Camp Westfalia

Archive for Kitchen – Page 2

10 Great Van Camping Accessories

Any day spent on the road is better than a day spent at work, and a good piece of travel gear can make it even better.


gazetteerDeLorme Atlas & Gazetteers

Vanagon campers tend to take the road less traveled, beyond the borderlands of Wi-Fi, cell service, and flush toilets. The DeLorme Atlas & Gazetteers will help you find your way there and back again.

These large-format topographic atlases offer comprehensive details: back roads, backwater lakes and streams, boat ramps, forests, wetlands, trailheads, campgrounds, public lands, prime hunting and fishing spots, and countless landmarks and points of interest. Available for all 50 U.S. states.

Get the DeLorme Atlas & Gazetteers here.

outdoor-products-mammoth-duffel-bag Outdoor Products Deluxe Duffle, Mammoth Size

This large-capacity duffle bag fits perfectly in the Westfalia’s overhead luggage rack, and carries loads of outdoor camping gear. The round barrel shape (18 x 18 x 41 inches) organizes your camp furniture, tarps or flies for rain or shade, small coolers, and other camp gear, freeing up space inside your Vanagon. The water-resistant oxford nylon fabric will protect your gear, and the 2″ web handles make for easy carrying.bungee-net

Get the Outdoor Products Deluxe Duffle here.

Keep the duffle bag and other gear securely in place with this elastic bungee net.

 

gsi-salt-pepper-shakerGSI Outdoors Salt & Pepper Shaker

This compact, lightweight, dual-compartment shaker holds your salt and pepper, or any other spices you use in your camp kitchen. The waterproof screw caps keep spices dry, and the dispensing screens and caps are easily removed for cleaning and refilling.

This shaker neatly fits in the small Westfalia silverware drawer, so it’s always ready to lend some seasoning to your campsite meals.

Get the GSI Outdoors Salt & Pepper Shaker here.

kampnikKampnik Campground-Finder app

This smartphone app helps you quickly and easily find a great campground while on the road.

Built on the venerable USCAmpgrounds.info database of more than 13,000 campgrounds in the United States and Canada, Kampnik allows you to 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. Find campgrounds by browsing a map, or search by name, park, or forest name.

Kampnik should be in the pocket of every Vanagon traveler!

Get the Kampnik Campground-Finder app here

Stack the interlocking blocks to create a solid 'ramp' on which to park.Tri-Lynx RV Levelers

RV leveling blocks keep your Westy interior more comfortably ‘on the level’, and help prevent permanent damage to your Dometic fridge.  The Tri-Lynx “Lynx Levelers” include ten sturdy interlocking blocks, packed in their own zipper pouch. The whole pack fits nicely under the Vanagon rear bench seat, and are a smart solution to a common problem.

Get the Tri-Lynx RV Levelers here.

GearWrench 12-piece Metric Ratcheting Combination Wrench Set

The wise traveler will always carry at least a few tools when rolling in a vintage van, but storage space is always at a premium. These combination wrenches include standard open-end jaws plus ratcheting box ends, all in one slim tool great for fitting into confined spaces.
Includes 12 metric sizes: 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, and 19 mm.

Get the GearWrench Metric Ratcheting Wrench Set here.

tool-rollTool Roll Pouch

Keep your wrenches, sockets, and other important fix-it stuff organized and ready. This compact tool roll includes a variety of pocket sizes for all kinds of tools. The adjustable quick-release buckle fastens the pouch when not in use, and the carrying handle makes for easy transport.

Get the Tool Roll Pouch here.

jiffy-popJiffy Pop Butter-Flavored Popcorn

Imagine my recent gustatorial elation when I spied a pack of Jiffy-Pop popcorn on a grocer’s shelf while on a road trip far from home. That night back in our campsite, this classic blast from the past tasted every bit as good as my childhood memories …

The Jiffy-Pop self-contained easy-pop foil baskets include all the popcorn and oil you’ll need, so just heat it up on the Westy stovetop or campfire (shake vigorously), and you’ll have a quick and easy snack in just minutes. The magical self-rising foil dome provides a bit of much-needed entertainment value for the bored kiddies, making it almost as much fun to watch as it is to eat!

