2021 Gift Guide for Tiny Campers
The holidays are just around the corner. We’ve put together a list of personalized gifts and stocking stuffers to help enhance your camping experience. Just click either the blue underlined text or the photos in the article and you’ll go right to where you can order these for the tiny camper enthusiast in your life. This year, we’ve separated the items into categories: Staying Clean, Memberships, Cooking/Galley, Convenience, Fire, and Miscellaneous.
Please note, we are affiliates for some of the products listed below, but not all. None of the companies that have products listed below have paid us for our endorsements. These are products that we use and believe in.
Last year we published a review of Venture Wipes, which are 12” x 12” shower wipes that are large enough to clean your entire body. We now have another year under our belts for using these at camp. The wipes come in single-use pouches and they are easy to slip in your pocket for wherever your adventures take you. These wipes are 350% larger than a standard baby wipe and they have a smooth side and one side is more textured to help with scrubbing. They are strong enough that they can be rinsed and then reused to keep your gear clean. We love that they use all natural ingredients (great if you have sensitive skin) and they are also biodegradable. Venture Wipes can be purchased in different sized bags ranging from 10, 25 and even up to 300! Venture Wipes also has bags of bug repellant wipes, that are all natural and biodegradable. Since we camp in the midwest and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where mosquitos are known as the state bird, these will definitely be stocking stuffers for our family!
We were fortunate enough this year to hear about the Geyser System while at a teardrop gathering. A few weeks later, we had a product in hand and we have several “showers” under our belts. The Geyser System is a compact, easy to use shower system that uses less than one gallon of water. A normal camp shower can use as much as ten gallons or more! They make two different models, one with a built in heater and one without.
We have the one without, so we can shower more quickly and conserve 12v battery power. Our Geyser System works by plugging into a 12 volt receptacle into our teardrop, Jackery, or truck (long cord included). We pour two liters of cold water into the Geyser and then one liter of boiling water on top of that. We heat the water on our camp stove and it only takes a few minutes to be ready to shower. Flip the switch and the built in 12v water pump starts the flow of water to the hose with the attached sponge. Each family member can have their own sponge - they are easily changed. The flow rate is adjustable, so your shower length will vary. I have short hair. I am able to fully shower, wash my hair, AND have enough hot water left over to shave my legs! Anne has longer hair and is still perfecting her technique. We love the added safety feature of the pump turning off if the water is too hot (> 113°F or 45°C) which can happen if you pour the hot water in first. The top of the Geyser System also has a warning light to let you know when you only have about 10% of your water left, so you know it’s time to wrap up your shower. The scrubs are inexpensive and replaceable. An added bonus? You can use your Geyser System to wash your dishes too! Not a believer yet? Be sure to watch the video of their ultimate test! Pick up a Geyser System and buy a few extra sponges as stocking stuffers! We will do a full review of the Geyser System for the March/April 2022 issue of Cool Tears.
In the January/February 2021 issue, we highlighted AllStays Pro as a way to find your next campsite. That article is linked here. AllStays Pro is useful when planning a camping trip. The membership contains over 37,000 private, state, and national park campgrounds, as well as RV parks, boondocking locations, hotels with parking, Walmarts, and casinos. You can also find truck stops with dump stations if you need to empty your tanks or cassette toilet. Are you getting low on propane and have no idea where to fill up while on your trip or have you run into an issue with your tiny camper? AllStays Pro has a filter so you can find places that refill or sell propane. RV dealers and service centers are also shown on the map. We do use a few other services or apps as well, but AllStays Pro is nice because there are zero ads.
We are also Harvest Hosts members. In the past, they did not allow teardrops, but they have changed their rules for membership this past year. Their membership program has over 2800 wineries, breweries, farms, and museums in their database that offer unique places to spend the night. The rules for membership may restrict some people. No rooftop tents are allowed and the website says that you must be self contained. HOWEVER, they have recently added on their website that “we allow clamshell and teardrop trailers, but their outdoor cooking facilities may not be used while on Host properties.” No problem, just either eat something that doesn’t require cooking or bring takeout with you. In some cases, the Hosts have meals that you can purchase, a win - win! Harvest Hosts requires that you arrive at your location before the business closes so you can patronize the business. Afterall, if you are spending the night for free, why not buy a bottle of wine, a block of cheese, or a pack of beer? Also, if there is nothing in it for the Hosts, they have zero incentives to remain in the program. Use this link to get 15% off your membership. Once you’re signed up, as long as you never let your service lapse, your price of membership will not change, even if they raise prices in the future.
If you’ve ever looked for a place to camp you have likely used the website or app called The Dyrt. We’ve used it for a few years, mostly to read the reviews of people that have camped in the location we’re interested in, before upgrading to the Pro version. The Pro version costs $36USD per year, but it is packed with member benefits that will quickly pay off the membership fee. One of the ways to help earn your membership fee back is by paying less at more than 1000 campgrounds across the US. You can save up to 40% on your first night (Sunday - Thursday, holidays excluded) and 10% off the other nights if they offer the premium discount. If the campground offers the standard discount, it’s 10% off your stay. This is easily visible on the website (behind the paywall) or on the app. The membership also gives you savings on gear from select retailers, such as Keen (footwear), Cruise America (America’s largest RV rental company), and other gear retailers. A few other bonus features of the paid membership include offline access on the app for when you lose a cellular connection, a trip planner, and a filter to help you locate free camping areas. The Dyrt Pro is definitely worth $36, but if you’re not sure, you can do a free 7 day trial to see if it’s worth your money.
