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There is perhaps nothing more essential to a successful backpacking trip than a good backpack, it seems obvious right? Well, I had to learn this the hard way when I first began backpacking a few years ago. The idea to spend days out in the woods, escaping into nature, sounded like a grand adventure to me. As a teenager though, the idea of buying all the seemingly expensive equipment I needed was a daunting prospect and a major obstacle to getting out there. No sixteen year old has a hundred dollars to drop on hiking shoes. I had to find another way to get everything I needed.

Luckily my mother instilled in me a love for second-hand stores from an early age. I began buying everything I needed pre-owned. Everything I bought would have to be ten dollars or less to meet my discerning standards. These were very fine products as well, like hiking shoes that left strange brown marks on my socks after I took them off, athletic shirts with sweat stains all over them, and a bright red plaid jacket that you could see from space. Needless to say I was the fashionista on the trail, easily the most prepared guy in the woods.

My backpack, however, was easily the best and worst thing I bought for my adventures. I always heard that it was essential that your pack was of high quality. Sparing no expense and spent a whopping seven dollars on mine. I was so happy when I found it, my new traveling companion, the one that I will have forever. It was a beauty, a forty-year-old Sears catalog giant yellow rectangle bag with two metal bars protruding from the back. No cushions or comfort to be seen just two straps and a thin styrofoam back piece clipped on to the bars.

I was enamored with it, the bag seemed to represent everything I romanticized about outdoor adventure. It looked to me like something 1800s explorers would wear, charting the arctic or diving into deep jungle. I pictured all the fine trips I would take with it into uncharted territory.

Of course, I did all this fantasizing before I actually ever used the bag. When the day came to put it through its paces, all my respect for it started to fall apart. I was incredibly excited to start my first backpacking trip. It was a modest distance of eight miles to my destination. I was confident in my ability to make it there without a sweat, wasn’t worried in the slightest about our trip. Filling my new pack with probably about thirty pounds of various stuff. I didn’t really need all of it but I wanted to test my ability and impress my girlfriend who was coming with her own pack.

This was my first mistake, I’m not a big guy and frankly, thirty pounds is probably a lot for me even with a great backpack. So after stuffing my neon yellow knapsack to the brim with useless crap, I proceed to carry it to the car over my shoulder. All this time, by the way, I never actually tried to wear the backpack with the weight. I wouldn’t try until we drove all the way to the park.

This was my second mistake. I opened the trunk when we got there and tried the bag on. I knew from the minute I put the bag on that the next eight miles were going to be painful ones. The bag was horrible for comfort. The metal bars pushed into my back and the straps dug into my shoulders dragging me down to earth. It was not the wondrous experience I was expecting. I let my girlfriend know of my situation and she began laughing hysterically as she had told me the whole time there that the backpack would kill me. However, I wasn’t gonna give up on my seven dollar pack just yet. I figured maybe if I broke into it and walked a while, the relief would come. So we started out on the trail.

My shoulders started feeling intense pain about two miles in. The love that I had for this bag was slipping away and frustration was filling in. I adjusted the straps tightening them and loosening them a million times in a vain attempt to make the bag work. I was convinced that there was a secret combination of strap pressure and shoulder placement that would make this bag work. But my efforts never saw fruition, the bag was easily the most uncomfortable thing that I have ever worn.

There was still a few miles to go and my backpack was trying to kill me. I wasn’t sure what I was gonna do. So I did what any self-respecting tough guy would do and gave half of everything in my bag to my girlfriend. All the weight went to her new and nice bag. She was reveling in my discomfort the whole time and found my attempts to fix it hilarious. I really should have listened to her in the first place when she told me that my precious bag was not gonna work for a real hike. We eventually made it to our campsite much to my delight. I proceeded to lay in our hammock recovering from my battle scars for the rest of that day.  

I regret to say that I ended up putting my precious 70s hiking backpack into the closet, never to be seen again. Although I will always appreciate it for its aesthetic. After that trip I started to use a new bag for every hike I went on. My experience ended up being much better. If I can give you any lesson from this article it’s this – don’t ever cheap out on a hiking backpack. You will not regret spending some coin on a backpack that fits you well and is comfortable ten miles in.

The post Lessons from a horrible 70’s hiking backpack appeared first on Rockchuck Summit.

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Start your hiking aspirations on the right foot. Hiking 101 will run you through all the gear, knowledge, tips and tricks you need to enjoy yourself and achieve your goals on the trails. Be forewarned. This is a hyper-condensed list – A lot of what is mentioned here is spelled out in books that are hundreds of pages long. We tried to cut out much of the fluff and focus on bite-sized topics.

Bookmark this page, save it for later and use it as a reference to expanding your hiking knowledge where needed. We’ll keep it updated and tweaked as we continue to grow from our experience and share reader feedback.

Hiking 101

Welcome to the amazing sport of hiking – where you can do something as simple as hike your local neighborhood trail or you can go on a year-long journey completing the Pacific Crest Trail or section hiking across the Appalachian Trail.

