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  

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

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  
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  

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.