There are a few additions we made to the galley this year and each is going to be a top pick for our gift guide this year. First up is the adjustable leg skottle by TemboTusk. If you don’t know that that is, this short video we posted on YouTube, will show you what we’re talking about and will quickly show how it can be used. Skottles were developed by South African farmers looking for a secondary use for old harrow discs. This skottle is made in America, has adjustable legs so you can adjust for uneven ground, and it comes with everything you need to get cooking, besides the fuel. This 18” skottle by TemboTusk packs down easily into the carry bag which is included. We use the skottle while camping and at home, it’s dual purpose for us. Here are a few main things that we love about the skottle: It comes pre-seasoned, it’s non-stick, it’s heavy duty, it’s easy to clean, and lastly the cooking surface temperatures vary by how far away from the middle you are. It’s nice to be able to use one cooking vessel to cook things that take different temperatures all at the same time. If you’re making fajitas or tacos, you can have the meat and veg cooked near the center of the skottle while the tortillas warm at the skottle edge. We have not used our skottle for baking yet, but it is possible by placing the grate in the skottle and then putting the lid on top. According to the free cookbook that you can download from their website, you can make popcorn, rice, pasta, and soups. The sky's the limit with the skottle by TemboTusk. Be sure to use “Cooltears” as your coupon code for a 5% discount! Thank you TemboTusk! We will do a full review of our TemboTusk skottle in the May/June 2022 issue of Cool Tears.
One of our other favorite additions to the galley is the Omnia Stovetop Oven. We did a full review of this in the May/June 2021 issue. Click here to go to the back issues of the magazine. If you watched the YouTube video above, it highlights the skottle and Omnia Stovetop Oven. Read that article from the May/June issue for an in depth review of this device. The fact that we can bake anything we want while camping and not have to have a fire (fire bans) or a Dutch oven with us is great. We’ve made cakes, quiches, scones, lamb kofta, and more in our Omnia. We have made an upgrade since that first article though. They now offer a thermometer that is made for the Omnia, so it fits much better than the giant grill thermometer that we used to start. You can find the Omnia’s on Amazon or directly from Omnia US at this link. If you’re not an Amazon Prime member, do note that they offer free shipping to the Lower 48 on any orders over $100. At a minimum, we recommend purchasing the Omnia Stovetop Oven, the baking rack (it’s necessary), and at least one of the silicone molds. Those three things will qualify you for free shipping if you order directly from Omnia.
That short little video on how we make a mushroom galette shows off three of the four items on our cooking/galley gift list. We’re constantly struggling with how to store food in the 12 volt fridge or cooler that we use. At home, we use a lot of glass or plastic storage containers, but they just don’t fit well into our small fridge and cooler. Plus, we did break a small glass jar in the fridge earlier this year, so we try to ban glass now. While we do use Ziploc bags for some things, that’s not our preference either. We try to generate as little garbage as possible while camping and they do leak. While we do wash and re-use those plastic bags at
home, they’re messy while camping. Last Christmas, we were given a set of Stasher Bags. In the video about the mushroom galette, you can see that we kept the mushrooms in the silicon bag. Stasher bags are made from a platinum silicone that does not degrade over time. You can use them in the freezer, microwave, dishwasher and even oven. We’ve reheated homemade frozen enchiladas in the Stasher bags in a pot of boiling water. We even tossed in some fresh broccoli on top of the boiling water with our enchilada filled Stasher bag and had a one pot meal that was super simple to clean up. These bags are made to last and help keep plastics out of our landfills. They are food safe and pass every US, Canadian, and European Union guidelines for food safety. The Stasher bags come in a variety of sizes to fit your needs. Since Christmas, we’ve purchased several more sizes and they are always in use and we’ve never had one leak. We especially like the stand-up bags and they get heavy use at home and while camping!
Our last cooking/galley gift idea is on the pricey side, but it has made a positive impact. Last January, I purchased the ICECO GO20 Dual Zone Portable fridge. We were using a 35 quart Yeti cooler for camping, but we sometimes didn’t have enough space due to the amount of ice we needed to carry. We eat well while camping and we often carry temperature sensitive items with us. We don’t want everything packed in ice and we definitely need to keep meat or seafood at a safe temperature. The ICECO GO20 Dual Zone Portable fridge
fits easily into a space in our galley and it can run off 12 or 24 volts as well as 110/240V at home with the adapter (it’s included). The compressor has a 5 year warranty, so this thing is made to last. It does look small when you get it, we were worried we made a mistake. But with creative packing (Stasher bags above) or right sizing the containers, we’ve learned how to carry several days of food in this fridge. For size comparisons, our Yeti is a 35 quart cooler, the ICECO GO20 is 21 quarts (20 liters). Since you don’t need to carry ice, they actually hold about the same amount of food. And this holds temperatures well. You can keep the divider in and run one side as a freezer while the other is a fridge. Or remove the divider and make it all fridge or all freezer. It’s versatile and easy to use. There is even a built-in light when you open the lid so it’s easy to find what you’re looking for without turning on the lights in the galley. There are other models available from ICECO, but this one fits our galley the best. Each of the above cooking/galley items we use at home and while camping and this is no exception. We live out in the country and it’s a thirty minute drive to get to a larger grocery store. We take the ICECO GO20 with us when we go to the store to bring home the frozen or cold items that we purchase. It’s been so useful for this that it’s worth it even if you’re not a camper! We can plug the fridge directly into the truck or if we know we’re going to make a few more stops, we plug it into our Jackery, which we’ll highlight in the next section. Next month, we are upgrading to a larger teardrop and we’ll have a Dometic fridge/freezer. We will do a comparison of the two after we’ve used the Dometic for a few months.