It doesn’t matter if you’re new or just getting back into the sport this guide is here to provide you the essentials you should know before you start off on a day hike or a beginner multi-day hike.

Before we start off on some fancy gear list or checklists, let’s start off with the hiker philosophy.

Hiker Philosophy

First and foremost, be safe. Safety is your number one concern for yourself, your friends and your family. Know the weather. Know your gear. Be prepared. If you see someone who needs help, please stop and provide assistance!

Second, Leave no trace behind. We’re here to enjoy and experience the world on foot and it’s absolutely imperative we protect our sport by cleaning up after ourselves and leaving no trace behind.  Pack out what you pack in is essential to backpacking whether its a short day hike or a long trip.

Third, don’t trail blaze. Don’t leave the trail or blaze new trails. We’re able to preserve, protect and provide trails for ourselves and future generations following these simple rules.  Trailblazing can cause erosion, environmental damage, impact to wildlife (many trails are wildlife trails) and can distract from the efforts of maintainers and mappers who help keep everything safe and managed.

Hiking 101 is learning about yourself, your gear, your capability and how we can be great stewards of the sport.

Absolute essentials – hiking 101 gear

Whether your out on a short or long hike its important to always know where you are, be able to communicate and if an emergency happens to take care of yourself.  A map, compass, whistle and first aid kit should be in every backpacker’s kit regardless of day or multi-day trips.

  • Map & Compass
  • Whistle
  • First-Aid Kit

Your map and compass is a must for any trail. You want to make sure that you know where you are, you remain on marked trails and you can plan to be safely home or back at your campsite.

If you get lost or need assistance, a whistle is used to signal for help. There are super high DB whistles available at every outdoors shop and even a few available online you can print with a 3d printer.

Beginner Day Hiking

The goal of gearing up for a day hike should be to have the best hike you can have with the least amount of hassle. Your gear should be light, it should be reliable and it should include everything you may need to be safe, hydrated and on-course while on the trail.

Everyone started out as a beginner at one point. We’ve all had good hikes, bad hikes, scary hikes, and thrilling hikes. As with any sport, the premise may seem simple but to progress in the sport, you will need to gear up, train and condition yourself.

There is nothing worse than being unprepared, lost, cold or hot so gearing up and planning well is critical to your success. It’s where we’ll spend a lot of our time and energy in this hiking guide.

Hiking Gear for Day Hikes

Day hikes are generally short hikes you do – often called “there and back” or “loop hikes”. The idea is you start from your camp/house and return to your camp house. You only need to carry on yourself what you need for the hike and nothing more.

Beginner hiking equipment
  • Lightweight backpack
  • Water
  • Snacks

When day hiking, I use a combination hydro pack/backpack for my trips. The hydro pack carries all of my food, water, and emergency supplies and leaves plenty of room for my camera, phone, and battery charger as well.

For snacks, I keep snack bars, dehydrated fruits, and lightly salted mixed nuts. I avoid anything that can melt, spoil or needs to be kept cold. Dehydrated snacks, dried fruits, veggies, and granola bars are hard to beat.

Personal Recommendation: CamelBak 100oz day pack – I’ve used this pack for two years and many trips now and it still works great and looks and performs as if it were brand new.

Day hike Emergency Supplies

Emergency Checklist:

  • first aid kit
  • Whistle
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray

All in one portable first aid kits are great for short day hikes. They usually include bandages, gauze, aspirin/ibuprofen, and insect bite and wound care supplies. Be sure to replace used gear and to refresh your first aid kits annually. Lots of first aid items do have a shelf life and if you keep these items in your garage/shed or non-airconditioned space they may wear prematurely.

Clothing

The secret to success is comfort. This means fast-drying clothing, comfortable shoes, SPF protecting materials and a Hat & Sunglasses. Match all of your clothing to the season and environment.

If you plan on hiking in altitude remember that temperatures can swing wildly in a single day and while it may be warm or downright hot during the day nighttime temperatures can drop below freezing in the middle of summer.

Clothing Checklist:

  • Socks
  • shorts/pants
  • shirts
  • pullovers
  • Rain gear
  • hat

Hiking Socks – Should be wool socks that wick away moisture and keep your feet comfortable and dry.

Shorts / Pants – Materials that offer SPF protection and dry quickly.

Shirts – Sports shirts that wick moisture away and keep you cool or warm depending on environment and season

Pullovers – sweater/sweatshirt as needed.

Rain gear – Always plan for rain regardless. A lightweight rain jacket will keep you happy and dry.

Equipment

I really enjoy using trekking poles even on short hikes. It keeps my pace up and provides additional strength training. Other equipment you may want to have is a GPS route planner, camera, cell phone, and a portable battery charger to keep all of these devices charged.

