Friday, September 25, 2020

The What, Why, and How of Camping Staycations

You don't want to travel, but you want to get away. You're nervous about getting away, but you want to get out of the house. You're well aware of the risks of getting out, but with social distancing, aren't there some activities that are okay? The term "staycation" has been popping up more frequently now that people are staying closer to home during the pandemic. What is a "staycation," why is the word a current hot topic, and how can we take--these are all questions pertinent to the times.

According to Merriam-Webster, a staycation is "a vacation spent at home or nearby." A blend of the words "stay" and "vacation," the first mention of the word was in 1944, so it is not a recent word made up just for the COVID-19 pandemic. Our M-W dictionary detectives first found mention of the word in a full-page beer ad during World War II, citing the patriotism of victory gardens, gas rationing, and staying-at-home vacations. Staycation, it seems to me, is a very appropriate word for our current times--staying in place and social distancing in order to keep the pandemic from overwhelming our health system. 

Camping staycations don't need to be enjoyed just from home, although many of the first staycations mentioned during the pandemic were backyard and driveway camping experiences. Searching my own blog with the word "backyard," I was reminded that in the last months I've written quite a few articles about backyard and local camping, the most relevant article being "Safe Pandemic Camping? These Folks Discovered Their Backyards and Driveways." Scrolling through the search list, though, I realized that I've been writing about staycations even before becoming acquainted with the term, even before the pandemic. One article was written in early August about my setting up camp in a local county park just four miles from home, "Are We Camping or Picnicking? Who Cares." In that article, I was addressing the need to get away, especially focusing on my wife's dilemma of having an at-home business and really never getting out of the house. Although pandemic related, the article's focus extended beyond the pandemic. With another article, written in January of this year, "Camping Local: Discovering Your Big Backyard," the pandemic wasn't even in the news, but the concept of enjoying the benefits of local camping was still relevant. 


A camping staycation doesn't just mean camping in your backyard, your driveway, or at a local campground. Even full-time campers whose houses are their camping rigs can plan staycations, and many have changed their camping travel plans in order to "hunker down" by staying in one place for longer times while camping, with "Drive Less, Stay Longer" being the motto of the day. The benefits of camping for longer times when we stop extend beyond the patriotic origins of staycations, although helping keep ourselves and others safe is certainly patriotic or socially responsible. Beyond the common sense of the day is also the concept that staying longer at one place provides for a deeper experience of a place--a deeper geographical, historical, and ecological experience of a place. Not only that, staying longer in one place can promote a deeper personal, inner experience that nature can inspire. We can spend less time driving and setting up and breaking down camp; we can spend more time enjoying just being alive and well.

Good old Kampgrounds of America has published an article on their website that offers ten reasons for trying the staycation experience. Although the article isn't a deep dive (and has no reference to the pandemic), it does provide some good ideas to consider about why to camp locally, maybe even at home. 

  • Save money
  • Get a Fresh Perspective on Your Area
  • Truly Unplug
  • Save Time
  • Test Out New Gear
  • Say Goodbye to Packing Stress
  • Improve Your Camping Skills
  • Connect More with Loved Ones
  • Recharge Your Own Battery
  • Spend More Time with Your Furry Friends
"Furry Friends"? Okay, like I said, not the deepest list. However, all these ideas together do provide a thoughtful reminder that road trips aren't the only reason for rolling. Staycations have their place in the scheme of all things camping. Maybe it's time to take advantage of the "no longer than 14 nights" limit on a campground stay. That's right, just max it out! A two-week stay at a campsite means a half-day of set-up, a half-day of break-down, and thirteen days of whatever combination of rest and adventure trips your trigger. 

I'm not just a guy who researches a topic, a guy who engages in the concept with just my imagination, so I recently spent two weeks camping at one campground a little over an hour from home. Buck Creek Campground is an Army Corps of Engineers facility on Rathbun Lake in SE Iowa. Since it was the end of the camping season and because I have my federal Senior camping card, I was able to get the rate of $9 per day, which was great. I drove up for a first come, first served site and found one close to the lake, overlooking morning mists and sunset reflecting off the water.


