Camp Westfalia

Archive for Product Reviews

Winter Van Camping

Tips and advice for staying warm while van-camping

Photo: highsierra, Samba member

Photo: highsierra, Samba member

Most camper vans are put away during the colder months. But we’ve found winter to be a great time for a weekend getaway, with none of the crowds, bugs, or excessive heat of summer.

Off-season camping means you usually have your choice of campsites, too. In fact, we often find ourselves the only residents of the campground!

And winter can be a spectacularly beautiful time to see the great outdoors in a whole new light.

Here are some tips and advice for staying toasty during your own winter van-camping ventures.

Prepare your Van


  • Before embarking on winter camping forays, make sure your Vanagon’s heating and ventilation system is in good working order. Check that the front and rear heater cores are flowing correctly, and are not plugged with mineral deposits, etc.. Ensure that the heater-control valves are functioning well, and the front forced-air flaps are sealing properly to prevent the entry of cold air.
  • Use a winter-grade motor oil as specified in your Owners Manual for the temperature range you plan to drive in: 10W-40 for -5 to 50F (-20 to 10C)
  • Make sure that your coolant mixture offers the correct freeze protection for ambient temperatures. Use a simple tester to ensure you have the correct blend of water and anti-freeze.
Photo: vanis13, Samba member

Photo: vanis13, Samba member

  • Check that your tires are in good condition, with adequate tread. For better traction in snow and ice, you can also deflate your tires to the lower end of your safe load range.
  • Use an antifreeze fuel additive suitable for your specific type of fuel (gasoline or diesel) to prevent fuel gelling or freezing.
  • A winter road kit can help get you out of a snowy jam: jumper cables, tire cables or chains, a small snow shovel, extra fuel, a blanket and additional winter clothing, etc..

While Driving

  • A set of cushy seat covers can help keep your bum warm on long cold drives.
  • Take occasional breaks to warm up; pause during fuel stops at convenience stores to warm up with a cuppa coffee or hot cocoa for the road.
  • When driving in especially cold weather, wear additional comfortable winter clothing if necessary: gloves, hats, heavier socks. These are easy to add or remove as needed.
  • Breakdowns are always an inconvenience, but can be especially dangerous in cold or snowy winter weather. Always keep good winter clothing close at hand, as well as some food, water, any crucial medications, etc..

While Camped

  • Photo: mpabegg, Samba Member

    Photo: mpabegg, Samba Member

    Choose a campsite that offers good protection from winter winds. Pine forests generally offer more wind protection than leafless deciduous trees.

  • A site with eastern exposure will allow the morning sun to help warm your van. If at all possible, avoid raising your Westfalia popup roof, to conserve heat, but if you must, orient the rear of your Vanagon into the prevailing wind to reduce your heat loss.
  • Perhaps the single best way to stay warm while camped is some sort of a space heater. Of course, there are several types available: electric (110-volt), small portable LP (liquid propane) heaters intended for camping, and permanently installed RV furnaces fueled by LP or diesel.
  • Be sure to utilize a small battery-operated household carbon-monoxide detector whenever using a fueled space heater, to prevent CO poisoning.
  • If 110-volt AC campsite shore power is available, an electric blanket can be a great way to stay toasty while sleeping or lounging in your camper.
  • If you have one installed, use an engine block heater to help with starting on especially cold mornings; be sure you carry an extension cord and choose a campsite with a power source.
  • As when driving, warm winter clothing can help take the chill off when camped. Common synthetic outdoors gear (pullovers, caps, gloves, socks, etc.) is all you’ll need.
  • Add a thermal-fleece liner to your three-season sleeping bag for additional winter warmth.


  • Put some hot water in an uninsulated camping water bottle and stow it at the bottom your sleeping bag, to keep your feet warm through the cold night.
  • The shorter daylight hours of winter mean more time spent lounging in your van, so bring plenty of games, books, and digital entertainment.
  • In the morning, bring your daytime clothing inside your sleeping bag with you to warm it up for several minutes, to avoid putting on icy clothes.
  • Add a set of thermal covers to your van’s windows to help retain heat. This series of infrared photos provides some valuable insights into areas of heat loss in a Vanagon Westfalia, and offers some tips on insulating your own camper.
  • If you ever need to remove your van’s interior panels or cabinets for other work, take the opportunity to add more insulation wherever you can.

Following these tips will keep Jack Frost from nipping at your nose while winter camping in your van, and help you enjoy a safe and unique camping experience.

Have any tips for your fellow winter van-campers? Leave a suggestion or question below, and use the social links to share with friends!

Essential Apps for Van-Travel

Navigation and travel apps for your mobile device help you find campsites, points of interest, and the routes to get there, or even to make reservations while you’re still en route.

Here are some of the Camp Westfalia crew’s favorites …



Among all the other great features of VanAlert is a directory of user-submitted favorite camping spots to help you find a place to call home for the night. You can even find other VW Vanagon/Bus owners who have volunteered the temporary use of their driveway for short stays while traveling.