Available in regular and butter-flavored.

Get Jiffy Pop Butter-Flavored Popcorn here.

gasbuddyGasBuddy Mobile Fuel-Finder app

GasBuddy is the world’s largest community-based fuel app, with over 60 million downloads worldwide. Using information provided by users, you can easily find nearby fuel stops, and save money and time.

Get the GasBuddy Mobile Fuel-Finder app here.

GSI Outdoors Bugaboo folding fry panGSI Outdoors Bugaboo Folding Camp Fry Pan

A lightweight, compact non-stick frying pan with folding handle for van-camping and travel. Featuring quality construction, a durable non-stick coating, easy cleaning, even heating, and compact folding design.

The 10-inch Bugaboo pan fits nicely on the Westfalia stove top without crowding out other pots on the adjacent burners, and easily folds up and is stowed with the other pots and pans in the lower kitchen cabinet.

Read the full review here.
Get the GSI Outdoors Bugaboo Frypan here.


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Product Review: GSI Outdoors Bugaboo Folding Camp Fry Pan

A lightweight, compact non-stick frying pan with folding handle for van-camping and travel

Specifications

  • Durable high quality aluminum
  • Easy-to-clean Teflon® Classic non-stick surface
  • Folding handle makes it easy to pack and easy to store
  • Available in three sizes:
    8 inches (20 cm): 12.8 oz (363 g)
    10 inches (25 cm): 17.7 oz (502 g)
    12 inches (30 cm): 1 lb,. 12 oz (794 g)

The GSI Outdoors Bugaboo Frypan claims to offer all the durability and even heating of a conventional home frying pan, but in a compact and lightweight design suitable for backpacking, kayak-touring, and car- and van-camping. But can any one pan meet all these requirements without sacrificing function and easy cleaning?

Over the years, we’ve tried a variety of frying pans for van-camping and kayak-touring. Typical home-kitchen pans, though offering good non-stick surfaces and even heating, are heavy and bulky, while dinky lightweight backpacking pans are often too small for more than two eggs at a time, and often lack permanent handles, relying instead on separate pot grippers.

Many cheaper versions of dedicated folding camp frypans seem to skimp on wall thickness, resulting in uneven heating and burnt-on food. Even their non-stick coatings seem to be little thicker than spray paint, and soon begin flaking off after a few camping seasons, making both cooking and clean-up more difficult.

The GSI Bugaboo seems to have done the thing so obvious that no one else has thought of it: combine the best of both into one easy-cooking and easy-cleaning, compact folding pan.

Get the GSI Outdoors Bugaboo Frypan here

First Impressions

GSI-Frypan-2On first appearance, the GSI Bugaboo seems little more than a conventional home-kitchen frying pan, but with a simple folding handle. The pan body itself is a fairly thick-walled aluminum with nicely curved sides, nearly two inches deep. The interior is coated with one of the smoothest Teflon® surfaces I’ve seen, certainly more slick (and less stick!) than the previous camping frypans we’ve used.

GSI-Frypan-heat-ridges-bottomNearly the entire outer bottom surface of the pan bears deep grooves, which keep the pan from sliding around on a stovetop and to help evenly disperse heat.

The handle, which folds into the pan interior for storage & transport, easily pivots out and snaps solidly into its hinge/retainer. The heavy-gauge stainless steel wire handle is coated in black vinyl to offer some heat protection for the hands.

On the Road or In Camp

So far so good, but we care less for looks than for function (after all, we drive a Vanagon). So, how does the Bugaboo actually cook? After an initial washing at home, we chucked the GSI into the van and hit the road for our next weekend getaway.

The next morning found me uncharacteristically eager to whip up some breakfast, and I started by gently sauteing a diced onion in the Bugaboo with some butter, followed by a few scrambled eggs. Halfway through, I was surprised by how evenly the eggs cooked without requiring much prodding, and what little stirring I did easily drew errant egg from the sides of the pan with no sticking.