Was the experience of camping in one place for two weeks "deeper" than camping in, for instance, four locations? My weather experience was four days of straight rain, followed by ten days of great weather. Luckily, I was able to set up camp just prior to the rain hitting, so my set-up and break-down experiences were dry and cool--and those of you that camp know that means wonderful. Because I brought my bicycle, the outer experience of my two-week staycation did involve quite a bit of local exploration--both by myself on my bike and with my wife on the weekends, when we hiked together and took some short driving excursions to other campgrounds on the lake. On the rainy days, I rested more, wrote and read, and enjoyed some cooking time in my Clam shelter. More time was available for both active recreation and also writing. I wrote three articles during my stay (and planned this one).

These articles reflect how I was active and what I was thinking. I didn't write about road conditions, traffic, and my GPS fiascos, all of which I've written about before. "Camp" started feeling more like "home," if you know what I mean. My wife visited on both weekends of my staycation, and truly felt she was taking a break from work. This staycation was fairly local at a little over sixty miles away, but the funny thing is that I could have as easily stayed for two weeks at a local state park that is only seventeen miles from home. Staying in one place, even well-known locales, can yield undiscovered places and moments.


It's fall now, and finding two-week campsites is much easier. In a little over a week, I'm heading out again to Rathbun Lake, this time to a different campground, Honey Creek State Park. My wife has never camped there, but she was excited to discover during our day excursion at the park that there are more bluffs and hidden coves to explore than in the Army Corps sites. I'm looking forward to time alone, I'm looking forward to sharing some camping time with my wife, and I'm looking forward to resting and exploring. I'm happy to know that I can do all this safely camping in my tiny trailer. Even during the time of this pandemic, it's great to know it's possible to keep myself and others safe by setting up my little home away from home for two weeks--on the beach, on the trail, and on the program.

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(Note: As the content for Green Goddess Glamping evolves, sometimes content focus will dictate that articles will be posted on some Facebook groups and not others. Articles on Dutch oven cooking, portable toilets, or bicycle day rides, for instance, could find posts in different groups. The best way to ensure that you are receiving all articles is to subscribe to follow this blog by email notifications. And if you don't get a confirmation notice, be sure to check your spam box.)

Monday, September 21, 2020

Rathbun Lake: Bicycles and Tiny Trailer Basecamp


Two weeks of camping at one site--it seemed like a good idea to take my bicycle for exploring . . . and it was! After four days of rain and a lot of hunkering down, it was time to explore the area around Buck Creek Campground, taking my bicycle, which always provides a more personal connection with the environment than by car.

I'm writing this after three fun days of riding from my basecamp, and I imagine I'll have one more ride before I leave. My wife is coming for three days (Friday--Sunday), and I'm leaving on Tuesday--so I'm thinking, yeah, maybe Monday for one more ride.

Rathbun Lake and this Army Corps campground are somewhat odd from my experience in that there are no bike paths or hiking trails readily accessible from the campground. Most people seem to camp here for the fishing or for just hangin' at camp. I have walked along the shore, and that's nice, but the experience is more picking my way along shore, watching for tippy rocks that could turn an ankle or muddy spots. Still nice, though.

Exploring the bicycling opportunities really was a process of discovery, then--nothing obvious like a sign that says, "Multi-use Trail Starts Here." Seek and ye shall find, though, so I ventured forth boldly.

My first day of exploration was to check out the water egress area below the dam. There were two long, paved roads descending to the waterway at the bottom of the dam, and I was hoping that the roads extended along the water, off and away. What I discovered, though, was that the roads ended at a parking area. Footpaths continued along the water, but they weren't official and were narrow and rough. Later in the season I might have explored more, but I was in no mood to be tick and chigger bait so I passed.


On my way to the spillway, I had seen an Iowa DNR designated trail, the Moffitt Ridge Nature Trail. From the road is was a mown pathway heading down the ridge. The ground was wet, but not so wet that I would get gumbo-gooey or beat up the trail too much, so I headed off, quickly out of the grassy meadow and into the trees. Traveling directly away from the road, the surroundings immediately became quieter and the view filled with green hues of the light filtering through the leaves of the overhanging trees. The descent continued on an on, later I determined it probably be just over a mile, and then brighter light reflecting off where a gravel road formed a portal in the greenery. I pushed my bike through the opening, having a "stargate moment." I was at the dead end of a farm road, the road ascending up to another ridge after crossing railroad tracks. 


