In Focus: Camping / Road Trip Gear

If you’ve followed along with my recent travels, you know I took a trip out to West Texas for a quick four day weekend and after all the dust settled, I decided to make a few videos to showcase some of the products I used. Take a look!

A clean campsite is a wonderful thing and if you’re tired of dirt or sand gathering on your ground covering, the CGear Sand-Free Mat is perfect for you. I recently took the 8′ x 8′ version (we also have a 10′ x 10′) out into the real world so check the video for the verdict!

Adventuring can work up a thirst but with the NRS Dura Soft 6 Pack Cooler, you don’t ever have to be too far from cold beverages. I recently took the cooler on a road trip to test out its cooling powers and the results are in the video.

I used the NRS Dri-Stow dry bag to hold all my clothes and gear on my road trip and used the NRS Tuff Sack dry bag to hold essential “just-incase” items for the car. These are two tough bags that lived up to their initial promise so watch the video for my insight.

If you’re like me, you don’t want to be without your music or mobile devices (mostly…) when you’re out camping or on the water. I used the Goal Zero Nomad 7 Solar Panel / Rock Out Speaker Combo and I wanted to showcase this unique device and those awesome little speakers.

-Trent @ ACK

Product Testing in West Texas

I recently embarked on a trip out to the great wide open of West Texas and took some products we sell here at ACK along for the trip. Let me start right off the bat by saying everything I used served its purpose very well and I will give you a rundown of what I used, how I used it and what I may have run into along the way.

I really didn’t want to go the route of the cramped duffle bag for this trip so I decided to use a couple of different bags from NRS: the large Dri-Stow bag and the small Tuff Sack dry bag.

NRS Dri-Stow (large)
NRS Dri-Stow (large)

For four days worth of my clothes and other assorted items, I used the large Dri-Stow bag and still had plenty of room, even without tightly smooshing things down. The bag seals up very securely at the top and creates its own carry handle for added convenience. I always like it when one things serves multiple purposes and this bag certainly does. All the Dri-Stow bags are see through which is really great if you have a lot packed in them. You can pack it in such a way that everything is nicely visible. I packed my towels at the bottom of the bag which seemed like a mistake when I wanted to get them out for a shower after a long day of hiking but even though a lot of other gear was on top of them, I just slid my hand down the side of the bag and was able to pull my towels out without disturbing the rest of the contents. Had I packed it again I probably would’ve left the towels on top but it really wasn’t that big of a deal. If you have a bunch of wet gear you want to keep away from your dry stuff, throw it in this bag and you can rest assured it will keep the two separate and won’t leak all over your dry gear if you seal it up properly.

I used the Tuff Sack for the necessary stuff I like to take with me on a road trip like trash bags, plastic grocery bags, and zip-lock bags because you never know when you might need that stuff out on the road or out on the trails! While I didn’t have to use those items very much, I liked having it sealed away in the bag and could rest assured that once I had properly closed it, those items would stay in the bag away from the rest of my neatly packed car.

I listen to music while I work, drive, clean the house or during just about any other activity. Its always on and why should I have to be away from music while I’m out on the trails, the water or sitting by the pool? I shouldn’t and neither should you thanks to the Goal Zero Nomad 7 Solar Panel and Rock Out Speaker Combo. There’s been an influx of solar powered devices in the market recently and I have to admit that I was skeptical of this one. I wasn’t sure how well it would work or if it was just a gimmick to begin with. The Nomad 7 panels work wonderfully with the Rock Out speakers and will charge them in about four hours. I had them sitting in the back window of my car soaking up the sun on my drive out west and they were charged by the time I got there. The speakers have an internal battery so they won’t drain your devices’ and will stay charged for about 20 hours, according to the manufacturer. I used them over a couple of days and certainly not for 20 hours but I didn’t have to recharge them in between and that was nice. The solar panel has a spot for a USB plug, which charges the speakers and can also charge your mobile device in about one to two hours. I charged my device in my car so I didn’t use the solar panels for that but I’ve heard from others that it works well with a cell phone as well. There is also a port for a 12 volt adapter, one of which comes with the package, and that will charge any applicable device you have as well.

