Thursday, August 30, 2018

Long Term Camp Gear Recommendations or Awesome Gift Ideas for the Prepper in Your Life

In my last post, I gave the memoir of our camping experience. This post contains the nitty gritty of our camp set-up. I have had several people request more information about where we purchased our gear. This post contains all of that. If I forgot anything you want to know more about, let me know and I’ll respond in the comments section or edit this post. 

*Full Disclosure: Many of these are affiliate links which means if you decide to buy an item from my link, I will get a portion of the proceeds. This doesn't cost you extra, it just gives me a tip for having given the recommendation.*


Long Term Camp Gear Recommendations

Our Tent:

I poured through prepper forums to see what other people liked and didn’t like about their tents. I wanted a tent that could be lived in year round in any kind of weather and would hold up to a considerable amount of sun damage as well. I considered Wilderness/Montana/Spike tents and the Wilderness or Yukon stove found at, military tents, Alaknak Tents (sold by Cabela's), teepees, yurts, and geoshelters. Geoshelters were my favorite but they were the priciest. We decided on a Davis Wall tent which was very close in comparison to other wall tents, but their tents were made of SunforgerR treated canvas which is supposedly stronger, lasts longer and is treated to resist water, mildew and fire. It seemed like the best value. And testing it out, we were very happy with it! The customer service was great, too. I had so many questions and all of my questions were patiently and sufficiently answered. I am very happy with our purchase.

Things we liked about our tent:
  • You could stand up completely everywhere in the tent without hitting your head!
  • The canvas held up very well against some serious downpour and some very strong winds. We were dry and comfortable inside every time it rained or stormed.
  • The extended awning was wonderful in making a protected outdoor space to cook as well as a porch transition. We really enjoyed that element of our custom tent.
  • The tent was beautiful to look at! Maybe that isn’t always top priority, but it did spark joy in my heart to feel like it was a homey space.
  • We arrived very late to our campsite to set up. We got there at 10pm. Luckily we had some moonlight and another overhead light from the site though it was still very dark. With Squire, my dad and I, we were able to set the tent up for the first time in just a couple of hours with some wild kids underfoot. I bet next time it would be much faster as we would know better what we were doing. I think for its size, it is a simple tent to set-up.
  • The storage organizers were very helpful, especially the large one that we used as pantry snack storage. They were strong and held up well with considerable weight in them at times.
  • It was worth it to pay the extra for the 3 windows for cross ventilation both ways.
  • The metal frame made it easy to attach our Fenix lantern wherever we needed it.
  • The space was great for our family and it felt very roomy and comfortable at the same time. Fit 2 sets of bunk cots easily (we bought the second set at Costco after we had already set up.) Could hold many more people comfortably.
Things we didn’t like or would amend somehow in the future:
  • The stakes were straight with a very think lip around the top. I think it would be worth it to weld a hook onto the end of each stake for more grabbing power or else just buy new ones altogether. Also, in the installation video, he instructs you to install the tent stakes straight up and down, “even though it might seem counter intuitive.” I took his advice against my intuition. . . perhaps on perfectly level ground that might be true, but in our case it wasn’t and we had to re-do the stakes after a few days of the ropes repeatedly coming off their stakes.
  • If the tent was built on a platform, this wouldn’t have been as much of an issue, but because we were on the ground it was. Our tent floor piece just rested on the top of the fabric piece that curved under around the tent. Seeing as we weren’t on level ground, we had to readjust the floor piece sometimes, or bugs or other critters occasionally made their way into our tent around that outer perimeter. I don’t know what the solution is yet, but by the next time we go camping in our our canvas tent, I would like to have some sort of weighted chain or stones to place around the outer edge inside the tent to keep things a little tighter sealed off from the outside elements.
Want to order the exact same tent we have? Here are the specifications of the tent we ordered:
  • 16x20
  • Internal frame - angles only
  • water mildew and fire treated
  • organizers - one large, two small
  • tarp floor and stove mat
  • rain fly - oversized to make awning
  • 5" stove - 6" stove jack opening on the right side
  • canvas tent bag
  • pole bags -3
  • We cut our own poles from Electrical Metallic Tubing (cut list was included with our tent purchase)
Side tent recommendation: For recreational camping, shorter term camping, or camping that would require more mobility, we own a Pineview 8, Black Pine Sports Turbo Tent. It is purported to be a 4 season tent. It says it could sleep 8, though I think it is better suited to sleep 6 comfortably. It is very easy and quick to set up, fits our whole family and is comfortable in cooler temperatures because the fabric of the tent is thick and is reflective on the inside. It is high quality and we have enjoyed every short camping trip we have used it. No crying kids due to cold temps! We sleep soundly in it. We purchased our tent used off of eBay and saved a great deal on it. We love our little tent and heartily recommend it if you are just looking for something for shorter camping trips.