I looked at Google Maps, found my location, zoomed in and saw that the farm road merged with another, which looped back to the main highway. Great! I'd just discovered a four-mile loop ride that included county pavement, trail, and gravel. The beauty of bucolic Iowa opened before me: green meadows, oak trees, and cattle idling in the shade of the trees, looking up at me as I mounted my bike and pumped up the hill, having to stop while a freight train traveled through. The gravel farm road merged with another gravel road, Boyer Road, but the rural Iowa gravel vibe continued with a creosoted wooden bridge, a few farmhouses and barns, plenty of corn, and lots of scrub lining the road. Oh, yes, and no dogs, so I didn't have to negotiate my passage with any local canines. I arrived at home very happy with the ride. The spillway ride, added to the loop ride, provided a little more distance, and the exploring was fulfilling.

The second day of riding just included the loop, although I explored a continuation of the trail which headed up and away from the farm road. Probably the trail continued on to the DNR fish hatchery, a bit of a side trip I'd taken the day before when at the bottom of the dam. The hill up was steep, though, not too steep to climb, but the ground was still soft and my tire treads not aggressive enough for the conditions. I could have continued but felt myself just breaking traction now and then, and I felt it probably not the best for the trail for me to continue. Maybe I'll explore on my last ride!

The gravel was great, though, after I headed back down to the stargate, and the cattle were glad to see me, one even coming up to the fence. Being alone, I didn't mind exchanging a nod and friendly word. I could tell that my legs needed a more regular workout from how they felt today as I climbed the ridge to the main gravel road, but that's good, right? I continued on and back to camp, where I cooked myself a great potato and scrambled egg breakfast burrito for lunch. 

One of the great conveniences of tiny trailer camping and taking day rides is that there's always the opportunity for great food and a soft bed after the ride. I've enjoyed by three- or four-day bike camping tours, but the food and bed are definitely better when it's day rides from a basecamp.

After the day ride, I commuted to the marina for ice.

On the third day of riding, I wanted to go a longer distance but had a bit of a dilemma. The county roads, although not heavily traveled and the drivers uniformly considerate, had no real shoulders. The dam is a two-lane road with metal barriers on the sides, and the paved road drops off quickly to ditches or down steep hills. I decided to travel to Prairie View Campground, which is across the dam and three miles from camp. I'd ridden this before and enjoyed the ride and found that, as in my previous ride, weekday traffic is less than weekend traffic. Inside the Prairie View area, I wanted to explore a couple of side roads, but after the first side trek discovered that Indian Circle was not a looping road along the lake and then back up to the entrance road. No, the road descended to the lake, flipped a quick 360, and then it was back up the same road. A bit farther there was another "circle" route, but I decided I'd been there, done that. 

After exploring Prairie View again and checking out possible campsites, I considered heading into the hamlet of Rathbun, two miles beyond the campground, but it was lunchtime, so I headed back to camp. 

On my fourth and last day of bike riding, I waited till Monday after having spent the weekend with my wife. After exploring with her along the lake edge and taking a drive to check out the state park on the lake (rather than the Army Corps' campgrounds), I was ready for another ride. I decided not to do a road trek, though, because there seemed to be a bit more road traffic Monday morning. 

I decided to take the loop route I'd discovered, but this time I'd explore the trail branch that took off back uphill, rather than easing out onto the farm road. The trail was much drier this time after a few more days without rain. I met a couple and their hound dog on the trail and asked them if the trail ended up at the fish hatchery. Yup, they said, so on I traveled. The route wasn't as long as I expected, and soon I was at the hatchery.


I was raised in Northern California in Oroville, a town on the edge of the Sierra Nevadas that has a salmon hatchery, so I was interested in checking out the operation. As I exited the trail, I pedaled over to the open ponds and cement tanks, looking around and snapping a few photos. After a bit, a DNR employee came over and told me I wasn't supposed to be on the premises, that it was for employees only. I had to take off. "I came out on the trail," I said, "and there wasn't any sign stating to stay away." I had to leave anyway and, of course, I did, but not without the parting comment that they should post a sign at the end of the trail.

