I thought it would be interesting to keep a record of the gear we use to enhance camping in Brave Horatio.
I’ll include everything, the stuff that’s working and the stuff we thought would work.
At the very least it should keep us from making the same mistakes twice. If it helps you too, that’s great!
I’ll put in links where I can and will try to be candid in my descriptions of why we thought each thing would work, what we like (or don’t) about it, and why we ditched or replaced it.
We wanted to be able to hook up and go with as little prep as possible. I think we’ve done a pretty good job.
Front rack gear
We chose to add a front rack to Brave Horatio. We could have opted for a little more storage in the cabin, but bang for buck, the front rack is the bomb. With the addition of some ratchet straps it holds a ton of gear super secure while we’re on the road. At the campsite we swap some out and it transforms into a sort of butlers pantry.
Superinsulated Orca Cooler
The front rack fits our 58 quart Orca cooler perfectly. It’s like they were made for each other. We feed straps through the slots on the body of the cooler, which secures it to the rack, but leaves the lid operable. This comes in really handy for picnics between campsites. The Orca is superinsulated. We’ve come back from weeklong trips with plenty of intact ice. (It also has super cute Orca tail latches–I grin every time I use them).
We have friends who use Hello Fresh pretty frequently. They had a bunch of the icepacks in their garage when we visited once. We took them home used our vacuum sealer to add another layer of protection. They are the perfect size to line the bottom and sides of our cooler. Score!
We pre-chill the cooler with ice cubes the day before we leave, then replace the ice with frozen repurposed Hello Fresh packs, pack our perishables, and are all set.
Two 14 gallon Durabuilt tough bins stack perfectly next to the Orca on the front rack. One holds our 5 pound propane tank, extra small propane bottles, the wheel chocks, shore power extension cord, and camp axe. The other houses the big purple batwing, crimson tarp poles, an assortment of tent pegs, yards and yards of red cord, both our camp hammocks, a tiny fold-out grill, mosquito net, and a frisbee. We only travel with the essentials.
Once the straps are ratcheted tight, nothing moves no matter how rough the road.
At camp we move the tough bins to the ground and replace them with our water carriers. Having these on the rack makes it super easy to tilt and pour.
Potable water carrier
We started with a hodge-podge of water carriers accumulated over the years. We had a collapsible cube that held maybe 3 gallons. It had a pretty good closeable spout and a bright red handle that worked better when both ends were adhered to the cube. It packed really small, but was kind of floppy and awkward to carry from the spigot to camp. I usually ended up hugging the thing, to my increasingly soggy shirt.
We had a sturdier container that held about a half gallon. It’s spout mostly closed and it had a great super thin profile. We still sometimes freeze water in it for hot car trips.
I have visions of an ancient beat up Land Rover with battered red gas cans on the back. That vision was in my head as we shopped for water containers. We also wanted a secure closure that also poured nicely and something you could transport back and forth from spigot to campsite with reasonable ease.
We looked through more survivalist-supply-type websites than I was comfortable with. It was alternately fascinating and made me shiver.
Our Scepter potable water cans are a baby-blue version of those Land Rover gas cans. They hold 5 gallons, are super sturdy, have a handle and “potable water” molded in, a reversible pour spout/secure closure, and a tiny, wonderful, also-sealable, opening that prevents vacuum.
Two of these sit on their sides in the galley when Brave Horatio is in the garage. We travel with the full cans inside our tow vehicle. At our campsites they both sit on Brave Horatio’s front rack. We move the tough bins to the ground and the water takes their place.
The elevated position helps when filling the kettle and wash tubs.
Our beautiful soap box lives nearby.
We drilled a little hole in the vane that tops the closure plug and attached a snap hook. When we set up we clip the snap hook and plug to the loop on the ring that secures the plug and spout. We never have to worry about losing the plug. Snap hooks make me happy.
Big Larry is only about 6 inches tall. We added stick-on velcro and they live one on each side of the above-bed shelf. They cycle through bright, dimmer, and blinking red. If the red didn’t blink, they’d be perfect.
I joke that our cribbage board is our “furniture.” We found it on a trip down the Oregon Coast. I also have a collection of playing cards that also teach: constellations, first aid, mushrooms….
Our Pendleton blanket is beautiful and keeps us beautifully warm. The design is Raven and the box of knowledge by Preston Singletary.
Eventually I’ll describe the gear we keep in the galley. Cooking gear, serving gear, and other stuff–like bubbles.
Bits and bobs
This stuff travels in a variety of places. Some or all of it comes out at campsites.
REI’s co-op kingdom rockers are really comfortable and don’t have arms (very important to guitar players).
It’s a little crazy to set up camp with rocking chairs, but these are so worth it.
The cup holders on these chairs tend to swing in under your rear. Cans work great, otherwise I use a tall glass and don’t fill it very full.
They fold flat, but not small. Currently we store them in the cabin when we’re on the road, but I think there might be just enough space for them on the front rack. I need to actually try it. If they fit, I’ll make a travel bag for them to reduce wind and gravel wear. Stay tuned.
Naps are one of life’s little luxuries and some afternoons are made for napping. Our camp hammocks give us a comfortable outside alternative napping venue. They also function as a camp couch and a comfy reading spot.
We each have a hammock. Sometimes it’s hard to share. Some campsites don’t have suitable trees, but we’re usually lucky.
Our hammocks are identical. They’re made by Mitzli. Each has an integral mosquito net that tucks up tidily when it’s not wanted. The storage pouch doubles as a handy beverage holder–a nice extra on a napping afternoon.
The purple batwing
Brave Horatio is a snug nest. A small snug nest. When it’s raining I sleep safe and warm. Meal prep, eating, and cleaning up are another matter, not to mention whiling away a soggy morning, evening, or afternoon. We keep a cribbage board inside and always have books and music. Brave Horatio’s cabin is a great place to spend an hour or two, maybe even three. More than that is tough.
As I’ve noted before, I have opinions. Brave Horatio’s large rounded door was important. His teardrop curved top was important. I think style is important.
I don’t particularly like square pop up canopies. I didn’t want any kind of tent attached to Brave Horatio’s doors. I did, very much want to stay dry while aquacamping.
Luxeoutdoor’s purple batwing to the rescue. Other colors would work, but there’s something about a PURPLE batwing that’s especially nice. Paired with Paria Outdoor adjustable crimson poles, the batwing is particularly striking.
We’ve deployed the purple batwing as a sunshade and a rain shelter and so far it’s worked great. We have the 500S. It’s big, bright, and versatile.
Tiny fold-out grill
Bill found a tiny fold-out grill. We haven’t used it yet and I can’t really imagine when we might….but we’re prepared.
It folds to a flat rectangle about 12 by 18 inches and comes with it’s own carry case. Maybe next time we’re in the desert, we’ll roast marshmallows.
I love our Luci light. A nice product from a nice company. We use ours on every trip and have bought several as gifts. Luci collapses flat and I enjoy watching her fill out and spread light. Luci usually sits on Brave Horatio’s side table or fender soaking up the daylight. The little carry strap is just right for sliding my hand through so she often accompanies my on nighttime bathroom forays.
A few years ago, we stayed at a cabin halfway between I-5 and the coast with some friends. There was a futon on the back porch and I wanted to sleep there, but I didn’t want to be plagued by mosquitos. We bought a mosquito net from REI and it did the trick nicely. We attached it to a porch rafter with a clamp and tucked it under the futon.
I don’t know if we’ll ever use it while camping (or ever again), but it’s small and mosquitos are everywhere, so it travels in our tough bins, ready for action.