Kampnik is built on the venerable database of more than 13,000 campgrounds in the United States and Canada with a focus on public car-accessible campgrounds whose existence and location has been verified by a human. With Kampnik, you can find public campgrounds in National Parks, National Forests, Provincial Parks, State Parks, City and County Parks, and more on federal, state, provincial, and local lands. From beaches to mountains and rivers to deserts, Kampnik will help you find campgrounds for the places you want to go.


iOverlander is a free site (and phone apps) created to help overlanders on the road find their next destination. Please help us make this site great by updating our information and adding places you have been.


The number one camping app for iPhone, iPads and iPods. From resorts to hike-in spots. Amenities, maps, truck stops, rest areas, Wal-mart and casino parking, RV dealers, sporting goods stores and much more. Two modes: one uses GPS and maps that you can filter. One is an offline manual lookup mode for when you don’t have service.


Plan your next adventure using the WikiCamps Trip Planner. Create unlimited trips, add multiple locations, notes, and custom map pins. The ultimate camping companion for your smart phone, tablet and Windows 10 PC. USA’s largest database of campgrounds, RV parks, backpacker hostels, points of interest, dump stations, visitor information centers, water taps, toilets, showers, and more.

KOA (Kampgrounds of America)

Search KOA’s huge selection of campgrounds to find your perfect fit. Search by city, state or attractions. Or find a nearby KOA campground based on your current location. Get detailed campground descriptions, hot deals, driving directions, as well as descriptions of local attractions and local and campground activities.


Enter where you want to start and finish your road trip, and then discover the coolest “off the beaten path” places along the way. Our database includes millions of the world’s most fascinating places, making planning the unexpected easier than you thought. Road trip planning can be tedious… and what do you get from it? Most of what you find online will funnel you into the same places, filled with other travelers. It can feel like you need a local guide to get an authentic experience on your trip, but Roadtrippers helps you escape the tourist bubble and find the coolest stops.

Ultimate Campgrounds

Thousands and thousands of public camping sites across the US and Canada – free, dispersed and formal campsites

Freecampsites is the primary source for information on free campgrounds and boondocking locations. We believe that free camping sites are often the most beautiful and peaceful camp sites. There are many free camp sites, but they can be difficult to locate. Here, we provide a simple, map-based search engine for free and cheap camping locations. It is also a platform for sharing locations you have discovered with others.


Book unique camping experiences on over 300,000 campsites, cabins, RV parks, public parks and more. Hipcamp is everywhere you want to camp. Search, discover and book ranches, farms, vineyards, nature preserves & public sites for camping across the U.S.
From public parks to private land, we’re the most comprehensive guide to camping in the nation.


Perhaps the most wide ranging of all the camping apps, Park4Night helps you find camping and parking spots from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe.

Search user-submitted parking & camping spots on your smartphone or car GPS unit, enjoy your camp, then leave your new comments or updates for future travelers.

One intrepid Camp Westfalia reader reports having wild camped all over Europe using this app.



Waze helps riders and drivers get where they’re going—faster, smoother, safer, and happier—while working to beat traffic. Traffic starts with us, but it can end with us, too. Waze develops practical solutions that empower people to make better choices, from taking the fastest route, to leaving at the right time, to sharing daily commutes.


Over the last 15 years, GasBuddy has saved users over $2.9 billion dollars. Download our easy-to-use app to start saving at the pump, complete fun challenges and win free gas today


Chimani is the leading national park mobile app. Our intuitive app draws on the power of GPS-enabled interactive mapping technology to guide your national park adventures. Chimani’s national park guides include descriptions of points of interest, trails, amenities, and more. “No service” when you’re out in the wilderness? No problem. Chimani’s app works with or without WiFi or data signal. Chimani’s app is free to download from the Apple Appstore and Google Play.

Dark Sky

Dark Sky is the most accurate source of hyperlocal weather information. With down-to-the-minute forecasts, you’ll know exactly when the rain will start or stop, right where you’re standing. It’s almost like magic.
Powered by our own homegrown weather service, Dark Sky is the best source of accurate weather forecasts to help you plan your life.

Star Walk

Star Walk 2 is an exquisite stargazing tool that combines astronomical data with premium technology to deliver an effortless journey through thousands of stars, comets, and constellations. All you have to do is point your phone or tablet at the sky.

Product Review: TOPDC 100PSI Double-Cylinder Portable Air Compressor

A lightweight, compact 12-volt air compressor for refilling tires and other inflatable equipment

Camp Westfalia was provided with a product sample at no cost in return for an authentic review of this product. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of Camp Westfalia, and are not otherwise influenced by the manufacturer or its affiliates.

Integrated 0-150 PSI Gauge


  • Operating Voltage: DC 12V
  • Max Power: 250W-300W
  • Air Flow: 60L/min
  • Maximum Pressure: 100 PSI
  • Size: Approx. 9.6 x 3.75 x 6.25″ (24.5 x 9.5 x 16cm)
  • Weight: 6.4 lbs, 2.8kg-3kg

Vanagon and other van-travellers tend to wander off the beaten path, often finding themselves far from major highways, and perhaps beyond reliable phone reception. A flat or leaking tire on the interstate is a big inconvenience, but the same flat tire on a remote byway can be downright dangerous for you and your family. Self-reliance is crucial, and a portable compressor like this can be a real trip saver.