I returned to the trail and followed the loop trail back to camp, enjoying another quiet ride on the gravel roads. It's always great to return to camp and my trailer for a shower and a great lunch. On this particular trip, I had to be creative to find a bike route that was fun, safe, and at least a bit of a challenge. The interest of this particular route was its variety, even though the route was only about four miles long. My side route to the hatchery added a bit of distance and novelty, but if I were to ride this route regularly for more exercise, I'd ride it two or more times.

I supposed the bottom line for Buck Creek Campground and the lake's marina, which is just a half mile away, is that if you want to enjoy the area, then get in the water. We've seen a lot of boats, from paddle boards and kayaks on up to pretty big sailing yachts. And then, of course, there are all the fisher folk. It will be interesting next year to find out if the Army Corps' Island View Campground has more trails, or if it also is a water-focused campground. Since it was late in the camping season, this sojourn only cost me $9 per day with my senior pass. A great price and, really, a great time.

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(Note: As the content for Green Goddess Glamping evolves, sometimes content focus will dictate that articles will be posted on some Facebook groups and not others. Articles on Dutch oven cooking, portable toilets, or bicycle day rides, for instance, could find posts in different groups. The best way to ensure that you are receiving all articles is to subscribe to follow this blog by email notifications. And if you don't get a confirmation notice, be sure to check your spam box.)

Thursday, September 17, 2020

How the Clam Quick Set Shelter Helped Us Through Four Days of Rain

Clam Quick Set Shelter, camping shelter

As I pulled away from home on a Tuesday morning, pulling my tiny trailer and all packed up for a two-week stay at Rathbun Lake in SE Iowa, I was fully aware that the weather forecast was for four straight days of rain. I was excited about the trip, though, and felt that the weather would help me secure a good first come, first served campsite at Buck Creek Campground, one of three Army Corps campgrounds on the lake. (There is also a state park campground.)

I was able to find my spot and set up camp prior to the rain hitting--including our Clam Quick Set 140 x 140 inch shelter. Then the rains came and never really left for the first four days of my fourteen-night "staycation" here at Buck Creek Campground. I knew it was going to rain because of the forecast, so you might ask, "Why endure the rain? Why not show up later?" The answer is twofold: 1) I felt I'd have a better choice of first come, first served sites on a Tuesday rather than a Friday, and 2) I needed some rest, so why not in my tiny camper beside the lake? I was right on both counts because I secured a great site and got some good rest. 

My four rainy days of camping turned out well for me in part not just because of my easy-going manner but also because of the Clam Quick Set shelter that I used--with the wind/rain covers for the windows. I think that if I had been forced to do all my camp chores in the rain, the mist, or just in the wet between the rain spells, I would have had much less fun. Prior to this rainy stay at camp, my wife and I had primarily used the Clam for sun and bug protection. We're glad to know that with the wind panels, the shelter also works in the rain. This is not unplanned by the manufacturer, though. If you look in the photos, you can see that the shields attach with a flap folding over the top of the shield in order to keep the rain run-off on the outside of the shelter.


My wife and I have used a Quick Set shelter for two camping seasons, but I have to admit that we have bought two of the shelters. The first worked great, but at the beginning of our second camping season, I attempted to put it up without reviewing the company video guide . . . and mangled the process badly: upside down, backwards, and inside out--and if you can get a picture in your head of all those "umbrella" pull-outs upside down, backwards, and inside out, you have an idea of the dilemma I was in. I remember at one point my wife's son was helping me "put it back the way it was when we started." Nope, with all those push-outs pushed the wrong way and folded the wrong way, finally we gave up in despair. My wife suggested that we take the mess home, throw it away, and buy another because she likes doing her office work in the shelter. 