But the real test of any pan is a fried egg, and this Lorie did the next morning, with similar results. When she finally brought the hot pan out to the campsite picnic table and lightly stumbled on a stone, the perfect over-medium eggs nearly slipped right out of the pan and onto our plates.

Of course, the real real test of any pan is cleanup, and today was my turn. Not surprisingly, the Bugaboo needed little more than a quick washing with hot water and CampSuds, requiring no scrubbing or scraping.

GSI-Frypan-Westfalia-stoveThe 10-inch Bugaboo pan fits nicely on the Westfalia stove top without crowding out other pots on the adjacent burner. This size is a bit too large to entirely fit into the Westy kitchen sink, but its excellent non-stick interior is easily washed and rinsed over the sink; the 8-inch Bugaboo should fit inside the sink nicely.

We very seldom cook over an open campfire or coals, and the Bugaboo is not designed for this, as its non-stick coating and rubber-coated handle can be damaged by excessive heat.

Once washed and dried, the Bugaboo easily folds up and is stowed with the other pots and pans in the Westfalia lower kitchen cabinet.

In The Long Run

The GSI Bugaboo’s high walls easily contain plenty of food without spilling over (extra cheese, please), and the gently rounded interior fillet makes for easy sauteing and quick cleaning, with no tight corners for food to become stuck in.

The versatility of the Bugaboo can be further improved with the addition of an aluminum pan cover from a thrift store, but unfortunately is not offered as an accessory by GSI.

While camping, we’ve cooked everything from the typical eggs with bacon or sausage and pancakes, to grilled-cheese sandwiches, burgers, stir fries and skillet pizzas. Since switching to the Bugaboo we’ve found ourselves trying more new and tasty meals than before, mainly due to the ease of cooking and cleaning. The Teflon non-stick interior has held up well through years of camping and cooking.

The GSI Bugaboo allows us to spend less time on the chores of camping, and more time enjoying al fresco dining in camp …

Hits: quality construction, durable non-stick coating, easy cleaning, even heating, compact folding design
Misses: no cover available, not suitable for use over campfire

Get the GSI Outdoors Bugaboo Frypan here

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

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Product Review: Collapsible Gray Water Container

Use a common folding water container to collect used wash water while camping in your Westfalia

reliance-collapsible-gray-water-bag-folded

Reliance Fold-a-Carrier Water Bag

Specifications

  • Durable flexible high-grade polyethylene
  • Integrated on/off spigot design
  • Comfortable handle w/ metal clips
  • 2.5 gallon (9.5 liter) and 5 gallon (20 liter)

Whether camped in an established campground or in the backcountry, it’s important that “gray” water—used dish and hand washing water—not be dumped on the ground. The food particles and detergents, even biodegradable camp soap, can contaminate local water sources and attract wildlife. Instead, such gray water should be disposed of at a sanitary dumping station or in campground toilets.

But how to collect it?

Large RVs often have built-in gray-water storage tanks, and smaller versions are available for Vanagon campers, but a quick and easy DIY solution can be improvised from a common bag intended for carrying drinking water while camping.

First Impressions

vanagon-gray-water-bag-hookupThe Reliance Fold-a-Carrier is a collapsible water container with sturdy fold-down handle and On/Off spigot. Made of durable polyethylene, the bag easily unfolds to its full size for use, then collapses down for storage when empty.

To use it as a gray-water bag, simply slip a snug-fitting length of flexible hose over the end of the outlet of your Westfalia sink drain.

When my outlet broke several years ago, I replaced it with an ABS plumbing flange fitting, a short stub of 3/4″ ABS pipe, and an ABS nipple with “garden hose threads” (3/4″ diameter straight thread, 11.5 TPI pitch). This allows the easy attachment of a short (10″) section of garden hose with a female fitting.

In Camp

Setting up the gray water bag in camp is a simple matter of attaching the short hose and sliding the folding water carrier under the van, tucking the hose into the bag’s neck.

reliance-collapsible-gray-water-bag-with-connectionTo get the most from your collection bag, minimize the amount of gray water you produce; eat all you cook and collect solid leftovers in the trash.

NOTE: If wildlife are about (mice, raccoons, and bears, oh my), bring your gray water bag inside the van at night to avoid attracting unwanted campsite visitors.

