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

Friday, July 3, 2015

Outside Living Product Reviews,
Feb-May 2015

I wanted to make my camp site more convenient and usable while being at a single location for weeks at a time.  I've always considered myself living out of my car (vs. in it).  That continued to be true even with the limited number of miles I traveled.

In this post I'll be reviewing the kitchen table on the left;
the umbrella with stand in the middle (folded up), and
the mat on the ground to the right.  BLM land in Ehrenberg, 2/26/15  


Unfortunately, none of these 3 extra items that I took for outside living proved to be real winners.

Although not exactly like the older camp kitchen I brought with me, this one is
fairly similar.  Click on image to view in amazon.com.  

I've had the camp kitchen that I brought with me for about 10 years.  It's very functional and well built.  But, it takes up quite a bit of room so haven't taken it in the Prius in the past.  And, that's the same reason I won't be taking it with me for future snowbirding; it takes up too much storage space (36"x18"x3").  Although convenient once set up, I really don't need it unless I'm cooking for more than just me.  Instead, I can cook under my hatch (teardrop-trailer-galley style) just fine. When I need more counter space to cook for a crowd, I'll borrow a table.  Or, I'll get a different counter-height table that folds up smaller, if I can find one.

Similar to the 9' crank tilt umbrella that I brought with me.
 Click on image to view in amazon. 

Like the camp kitchen, I've had the shade umbrella and stand for many years.  I knew I'd have days of hot sunshine and would want some shade.  I use umbrellas for that purpose at my house; so, thought I'd try one while being a snowbird.  I brought a 9' market umbrella made of light weight aluminum.  It had a crank and titled.  But, even when disassembled, it's larger than I'd like to carry in the Prius (55"x6"x6").  My goal is to keep all of my gear below window level and that was not possible with this umbrella.


This stand is similar to the one I brought while being a snowbird.
 Click on image to view in amazon.com.

Because I was trying to reduce the amount of weight and space used by my gear, I took our smallest and lightest stand (about 35 lbs.).  I secured it at the front floor which meant I needed to unpack almost everything to access it.  But, when the sun was hot, I was sure glad for the shade. Unfortunately, this lighter-weight stand wasn't up to keeping the umbrella upright with the winds.  I had to also tether the umbrella to the car to keep it from tipping over and blowing away. Sadly, a large wind gust came up while in Moab.  It turned the umbrella inside out, breaking and bending its ribs.  For my next snowbirding trip, I'm researching how to make shade with a mesh tarp that will withstand the winds.  The trick will be to figure out how to stake it in the sand and rocks.

The 4'x6' version of this reversible RV mat was still too big
for using with my Prius.  Instead, I'll keep it to use with our Class C.
Click on image to view in amazon.com.  
I like the look and function of a rug.  So, I got a 4'x6' reversible RV mat.  A rug makes a campsite feel homey and inviting.  And, it also keeps me from tracking so much dirt into the car. But, I only used it about 20% of the time.  Sometimes it was too windy.  Even with rocks piled on, it would blow away.  Other times it was too wet and muddy.  The whole mat would sink down, oozing mud through the weave with each step.  And another time there wasn't enough room to lay it out without having to dig up plants, which I won't do.  So, I ended up using a small rag rug most of the time.



My favorite travel chair so far.  Click on image to view in amazon.com.  

The chair I brought this year isn't specific to being a snowbird.  I've brought a chair with me on my travels every year.  But, I like this one so well that I wanted to do a product review on it.   It sits up a bit higher than the umbrella chairs I've used in the past, as well as provides better support.  It also folds up smaller than any other director's chair that I've seen (16.5"x 2.5"x 17.5").  It's a bit heavier at 9lbs.  My only complaint is that I needed to re-glue Velcro to the frame.

That's the end of my product reviews from my 2015 snowbird stays.  Thanks for reading.

16 comments:

  1. HI, Suanne,
    I always enjoy your posts and have read most of your archived pieces by now, too. In this post you wondered about staking down a tarp next year. It reminded me of an item recommended by minivancamper. Here is a link to her site with her review of them:

    http://minivancamper.tumblr.com/post/29371545299/a-great-alternative-to-stakes

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    1. Oops. That link did not become active. The product is called "Tarp Bobs" and they are sacks with grommets that you fill with sand or rocks. They can be on the ground or suspended and give you something to tie on to. Something to consider.

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    2. Thanks C.J. Those Tarp Bobs seem like a good idea. I'm glad too that you are enjoying my blog. The best to you, Suanne

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  2. I really admire your ability to live out of the Prius! Have enjoyed your posts for a long time.

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    1. Thanks Merikay. I've been following your blog for a while too; from before you hit the road. Safe travels!

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  3. wow, I'm amazed at the items that you manage to shoehorn into that little car, AND sleep in it at the same time!

    I recall from reading blog posts about Burning Man that many people who camp in the desert like to use 2 foot pieces of rebar as stakes, they pound them in with big hammers. When I camp at provincial campgrounds with gravel tent pads, I use 10 inch nails that I buy at hardware stores.

    Ming

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    1. I've also heard that rebar is a good choice ... and they sell stakes made of rebar in Quartzsite too. The 10" nails is a good idea too. Thanks!

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  4. Love the chair. & will look up tarp bobs because I too would like a mat of some sort. I think maybe you should do a "food review" next :)) It is a special treat to be camping with you, and learning from you. HugZ!

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  5. Hello, Suanne!
    I just stumbled onto your blog this morning, and I must say ... I am quite impressed with your ingenuity and your strength of conviction ... to go out and do this on your own! And, I would've NEVER dreamed of RV'ing/camping in a PRIUS, LoL! But U have shown that it can be done, and that it can be comfortable!
    I also think that the tent is one of the best ideas U've had. It can be used for the extra storage (as U already do), it can be a secondary sleep site, especially when it may be too warm in the Prius, or, it could be used for entertaining. I had a great 4-person pop-up tent that barely took up any space, and I loved it. But, sadly, I loaned it out and never got it back! And, since then, I have become disabled and can no longer travel and camp. But, I still LOVE to read about it, especially about folks who are kind of unconventional in their thinking and outlook, and show others a simpler way of doing things.
    One question ... with over 200,000 miles on this Prius, will U replace it (when the time comes) with another Prius, or are U considering something else (if U are even considering staying on the road)? Thanks, and keep on keeping on, Suanne!

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    1. Thanks BrokeDog for checking out my blog and for your kind words. It's a wonderful life out here :) If I had to replace my 04 Prius right now, it would be with a Toyota dealer certified used Prius V, white with low mileage. The Prius V is like a station wagon, a little larger than what I have now. I would love for Toyota to sell a hybrid van or minivan in the US. But, right now I'm just saving money until the day comes when my current car drives it's last mile.

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  6. Hi Suanne,
    On the YouTube video you mentioned having a 3.5 REI mattress. I just got one tonight (SO comfortable!). I noticed you are using a fitted sheet around it. Can you share the brand? my dimensions are 25x72. Thank you!

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    1. Hi Joyce, I use sheets (fitted and flat) made for massage tables. They are a little big for the 3.5 REI mattress, but work good enough. Thanks for checking out my blog. Suanne

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  7. Hi Suzanne, I just found you this last week. I live in Lake Stevens, WA. We are going to be living in our RV in the next few months. We will be south next winter.

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    1. Hi Katherine, Nice to have another PNW'ner living the life. I hope you love it as much as I do. Welcome to my blog!

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  8. Suanne, you are my hero :)...keep up your wonderful travels! Bless you both!! Jill in Canada.

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