I finally agreed, humbled and humiliated, but expressed one request: "What happened here today in the campground stays in the campground." I'm breaking our pact for the good of other campers. The Clam Quick Set is easy to put up and take down--if you follow the instructions. And the best way to learn is to watch the company's instruction video. It's clear and straightforward. With all those push-outs, though, don't think you'll just wing it and can always just back out of the process and start over. That would be like playing the game Pick Up Sticks and at some point of disagreement saying, "Well, let's just put them all back the way they were when we started."

Clam Quick Set Shelter, camping shelter
Central "eyes," part of the shelter's framing, being used to tie down the Clam

Following the instructions for putting up the shelter, it was easy to do alone. I erected the shelter, staked and tied it down, and added the wind/rain shields. I was ready for the storm. One hint I was given by another Clam owner was to tie down the Clam using the metal eyes on the frame, rather than the sewn-in tiedown eyes on the fabric. The metal eyes are part of the frame, which makes the wind ties even more secure. 

The wind/rain screens are also useful for privacy and sun protection. I've been showering in the Clam, on the downhill side, and I close up the shelter to ensure my privacy. I also keep up a couple of the screens on the sunny side to shade the ice chest, trying to keep the ice last as long as possible. 

Mainly, though, the Clam provided me with an extra room during the constant rain, allowing me to cook without being rained on, and providing me an extra room to get out of the tiny trailer and sit in a comfortable chair. Even with all the rain, the shelter didn't leak, or at least so little that the tables and the canvas chair never were dripped on. Towards the end of the four days, the shelter did get wet inside, just a faint sheen of moisture, but I believe this was because the humidity was 100%. I could still sit on the canvas chair, and the bit of moisture on the metal tables wasn't a deal breaker--compared to the rain outside. 

Clam Quick Set Shelter, camping shelter

It was cool enough at times that I used my infrared heater, which also made a great reading light. I believe that I was more comfortable and relaxed during the rainy days because of the shelter. The shields stopped the rain; I even added our sixth shield over the Clam's entrance. It sagged a bit at the top but did block most of the rain. 

Our Clam Quick Set 140 x 140 is pretty big, but when bundled up in its case, it fits easily into the back of our Pathfinder with the seats dropped. I bought stronger metal tent spikes for securing the shelter, but that's pretty standard for all such purchases. With my wife working in the shelter as her office space, I'd have to empty out half of the equipment, but on this two-week stay, my wife is only camping with me on weekends, eliminating the need for the Clam to also be our mobile office. 

All in all, my wife and I are happy with the Clam. It's sturdy, versatile, and is easy to assemble--if you follow the instructions. Which I plan to follow to the letter from now on!

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(Note: As the content for Green Goddess Glamping evolves, sometimes content focus will dictate that articles will be posted on some Facebook groups and not others. Articles on Dutch oven cooking, portable toilets, or bicycle day rides, for instance, could find posts in different groups. The best way to ensure that you are receiving all articles is to subscribe to follow this blog by email notifications. And if you don't get a confirmation notice, be sure to check your spam box.)

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

A Timely Note to the Readers of Green Goddess Glamping


It's been eleven days since I last published a Green Goddess Glamping blog post. This is unusual for this blog because I nearly always post post once a week and often twice a week. However, I'm seven days into a two-week "staycation" at Rathbun Lake, which is a little over an hour's drive from my home. Between preparing for my longer stay, resting here at the lake (one of this trip's goals), and then taking daily bike rides after an initial four days of rain, I just haven't completed any articles.

The irony is that I have about six articles in various stages of completion, yet I'm not quite finished with any. Between bike rides and naps, I've been too busy--if "busy" is the right word. Part of my rest time has also been psychological and emotional rest from the "new norm" of the world. I've been feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders and just felt the need for a respite . . . and so here I sit in my tiny trailer, typing by touch and looking out at the tranquil waters of the lake, a soft breeze rustling the leaves of the oak and juniper trees near my campsite, and the quiet of the day dominating even the sound of the trucks on the local highway. Buck Creek Campground is not deep, primal nature by any means, but it's a pretty fine big backyard.

Yesterday I ran across a term that defines part of the angst I've been experiencing: doomscrolling, spending excessive time reading negative news articles, kind of dumpster-diving news reading. I wrote an article about the term and its relevance to our current lives and want to share it with my tiny trailer readers. The article talks about how putting our attention excessively and needlessly on negative information can lessen our appreciation and enjoyment of life. The article includes some research I did.

