We are testing out gear to use with the van. Here’s a few reviews:
Camp table: An ideal camp table is lightweight, fits in an Aluminess storage box when packed, is heat-resistant, seats 2 to 4 people, and fits between the van seats. We tested the Rokk table. It is available from Wal-Mart or Camping World. It packs up tightly and fits in the Aluminess storage box. Assembly was fairly easy. It’s best to assemble the table top first, flip it upside down, and then snap on the legs. The top is aluminum, so we can put a hot pan directly on the table. The leg cross-supports are high up, reducing knee collisions when we use the table indoors. Looks to be a good choice.
Chairs: Several Sportsmobile Forum members had recommended the Pico Chair from GCI outdoor. In our test, the chair has folded up easily. 2 chairs and the Rokk table fit together well in the Aluminess box. The seat-space is surprisingly roomy. There’s a bit of butt sag, so I wouldn’t want to sit in the chair for hours at a time. However, for a compact dining chair, it should work well. Some users have reported that the chair breaks when put on sand. We haven’t tested that out yet. REI does carry this chair, so at least it comes with a great return policy.
Awning: I tried to set up our Shady Boy awning last night. It appears to be a well-made product. I like how the case snaps closed, and there are snaps to hold the fabric up during repacking. The notches that hold the poles seem quite shallow. The poles would just barely pop into the case. I’m hopeful and skeptical regarding the sturdiness of these notches. The awning poles come in a bag, and each pole is color-coded. I wish that I could find directions that explain the codes! The stock directions were unhelpful. There’s a few poor-quality instructional videos on line. The camera work is fuzzy, the instructional text is white print on a white background, and reggae music drowns out the instructor’s comments. We will be reaching out to the manufacturer for better directions.
Vehicle self rescue gear: The Ford vehicle manual is clear, detailed, and a must-have for road repairs. It proves its worth when the “check engine” signal lights up 500 miles from the nearest mechanic, especially when that mechanic doesn’t know what a wiring harness is. Sigh. Viking Offroad is a great resource for rescue gear. Their recovery rope and shackles are valued pieces of our “stuff happens” kit. For an example of “stuff happens”, see what happens when we try to camp on a maintained forest road. The Extreme Air Compressor is essential for airing down tires in rough roads, with the added bonus of inflating bicycle tires and blowing out dust.
Pet care: How to get a large, arthritic dog into a tall van? There are dog ramps, but they would take up half the living room. The Pet Loader folds, and is more compact. With lots of treats and praise, even our “old lady” learned how to use it.