Sunset in the Coconino National Forest, looking northeast toward Sedona, AZ, 4/17/15

Friday, June 26, 2015

First Product Reviews,
Snowbirding 2015

Here is a start on reviewing some of the products I used while being a snowbird from February through May 2015.   Whenever possible, I'll provide links to or other online retailers where I purchased the item.

My '04 Prius has been a great travel vehicle for me.
Colossal Cave Mountain Park, Tucson, AZ    2/5/14 

For both context, as well as to reiterate its importance, I'd say my Prius was my most important piece of equipment.  While in the back country as a snowbird, it served as a hard-sided tent where I slept, the back-up power for my electronics, a place to lounge out of the weather, and a windbreak and platform for cooking under the hatch.  In addition, it performed admirably doing what any vehicle is expected to do -- got me from point A to point B and  hauled lots of gear -- while being thoroughly dependable with more than 200K miles.  The icing on the cake is that I got more than 40 MPG.

Click on photo of MSR Dromedary Bag  to see it at

The most unusual looking gear I bought to be a snowbird was the MSR Dromedary Bags.  Each 10-liter bladder holds over 2.5 gallons.  I got 4 because I wanted to be able to spend at least 10 days between visits into town.  In the past I'd used hard-plastic water containers, but I had no room in the Prius to carry more than 3 of those 1-gallon containers.  In comparison, the bladders become flat and pliable when empty, and can be rolled up to fit in small spaces, taking up almost no space when empty.  At backpacking stores you have several brands of water bladders to choose from.  I selected the MSR brand because it is very sturdy and difficult to puncture.  I carry water on top of my bed; so, I didn't want to take a chance of any leaks.  I decided to spend the extra money and get the best.

Click on photo of  the Domentary Bag spigot to see it at

The bags take some practice to be able to fill and use without spilling water.  But, after a few cycles, I got so I could get them full, as well as transfer water into my drinking bottles inside the car without any spills.  These worked so well, I don't think I'll ever go back to regular hard-plastic containers again, even when not being a snowbird.  I ordered a spigot that I expect will make getting water out of the bag even easier.

Click on photo of the Dromedary Bag shower attachment to see it at

 Since the bags are black, water heats up quickly when set out in direct sun.  This is great for taking showers or pre-heating water for cooking.  I got a shower attachment and look forward to trying that out in the future.  For the most part, I didn't want my water to heat up; so, I got a white shower curtain from a dollar store and wrapped it over the water bladder.  This kept the water inside cool while the bag was in direct sunlight.

The MSR Dromedary Bag covered with the white shower curtain to
keep it out of direct sunlight and the water inside cool.  4/16/15 

The new piece of gear in which I was most surprised at it's usefulness was the little 2-person tent I bought. Although I originally intended it to be a bathroom tent, it proved too small and awkward for that purpose.  Instead it became a storage "shed" when I intended to stay at a place any longer than a week.  I didn't stake or tie down the tent, instead I placed heavy items in each corner (water, food boxes, umbrella stand).  I also used the tent to store large items when the weather was bad (umbrella, tables, chair, rug).  And it was nice to get sometimes-stinky bags out of the car until I went into town (trash and dirty clothes).  I also put any food I was trying to keep cool (produce, eggs, cheese) in the tent at sundown because it got cooler in the tent than in the car at night.

Click on photo of the tent to see it at

The Genji Sports Instant Tent held up to high desert winds and thunder storms, even though it was never staked or tied down.  Although, once it flipped on its side during a storm while I was in Moab getting water.  It proved amazingly sturdy.  I like that it has a full rain fly.  And, I especially like that it's so easy and quick to put up and take down.  It works somewhat like an umbrella, with its jointed supporting rods on the outside.  It is easier than any other tent I've seen to both put up and take down.

The Genji Instant Tent after 4-months of use,  Moab, UT.  5/24/15  

This post is getting too long, so I will continue my product reviews in subsequent blog posts.  

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