As I wrote the above paragraph, a kayaker paddled through my line of vision on the lake. And, yes, this is relevant because right now I am not doomscrolling. I'm engaged in purposeful, positive activity, and I'm doing it in a nurturing, enlivening environment. The article I wrote is posted on Tom Kepler Writing: "Down with Doomscrolling!" (By the way, this activity is also referred to as doomsurfing.)

I plan for this next week to complete more articles about this staycation here by the lake: an article about the rain and my Clam Quick Set shelter, an article about my bicycle day rides, a "staycation" article--these are a few possibilities. In the meantime, I want to share the idea that the reason many of us camp is exactly the reason we should avoid doomscrolling. Although I'm not posting this on the Facebook camping groups I belong to, I'm publishing it and am glad to share it with those who follow this blog. I believe that although we have a responsibility to keep ourselves informed, we don't need to wallow in the woes of the world. And here by the lake I can affirm that being outside and camping is a good way to increase the positivity in one's life.

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Friday, September 4, 2020

How Experienced Campers Get Their Drinking Water

Campers need their water just like everybody, and just like many, they prefer their drinking water be better filtered than tap water. I recently engaged in a lively conversation on three different social media camping groups about how campers keep themselves hydrated, and I'm happy to say I learned a lot and will share with you what I learned. Keep in mind, though, that much of what I'll be sharing comes from the advice of others, which has not been tested or verified by me; I can and will share my personal experience also, as simple as it is. I also have focused on systems more to be used for campers other than hikers--that is to say, mostly for smaller camping rigs. Therefore, I haven't included the small, highly portable personal pen water purifiers and the like, although I enjoyed reading a bit about them and appreciate the sharing attitude of those who contributed.

People feel differently about whether or not tap water is safe to drink. The word "safe" doesn't mean the same thing for everybody; different people use different evaluation standards. Campgrounds generally either use municipal water systems or well water, but the question is, especially for the well water systems, what about contaminants from agriculture or industry? How often is the water tested? As one camper put it: "Everyone should buy a tester even if you have a filter. We have a filter on our camper, and at the campground we're at right now in Virginia, I tested our water. Water is safe under 50ppm (parts per million); ours tested at 530ppm! The light turned red, warning us not to drink it!" No particular brands of water purity testers were mentioned in online water safety discussions, but online water testers are readily available, most pricing out from 15-25 dollars.

As a tiny trailer camper, my rig has no freshwater tank. I either get water from a tap or bring my own from home--and do both, as a matter of fact. I own a 3-gallon water jug with a spigot, bought as my town's natural foods store, chosen because the plastic is specially formulated so it doesn't leach dangerous chemicals into the water. Also, I own three gallons worth of stainless steel containers that I also use to transport my filtered water from home, which gives me a total of six gallons of freshwater capacity. For our local camping, this works well. My wife and I typically use between a half gallon and a gallon of drinking water a day, the variability being determined by temperature, activity level, and how many times we steam vegetables.

Other campers from social groups indicated a variety of "bring your own drinking water" solutions, including buying bottled water in individual plastic containers or gallon jugs. Many campers brought filtered water from home, refilling a variety of containers: insulated water coolers, large 3-gallon or 5-gallon non-leaching plastic water jugs (some with hand or battery-operated pumps). Another family chose a water-ready "jerry can" option: "We got one of the Rotopax that is two gallons and then another bigger one that is five gallons. We just fill these each time we go out. Less plastic waste if you're into that sort of thing. It was a bit awkward to use at first, but it takes very little space, is super durable, and can be mounted outside the jeep [or hard-sided trailer] somewhere!" There are jerry can water-carrying products other than the Rotopax available, of course. One water transport possibility beyond the 3-5 gallon options was even mentioned about a friend who boondocks regularly who fills a 15-gallon water bladder which is stored "under one seat of the dinette."

