Packing for Overlanding Adventures

So many of my friends ask how to do know what to pack and how much to pack when living full-time tent camping? Then how to figure out what’s needed once you move from a van to a little truck camper. So this post is dedicated on how to pack, what to pack and how to downsize! I have learned, we typically pack more than needed to be comfortable. Here are my tips and tricks for packing and keeping it as minimalistic as possible! First, you need good weatherproof storage bins. I found these at home depot to be great and perfect for stacking and not too heavy if you pack them fully. You can also get them at Costco and Amazon. Four to Six should be plenty for two people, I suggest don’t go over four if you are trying to not have too many items to fit in your mid size truck camper. There is very little storage! Here is what we have decided to take with us to live for the next year.

We used two bins for food garlic, onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes, shallots (I put all these in a plastic bag with holes I got from a farmers market potatoes bag-I have reused this for 15 months and it is still going strong), storage spices (I buy spices in bulk and use little ziplock bags for each spice and one large ziplock to hold all of them makes it easy for storage in small space), tin foil, one pot and two cast iron pans, 6 cup espresso maker, coffee beans holder and grinder, collapsible Tupperware, utensils, plates, bowls, cups, canned foods (coconut milk, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, cream of mushroom, artichoke hearts, canned tuna, pastas, noodles and rice. One bin for camp chairs, hammock, backpacks, yoga mat, headlamps, walkie talkies, duct tape, first aid kit, hiking poles, bug spray, bear spray and candles. The last bin is full of our clothes packed in compression bags. I suggest using these from Amazon and REI . Do not pack too many clothes you really will only wear a couple of shorts, 2-3 t-shirts, 1-2 tanks, 2 long sleeve shirts, one nice pair of pants, convertible hiking pants, a capri leggings and a long leggings, swim suit, couple of underwear, 1 set of long underwear and one nice set of clothes to go out on the town (I have a nice sun dress and Greg has a nice short and long sleeve button down shirt to wear with shorts or jeans). We have a couple of sleeping bags, sleeping pads and pillows that all fit in this great REI duffle bag. Reusing old duvet and sheet bags to store your shoes, sandals, hiking boots and extra jackets (we have puffy down jacket, rain shell, a fleece, beanie hat and gloves). We also use an old sheets bag for games like travel scrabble, Farkle (aka 10,000 a fun dice game), chess, and rummy. These bags are great to ensure things stay clean, organized easy to find and compact!

When living in a very tight space, organization is critical. When we got our new Overland Explorer Camp M and started unpacking our items and repacking, we learned we needed to get rid of our big plastic bins that could fit in the truck bed to small plastic organizers that could fit in the small storage spaces. Don’t forget to bring a small pack with sundry items, (I cut our hair so we have an electric razor), we use Dr. Bronner’s for shampoo, body wash, hand wash, clothes wash and washing dishes as it is biodegradable and doesn’t hurt the environment and won’t make you sick if you eat on accident from not rinsing off your plates well enough. This way we could stack and have dry items, canned items in one area, snacks in another, breakfast items in another, cooking utensils in another. Below is our new organization.

People ask what items are your favorite must haves, here are our top 5:

  1. Berkey Water System (this is great when you are boondocking and have a near-by stream to get water or to ensure you always have good water out of your water tank).
  2. Having a nice durable outdoor rug to sit on, exercise, save your camp spot, or take a shower when its dirt all around you. This mat has lasted more than 1.5 years for us so far.
  3. Comfortable, collapsible and easy to store camp chairs and camp table.
  4. Small portable axe, shovel, bucket and always have extra water containers we like these rotopax that can be added to our molle carrier.
  5. Weboost cell booster, we find this increases our coverage by 50%.
  6. Okay, I’m adding a six item- we do laundry everyday or other day and just a few items then we don’t have to go to the laundromat. We love the scrubba, works great and really helps to pack less clothes!

We hope this is helpful. Next blog, we will discuss our new Overland Explorer Camp M truck camper and our experiences with it so far in Montana visiting Bozeman, Red Lodge, the Beartooth Highway and Northeast and Northwest Yellowstone.

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On the Road Again…

It’s nice to have the stress of the last two months behind us and to be back on the road again. It’s a little different from life in the Boldt. After a long day of driving you can’t just turn your seats around and relax. There are a few more steps such as one must put up the tent and set up camp. We do miss some of the Boldt creature comforts but now we can off road and go where there are fewer people just coyotes, owls, hawks, bunnies and road runners. This week we are going to share with you a few of our favorite affordable and free campgrounds!

