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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My girlfriend and I are starting to plan a trip from Upstate NY to Colorado within the next 2 years or so..... I have a bunch of questions and would love any help and input for this journey. I have a 2010 Rubicon 2 door, stock as of now, I will be taking the back seat out, and may consider a small trailer (similar to the "Pikes Peak Trailer) to haul some crap....We will be camping and staying in a couple hotels, want to do some light wheeling out there, check out some destinations out there, and just have a good time.
Anyway, Im looking for reccomendations on tents, cooking stoves, quality cooler etc.....what items should we be carrying with us, any hints or suggestions would be great. I plan on posting in the Colorado sections on a couple sites, and when the time comes hopefully get some help from guys out there. Just startin the planning process so I know what Im in for you know, so I can start planning and getting ready etc.....thanky you
Craig
 

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Craig:

You might want to check things out over at expeditionportal(dot)com to share your thoughts with people who do this sort of extended-duration travel all the time and have a lot of practical experience with what you're talking about. If you anticipate crossing Canada and Michigan en route to Colorado, take a look at upoverland(dot)org for some good write-ups of the annual U.P. Overland trips (and others) and other bits of the northern Michigan backcountry that would probably be of interest to you guys during your trip.

Stopped for lunch on the beach, eastern shore Keweenaw Peninsula.


My wife and I have done a few week-long trips out of our TJ, and the best thing I can suggest is to be meticulous on organization and to pack light. It makes life easier, keeps things from bouncing about, and sure as heck makes it easier to break camp and to set up in inclement weather. I have it set up so our stuff is friction-fit beneath the storage deck, and the stuff above gets a couple straps across it. It does not bounce or rattle off-road, which makes life much easier and allows you to keep your ears open for "bad noises" that might require attention.

This:


becomes this:


compliments of a storage deck and judicious packing into totes. The only thing I would really like to do is ditch the cooler for a medium-size Engel fridge, second battery, and a power isolation system. Having to re-ice every day or two is annoying, and ice is dead weight.

Our camping setup is a Kelty GrandMesa 2-man tent and Hennessy hammocks, depending on weather and location. 2 tarps (12x16), plenty of cord, a couple folding chairs, and we're good regardless of the weather. We've comfortably camped in pouring rain, in snow/sleet, and in high heat. The picture below is from a Lake Superior beach; a major storm came in during the night, but we stayed dry and happy under our tarp.

Near the mouth of the Huron River, south shore Lake Superior.


In the interest of keeping things light and simple, cooking is performed on a Coleman 533 single burner Dual Fuel stove, a single aluminum no-stick skillet, and some basic cookware; spare fuel goes in an MSR aluminum fuel bottle. We build our recipe choices around this ensemble. Our Kitchen and food supply for a week occupies 2 Rubbermaid ActionPackers, plus the cooler for frozen food and beverages.

The other two action packers that fit beneath the storage deck get camp supplies (tent stakes, TP, flashlights, bug spray, batteries, etc.) and gets spare parts, fluids, and other such goodies. I've also learned what can do double-duty, and have aimed to only carry things that are necessary or really versatile.

A view from our campsite, south shore Lake Superior, mid-August 2010.


We've also done trips with off-road trailers and the consensus is that they are more work and aggravation than they are worth, especially for 2 people who aren't going to be away from civilization for extended periods of time. If I needed to carry an extra 30-40gal of gas, yeah, I'd pull a trailer. But if I can refuel with reasonable frequency, well, an extra Jerry can (WEDCO, NATO or Scepter) should do in reserve. I actually built a super heavy-duty off-road trailer a couple years back in anticipation of a long trip, but ended up selling it off 3/4 complete after a trial run where I realized that I really wouldn't need it if I did my part to keep my cargo under control.

The very northern tip of Keweenaw Peninsula.


You guys should be A-OK with your vehicle in stock form, unless you're seeking out extra-challenging routes; if so, modify as necessary for the terrain, keeping in mind the extra loads you will be carrying. Keep your preventative maintenance up to date, and don't overpack. Have a place for everything, and see that it gets put back there when you're done using it. Do a trial run or two to smooth out your packing-unpacking-repacking routine, and to make sure you like how your vehicle handles loaded (it will be different at >GVWR off-road than when it's empty).

Consider AirLift air bags in the rear coils if you need a bit of additional load capacity - yes, they still allow more than enough flex, and having them REALLY helps keep you off the bumpstops and keeps you from bending your axle from nailing the stops too much with a >GVWR vehicle (ask me how I know this...). I ran them in my TJ until I swapped rear axles, and really (really!) miss having them there when the Jeep is loaded.

Drummond Island, Michigan.


A video from U.P. Overland 2010. UPO2010 Video Note the FJ40 with the kayaks and the gas on the roof (and a week+ of gear inside) at about 4:30, and the FJ ambulance/camper at 7:20. These vehicles would have been stable as can be if unladen...
 