This portable automotive air compressor is lightweight and surprisingly compact. But can it get the job done?

First Impressions

When I first unboxed the TOPDC Double-Cylinder Air Compressor, I was a bit surprised by it’s small size and light weight. It seemed solid enough, but I wondered if such a diminutive device could properly inflate the larger, light-truck tires used on most Vanagons.

Still, its cast alloy cylinder heads, main motor housing, and reinforced case all seemed to make for a pretty durable little unit.

A folding top handle makes it easy to carry, and to lift in and out of the Vanagon bench seat. There’s an LED work light integrated into one end of the case, controlled by a dedicated switch, to shed some light on nighttime flats or other breakdowns.

Unlike most other compressors of this size and price, this TOPDC Air Compressor model features twin cylinders, which evidently makes for higher pressures, faster inflation times, lower noise, and less vibration.

The primary power cord plugs into a cigarette-lighter socket. Also included is an adaptor to run the compressor directly off your main starting or auxiliary battery, a 10-foot coiled extension air hose, and three nozzle adaptors for inflating air mattresses, soccer balls, pool toys, etc..

Everything tucks neatly away inside the included zipper bag, to keep all the loose bits clean, undamaged, and organized.

Get the TOPDC Double-Cylinder Air Compressor here

On The Road or In Camp

To simulate a flat tire, I pounded a 2-inch roofing nail through the sidewall of a low-miles Hankook. Just kidding. Actually, I just unthreaded the valve stem of my Vanagon spare and allowed it to completely deflate while I ate lunch.

For maximum power during my test, I connected the TOPDC Double-Cylinder Air Compressor directly to my starting battery using the included clips. Both the primary air hose and the coiled extension use screw-on connections, so you don’t need to hold the hose onto the tire’s valve stem; just flip the switch and stand by.

Small compressors like this are generally able to provide high pressure but at low volume, so they tend to be slow. While the little unit chugged away, I wondered how long it would take to completely fill the rather large Vanagon tire:

  • At 2 minutes, it had inflated the tire to 25 PSI.
  • At 4 minutes, it had inflated the tire to 35 PSI.
  • At 6 minutes, it had inflated the tire to 48 PSI

All in all, pretty speedy.

NOTE: flat tires should always be inflated while bearing NO VEHICLE WEIGHT, to ensure the tire bead is securely seated on the rim, and so that the compressor is not over-working to lift the vehicle. Either jack the vehicle up so that the wheel is clear of the ground, or remove the wheel from the van entirely. Tires that are only a bit underinflated can be topped up while mounted.

Built-in LED Work Light

Using the 8-foot power cord and extension hose, all four Vanagon wheels are easily reached from the dashboard power socket.

The included instructions warn users to allow the compressor to cool off after 10-15 minute’s use, but after completely filling my tire, I found the cylinder heads and motor casing only very warm to the touch. If inflating something larger like an air mattress, do it in 10-minute intervals to prevent overheating.

When compared to my shop-grade handheld pressure gauge, the compressor’s built-in gauge was accurate to within 1 PSI.

Finally …

Considering its compact size, weight, and versatility for other tasks, there’s no reason not to carry one of these as part of your emergency tool kit. The TOPDC Double-Cylinder Air Compressor fits neatly in the storage space beneath the Vanagon bench seat, and gives us the assurance and peace of mind when travelling in the backcountry

Hits: quality construction, compact & lightweight design, fast inflation, long cord and hose for extended reach, included carrying bag & accessories
Misses: slightly more spendy than lesser portable automotive compressors

Get the TOPDC Double-Cylinder Air Compressor here

What do you think? Leave a question or comment below, and use the social links to share with friends!

Original Vanagon Westfalia Toilet & Cabinet

Making boom-boom the European way, mit die Defäkation Karton!

We recently sold our original-equipment portable chemical toilet with wooden cabinet. Though the previous owners seldom used it, and we never did, I thought I’d share these photos and a bit of history for the sake of posterity.

Apparently available only to those customers who picked up their new Vanagon Campers in Germany as part of VW’s tourist delivery program, the cabinet boasts classic Westfalia design.

Reproductions Now Available here

This authentic vintage piece features a sturdy plywood cabinet with the familiar Westfalia laminate finish, and a padded seat top upholstered to match the interior of the early Vanagon Westies.

The enclosed Porta-Potti is a compact two-chamber toilet: open the lid and do yer bidness, pull the front handle to open the bowl valve, and give the unit a couple of flush pumps to rinse the bowl clean; then close the valve. Waste is collected in the sealed lower chamber, preventing odors. When full, simply empty into any campground toilet or sanitary station, rinse, and continue using! Refresh with common RV toilet chemicals available at any RV supplier.