If you don't want to transport all your drinking water from home, though, what are the alternatives? The first step most campers took for drinking on-site campground water was to buy an on-line water filter for a hose attached to a campground spigot. This approach was especially true of those camping rigs that had plumbing. These filters clean out contaminants for campers' kitchen and bathroom systems. Most comments referred to the Camco TastePure inline water filter, readily available online, which "greatly reduces bad taste, odors, chlorine, and sediment in drinking water," according to the product description. These filters come in one- or two-packs, and Camco also sells drinking water 25-foot hoses (rather than garden-grade hoses).

Some people--and from comments one could probably say "many"--want drinking and cooking water that comes from purifiers that do better than just "greatly reducing" contaminants. How about really, really pure? Fortunately for people wanting a high standard of purity for their drinking water, systems are available. For a few campers with rigs large enough to mount purification systems, some used home filtration systems, mounted in the kitchen area. I'm considering this option when my wife and I get our 16-foot Airstream Basecamp next year. There are several "maybes" though: space for spigot above the counter and filter system beneath the counter, and whether a house-designed filter system will hold up under the jostling of RV travel. One RVer said, "Three years on the road and several thousand miles and zero problems," regarding his whole-house water filter, but the photo he posted online seemed to show that he had a large RV, not a small trailer like I'm buying. Another camper added that house filter systems that go long periods (between camping trips) without being used can grow bacteria. Calling company reps and asking such questions about usage and filter life seems like a good idea to me prior to buying any system.

For many campers who don't want to transport a lot of water, who have a small trailer or larger, and who have access to a campsite spigot, a two-step filtration system was the most common approach. The first step was to have an inline filter from the spigot on the hose that attaches to the camping unit. (Such a filter, of course, could even be used by a tiny trailer or tent camper who gets water by the bucket.) Having "greatly reduced" contaminants, then the campers use a second portable filtration system of which, folks, there are many out there. I'll mention a few, but please remember that 1) I haven't tried or tested these systems, and 2) more systems are available than I'll mention. I'm just listing a sampling from common references from online discussion.
  • Berkey filtration systems were mentioned quite a few times. This company was also mentioned as being pricey but high quality.
  • Brita water pitcher and filtration systems was another company mentioned. These are less expensive and smaller systems.
  • Pur water filtration. Pure has water pitchers and also spigot attachments for the kitchen.
  • Aquasana countertop water filtration systems. My wife and I use an under-the-sink Aquasana system at home. Ironically, the portable systems cost more than the permanent mount I have at home.
  • Zero water filtration. Several online commenters used Zero systems. 
  • Waterdrop filter. Includes home filter systems and also countertop. "Easy to install" was the online camper comment.
Although I'm gearing this article to tiny and small trailers, I'm going to talk a bit about a full-time traveling couple who have the blog website Living in Beauty. Jim and Carmen Beaubeaux travel in their 34-foot Airstream dual axle Excella, so their lifestyle and opportunities are somewhat different than tiny trailer campers. However, they have a healthy respect for the conservation of water and the procedures they use to have pure water and to not waste it. The link to their website describes their water systems, techniques for conserving water, and the gear they use, much of which is applicable to smaller trailer life. Even if you're not really interested in how someone who owns a big Airstream deals with water, their website is beautifully constructed--and they have four years' worth of on-the-road stories.

Another commenter to my online water purity discussion provided the URL for the Washington State Department of Health's article on "Purifying Water During an Emergency." It's a short article that describes how to kill bacteria and viruses. The article contains a good reminder that bleach and boiling do not remove chemicals, solids, and other contaminants. I found the article useful because it mentions how much bleach to add to water to make it safe. I don't intend to use this for my drinking water, but I can use the formula for rinsing out my containers every now and then.


The most common approach for all experienced campers who responded to my online query about safe water guidelines was to use a two-step approach: first the filter on the RV hose, and then some better filtration system for drinking water. This, method, of course, assumes you are not just buying bottled water or bringing your water from home. Since my wife and I are in the process of changing our camping trailer from a ten-foot standy tiny trailer to a sixteen-foot trailer with kitchen and bathroom, it will be interesting what system we eventually land on for our drinking water. Thanks for folks who provided their advice. It's given me something to think about, and I hope this article has provided some useful information (and inspiration!) for our readers. If any readers have other great systems for their drinking water, please comment!

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