Our first stop was Fall River Campground outside Sunriver, OR. Greg still had his 2nd vaccination in Bend to receive so we stayed a few days at this campground which is only $14/$7 a night. There are 12 camp spots on the Fall River with picnic tables, fire pits, and a pit toilet. We were surprised that almost all the spots were open and only three other spots were taken when we were there. If you have a Berkey filter this is a great spot for unlimited water, the river water is super clear and cold! There is a hiking trail up and down the Fall River that is a few miles long and if you are a fly fisherman this is your paradise! Our neighbor caught two rainbow trout and were super nice and offered us one but with the 30 mph winds we couldn’t get our stove to stay lit, so we had to pass (boo-hoo)! After two days of beautiful weather, the weather changed on our last night to 24 degrees Fahrenheit, and the next day was forecast to have snow and sleet, we decided it was time to head South!

We were planning on staying, at one of our favorite spots, at the Lava Bed National Monument Indian Wells Campground which is awesome and only $10/$5 a night but the weather stated snow, so we went further South to Eagle Lake Campground in California. This is a great boondocking location but make sure you have plenty of water and you are packing in and packing out, there are no amenities during the off season. It is a beautiful location at Rocky Point and free. During the Summer and Fall the North Eagle Lake Campground is open $14/$7 but this time of year it is still closed. We had planned to stay here for three days but the wind was 25-40mph and was impossible to keep our Eureka Camp Stove lit. We highly recommend do not get this camp stove at REI, we are returning it and sticking with the Camp Chef it has better sides and back to keep the wind out. In addition, you can use a converter and use a real propane tank and not ruin the environment with the tiny unrecyclable propane bottles the Eureka uses. After one night, we headed out to go further South to Walker Lake in Nevada where the wind was supposed to be only 15 mph. But of course, we got to Walker Lake and visited the 6 different camping areas where prices range from free to $6/$3 a night. Once again we ran into crazy wind, we tried to put up the tent at 7pm when the wind was supposed to calm down but it kept blowing over the tent poles and we gave up and slept in the truck for the night.

As a result, instead of a couple days at Walker Lake we bolted’ to our good old standby Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge, that is a beautiful location and free. We enjoy watching and hearing hummingbirds, hawks, owls, flickers, cranes, ducks, geese and great blue herons. The Campground host is wonderful! He is super friendly and cleans every camp spot by clearing the firepit, rakes the camp area and even cleans the picnic table with disinfectant. He maintains the cleanest vault toilets I have ever seen or smelled! We were able to get our tent up before the 50 mph wind gusts. We had the tent poles hit my head a few times during the night. The next day, we got to enjoy a 4 mile walk around the lake and have a few hours of sunshine and a fire before the winds came back in with a thunder and rainstorm for good measure. It rained all night, and coming from Oregon we know rain.

We woke up to seeing our breath and snow on the nearby hills. We decided we had enough, packed-up our wet gear and raced to Marana and a nice queen bed at Greg’s parents. We would have stopped at Burro Creek Campground (only $14/$7) near Wickieup, AZ but it was pouring down rain and you all know how fun it is to put up a tent in the rain. It has potable water, flush toilets, picnic tables with covers and firepits. There is a group camp area if you are coming with a group. We believe with climate change all the meteorology algorithms must be off as none of the weather predictions were correct. That is one thing we do miss from our van is pulling up and relaxing inside and not having to set-up camp. Only a few more months and our Overland Explorer Camp-M will be ready and we’ll be back in business.

One last addition, last night we went to Madera Canyon in Arizona. The Bog Springs Campground is an excellent stop for only $20/$10 a night with water at each camp spot, picnic tables, fire rings, bear box and a vault toilet. It was very quiet and very few other campers. From the campground there are a number of trails up the Madera Canyon. The area is known for its birding and did we see lots of birds: wild turkeys, hummingbirds, acorn woodpecker, warblers, trogons, flycatchers, Mexican blue jays, eagles and bats. In the evening we were infiltrated by a gang of 5 wild turkeys, two squirrels, 4 blue jays and 2 deer. They stared me down and were like–“hey woman give us food or else!” It was quite the sight to see them all together.

In our next post, we will share suggestions in organizing your toys in a cargo trailer and how to pack for overlanding adventures as we head to California, Nevada, Idaho and Montana for our next road trip. Thanks Mom and Dad for letting us crash for 10 days!