How To Put On Foul Weather Gear

People sometimes think that sailing is a sport centered upon warm sunny days and graceful lines across open water. Competitive sailing is a bit different. If it rains, you sail through the storm. If you need to tack in the middle of the night, you get up, grab a handle and start grinding. And if the salt water is 34 degrees and the swells are higher than your boat – well, you deal with it.

Foul weather gear is what sailors use to stay (mostly) dry during harsh conditions on the water. At the Volvo Ocean Race’s stopover in Miami this spring, our friends at Camper gave us a chance to try on some of the team’s gear. As usual, it didn’t go as planned.

Kelty Gunnison 2.1 tent

Finding a tent versatile enough to bridge the gap between all your outdoor pursuits is a daunting task. Those of us who use our tent for car camping, as well as for more rugged expeditions, don’t want to invest in two shelters. The Kelty Gunnison 2.1 has the roominess of a campground tent, yet is lightweight enough for a weekend backpacking trip.

Nobody wants to spend ten minutes trying to figure out which pole goes where, or untangle a web of cords, just to find out they have the tent set up backwards. For the tent-pole-challenged among us, Kelty utilizes a pole system that has two permanently connected poles that are the same length. This means that the tent will go up no matter which direction you install the poles. In addition to the simple design of the poles, color-coordinated tabs allow the rain fly to be snapped on quickly, even on the first try. In our testing, the Gunnison 2.1 was up in two minutes. Adding the rain fly took an additional three minutes, for a total set-up time of five minutes.Dryness factor
We put the Gunnison up in dry conditions, but the weather soon went south. A thunderstorm rolled in and produced heavy rains and lightning, the perfect testing environment. Everything stayed dry inside the tent during the storm, including items we stored outside under the fly (in the vestibule areas). This was mostly due to the rain fly’s seams, which are taped, creating impenetrable corners and edges on the fabric. In serious wind and rain it’s best to use the guy lines provided to stake out any loose sections of the rain fly.

DAC featherlite poles are some of the lightest and easiest to install in the tent universe. The weight of these poles, along with the polyester walls, make for a tent light enough to carry on a backpacking excursion, where ounces count. The Gunnison weighs just under six pounds when packed, and can easily be split up among two trekkers, dividing the load.

The two vestibules are not particularly large, but sizable enough to accommodate a backpack and boots on each side. The interior of the tent will sleep two six-footers snugly, but doesn’t leave much room for storing gear inside. This is where the gear hammock (seen at right) comes in handy. Headlamps, eyeglasses, and maps can be safely tucked away by hanging them in this lightweight attic.

Price point
The Kelty Gunnison 2.1 comes in at $190 and can be found at Kelty, REI, Altrec, and most major outdoor retailers. The main competition for the Gunnison is the REI Half Dome 2. The Half Dome 2 has a similar features listing, but at $199, costs slightly more.

The Gunnison makes for a great go-to tent for multi-sport outdoor enthusiasts. Performing equally well in the campground as it does in the back country, this tent can easily make the gear list of virtually any adventure trip.

For the true tent geek, we’ve listed the specs below.

Seasons: 3
Number of doors: 2
Number of vestibules: 2
Capacity: 2
Minimum weight: 4 lb. 14 oz. / 2.21 kg
Packaged weight: 5 lb. 9 oz. / 2.52 kg
Floor area: 37 ft2 / 3 m2
Vestibule area: 10.2 ft2 + 10.2 ft2 / 0.9 m2 + 0.9 m2
Length: 92″ / 234 cm
Width: 58″ / 147 cm
Height: 40″ / 102 cm
Packed diameter: 7″ / 18 cm
Packed Length: 25″ / 64 cm

Belgian family recreates “Home Alone” – son left behind on rest stop bench

Next time you run through your checklist of things you don’t want to forget when you go on vacation, be sure to include your kid(s) on the list.

That is where a Belgian family went wrong last week, when they left their son on a bench next to their caravan.

The family had stopped at a French highway rest stop and set up their caravan for the night. When the young boy got too hot indoors, he decided to sleep outside on a bench.

When he woke the next morning, his family was gone, and he was on his own without any money or a phone. His family made the mistake of leaving the rest stop, without making sure their son was still with them.

The boy eventually made his way to a gas station where the police were contacted. His family was stopped about 200 miles away and immediately returned to the gas station to pick up their child.