Made by Thetford, still the world’s leading manufacturer of mobile sanitation products for the RV, marine, camping and truck markets.

Here’s more info on operating one of Thetford’s similar models:

When you don’t need a toilet for your trip, the entire combo can be easily removed for storage, or simply remove the toilet and just use the cabinet as a basic storage compartment with convenient padded seat top!

The Westfalia-Thetford portable toilet combo is a classic piece of vintage camping kit, and ready to ‘go’ wherever you go!

Reproductions Now Available here

Due to the surprising amount of interest in this unique vintage item, even after it was sold, I took some measurements, made some blueprints and started makin’ sawdust …

I can now offer a handful of these very authentic reproductions of the toilet cabinet, in both Beige/Brown and in Gray.

These reproduction cabinets are the same approximate dimensions as the original (but sized to fit popular modern Porta-Potties), utilize all the same materials (laminated birch plywood, trim, hardware, etc.), and are upholstered in new complementary fabrics.

Check them out, and contact me with any questions!

Jeffrey Lee
Camp Westfalia

Vanagon or Westfalia Gift Ideas

Looking for the perfect Vanagon or Westfalia gift for a loved one? (Or for you?)

These gifts will keep your favorite camper (or camper van) safe, comfortable, entertained, and looking good!

Therm-a-Rest Compressible Travel Pillow for Camping, Backpacking, Airplanes and Road Trips

  • Ultralight compressible travel pillow with soft foam filling that packs down small for road trips, plane travel, camping, and backpacking
  • Foam filling expands into a 4-inch thick pillow for head, neck, and back support in tents, cars, planes, and other tough-to-get-comfortable places
  • Compact design packs into a backpack, duffle, suitcase, or tote; drawstring and cord lock keeps pillow securely compressed when not in use
  • Brushed polyester cover is soft against skin for comfort; lofty urethane fill is an upcycled byproduct of Thermarest mattresses
  • Machine washable
  • Made in the USA

Get it here!

Budge Protector IV Van Cover, 4 Layer Reliable Weather Protection, Waterproof, Dustproof, UV Treated Van Cover

The Protector IV van cover is a completely unique 4 layer van cover. This van cover is made from 4 durable layers that work together to provide unparalleled waterproof protection for your vehicle. This all weather cover combines two layers of exceptionally waterproof polypropylene with an interior waterproof membrane while the inner most layer of the cover is comprised of a non abrasive fleece-like material. This van cover is also UV treated to protect against harsh sun exposure. This van cover will repel rain, water, snow, dust, dirt and much more. This cover is suitable for long term outdoor storage and will remain durable overtime. Covers comes with a strap and buckle system to help keep the cover secure to your van and to prevent billowing from windy weather.

  • EXCELLENT WEATHER PROTECTION: Van cover is 100% waterproof and UV resistant for superior outdoor protection
  • DURABLE: This all weather van cover is made from 4 durable layers
  • SECURE YOUR COVER: This cover includes straps and buckles to easy tie down and is nonabrasive to your van’s finish
  • DESIGNED TO FIT: This van cover fits vans 228″ L x 72″ W x 72″
    Fit type: Universal Fit

Get it here!

“Blue Highways: A Journey into America”

Hailed as a masterpiece of American travel writing, Blue Highways is an unforgettable journey along our nation’s backroads.

William Least Heat-Moon set out with little more than the need to put home behind him and a sense of curiosity about “those little towns that get on the map-if they get on at all-only because some cartographer has a blank space to fill.”

Get it here!

Camp Westfalia Merch Store

Unique and custom VW Bus & Vanagon camping designs, available on a variety of tee shirts, hoodies, mugs, and more.

Wear your love of VWs and van-camping with pride!

Shop here!

Blue Royal Hippie Van Tumbler Cup with Lid, Thermos Insulated Travel Coffee Mug

  • TRIPLE INSULATION TECHNOLOGY: Each 64Hydro tumbler has double-walled, vacuum-sealed and copper-coated insulation, which helps keep drinks cold for up to 24 hours & hot for up to 12 hours.
  • CONSTRUCTED OF 18/8 STAINLESS STEEL: Known for its strength and purity, our 18/8 food-grade tumbler won’t break, rust, retain or transfer flavors. Unlike other tumblers, our tumblers provide a clean, non-metallic taste.
  • ANTI-LEAK, BPA-FREE FLIP LID: Each tumbler comes with an Anti-Leak, BPA-Free flip lid. The lid will prevent any accidental spills. Anti-glug hole ensures the smooth flow of water and a comfortable drinking experience. NO SWEAT, NO PROBLEMS: Our copper wall layer creates a condensation-free exterior that won’t sweat on your hands or in your bag.

Get it here!

ENO Eagles Nest Outfitters – DoubleNest Hammock

This comfortable hammock is versatile, durable, and compact, making it perfect for traveling, hiking, or chillin’ in camp. The strong nylon taffeta fabric and roomy design accommodate up to 400 pounds, so you can relax with a friend or just hog the whole thing for yourself. Built to last with triple-stitched seams, this baby will keep you swinging for a long time.

