We are frequently asked what road trip equipment we have selected. We’ve been adding stuff to our 1997 Aerostar van for years but recently added much more.
First about our van selection. The Ford Aerostar is a truck, not a minivan, which are on car frames and parts. It is rugged, climbs gnarly roads, low maintenance, dependable even with more than 250,000 miles on it, and parks in compact parking, a big advantage for us in Silicon Valley.
Yakima Slim Shady awning. They are about the cheapest awning option and available at REI and almost everywhere. It is deployed and rolled up manually so a bit of a pain compared to the much more expensive crank-out kind of awning. We’ll upgrade if we use it a lot.
Yakima Dr Tray platform bike rack. Most of the tray racks are about 50 pounds. The 2 inch receiver version of the new Dr Tray is 34 pounds. Easier on the back. I bought mine new in the box off Craig’s List.
Yakima roof rack. Much of what you do here is vehicle dependent. I had to install tracks then install the 4 Yakima Landing Pad 1’s as feet for the Skyline Towers and Core Bars. Thule has much the same products. Full retail for everything can be about $1,000 but I watched Craig’s List, eBay, and Amazon.
Yakima Skybox 16. This holds an amazing amount of stuff including our screen room, folding chairs, privacy tent, leveling blocks, orange construction cones to show our campsite is occupied, the carpet for the awning or screen room, and smaller stuff. I bought mine new in the box off Craig’s List. Moab dust on the van roof.
Cup Cozy Pillow. It fits between us when we are both in the van and prevents spilling whatever we are drinking.
Tri-Lynx Leveling Blocks. Nice to have a level vehicle to sleep in. They are like Legos and assemble quickly. Be sure to order the chocks to make it easier to stop in the right place. I’m going to add them. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0028PJ10K/
Big Kahuna Portable 12 volt shower. It is designed to have one hand holding the shower head. We wanted a traditional shower for a privacy tent so I replaced the hose with clear tube and added a gas valve, both available in any hardware store. I had the head left from a cheap shower we bought earlier that didn’t work out. The reservoir is white so paint it black to absorb more heat from the sun if you want a warm shower. Buy a photography light stand on Amazon and clamp and you have a real shower. I can wash well, including shampoo, and rinse with about 1 1/4 gallon of water. Of course turn off the shower when soaping up. https://www.amazon.com/Big-Kahuna-Portable-Shower-Gallons/dp/B00CMHJGEU/
Clean Waste Portable Toilet. It is fast to deploy and stores well. Use with a privacy tent or behind an open car door or bushes. Find a location with a view. Roll up the bag then insert into an included zip lock bag for no odor. Deposit in a garbage can. Bring your own toilet paper. The supplied paper isn’t much.
Platform bed with plastic storage boxes underneath. The size depends on your rig but due to the rear wheel wells we bought a twin size from Amazon then 2 x 4 foot plywood sections from Lowes to put on top. This gave us a full size bed. Add a mattress of your choice. We chose Memory Foam from Amazon. Our platform is 13 inches high so we have 7 12 inches high plastic boxes underneath. There is room for more but we have a locking metal box also that is cable locked to the frame for some security. Use a very heavy bike cable setup.
Yeti 45 cooler. It holds only 37 quarts and Yeti makes that hard to discover. They give you the number of cans and bags of ice but never the traditional measurement. When you buy the product you’ll get a brochure and for the 45 it says it holds 9.2 gallons. You do the math. An Igloo 48 holds 48 quarts, same with Coleman and others. I have a low opinion of Yeti and their marketing fraud but their coolers hold ice much longer than traditional ice chests. I cable lock the Yeti to a seat because it is a target. It sits in the passenger seat when I travel alone.
Road Pro portable 12 volt oven. This is a favorite of truckers and road trippers. Reheat leftovers or even cook frozen dinners. Aluminum trays you can buy anywhere fit into it. It saves me from eating cold pizza for days. https://www.amazon.com/RoadPro-12-Volt-Portable-Stove-Black/dp/B00030DLEE/
Rubber patio tiles. Perfect for a clean place to step out of a van and for showering. They dry fast and store well. We use 4. Costco had them for a while but you will have to shop around. 1 square foot.
Aluminum folding table. Various sizes are available from camp stores such as REI and on Amazon. Always handy in dispersed camping areas and trailheads.
Clam Quickset pop up screen room. Very fast to deploy and take down. Useful in many places as shelter from rain, bugs, sun, and wind. If high winds are expected, common in the American Southwest and mountains, we use tie down straps rather than the weak guy lines included. Also use strong metal stakes. It is worth buying their side panels. This Escape model is 12 feet across. Notice the straps in the first photo and the tent set with a shower in the second. The ladder is for access to the Skybox. https://www.amazon.com/Quick-Set-9879-140-Inch-Protection/dp/B00TMBENDS/
I use these stakes, the best I’ve seen in almost 70 years of camping. https://www.amazon.com/BareFour-Unbreakable-Inflexible-Available-Snowfield/dp/B07G5TTJG9/
Privacy tent. The pop up kind are convenient and store flat but are worthless if a significant wind. The one below was staked to the ground but folded almost flat in a gust. So I put a bungee cord from the top to the tree but that didn’t help much. It would be a wild ride in it! We are currently looking into the tents with a frame. I saw those holding up well in high winds.
Inflatable bed chair. When the weather turns bad we stay cozy in our van and read or do Web things on the bed. Inflatable bed chairs work very well. https://www.amazon.com/HOMCA-Reading-Inflatable-Backrest-Camping/dp/B07KQ47DXH/