Travels With Vangie: Best Camping Gear Including Resources

It’s been two years now since my husband and I decided to stop dreaming and start doing. We bought a van. We named her Vangie. We hired a van conversion company to transform her from an empty cargo van to a cozy, useful, comfortable, tiny RV. 

Vangie all set up and ready.

While I wrote about the specific van build-out specs previously, in this post, I’m sharing photos of a recent 3-day trip to Poudre Canyon, Roosevelt National Forest, Colo., with resources and more detail on the camping gear that is proving to make our camping experiences absolutely delightful.

Best Camping Gear

GCI Pico Chairs

After much research and paying particular attention to reviews, we opted for these CGO Pico camping chairs. We love them … very study, extra comfortable, and they fold up so compact it’s hard to believe there’s a chair in there!



Propane Stove

Yep, this contraption screwed into a propane canister is a stove. As shown, it has the pot attached. Smaller vessels are available for heating soup, chili, etc.

We’ve tried other methods of boiling water for coffee, but this is without a doubt the fastest and best. And it is considerably cheaper than its competitor, JetBoil. It comes apart, folds up and fits in a small mesh bag, which makes it super mobile.



Blackstone Tabletop Griddle, Stand

We didn’t have our 17-inch, tabletop propane griddle when we started, so we can make reliable comparisons. This little Blackstone can do anything. The camp stove we had prior? Not so much. In fact, it was an unreliable piece of junk.

This tabletop propane griddle cooks, grills, fries like a high-end appliance. And it cleans up like a breeze. Everything—from bacon, to pancakes, steak, fried rice, stir-fry, hot dogs, fish, fried potatoes, and pizza—comes out extraordinary on this Blackstone.

Adding the stand with the side table moved things up a notch. We no longer require a table to set it on. With the adjustable legs, we can ensure it is level in any terrain. We can be off-grid out in the boonies and cook up a storm like a couple of wannabe home chefs.



Berkey Water Filter

We no longer need to carry bottled water, which saves a lot of space in Vangie. This travel-size Berkey Water Filter fits under the sink inside the van. When we get out destination it’s easy to carry out, fill up with whatever water is available (we have a 24 gallon water tank onboard we fill with city water, so that is often the source). Even if all we could find is pond water, this Berkey will filter produces amazing purity. While all Berkey products can appear at first to be pricey, once you do a thorough cost analysis, it becomes affordable. Knowing we have safe, pure, clean, tasty water available at all times is an excellent comfort!

 Berkey Water Filters


 Portable Campfire

There are portable fire pits, but then there is Lava Box. It is better than anything we considered or tested. It’s built from an ammo box and comes with lava rocks. The flame it creates is more robust and higher than all the competition. Made right here in Colorado, we are so happy with this purchase. Check it out.

Lava Box Portable Campfire

LAVABOX $245.00



Portable Propane Tank with Carry Case




Big Rug

When we saw how big this rug is, (6′ x 15′) we assumed we’d made a big mistake! But after the first use, we felt pretty smart. It is huge, but packs up easily and folds down quite small. Whatever it is made of does not hold dirt. We shake it out and it’s like new. I would highly recommend this for camping or patio.


No service? Oh-oh!


I love to knit but it’s been years since I’ve had the time to pursue this fun hobby. No service gives me guilt-free permission for the fun stuff.


Moonshade Portable Awning

MoonShade is a portable vehicle awning that offers reliable coverage, day or night, to our outdoor sites. With a variety of anchoring systems—magnets, suction cups, etc., it sets up easily and attaches to almost any sturdy structure. MoonShade provides 9ft by 7ft coverage but packs down tight and weighs only 8 lbs, making breakdown and storage a breeze.


Vivaant Burr Grinder

Coffee snobs that we are, having fresh, properly ground coffee is a must have. We just added this hand burr grinder to our gear. It is sweet—once we figured out that unlike other grinders where 6 or 7 is the finest grind, on this Vivaant the 6 or 7 is coarse! Nearly sent it back, but then woke up. Now that we have that straight, I don’t think we could find a better option. It comes apart to make it another compact piece of equipment.


Kalita Coffee Dripper


This Kalita Wave coffee dripper is something fantastic, and I can’t figure out what makes it so different. Normally pour-over method of coffee brewing is so slow! But something about the design of Kalita makes it so fast—maybe as fast as my Bunn coffee maker at home! And since it sits right on top of our coffee mugs, no pot needed. Just add the grinds to the Kalita with filter, pour in the boiling water from Stryker, and seconds later fresh hot amazing coffee … anywhere we find ourselves.



Time to hit the road …

Just one last thing to pack up—the big rug! It is amazing how everything fits inside Vangie, with a good amount of space to spare.


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