Get it here!

TOPDC Double-Cylinder Portable Air Compressor

Vanagon travellers tend to wander off the beaten path, often finding themselves far from major highways, and perhaps beyond reliable phone reception. Self-reliance is crucial, and a portable compressor like this can be a real trip saver.

The TOPDC Double-Cylinder Air Compressor fits neatly in the storage space beneath the Vanagon bench seat, and gives the assurance and peace of mind when travelling in the backcountry. With its compact size, weight, and versatility for other tasks, there’s no reason not to carry one of these as part of your emergency tool kit.

Full Review Here

Get it here!

Flower Power

Sometimes, when diesel is difficult to find, the Camp Westfalia rig runs entirely on alternative fuels. Like, Groovy Vibes, man!

Once, while parked and waiting for Lorie to return with coffee, I was approached by an old farmer who couldn’t resist asking me if I was a ‘real hippie’. I reached out the open window, peeled one of the many magnetic flower decals off the van and waggled it in the air. “Nah,” I replied, “I’m only a hippie on the weekends.”

Get ’em here!

“Out West: A Journey through Lewis and Clark’s America”

One hundred and eighty years after Lewis and Clark’s “Voyage of Discovery” (1804–1806), Dayton Duncan set out in a VW Camper to retrace their steps.

Out West is an account of three separate journeys: Lewis and Clark’s epic adventure through uncharted wilderness; Duncan’s retracing of the historic trail, now in various ways tamed, paved, and settled; and the journey of the American West in the years in between.

Get it here!

GSI Outdoors – Bugaboo Backpacker, Nesting Cook Set

This compact nesting cookset is perfect for preparing meals in a crowded camper van, and is the perfect companion to the GSI Bugaboo folding fry pan!

  • DURABLE AND LONG LASTING: The Bugaboo Backpacker is coated with Teflon Classic for good non-stick performance. Features a crushproof, heat-resistant nylon strainer lid and an easily removable folding pot handle.
  • EASY STORING AND CLEAN UP: Waterproof stuff sack holds set together and doubles as a sink or washbasin.
  • COOK WITH CONFIDENCE: Folding pot handle locks onto exterior brackets on pot and fry pan to provide a secure handle while cooking.

Get it here!

2023 GoWesty Calendar

The 2023 Westy Life calendar features inspiring VW camper images sure to pique your wanderlust! Their annual calendar contest drew over 400 entries from around the world—and the caliber of the entries was incredible.

Get it here!

Vanagon Workshop Manuals

“The Bentley” Official Factory Repair Manual

Volkswagen Vanagon Repair Manual: 1980-1991

This Official Factory Repair Manual, published by Robert Bentley, is rightfully considered “the bible” for Vanagon repair.

This was the manual used by the wrenchers at your local VW dealership, but now that most VW technicians have lain neither eyes nor hands on a Vanagon, the Bentley is used only by the occasional independent shop and by shade-tree diehards like you and me. It remains the final authority in accuracy and precision, providing the proper sequences, torque values, and tolerances for most repairs. Repairs are well organized by topic and sub-topic.

Get it here!

VW T1 Bus BBQ Utensil Set with Carrying Case

Campervans are perfect for chillin’ and grillin’.

And this set of barbecue tools combines the best of both. Stainless steel utensils embossed with classic split-windshield Busses, and featuring bamboo handles, these cool tools come packed in a nylon carry case.

Get it here!

Christmas Vacation – Heavyweight, Tear-Resistant,  Holiday Gift Wrapping Paper

Whatever gift you decide on for your favorite camping companion, apply the final classy touch and wrap it in this limited edition decorative Camper Van design!

Get it here!

From the Camp Westfalia crew, here’s wishing you and yours a happy holiday season, and a Happy (Camper) New Year of adventures!

Product Review: ASUS Eee Pad Transformer 10.1-Inch Tablet

A compact, lightweight, unlocked 10.1 inch tablet great for van-camping and other travel

ASUS Eee Pad Transformer TF101-B1 32GB 10.1-Inch Tablet


  • 10.1-inch WSVGA IPS capacitive pressure-sensing multi touch display for brilliant HD entertainment and intuitive navigation. 178° viewing angle (1280 x 800)
  • Powered by NVIDIA® Tegra™ 2 mobile processor for best web experience with up to two times faster browsing, hardware accelerated Flash, and console-quality gaming
  • Front (1.2 MP) and rear (5 MP) cameras for face-to-face video chats and on-the-go video and picture capturing
  • Mini HDMI port to supersize your entertainment to compatible HDTVs and external displays
  • Optional Docking station with QWERTY keyboard adds additional 6.5 hours of battery life, to instantly turn the Transformer into PC mode with up to 16 hours of battery life.

Staying organized and connected while on extended road trips can be difficult. So, we continually put a number of compact mobile digital devices to the test while travelling. How does the ASUS Transformer measure up?