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And to think that I was just going to give a few recommendations on equipment and give links to REI, Cabelas, and Outdoor World. Sheesh! :rofl:

Computeruser you NAILED it! Very well done. Looks like you have it all figured out. Thanks for the info and meticulous space-saving storage ideas.

Bravo :appl::appl::appl:

P.S. op have fun on your trip!
 

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Firemangully, thanks for the kind words. This is something that I really have come to enjoy, and even though I've only been able to manage about 2-3 significant trips per year, I've learned a lot about making the stuff you have work, and how to not become a gadget-a-holic. In the TJ, there just isn't room, and I think it can easily detract from the quality of the experience.




A couple other thoughts:

1. Food. I've found that having a base set of ingredients that keep well semi-refrigerated works well. Source local stuff to keep the base ingredients interesting. We travel in northern Michigan a lot, so smoked fish, blueberries, and pasties get worked into the menu. It is cheaper and more fun than living off MountainHome freeze-dried stuff, though that is surely an option, too.

Sourcing blueberries along the trail. They were mixed in with the JustAddWater pancake mix for breakfast the next morning.


A gallon ziploc bag each of thin sliced onions and green peppers is the basis for many of our Jeep travel meals - fajitas, as filling for an omlet (freeze your EggBeaters, use once thawed), mixed with a simmer sauce packet and eaten in a tortilla, or seasoned up as a topping for blackened salmon, which is a travel favorite for us. Incidentally, if you buy the frozen blackened salmon (or regular salmon) fillets from Sams Club, you can put 2 of the individually sealed portions in a 1 gal ziploc bag of icewater, freeze it into a solid 1 gal block of ice with the fish inside, and it will keep the fish at a safe temperature for 3-4 days at 80+ degrees in a standard cooler.

Veggies being grilled after cooking blackened salmon. The enamel metal dishes clean up easily and nest inside the skillet (wrapped in a towel to prevent damage to the non-stick coating).


It also helps to have no-cook food on hand - cans of Spaghetti-Os, for example - for those times when tiredness or the weather prevent (or discourage) cooking. I recall one night when it was cold and raining sideways, as it had been for three straight days, and dinner was cans of cold Spaghetti-Os, bread sticks, and canned fruit, enjoyed while sitting in the Jeep, which had been parked in a gap in some scrubby trees to soften the wind a bit.


2. Staying clean. When I travel solo, this isn't as big an issue, but when my wife travels with me, this becomes a consideration. Luckily in Michigan water is everywhere, even if it is a bit cold at times. For times when diving into a lake is not in the cards, I've had good luck with those SolarShower bags, filling them up with lake water or at a spigot during the day and setting them on the hot hood of the Jeep when I get to camp. The heat from the engine will warm them to a comfortable (enough) temperature in an hour or so. A pop-up privy or a creative bit of work with a tarp will make for a shower enclosure. I do hope to add a roof rack at some point, because being able to plop a shower bag up there would sure beat standing on the bumper, balancing the solar shower bag on top of a plastic crate balancing on the edge of my soft top while trying not to drop the bag (again) on my wife as she showers and and shaves her legs!

Also consider checking into the location of truck stops with showers, and state/national parks that allow non-campers to use their shower facilities (to the extent that you care whether your use is "allowed" or not).


3. Laundry. The relevance of this depends on personal preference and on the season, as well as how much bug spray you've sprayed on your clothes. It will also depend on weather - try as you may, you will NOT dry jeans by putting a clothes line up between the roll bar while you drive during the day. Tried it, it doesn't work. Having a bucket or tub in which to wash your clothes (I use my ActionPacker containers for this), and some rope to use as a clothes line, works well in warm, dry weather. In rainy weather, hope you own good rain gear (a good investment, IMHO) so you can stay dry.

Faster-drying fabrics rule, but if you aren't getting dew at night, or aren't having 85* with 90% humidity and no wind, then you can probably string a line. The trick of twisting your line repeatedly before setting it out so you can put the clothes between the twisted line to hold them in place w/o clothes pins works well and keeps your clothes on the line in a wind. Also, I've had good luck with glow-in-the-dark clothes line - it actually works and keeps you from walking into your line at night.

Note the clothes line in foreground, shower room/changing room/toilet room in between the H3 and the 80-series LC.



4. #2. Yeah, that. For those who have the space, or can make the space, those PET toilets are the shit. Literally. For everybody else, find a nice horizontal log. Pack more TP than you think you'll need by a factor of 3. It doubles as a good fire starter, too.

More campsite sunset views, south shore of Lake Superior.




 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
LOTS of great tips...thank you !!!! I would like not to haul a trailer if i can get away with it.....does seem like more of a pain
 

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In addition to expeditionportal.com, check out Overland Journal....go to their site and pick up a copy of one of the journals - beware - very addictive. I plan on going cross-country with my girl within two years also (PA-Cali)....good luck! Driving to Alaska after that!!!
 
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