This is shaping up to be the year of road-tripping and RV’ing. Maybe you’re already prepared for your next driving journey; maybe not. Either way, here are our favorite must-have gadgets, tools, and apps for planning, loving, and surviving your next road trip.
Yeti Loadout GoBox Gear Case
Road trips are a messy business. When several human beings (or even a solo traveler) share a confined space for days or weeks on end, it’s almost impossible to keep things organized. That’s why it’s best to start with the proper storage to keep clothes, snacks, emergency equipment, and outdoor gear wrangled. Yeti’s Loadout Gobox 30 is the ideal solution. This rugged storage case offers 30L of storage, so it’s spacious yet compact enough to secure to a factory roof rack. It’s also dustproof, waterproof, and — perhaps most importantly — bearproof (with Yeti’s Bear Proof Locks), so it doubles as an outdoor food pantry, too.
Camp Chef Sherpa Table and Organizer
More important than organizing your clothing, toiletries, or even emergency gear is knowing where your food is when you need it. As its name implies, Camp Chef’s Sherpa Table & Organizer is an all-in-one solution for storing your eats and cooking them, too. The cooler-sized organizer is soft-sided with a lightweight frame, so it’s portable yet sturdy. Inside are four color-coded, zippered bags for stowing food, dishware, cutlery, and other kitchen essentials however you like. One features a special waterproof liner, so it doubles as a cooler or even a camp sink. The included aluminum tabletop provides a stable, heatproof surface for cooking, then rolls up and stows in a dedicated pocket when it’s time to break camp.
Big Agnes Mica Basin Camp Chair
Just because you might be living out of your car on a hardcore road trip doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice every creature comfort. Thanks to space-age materials and good old-fashioned American ingenuity, it’s possible to pack an entire outdoor furniture set into the back of a Toyota Prius. Big Agnes’ Mica Basin Camp Chair features a backrest and a supportive, rip-stop nylon seat that sits a comfortable 16 inches off the ground. The go-anywhere design weighs just two pounds and packs into an included stuff sack that measures 17.5 inches by 3.5 inches (about the size of two Nalgene bottles stacked).
Filson x Helinox Solid Tactical Hard Top Table
Of course, a comfy chair isn’t of much use in the outdoors without somewhere to put your beer down. For that, you need the Filson x Helinox Solid Tactical Hard Top Table. The compact, two-pound table is ultra-packable but sturdy enough to hold up to 100 pounds. A nearly 24-inch by 16-inch rigid tabletop provides plenty of space for serving dinner or throwing down cards. Pair it with the new, aluminum-topped Outward Side Table from REI, and you’ll have more than enough “counter” space to spread out at the campsite.
Goal Zero Yeti Power Bank
From smartphones and tablets to laptops and digital cameras, most of us don’t go on vacation without an army of electronic gadgets. For a carload of road-trippers, that adds up to a lot of gear that has to plug in somewhere. If you’re keen not to drain your vehicle’s battery while parked or camping, Goal Zero’s Yeti portable power banks are the perfect solution. The compact Yeti 200X is a good backup, while the larger Yeti 500X is even better for a family of travelers on a weekend getaway. The latter is good for around eight recharges of most laptops or 40 recharges of most smartphones.
Garmin Dash Cam 66W
Filming your road trip is mandatory these days. If you don’t Instagram it, did it really happen? The Garmin Dash Cam 66W is an all-in-one solution with plenty of useful features. The camera features an extra-wide, 180-degree lens that captures crisp 1,440p HD video, even in low-light conditions. But, a dashcam is also invaluable in the event of an accident. A slew of clever safety features makes it a must-have to both prevent and document accidents, including GPS-enabled incident detection that can automatically save recent footage. Plus, voice control lets the driver take still pictures and start/stop the video without taking their hands off the wheel.
Copiloting a road trip is hard work. It means long hours spent fiddling with the GPS, poring over paper maps, picking the right playlist, and doling out gas station snacks to fellow passengers. That’s why naps are an important part of a copilot’s duties. The Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow is our go-to for snoozing comfortably on long highway stretches. The pillow foam fill is upcycled from the company’s camping pad manufacturing process to reduce waste. It packs down small but expands when you need it, with the XL size measuring 27 inches by 16.5 inches (almost the size of a standard pillow).
Gerber Center-Drive Plus Multitool
Choosing the right multi-tool can be a challenge. But, if you’re planning an extended road trip, it might be the single most useful thing you pack. Whichever model you choose, it should include essentials like a bottle opener, pliers, and a variety of knives. Gerber’s Center-Drive Plus is an excellent all-around choice. It offers 14 tumble-finished tools to help you thrive and survive any long-distance road trip. The most essential — a full-sized blade, spring-loaded pliers, and a full-sized center axis screwdriver — feature a one-thumb opening design for rapid deployment. Plus, the latest version adds scissors and a handsome leather sheath. It also boasts a limited lifetime warranty, so it’ll probably outlast you. At around $100, it’s practically a steal.
The Dyrt Camping App
If you’re planning a road trip in 2020, it probably doesn’t involve traditional hotel or motel stays. For finding the best camp and RV sites anywhere in the U.S., The Dyrt is our go-to app. The newest version covers more than one million locations around the country, including Hipcamps, primitive tent sites, RV campgrounds, state and national parks, and even free dispersed campsites on BLM land. The search results can be filtered to pinpoint your preferred type of site, and most are bookable directly within the app. Plus, it’s available for both Android and iOS.
Thermacell Radius Zone Mosquito Repellent
Mosquitos can literally suck all the fun out of road-trip camping. Thermacell’s Radius Zone Mosquito Repellent solves the problem with smart technology. The tiny, seven-ounce device uses a built-in rechargeable battery, a heating element, and refill cartridges to create an odor-free, 15-foot “bubble” of protection around your campsite. Each cartridge lasts up to 40 hours — more than enough for a long weekend getaway. If this “magic” anti-mosquito wizardry sounds like infomercial-esque sales speak, consider that it’s the same technology used to protect the U.S. Army from insects abroad. Best of all, it does so without the use of harsh chemicals like DEET.
SlimK LED Road Flares
There are two kinds of road-trippers in this world: Those who’ve broken down and those who will. Shopping for automotive safety gear is hardly fun, but it pays to be prepared. Old-school road flares add a bit of Fourth-of-July-inspired excitement to any roadside breakdown. But, this isn’t 1985, so it’s time to upgrade your emergency kit accordingly. These chemical-free LED “road flares” serve the same function as traditional flares, but without the risk of a 3,000-degree magnesium burn. Each one is about the size of a hockey puck and lasts up to 36 hours on a single charge. Plus, they’re magnetic, so you can affix them directly to your car if you like.
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