The Reliance Fold-a-Carrier is available in both 2.5 and 5-gallon sizes. Depending on the number in your camping party and your cooking & cleaning habits, the 2.5-gallon bag will hold 1-3 day’s worth of waste water before requiring emptying into a campground dump station or toilet.

Once empty, the bag easily collapses to a space-saving size, easily stowed under the Westfalia bench seat.

To keep your gray water bag relatively clean and odor free, rinse after each use, and periodically clean with dishwashing detergent. Allow to thoroughly dry before stowing between camping trips.

In The Long Run

reliance-collapsible-gray-water-bag-under-camperWe’ve been using such folding gray water bags for many years of camping in everything from rough backcountry campsites, conventional state park campgrounds, to hoity-toity RV parks which especially frown on dumping one’s slop water on the manicured lawns. These bags hold up well for several year’s worth of camping, though repeated folding/unfolding may eventually stress the plastic and cause a pinhole leak, usually along the fold lines, requiring periodic replacement.

Overall, it’s an affordable solution to a common need, is easily deployed and stowed. And using this DIY gray water bag will help preserve the great outdoors we all enjoy …

Hits: affordable, compact, lightweight, very easy to deploy and stow
Misses: flexible plastic may eventually leak and require periodic replacement

Get the Reliance Fold-a-Carrier here

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

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The Routine

One of the greatest attributes of the Westfalia Camper is just how quickly and easily it is readied for a camping trip, and how adeptly it makes and breaks camp.

We generally keep our permanent camping equipment (pots & pans, kitchenware, extension cord, water hose, etc.) packed in the Westy, so an impromptu weekend jaunt often requires little more than chucking in our duffel bags of clothes, stowing a bagful of groceries in the kitchenette cabinets, and picking up a couple of cold six-packs on the way out of town.

Here’s a simple routine for hitting the road and getting home.

Vanagon-Westfalia-water-tank-fillerPre-Trip Preparation, often the day prior to departure

  • Ensure that LP (liquid propane) tank is sufficiently full, and that main shutoff valve on tank is closed
  • Fill onboard water supply tank (13.2 US gals)
  • Pre-chill refrigerator overnight on 120V AC shore power; add cold beverages to provide thermal mass
  • Load any unrefrigerated foods, luggage, and other camping equipment

Hitting the Road, the day of departure

  • Load any last-minute items
  • Load any remaining cold food into pre-chilled refrigerator
  • Disconnect refrigerator from 120V AC shore power, switch to 12V DC or LP for driving

Arrive in camp:

  • Park van using parking brake and, if necessary, RV levelers
  • Extend popup roof if desired
  • Open main shutoff valve on LP tank to use refrigerator and/or stove. To use LP to operate refrigerator, switch refrigerator control to LP, and light
  • If 120V AC power is available, you can optionally power the fridge with this; use extension cord to connect campsite shore power station to camper hookup; switch refrigerator to 120V AC; connect any electrical accessories to camper’s internal power outlet
  • To use City water, connect campsite water supply to camper hookup using supply hose; alternatively, use onboard water supply tank
  • Connect a portable gray-water container to external sink drain outlet to collect kitchenette waste water
  • For mealtimes, swivel front seats and deploy dining table
  • Before bedtime, stow dining table and convert upper and/or lower bunks for sleeping

Breaking camp

  • Fold upper and/or lower bunks for driving
  • Empty portable gray-water container into campground gray-water dump station or toilet if allowed
  • Disconnect 120V AC shore power and water hookups
  • Close main shutoff valve on LP tank, switch refrigerator to 12V DC or LP for driving
  • Retract popup roof
  • Remove RV levelers and hit the road

Post-Trip Cleanup

  • Drain onboard water supply tank
  • Turn refrigerator off, remove remaining food and wipe clean; to prevent stale odors during long-term storage, prop door open, or slide door upwards from hinges to remove entirely between trips.
  • Unload any other foods, luggage, and camping equipment
  • Extend popup roof for a day or so to allow canvas and upholstery to thoroughly dry

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