Sleeping bags and other related equipment:
  • Camp Mattress that won’t pop and folds into a sofa: LUCID 4 Inch Folding Mattress - Queen size – they don’t seem to have this exact one on Amazon anymore, but this one looks similar to ours. Very comfortable. Have slept on several camping trips with the mattress, even on rocky ground, and slept soundly with this underneath.
  • The kids all have a -25 degree Nitestar sleeping bag. I have not been able to find these since I bought them several years ago. Maybe they will come back seasonally, closer to Wintertime? I bought them as a group buy with some other preppers. I don’t know where the guy who organized it found them, but they are really great.
  • Each kid also has a fleece sleeping bag for hot Summer nights or as an extra layer of warmth in extreme cold
  • Thermarest Z lite Sol Ultralight Foam pads – We own a pad for each cot. Having one of these underneath the sleeping bag on top helps to prevent the cold air flow on the backside that is known to make cots uncomfortable. These pads are nice because they are reflective on one side and not on the other so that you can increase or decrease the heat as needed.
  • Disco-O-Bed Bunk cots – These are very helpful to have around, though they are heavy as sin. We use these when we have company over and we need more beds for kids to sleep on. The bunk feature makes them extra appealing to kids and the organizer is nice as well. They are great for making the best use of the tent set up.
  • Coleman Oversized Camp Chairs/Coolers - Great comfortable and handy camp chairs.
Camp Kitchen Supplies:
  • Our Deluxe Camp Sink was probably my favorite purchase for making tent life easier. Maybe with a little time and some jimmy-rigging you could figure out how to make one of these yourself? Time was of the essence and I figured I could give credit where credit was due to the guy who designed these. Seriously, he thought of everything. There is a foot pump so you don’t contaminate your water source every time you turn the water on. A soap dispenser was attached as well. He has a sink that includes a filtration bucket as well which would be very helpful if you didn’t have clean water access. We did, and we also had our Berkey water filter so this wasn’t a concern for us. If I was going to rough it again, especially if I wasn’t as fancy of a campground, I would definitely invest in one of his shower systems. Great customer service as well.
  • Blue Dish Pan Wash BasinA little pricey for what it is, but just the right size. Made washing dishes easy peasy.
  • Dish drying rack (Kitchenaid brand?) - Costco. Very helpful.
  • Stainless steel cups - I ordered three sets of these. Engraved on the side of each cup was a color: blue, pink, red, green, purple, or orange. They were all gray colored in their stainless steel so the word for each color became sort of an ironic joke. This engraving system also made it really simple to make sure we were all only drinking out of our own cups.
  • Stainless Steel Bowl/Plates -These 8.5 inch stainless steel plates were great for eating and quick to wash up. They had a mesh bag for storage, too. Amazon says these aren’t available right now, but I posted the link so you can see what they were and find something comparable if you are interested.
  • Stainless Steel Utensils - These sporks also had a lightly serrated knife edge. No one was hurt in the using of these utensils which was pleasant surprise. These were great.
  • Coleman 4-in-1 Packaway Table – held our dish washing basin, dish drying rack and our Berkey water filtration system.
  • GCI Outdoor Slim-fold Camp Kitchen – This was very helpful for organizing our cooking bowls, kitchen cooking utensils, cooking gear, apron and cleaning rags, spices, oil, etc. I had a couple of bins that I set up on it for further organization. Especially helpful was having the kitchen utensils cooking/baking utensils in a plastic bin with a lid that locked closed.
  • Big tote with paper towels, paper plates, bowls and plastic utensils for company. Also stored cutting boards and a couple bulky bowls and kitchen cooking items, and smores stuff, etc.
  • Lifetime Folding Table for food preparation and serving (Costco)
  • Another plastic tote for storing extra kitchen supplies, paper plates/bowls and plastic utensil for company, cutting boards, stainless steel saucepan, smores stuff, etc.
Cast Iron Pieces:
  • Large 15” Lodge Skillet with glass lid
  • Vintage Wagner Smaller Cast Iron (10” or 12”?) Skillet
  • Lodge Dutch Oven
  • Lodge Griddle/Grill (came with our Camp Chef Purchase)
Tips for purchasing Cast Iron Cookware and Dutch Ovens:
  • Make sure that it isn't warped, and sits flat (as you see in ads or in person)
  • Vintage have a smoother surface than Lodge cast iron, easier to clean. Already stood the test of time.
  • Wagner or Wagnerware, Pre-1960 (Griswold quality, but much cheaper)
  • Website for being able to know the year of the cast iron you are looking at:
  • If you need a lid for your cast iron, bring your piece to a thrift store and buy a glass lid that fits for just a couple dollars.
  • Check out for purchasing Lodge pieces. The prices are good there.
Low Power Cooking/heating Resources:
  • We bought the Outfitter Cylinder stove with chimney oven here. High quality construction. Very pleased. Made in the USA, too. VERY heavy! I barely managed to set it up alone.
  • All-American Solar Oven - can buy drying racks to dehydrate in the Sun Oven also.
  • Extendable Roasting sticks - These are solidly made, the prongs bend backwards so they are less likely to be poked into an unsuspecting eyeball when your kid insists on cooking their hot dog or smore by themselves.
  • Our rocket stove (super handy for if the propane runs out or if you want or need to cook in a low fuel setting. Can set your dutch oven directly on the burner. Just requires sticks, twigs, pine needles, etc. for fuel. Would be ideal to use with a thermal cooker in a power outage or other camping applications.
  • Saratoga Jacks Deluxe Thermal CookerIt is like a super low power crockpot! Bring the food inside to a bowl and let sit inside its insulated thermos for 8-10 hours and you’ll have a hot meal ready to eat. Excellent for low power/fuel applications. I was very pleased with this purchase.
  • Let’s Make Sense of Thermal Cooking CookbookThis cookbook is a must have with the thermal cooker as well. It broke down the important elements to consider and had a lot of great recipes. Included recipes that could be prepared in advance as meals in jars as well.
  • Fan for blowing hot air around a room/tent on a wood stove - without electricity: Caframo Limited Ecofan UltrairI did not use this on this trip, but we would have used it had we been camping in the Wintertime. 
  • Camp Chef - we bought our Camp chef on a deal from Sportmans Warehouse. It was a 2 burner, propane powered with the wind guard and it also came with a Lodge grill/griddle which was great. It generally worked well for our purposes. However, if I could go back and buy again, I would go for a three burner camp chef. When we had friends over for meals and I used both burners (one for the meal and one for dessert), I lacked a third burner to boil water for getting dishes going and that had to be done after the meal. A three burner camp chef would have made life a little simpler in that way.