Weird Campers, Unusual RVs, and Other Bizarre Rolling Rooms

Hotels are nice. Motels are cheap. Earth ships are, well, you know earthy. But for real travelers — the wanderers with a lust for wheels — there’s nothing more intoxicating than traveling the countryside in a camper.

Watching the scenery glide past; getting a sunburn on the arm hanging out the window; reveling in the freedom to stop anydamnwhere you please…ahhh, this is when traveling becomes adventure.

There are many different kinds of mobile living quarters: campers, RVs, and mobile homes are for the common person. For the true wandering spirit, only a unique rolling room will do. What qualifies as a “unique rolling room”? From the Train RV, to the Little Bugger Mini Home, to the ass-kickin’est overlander imaginable, here are 10 of the most unusual rolling rooms on the planet.

Road tripping is nothing new, of course. If you think about it, the exploration of the Old West was just one long, nation-wide road trip. Covered wagons, though, were not the ideal medium for cross country caravanning. Therefore, since the earliest days of travel, clever wanderers have longed for their own portable space on the open road.

For example, one of the oldest known campers is this converted Model T from 1920. Part house and part car, this novel cottage on wheels — complete with its own sunroom and back porch — gives a new spin to the term “life on the road.”

The guy who converted the Model T didn’t corner the market on wooden campers, though. Check out this truck-slash-log cabin. It doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere soon, but it’s nice to know that whereever you’re parked, you’ve got a window to throw trash out of and a tiny stove for cookin’ up some grits.

In stark contrast to that wobbly-looking log cabin camper, this mighty behemoth oozes testosterone and sweat. Fit to tackle all manner of terrain, but homey enough to receive all your favorite episodes from the Travel Channel, this camper — dubbed the Train RV — is the little camper that could.

Okay, so maybe the Train RV is a little big. Fair enough. Maybe you’re more into this completely stylized, totally tricked-out, all-season Vanagon. This particular Vanagon features:

  • a Thermal Systems 6000 BTU Platinum Cat power vented catalytic heater
  • Warm Window insulated curtains and a uniquely designed self-supporting awning
  • a Sony SAT-B3 DSS receiver; a portable, collapsible Winegard satellite dish; a Sony Trinitron AC/DC color TV; front & rear Boston Acoustics Pro Series speakers; an Alpine AM/FM cassette receiver with wireless remote control; and a compact disc changer
  • a 90-watt roof mounted BP solar panel; a Morningstar Sunsaver photovoltaic controller; an Exeltech XP125 true sine wave inverter; and a power distribution panel with the meters and switches to monitor and control it all.

Yes, this Vanagon is THE camper for the wandering geek.

Vanagon isn’t the only cool VW camper. Haven’t you ever heard about the Little Bugger Mini Home? This 1967 Little Bugger Volkswagen Conversion Camper is one of only 200 made by a shop in Irvine, California — and it can be yours, if you win the eBay auction.

Volkswagon clearly manufactured the most hackable vehicles of the 1970s and 1980s. Disagree? Check out this Hybrid RV, featuring a bus with a pop-out and a Vanagon with a pop-up:

Switching gears slightly, designer Kevin van Braak has figured out a way to bring a little countryside into the city. Essentially a trailer that unpacks into a thriving green space, the crafty trailer easily unfolds, allowing you to camp in a camper, on some grass, in the city. For more images — or to see how van Braak built this concept car — check his website.

Urban camping takes on a new meaning with Michael Rakowitz’ P(Lot) project, which we mentioned recently. Grab a sleeping bag; find a parking space; and you’re good to go.

Hit the brakes! Before we spend too much time getting INTO the city, let’s remember what campers and RVs are for: getting the heck outta dodge! Were I to get the chance to travel the world, this may be the overlander I’d choose to do it in. Sturdy, compact, and complete with a map in case I forget where I’ve been, this rugged little piece of machinery can take you almost anywhere you want to go.

And for the places that this overlander CAN’T take you — you can always rev up this bad boy. Owned by Zulu Overland, this overlander is typical of the vehicles I saw zooming through Zambia. With space below for food and gear, and plenty of seats above for convenient game-viewing, these monsters were notorious for screaming over potholes as though they were pinholes.

UPDATE: Our good buddies at Autoblog recently pointed out some other cool campers, including:

The one-of-a-kind, Wothahellizat (say it out loud…):

The sleek, Euro RV, the Knauss V-Liner:

The Terra Wind, a floating motor home:

And a custom-built 1958 Edsel Ranger Motor Home:

Can’t afford one of these campers? No worries. Just take a road trip and see some countryside for yourself.