Road trip gear all-stars

By dropping Joan off on the PCT and joining Andrew and company, we completed the road trip portion of our trip.

Our road trip ended up being a Highway 50 across Nevada exploration in the end. However, we did backpack, camp, and hike in some fantastic areas. And until Reno, and Joan needing space to assemble nail drops, we did not need a hotel room.

And, more importantly, a Trader Joe’s run!

Good food, a dialed in kitchen kit, and making use of campground showers along the way helped immensely. We did not feel any discomfort from so-called roughing it.

As with last year, some items stood out well on the road. The significant difference is that there are two of us, so the gear that worked best or stood out is slightly different. Some standouts are the same.

So for 2019, here are some pieces of gear that proved esp useful.

  • A functional overview atlas continues to prove to be invaluable. A 5″ phone screen does not cut it for getting the lay of the land. What does? The Benchmark Atlas. The Nevada and California ones are on their way to getting as beat up looking as other ones in our collection.

  • Our road trip hygiene kit worked like a charm. Two quick dry towels, some new small dishcloths that doubled as a loofah, two small bottles of Dr. Bronner’s, a bunch of quarters, and some laundry pods all bundled together made life easy. When we did not use a campground shower, a large stock pot we use for dishes proved convenient when we heated up hot water for washing on our two burner stove. As the campsite was amidst a fire ring in addition to dried horse and cow manure, we did not feel our Dr. Bronners use ended up being a grievous sin. 😉


We added a small non-stick frying pan for increased versatility. And it all fits in one stuff sack for added convenience. We also made much use of our Bacho-branded Mora knife every day to cut cheese, chop vegetables, slice bananas, spread peanut butter, or cut cord.

  • An 8’x10′ tarp a little more rugged than a standard blue tarp is damn useful. And cheap. We always keep it handy and used the tarp to stage gear in dusty areas, put under our car camping tent in the impacted ground in rocky areas, or use when swapping out clothes or shoes. Additionally, a tarp can work as a sun or rain shelter, too.

  • Speaking of military surplus, a poncho liner ended up as the item we both coveted. For chilly nights in camp, they made a comfy wrap for the camp chairs. For those same nights when our quilts would be much too warm, the poncho liner with a light fleece blanket took us down to the 40s quite comfortable. A versatile and inexpensive item; next time, I am bringing two poncho liners!
  • More for me, but I used simple and inexpensive running shorts more than I have in quite a while. So much so I bought another pair. We did a good amount of lower elevation day hikes on a maintained trail in warm weather where I preferred shorts to pants.
  • Finally, our 2005 Kia Sorrento continues to be the right vehicle for us. A true 4WD vehicle built on a truck frame that lets us access rougher trailheads (when coupled with AT tires) fits our gear and is small enough to fit in a standard parking spot unobtrusively versus other trendier vehicles. The Kia’s turn radius is reasonably tight, too. Handy for these obscure trailheads! Add a sunshade that is fitted for our cars and stows easily, and we are good to go.



And that is our road trip kit standouts for 2019. We enjoyed our time on the road and look forward to going on some similar journeys in the future!

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Leo Adam
Leo Adam
4 years ago

I want to post a list of all the gear recommendations, now own and use.
Any ideas where? Your site? I guess I just don’t know where to start.

4 years ago

Would love to know what Joan put in her mail drops. I’m looking for more quick and easy meal options.

Leo Adam
Leo Adam
4 years ago

Paul Read your article. Ordered the poncho liner as you suggested — same day. 14 July. Received it today 17 July. Will be using it tonight. I got it used. A couple for very nicely patched tears. Absolutely no problem, good as new. And I saved an ass-load of moola.
Thank you PAUL. I still need to make that list of stuff you suggested and I discovered and bought and use.
Hot damn, this is great.
Thanks again.