Week 2 on the road and spirits are high. We’ve been van’ing around the border of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. Neither of us has done any exploring here so everything is exciting! Ride down a curvy road long enough and the Blue Ridge mountains fold out in front of you, lined up in color order. The mountains here are far more gentle than in Colorado and seem to invite you in, instead of daring you to cross. And oh the waterfalls! The first week of van life was a crash course in remembering all your gear, slowing down, and finding showers. Week two has found us clean, organized (somewhat), and ready for adventure! Below are just a few pieces of gear that we have been using to keep us moving.
Mountain House (Chili Mac with Beef) – The struggle is real. Van life means we’re always trying to find delicious and affordable meals on the go. Few options are as fast, tasty, and filling as the Chili Mac with Beef from Mountain House. Freeze dried meals have come a long way since their inception. Mountain House has been cooking up and packing yummy goodness for nearly 50 years. The Chili Mac never lasts very long around us, but for those looking to stock up on meals for emergency preparedness, these meals have a taste guarantee for 30 years. Although Mountain House is confident that they will last much longer than that. The instructions are simple. Pour boiling water into the pouch, wait a few minutes, and chow down. The texture is just right and the beef has a spicy kick without setting your mouth on fire. Check out the full line from Mountain House for more delicious options.
Crazy Creek Hex 2.0 – If you’re like us, you spend a good amount of time hiking and backpacking in the rain. On those cold (and sometimes wet) evenings after a long day on the trail, the last thing you want to do is sit your rear end down on the cold, wet ground. Enter the Crazy Creek Hex 2.0. This lightweight backcountry chair has us ditching those bulky foam pads for something a little more sensible. This chair has an outer shell made from bullet proof 210D coated ripstop nylon and will roll up to about the size of a Nalgene water bottle. In fact — we just stick it in the mesh water bottle holders on our packs. For the ultralight backpackers out there, this can double as a lightweight sleeping pad. It can be strange sitting around with a campfire at face level, but to our delight, the smoke went straight over our heads. We use our Hex 2.0 for backpacking, but they’re also a great option for concerts, festivals, or a day at the park.
LifeStraw Steel 2.0 – LifeStraw has been at the forefront of personal water filtration for many years now. The Steel 2.0 is a more durable and robust take on their classic LifeStraw water filter. This two stage water filter is ideal for hiking, backpacking, camping, and travel. When you’re on the road and out in nature as often as we are, it’s always important to have access to fresh drinking water. This straw has become a staple in our hiking packs and in the van. They are a great way to avoid carrying
copious amounts of drinking water when backpacking in the high country. The Steel has a slightly higher price point than the classic LifeStraw filter, but trust us, the extra durability is worth it. We tend to be hard on gear and we’ve put this thing through the ringer. They filter out virtually all bacteria and protozoa. The Steel 2.0 also has a carbon capsule which helps reduce chemicals such as chlorine, organic compounds, odor and bad taste. Perhaps best of all, when you buy a Lifestraw product you’re buying from a company that helps provide clean drinking water to African communities in need.