From camping and river surfing to ski mountaineering and watching the sunrise, here’s the gear that kept our trip safe, comfortable, and super fun.
One of my all-time favorite road trips was a recent linkup of the Pacific Northwest and the Rocky Mountains. In 17 days, my partner and I ventured 3,400 miles from Colorado to Washington for ski mountaineering followed by beach camping and ocean surfing.
Then, we linked up wild and urban river surf spots and hot springs throughout Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, not to mention incredible camping. The route required several big-mileage days and didn’t have much downtime. But, wow, was it chock-full of unforgettable landscapes and adventure!
Here’s the top gear that enabled our recreation and made road-tripping, cooking, and camping in remote places that much more like home. And if you’re planning your own road trip, check out our guide, “How to Pack for Domestic Adventure Travel: Your Checklist,” to help you prep.
Pacific Northwest and Rocky Mountain Road Trip: My Gear
The Hydrus Board Tech Montrose Hyper ($904-948) is a super lightweight, high-performance board that provides solid volume underfoot. The result is a plush ride that’s stable, consistent, and relatively easy to catch even in a pushy wave.
While this design doesn’t provide the super tight, zippy turns of a narrower board, the tapered rails allow smooth edge-to-edge transfer that doesn’t catch and is fun to carve. The unique rocker shape increases float.
The Armalite Composite is pretty durable, but don’t let the marketing mislead: This board will get impaled if it slams into rocks, so be mindful — especially given the high price tag.
- Sizing: I’m 5’5”, 135 pounds and enjoy the 69L Montrose XL 5’7” length
This Stanley Pour-Over Set ($35) introduced a simple daily camp ritual: Wake, boil, pour. The included filter can sit atop other mugs, too, so we’d use the same batch of grounds for multiple fills.
I appreciated that the device is super easy to use, very quick to clean and dry, and doesn’t require disposable filters. The set is durable, too, so I didn’t have to worry about stashing it on the road.
The lightweight, adaptive Taxa Outdoors TigerMoth Overland Camper Trailer ($24,950) is low-maintenance and traverses rugged terrain or cruises on highways, no problem.
In great part, the nimble nature is due to the trailer’s Timbren axle-less suspension with separate units that operate independently, making the ground clearance equal. It also has a steel Lock N’ Roll Hitch with 360-degree rotation plus lateral and up-and-down articulation.
The trailer boasts a pullout kitchen, stowable table, double-size bed, and social lounge. And the side of the trailer features a second door that opens upward like the gullwing doors on the DMC DeLorean in “Back to the Future,” providing shade, a rain canopy, or a spot to dry gear.
If you’re trying to conserve water or already climbed into your sleeping bag, these Clinical Works Collagen Rosehip Wipes ($14) are a great solution.
These face wipes are a refreshing, quick way to clean up before hitting the pillow. Other wipes tend to dry out my face, but not these. I used them to remove dirt and sweat, but they also claim to remove face and eye makeup, a testament to how gentle and hydrating they are on your skin.
Also, the reseal container snaps shut, never leaked, and kept the towelettes moist.
Given that we had an open truck bed and crossed plenty of Pacific Northwest rainstorms, I packed a bunch of my gear in the YETI Panga 75 Dry Duffel ($350). The 75L dry bag is extremely durable, with hardcore waterproof zippers and six lash points.
The two straps for backpack-style carry were convenient for carrying my river surf gear across downtown Missoula to the whitewater park. My only wish is that this duffel had a zippered interior pocket in addition to the mesh pockets, to help keep small items like my wallet and phone in place.
For more waterproof pack ideas, check out GearJunkie’s full gear guide, “The Best Dry Bags of 2020.”
This durable cooler sat in direct sunlight and huge rainstorms in the truck bed, on the trailer deck, and on muddy ground. Despite all types of conditions, the OtterBox Trooper 20 Cooler ($250) looks unscathed and kept our beverages cool — and water never seeped in.
On average, the ice lasted several days even with hot weather. I love that this cooler is easy to lift off a truck bed and transport. The wide opening allows plenty of space to grab items one-handed. And the lid has a solid clasp that’s simple to open and shut.