First Impressions

The ASUS Transformer is an attractive little tablet. This is a 10-inch tablet, with Tegra power, great viewing angles and it has good sound. The device feels very solid in hand, not too light, not too heavy, with enough memory for lots of apps and it functions very well. The optional keyboard docking station adds even greater usability and versatility. Battery life is excellent too!

On The Road or In Camp

I purchased the ASUS Transformer based on the excellent reviews it was getting and it does not disappoint. In addition to the tablet, I decided to get the keyboard docking station, which is really an amazing accessory. The tablet itself is super responsive, has a decent amount of memory and is light enough to use for long periods.

For travel, it is more durable than some of my other devices and with the optional keyboard it is like having a mini laptop. It streams media such as Netflix, HULU, HBOGo, etc. without any lag and runs nicely. The 10.1 inch screen is great, but I actually like a bit smaller screen, so my 9.7 is the go-to tablet for travel. Nonetheless, I really do think this tablet is an excellent value, and highly recommend it.

The ASUS Eee Pad Transformer TF101 Mobile Docking station keyboard is made for the Transformer TF101 and is a great accessory. The docking station not only extends the tablet’s battery life up to 16 hours, but also features added functionalities which include a near full-sized QWERTY keyboard, a multi-touch touchpad, 2 USB 2.0 ports, and a 4-in-1 SD card reader.

You can also use any wireless mouse with the docking station, which is great if you are not a big fan of just the touchpad or touch screen. I prefer a smaller mouse so I am using the Ckeyin Bluetooth Optical Mini Mouse for Computers and Android Tablets, Smartphones.

There is also a wide selection of cases for it too, like the PadFolio Smart Cover Stand Alone Case. Its soft interior protects from bumps and scratches, offers easy access to all ports, the secured velcro locks in your tablet in to place, the cover has flip capability to transform the case into a horizontal viewing stand, and it has a magnetic closure. Available in a variety of colors.

In The Long Run

The ASUS Transformer is a pretty slick tablet for travel. The docking station adds even more features and capabilities. Even with the docking station, when folded together it is compact and stows in all those small Westy spaces. It also provides me the flexibility to work on the road if I need to. It has plenty of internal data storage and two options for expandable storage, a micro SD slot in the table and a full SD slot in the docking station, for other media, like videos. The display is bright, colorful crisp screen is great for watching movies. For the price, I would definitely recommend this tablet.

Hits: long battery life (without the keyboard dock’s extra power source), lightweight, Well made, sturdy construction quality and capabilities for the price

Misses: bottom speakers can get blocked during handheld use, would be nice if it included a longer charging cord.

Get the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer TF101-B1 32GB 10.1-Inch Tablet here

Product Review: Thermos Sipp Travel Mug

This sleek stainless steel 16-ounce travel mug with leak-proof lid keeps drinks hot and cold for hours.


Dimensions: 3.5 Dia x 5 Dia x 8 Height inches (89 x 127 x 203 MM)
Capacity: 16 fluid ounces (470 ml)

  • Keeps liquids hot for 5 hours and cold for 9 hours
  • Leak-proof lid with one-hand push-button operation
  • Lid is BPA-free and has a built- in tea hook for tea bags or most loose-leaf infusers
  • Cleans easily

On a long road trip, especially if you’re starting early each day or driving late, a caffeinated beverage is often your best companion. You know, after your actual travelling companion …

And a dependable travel mug is a crucial component of that caffeine-delivery system, one that keeps hot stuff hot, or cold stuff cold, as needed. One that doesn’t leak or spill, and which feels good in the hand. We’ve gone through a few mugs over the years of Westy travelling, in a variety of materials and shapes and prices. And we’ve frequently been disappointed after a while, for one reason or another.

But, like finding the perfect roadtrippin’ partner, I think we may have found The One.

Get the Thermos Sipp here

First Impressions

Thermos has been making vacuum-insulated beverage flasks for over 100 years, and they know their stuff. Their Sipp travel mugs are tall, slim, stainless steel flasks, narrow at the bottom and tapering to a wider top, and they fit well in your hand.

The screw-on plastic lid has an integrated valve operated by a small button, which securely seals the beverage inside to prevent spilling or heat loss.

On The Road or In Camp

The Thermos Sipp fits well in nearly all beverage holders, and is a perfect match for our Sports Imports Folding Cup Holders. When travelling, it’s easy to grab, depress the push button, and sip your favorite beverage.

The Sipp keeps coffee scaldingly hot for a couple of hours, and amazingly drinkable for a couple hours more. Cold beverages stay cold even longer.

Though tall and potentially top heavy when full, the Sipp has never toppled out of our cup holders, and even when knocked over on a picnic table the sealed lid prevents spills.

The Sipp is available with or without a handle, and comes in six colors. Most colors include a white lid, but the Silver model comes with a Black lid, which can sometimes make it difficult to see the two sipping slots. I simply marked my lid with a Sharpie, to prevent embarrassing dribbles.

