as much propane as we would have otherwise.
For Safety and Security
After going through cheapies that give out crappy light and die early deaths, it’s nice to have reliable, strong, adjustable flashlights for late-night dog walks.
We don’t often use the chock lock, but it gives great peace of mind when we need it. We’ve used it when boondocking, in questionable campgrounds, and when storing the Airstream at a big storage facility. It’s heavy-duty and easy to hook up. Theoretically, a thief could remove the wheel that is locked and still drive off with your trailer, but that would take a really motivated bad guy. We may still get a tracker gizmo at some point…
We have four of these cans for off-the-grid camping. They pack perfectly in the truck bed with ratchet tie downs and pour easily into the Airstream’s freshwater tank with the integrated spouts that store within the cans, on the underside of the black cap you can see in the photo.
This is another item we haven’t needed to use much, but it sure is nice to have when we have needed it. You may pull into a big commercial campground and all they have left is a 50 amp spot, but you have a 30 amp trailer. No problem! Or, you may be plugged into the 30 amp supply and add a heated hose to a separate outlet, and suddenly the 30 amp circuit starts tripping (that happened to us in our current long-term spot where we are living). Switch to the 50 amp supply and everything is happy! I don’t know why that worked, but I’m glad we had the adapter.
For Winter Airstreaming
Remember our post on winterizing your Airstream? Step 8 includes “Disconnect the hose running into the filter and attach your 2-3 foot section of hose.” That part of the process is actually pretty annoying because space is so tight in that cabinet, and this pump converter kit lets you skip the disconnect hose 1-connect hose 2-disconnect hose 2-connect hose 1 nonsense. Hooray!
This is our newest Airstream purchase, just in time for winter. We appreciate having running water in below-freezing temperatures, and this hose will keep us watered through the cold months. Of course, you can rely on your freshwater tank when temps drop below freezing, but you could put lots of wear on your pump that way. Our pump is noisy, too, so I like to avoid using it when we can!
This is just a sample of some of the items that have made our Airstream life more organized and pleasant. I didn’t include some of the more boring things like drawer separators, plate holders, storage bins, toilet paper, and black tank treatments, but would be happy to share suggestions if you are interested. Happy shopping!