CGear Sand-Free Mat at Balmorhea State Park

Cleanliness is a big deal to me and after using the CGear Sand-Free Mat on this trip, I don’t think I would use another ground cover for a basecamp or just lounging around outdoors at a festival around town or at the Barton Creek Greenbelt for a day with friends. I took the CGear mat with me when I went to Balmorhea State Park to lay out by their pristine spring-fed pool. I had my gear and my towels laid out on the mat and the dual-layer weave technology kept sand and other small debris off the mat with ease. When something small gets on top, all you have to do is run your hand over the top layer and the debris falls through. It really is that easy. I was skeptical at first but the mat works really well. I was also worried about it getting hot in the sun but that just didn’t happen.

NRS Dura Soft 6 Pack Cooler with two larger Gatorades at Balmorhea State Park

The last product I was able to enjoy on my trip was the NRS Dura Soft 6 Pack Cooler. This little bag can hold a lot, keep it cold, is easy to pack and even easier to clean. I loaded a six pack and a frozen ice pack into the cooler before I hit the road. After driving for six plus hours, I was surprised to find that my six pack was still cool inside the Dura Soft cooler. I really couldn’t believe it. I didn’t have to put my drinks in the fridge and could just pop one open as soon as I got there. Truly awesome. Aside from the six pack, at a different point in my trip, I put two of the larger Gatorade bottles and one additional small water bottle in the cooler and it held those with room to spare! Also, the liner on the cooler is removable so when I was finished and ready to clean it out, all I had to do was remove the liner (it fastens in with velcro), clean it out in the sink and pop it back in the cooler. When there’s nothing in it, you can smoosh it down and pack it with the rest of your gear without taking up that precious cargo space. NRS really thought ahead when they were designing this bag.

-Trent @ ACK

 

Camping and Kayaking – Part 3

Rain, rain and more rain. The April showers are 6 months late here in Austin, but well received. Hoping for a small break in the rain at the end of the month for a Camping/Climbing trip in Oklahoma so I can test out some of our new gear. Check here in early November for details from that trip. Here we go with Part 3 of Camping and Kayaking, the final segment of this series…for now.

Stove/Cook Set: Keep the kitchen simple and compact and you’ll find that you spend a lot less time cooking and more time enjoy the scenery and your family and friends. An all in one system like the MSR Reactor Stove System is great for quickly boiling water. You’ll find a plethora of dry foods out there that only require water and taste great…mmm freeze dried ice cream sandwiches- they’re good, I swear. So if your camp site doesn’t have a grill or allow open flames or you don’t feel like carting prime rib along, try one of these. You’ll be surprised. If you want a little more versatility but still want to stay simple look at something like the Whisper Lite Internationale Stove (lets you burn white gas, diesel, or unleaded) and a cook set like the GSI Bugaboo Camper Cook Set. Of course if space isn’t as issue, go all out with the real stuff and use the Pioneer Enamelware Camp Set…I still have a set of this from Boy Scouts, it lasts forever.

Dry Bags/Dry Boxes: There are probably a thousand different choices for keeping your gear dry. One thing is for sure, a Ziploc baggy and garbage sack are a disaster waiting to happen. If you value your gear, especially electronics, invest in a couple of dry bags. There are ones that are specific to electronics like SealLine Waterproof Electronics Cases and others that are more universal like the Baja Bags and Tuff Sacks. Dry Bags also work excellent for organizational purposes. Several smaller Dry Bags in different colors can help you keep your gear organized in your pack or kayak as well make it easy to sort out when you get to camp. There are various versions of Dry Bags like the See Bags that are made with clear or opaque materials that allow you to see what is in them without having to dig around or empty them. In some cases the materials that make up the clear or opaque Dry Bags is lighter duty so check the specs on these and make sure they are suitable for your situation.

Kayak Cart: I know this is not necessarily what you would consider camping gear, but I like to think on them as wheelbarrows. For those camp sites that are 100-300 yards away you load your yak on a kayak cart, pile on all your gear and wheel it out to the site- voila – one trip.

I know some or all of you are going to come up with items that I overlooked on this list or that you may think are more important, and that’s great, because my biggest goal here is to get you thinking about how easy it is to take your kayak camping with you, or your camping kayaking with you. Comments are always welcome and encouraged or you can send an email to customer@austinkayak.com.