Cleanup is easy with a good wash and rinse, though the underside of the lid’s valve will benefit from a periodic disassembly and a thorough cleaning, especially if you often enjoy cream, flavored coffees, or sugary beverages.

In The Long Run

We’ve been using our Thermos Sipps for a few years now, for Westy travelling and for everyday driving. I even use mine for multi-day kayak-camping trips, the no-leak lid allowing me to carry hot coffee ready at hand, strapped to my foredeck.

Setting out for a day of windshield touring, we can easily make it all morning with two steaming mugs of coffee or tea, and the Sipp’s no-spill design is perfectly suited for the rough-and-tumble environment of a camper van.

On those long driving days, the Thermos Sipp travel mug is the perfect travelling companion!

Hits: keeps beverages hot and cold for hours, stylish design fits well in hand, no-spill lid, easy cleaning
Misses: can be somewhat tippy when full, lid valve requires periodic disassembly for cleaning

Get the Thermos Sipp here

Product Review: 3 Shelf Closet Organizer

A great way to organize the Vanagon Westfalia clothes closet


Dimensions: 10″ W X 15″ D X 24″ H

  • Natural canvas fabric
  • 3 large shelves
  • Each shelf reinforced with fiberboard liner
  • Includes two closet hooks

I’ve always found the stock Westfalia ‘clothes closet’ to be an underutilized space. Located along the driver’s-side wall, just behind the bench seat, the compartment is empty except for a tiny closet rod, presumably for hanging one’s assortment of pressed Oxford dress shirts or blouses.

Cuz that’s how people camp, right?

The rather large cavernous space offers no other means to organize the contents, so it quickly becomes a dark, cluttered catch-all of chaos. Recently, Lorie came up with this quick and easy solution, and it has transformed our closet into a neat and tidy storage space, always a precious commodity when packing your camper van.

First Impressions

The Three Shelf Organizer is intended to store sweaters, jeans, shirts, etc. in your home closet, but this particular size fits perfectly in the Vanagon Westfalia closet. Made of canvas, with internal fiberboard stiffeners, the shelves easily support lightweight linens like clothing, towels, pillows, etc.. Among other domestic goods, we store our Westfalia camper curtains here when not in use. The organizer is not intended for storing heavier objects like canned goods or tools.

Installation couldn’t be simpler: just put the whole thing inside the closet and clip the hooks over the stock hanger rod. Likewise, it can be just as easily removed later if needed.

Once installed, there is still space beneath the shelf unit for heavier and seldom used items like tools or LP heater, and more space to the right.

Though the Three Shelf Organizer works great right out of the package, we found that if loaded with somewhat heavier items like small storage bins or packaged food, the shelves may tilt and swing around while underway, perhaps spilling their contents. So, I removed the unit and added a simple extension to the bottom-most shelf, which also serves to stiffen it for heavier items.

Just cut a sheet of thin fiberboard or plywood about 10 x 18” and bolt it to the underside of the shelf unit, with the excess protruding to the rear, to stabilize the shelves against the back wall of the closet. I added a couple chunks of foam pipe insulation to keep things quiet.

In The Long Run

We’ve used this shelf unit for a couple of years now, for a few month-long road trips, and have found it to be a great addition to our little temporary home on wheels.

The Three Shelf Organizer is a simple, lightweight solution to organizing the Westfalia clothes closet, and opens up a valuable and previously unused storage space.

Hits: easy, lightweight, removable, affordable
Misses: may sag if overloaded, can tip w/o extension

Get the Three Shelf Organizer here

Product Review: Windshield and Dash Car Fan

This Windshield & Dash Car Fan is a compact, portable fan for keeping you or a passenger cool while driving or parked.


4.5” Diameter Model

  • Dimensions: 6.3 x 4.7 x 4.7 inches
  • Weight: 9.1 ounces

6” Diameter Model

  • Dimensions: 6.7 x 6 x 6 inches
  • Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Noise Level: <45db


  • Integrated suction-cup mounting bracket
  • “Stepless” variable-speed switch
  • Powered by standard 12-volt DC cigarette lighter socket
  • High energy-efficient design moves a lot of air
  • Quiet, low-noise
  • Child-safe design

Most Vanagons, especially the older models, do not boast air conditioning, so things can get pretty warm in the cab during summer excursions. There are lots of things you can do to help (see “Staying Cool On Summer Road Trips”), and one of the most effective is a quality fan.

But is such a small fan up to the task?

Get the Dash Car Fan here

First Impressions

The compact Dash Car Fan easily attaches to the windshield or door glass using the integrated suction-cup mounting bracket, and can be angled or adjusted for nearly any installation.

Powered by a standard 12-volt DC cigarette lighter, the fan includes a 90” power cord, so it can circulate air in the cab or rear passenger area of your Vanagon.

I opted to cut the original power cords and connect both our fans directly into the van’s power system behind the dash.

There’s even a free-standing, dual-fan unit available.

On The Road or In Camp

This fan is great for use in the Westfalia camper van. Our current Vanagon has no air conditioning, and the fresh air dash vents rely on speed for maximum flow, so when driving slowly or stopped on hot days, things can get uncomfortable.