Water Filtration:
  • I could write a whole post on my Berkey Water Filtration System. I love it! We use it for all the water we drink and cook with – not just for camping trips. We bought our Berkey off of this site. We just use the two black filter elements in ours and it is great. It is the only filter that both filters and purifies, but it leaves all the good minerals in. We have the Royal Berkey and it works well for us now, but we might upgrade to the Imperial or Crown if our family grows any larger in the future.
  • We didn’t need these for this camping trip, but I think it is worth investing in Seychelle Water Bottles for your bug out bags: is the most inexpensive place to buy them!
High Quality flashlights, glow sticks, and batteries/chargers for them:
Miscellaneous Stuff:
  • Foam tiles for front of tent (Costco) I purchased a few packages of these large foam tiles for a couple purposes – to make the transition from dirt/grass to tent a little cleaner and easier to maintain. It also made cooking a little gentler on my back with the added cushion underfoot.
  • Shoe rack organizer (Costco) These are everywhere. I loved having one though. We had a strict rule of no shoes in the tent. It helped keep everything cleaner to have a clear place for shoe storage. The rack made it easy to find shoes when we wanted to wear them (as opposed to a bin.)
  • Organizer with fabric bins (Costco) I can’t remember the brand. It had three tiers and held several fabric bins. It was very helpful for keeping our important things and clothing sorted.
  • 3-tier wicker organizer for food storage.
  • A wicker laundry basket for dirty clothing collection.
  • A wet bag for storing peed on clothing until wash day.
  • A large hand mirror hung on the front wall of the tent by a rope for convenient grooming. It did move with the wind, though! That was a little annoying. Perhaps it could have been attached with a PVC tube somehow to avoid that? Something to think about for the future.
  • A clothesline with metal clothespins for hanging up swim suits, towels, etc.
  • Other plastic totes with drawers for the kids’ clothing.
  • Mini fridge (Costco) – If you have access to electricity. . . ;)
  • Rug (Tuesday Morning)
  • Hand crank ice cream machine (bought at a Thrift store.) It was fun to use at our site!
Related Prep Products I am interested in buying in the future:
I hope this was helpful! If you have found some awesome supplies for long-term camping, I'd love to hear about them in the comments section of this post!

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