Sometimes being able to grab that nifty little camping helper just when you need it really adds to the camping experience, transforming a little chore into a little wave of joy. Making those camp chores just a little quicker and easier to finish--now there's the mark of an experienced camper! Below I've listed ten little items that make my days at the campground more enjoyable. Most of them are easy on the pocketbook and long on utility, and they can be useful for almost any camper, no matter what size the unit.
1. Stainless Steel Pot: When my wife an I first started camping in our tiny trailer (the Green Goddess), we collected much of our camping gear from what we already owned, tent equipment and just stuff from around the house. This stock pot that we had used for canning became part of our gear. We no longer have the lid, but we use this pot every trip. It's the "rinse" part of our outside dishwashing set-up of wash, rise, and drain.
|Wash, rinse, and drain/dry|
We also regularly use it to heat water for dishes or for sponge baths, either on our old Coleman camp stove or on our electric induction burner. I heat some water in the stock pot, pour some into the dish water, and then pour some cold water into what's left in the stock pot, providing me with hot water for washing and rinsing, which helps cut any grease residue. Ours is a 12-quart pot which we originally bought at Walmart. (There are several at different prices. Ours is nice, heavy-duty stainless steel.) This functions for what my dad used when I camped as a kid--a galvanized bucket that we placed over the campfire to heat water for my mom.
Clothes Pins: Yes, that's right--clothes pins! I had a little pack I made up when bicycle camping that I took along when we started tent camping and then tiny trailer camping. I now find that I'm grabbing a clothes pin to use every camping trip. Often I pin a damp dish cloth to an awning guy line, or I pin close a bag of chips. Sometimes I even hang a clothes line between two trees and pin up towels if we've been swimming.
3. Silicon Lubricant: Squeaky piano hinges on my Airstream Basecamp's bathroom and front doors were really annoying. I wondered what kind of oil to use, so I called Iowa's only Airstream dealership (where we bought our Basecamp), and was told to use a silicon lubricant because it wouldn't freeze or be so apt to collect dirt. Wow! Our squeaky doors stopped complaining, and now we can get up in the middle of the night and not wake everybody up. There are many brands of silicon lubricant available. I bought mine at a local hardware store. I also intend to use it on my squeaky garage door. (The price at my local hardware store was $5.98. Walmart online's price was $14.34, plus $6.98 shipping.)
4. Camper Hatch Struts: The Airstream Basecamp has two back benches which convert to the bed. Beneath the benches, opening via a top hatch, is storage on the street side and all the camper's heaters and pumps on the driver's side. No opening fasteners were provided, so I added gas struts, which work really well. Now I don't have to hold the hatch lids open with one hand while packing.
5. Thermometers: I bought two thermometers for my Basecamp, one for interior temperature and one for the refrigerator. I've found that I check them all the time, especially the refrigerator thermometer. The little refrigerator's temperature is affected greatly by outside temperature, so I find that I adjust the unit's setting during the day, usually turning it colder in the morning and then turning it a bit warmer at night so I don't freeze everything. Optimal storage temperatures are between freezing and 40 degrees. I wrote a review for the electronic thermometer I use, which works about six months before a battery change is required. ("How Necessary Is a Thermometer for Camping?")
Zipper Pulls: This might seem like a small item, but the Basecamp's curtains all have zippers, zipping up from the base to the top of the window on each window's side. It was a pain to try to grab the zipper, which would get tucked behind the various zipper and curtain folds of cloth. The zipper pull extensions remedied the situation. Although many campers don't have zipping curtains, these pulls also are handy for coat zippers and storage containers that have zippers. For a very low price, my wife and I have saved ourselves a lot of exasperation.
|Tails of Wanderlust|
10 Accessories for under $25
8. Headlamp: Having a light that points where you look and which allows your hands to be free can really come in handy when the winter hours of daylight grow short. This headgear isn't specifically camper/trailer oriented, but it is useful in a number of ways. Camp routines outside get a big assist from having a headlamp at dawn and dusk. Also, I use our headlamp in our Basecamp toilet at night. No, I don't wear it; I hang it on an interior bathroom hook to switch on if I need a light. The built-in light is bright, and the switch is near the front door. Therefore, to have a light in the bathroom means turning of the light at the front door and then opening the bathroom door and flooding the camper with bright light. With the headlamp option, I can enter the bathroom at night, flick on the lower intensity headlamp, and then not wake up my spouse.
|RTTC Polar Bear interior|
9. Instant Pot Pressure Cooker: The Instant Pot has been one of our main cooking devices when we camp, both with our original tiny RTTC trailer and with our current Airstream Basecamp. We can cook either inside or outside, but we always vent the steam outside. Here are a few items we cook: rice, steamed vegetables, poached eggs, beans--and a lot of combination stews and soups. My review on the Instant Pot goes into a lot more detail of how we use it when camping.
10. Silicon Egg Poacher Cups: We poach eggs with our Instant Pot, but these silicon cups can also be used with a pan and boiling water. They are easy to clean and easy to store. We add just a bit of olive oil (spreading the oil with a finger) to the cup before adding the eggs. It's a quick and easy way to have eggs with breakfast, and with the Instant Pot, there is no smell, mess, or excessive condensation.
11. Extra Clothes Hooks: Having an extra hook to hang a hat, jacket, towel, or whatever is both a pleasure and a need in a little trailer. Otherwise, gear will pile up and get in the way. Having hooks helps--and how's that for alliteration! Tails of Wanderlust blog writer Cass Beach, again comes through with some tiny but mighty suggestions.
Not only can I hang those little items that are used regularly, but I can also hang towels, whether bath or kitchen, and get them out of the way. The Basecamp has hooks and hanging bars/wires, but the towels dry a little faster outside the shower. I've also added hooks to the walls that enclose the camper shower so that I've got extra room for hanging items and keeping them from being in the way.
I'd like to finish up this list of useful items by thanking those folks who posted many of these aids on the social media. I and many others have found our camping experience improved by having someone take the time to share something that works. I will continue to share as we go along--and as I get on down the road.