Available in two sizes, even the smaller 4.5”-diameter really moves some air. In fact, it works so well even on lower speeds that we rarely use it on high. It’s pretty quiet too, so it’s not annoying to use while driving.

In The Long Run

Though small and affordable, this compact fan does a great job of moving air in the Vanagon cab, whether driving or when parked.

The suction cup attachment system works very well to hold the fan in place on any window, though once or twice in very hot direct sunlight it has come loose, but with no damage.

The direction of the fan is very easily adjustable, using a ball joint on the mounting bracket.

A real life saver in hot weather, we’ve also used this fan when winter camping, to help circulate warm air from our LP heater.

All in all, the Dash Car Fan will do an admirable job of keeping you and your family cool, and the little fan moves a lot of air for its size.

Hits: compact, adaptable, affordable, quiet, adjustable speeds
Misses: occasionally detaches in very hot sunlight

Get the Dash Car Fan here

Product Review: Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 4G LTE Tablet, 12.2-Inch 32GB

A versatile tablet well suited to travel: compact, durable, lightweight, with an elegant flip-hinge design.


  • 12.2-inch 2560×1600 WQXGA Display
  • Android 4.4 Kit Kat OS, 1.9GHz Samsung Exynos 5 Octa processor
  • 32 GB Flash Memory, 3 GB RAM
  • MicroSD slot which allows up to 64GB of additional storage
  • Includes Hancom Office, Multi Window (up to 4), Magazine UX, Remote PC, Sidesync

Get the Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 4G LTE 12.2″ Tablet here

If you need to mix pleasure with work while you travel, this is the tablet for you. The Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2″ is designed with business people in mind, and it comes with a lot of productivity software; Samsung Meeting, Samsung Know, and Samsung E-Meeting software installed. Because this is the Note Pro version of the tablet, it comes with a decent S-Pen stylus and software. That said, it is great for pleasure viewing and gaming during down time.

First Impressions

This a large tablet, eliminating the need for a bulky and heavy laptop while van-camping and travelling. The performance is outstanding with all kinds of use. The 12.2 inch screen is just gorgeous, with a very high 2560 x 1600 resolution, it’s beautiful. Watching streaming video like Netflix, HULU or HBOGO on the Note Pro is a truly pleasurable experience.

The display is easily viewed from almost any angle, so more than one person can watch and still enjoy the view. It has dual stereo speakers, which have good sound quality. It also comes with Android OS Kit Kat 4.4. This is a great tablet, powerful and well-built, with a ton of power, and with the Samsung Touch Wiz, you have a lot of options with this device.

Offering brilliant color on the crystal-clear 12.2″ HD display with over 4 million pixels packed inside, it’s also astonishingly lightweight at just 1.7 pounds, yet delivers an unrivaled reading, editing and viewing experience and incredible responsiveness—all powered by the 1.9 Ghz Samsung Exynos Octa processor. Intuitive S Pen and enhanced multitasking, which allows you to use up to four different applications side-by-side.

On The Road or In Camp

When I purchase any tablet, I want to make sure I can just put my SIM card in it for connectivity. Since this is a GSM LTE tablet, I can easily take my SIM card from my phone and get connected to the web. This is a huge money saver in the long run, as there’s no need to pay for tethering or an extra data plan. Use the one you have.

This is a big tablet, but if you are looking for something as powerful as a PC, that allows for multitasking, video and gaming capability, this is a great option.

The battery life for a tablet this size is excellent, so no need to keep it charging all the time during use. It also comes with a non-removable 9,500mAh battery. I get about 12 hours of steady usage out of it, about 8 hours with video viewing. It can take a long time to charge because of the battery size. I suggest purchasing a matching USB 3.0 car charger, for road trips and charging while driving to new destinations.

You can also use a Bluetooth mouse with the tablet, which is great if you want to get some work done and are not a big fan of touchpads. You can use it pretty much like any mouse on a conventional PC.  I’m using a Bluetooth optical mini wireless mouse for Android tablets.

You can also pair a keyboard with the device. The Logitech Pro protective case with keyboard for Samsung Galaxy Note Pro works well, is very compact and protects the tablet when stored or charging.

In the Long Run

The Samsung Galaxy Note Pro is a fantastic tablet for van travel and camping, and provides me the flexibility to work on the road and to enjoy media in my down time. It can take photos, but is a bit large to use for photos regularly. It allows for multitasking, email and social media.

The large bright colorful crisp screen is great for watching movies, and it has dual speakers for superior sound. I would highly recommend this tablet.

If you’re unsure which device to bring along on your trip, this tablet strikes a good balance between a heavy, bulky laptop and a too-small phone, and does everything you need it to do and then some!

Hits: huge 12.2 screen, Micro SD slot for extra storage, long battery life, front and rear cameras, easy multi-tasking

Misses: charging is fairly slow, a bit pricey

Get the Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 4G LTE 12.2″ Tablet here

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