Light and tenacious, the Black Diamond Neve Strap Crampons ($150) are my go-to for spring mountaineering and stood true on the Mount Adams ascent. I was a bit concerned when crossing lava rock a couple of times, but these aluminum crampons didn’t buckle. The 10-point spikes provide security on steep faces. The strap system didn’t budge, crossing in front of the toe, top of the boot, and around the ankle.
The soft strap materials are compatible with my splitboard boots. And though we haven’t tested it, this design is meant to work with trekking and trail running shoes. Make sure you choose the crampon model that can be paired with your footwear!
As someone with a sharp sense of smell and magnetic attraction for all the mosquitos on planet earth, I loved the Thermacell E55 Rechargeable Mosquito Repeller ($40).
Using a replaceable cartridge, this rechargeable device circulates odor-free mosquito repellent into a 20-foot area. Even in super-buggy camp spots in the woods, it worked! And it’s reassuring that the repellent is void of DEET and citronella.
Warning: The 36-hour refills are $18 each — so, not the cheapest — and wait to remove the packaging until needed, because the container can leak.
For highway and off-road travel, the 2021 Nissan Titan Pro-4X Crew Cab 4X4 (starts at $51,885) is fully capable with a spacious, quiet, super-comfortable cab. The full-size rig has a 5.6L V8 engine with 400 horsepower, 413 lb.-ft. of torque, and a 9-speed automatic transmission.
Thoughtful features helped us enjoy long-mileage days and juggle work like the 110-volt outlet, side-by-side laptop storage in the center console, and dedicated cellphone stand. I appreciated the dozen cup holders, the seat warmer and cooler, and a boatload of safety tech features from rain-sensing wipers to automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control.
Climbing into the truck bed was super easy (and kept my clothes clean), thanks to the assist grip — a hand lever that pops up — and retractable bumper step. I loved the truck bed’s durable spray-on liner, aluminum-alloy cleats for strapping down gear, and six LED lights. You can see all the things!
The downfall was the fuel economy. C’mon! It’s 2021. A truck should do better than 13 mpg even when towing a small camper trailer. But, yeah, this truck was cozy.
We each slept in an 850-fill Mountain Hardwear Phantom GORE-TEX 0-Degree ($760). The sleeping bag kept us totally warm and comfortable through cold high-alpine slumber in the trailer and a tent.
We loved the ergonomic hood and face collar, which provides extra protection. The high-quality, glow-in-the-dark zipper is durable and easy to pull. And it packs down well into its stuff sack, especially for a zero-degree bag.
When we camped in Olympic National Park, six out of seven of our crew wore the Naturehike Warm Goose Down Pants ($56) each night. (I regrettably missed the memo.) That price is a steal: most other down pants cost $175 to $300.
What do you give up? The exterior is water-resistant — not waterproof — and the down isn’t treated to be repellent, either, so be cautious in the rain. You won’t find protective fabric reinforcements around high-use areas, and the ankles could use an elastic hem for warmth.
But the pants are stuffed with 800-fill, are lightweight at 250 g, and have 20-denier face fabric. For lounging post-adventure, they get the job done.
Sliding our feet into the Sierra Designs Down MOC ($70) slip-ons felt a bajillion times better than wearing socks in the trailer.
Not only are the Down MOCs cozy, but they’re also super packable and streamlined, so I easily stashed them in a cargo net against the ceiling. These 800-fill moccasin-inspired slippers feature hydrophobic down that’s treated to repel water, and the exterior is coated with a PFC-free durable water repellent finish (DWR).
The interior polyester liner is buttery smooth, and the foam midsole provides cushion that I appreciated after days outside. Also, I never slipped stepping into the trailer, thanks to the sole’s grippy silicone grid.
We’ve written about the Kelty Bestie Blanket ($25) before, and it’s still a staple in our car camping kit. We reached for this blanket in cool evenings when the trailer doors were open, watching sunsets in camp chairs, and sharing meals outside. At 76 x 42 inches, the blanket wraps around you or can be shared across multiple people.
The soft fabric is cozy yet durable against rocks and grass. Filled with synthetic insulation and only 1.5 pounds, the design is lightweight, warm, and durable to light rain or humidity. Plus, the blanket is super easy to return to its stuff sack, which helped us keep the trailer tidy.