Fitness level

Beginner day hike trips are the best options for anyone of any fitness level.  Doing multiple day hikes to prepare for longer duration hikes is the single best way to train. The most important thing for day hikes is to stay hydrated and use sunscreen. Being dehydrated and sunburnt is one of the top reasons people give up on their hike and the sport early. Headaches, soreness, aches, pains can all stem from lack of hydration or sunburns.

To train up for day-hikes you can walk around your neighborhood, use the stairs at work & school, park in the back of shopping parking lots and just take advantage of using your feet whenever possible over a car.

Beginner Multi-Day Hikes

Multi-day hikes just build upon what you have learned for day hikes and much of what you have already purchased for day hikes. The only major component I switch out is that my multi-day pack is a much larger pack.

Hiking Gear for Multi-day Hikes

Planning for a longer multi-day trip means a lot more gear. Not only everything you need to sleep safely and comfortably but all of your food, nutrition, and supplies you may need.

Overnight Backpack Checklist:

  • Frame Supported Backpack
  • Tent with rainfly
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping Pad

In addition to day hike supplies, you should carry the following items on you with your long hike.

Emergency Supplies:

  • Flashlight
  • Batteries
  • Multi-Day First-Aid Kit
  • Pocket Knife
  • Nylon/Survival Cord

Long distance backpacks are usually built with an internal or external supporting frame. Its the internal frame and size that sets them apart from normal backpacks that help keep the bag supported while you can load it up with your gear.

Plan your tent for the season and the size of your group.  Tents are often sold as 1,2,3 or 4 season tents and by the number of people they sleep.  It’s coming for two people to share a two-person tent and split the load between them to share the burden of the tent. Please keep in mind that backpacking tents are usually very cozy sleeping arrangements. In the cool of the night, a two-person tent with two people in it will keep you warmer than sleeping in individual one person tents.

Sleeping bags should be as light as they can be for the season. You don’t need a 20 degree rated sleeping bag if you’re camping in the southwest during summer but you may need that up in the mountains year round.

Sleeping pads will be one of the best investments you can make. I use an inflatable pad that only takes about 8-12 breaths to fill up and provides a little bit of insulation above a cold or warm ground to increase my comfort.

Your emergency supplies should be everything you need to work for the duration of your trip. Your pocket knife can serve as utensils, tools, openers and self-defense.  A paracord/survival cord bracelet or necklace is great for attaching gear or items while you hike but if you need any cord to tie down, fix or fasten anything.

Clothing

The clothing for a long hike is the same as a day hike. Many people will try and focus on purchasing ultra-lightweight materials in lieu of everyday clothes when shopping for gear for longer hikes.

The less weight you carry, the better your endurance will be and the more you will enjoy your hike. There is an entire cottage industry thriving around Ultralight backpacking and it’s thriving for a great reason, no one wants to kill themselves hiking around many lbs of gear and accessories they may not need or could have used something lighter.

If its warm in the middle of summer a lot of people are switching from hiking boots and cargo shorts to trail running shoes and running shorts. Running shorts are vastly lighter than cargo style shorts and offer great moisture control and smell control (antimicrobial materials are often used in running shorts) and trail running shoes provide a lot of support as a massive weight reduction over hiking boots.

Clothing is about Layering

The secret to planning your clothes for your long trips is to think in layers.  In the cool mornings, you may want to layer on to stay warm but as the day progresses you want to easily remove layers to stay cool.

On a cold night, you can layer on your pants, short and pullover as well as a hat or hoodie to help stay warm.  On a hot night, you can remove all these layers and be comfy and protected as needed.

Hiking Food

The general principle for food planning is to bring about 2-2.5 lbs of food per day per person. This would ensure that you get ~4000+ calories per day. Your food selection will impact your equipment selection so plan accordingly.

Many ultra lightweight hikers will only bring dried foods and avoid needing a cooking stove, cooking gas, and cookware. Instead, lightweight backpackers opt for fruits, dried fruits/nuts, peanut butter, flatbreads and other foods that are high in calories and easily portable.

Your calorie and food intake will depend entirely on your body mass, distance covered and length of your hike.  Starting small and working yourself up to larger hikes will let you over plan when the weight won’t hurt you much and learn from your habits and preferences as you gain experience.  To this day, I still over pack on food and I accept the additional weight. With experience, you will find a better balance.

Experiment around. I really enjoy a warm breakfast and a hot cup of coffee to start my day. One trick I was told to save some room and simplify my food options is to use the same boiled water to make hot oatmeal with dried fruit to make instant coffee. I don’t miss a pancake breakfast with fresh eggs as much with a little warm breakfast to get me going and I don’t need to carry a coffee press or grinds to get my caffeine fix.

Personal Recommendation:  Starbucks Instant Coffee – No fuss no muss. Just instant Coffee.

Equipment

Your equipment list for long hikes is usually based around cooking and cleaning. If you like to enjoy warm foods then you will need a stove, fuel, and utensils to cook and eat your food and you will also need soap and a container as well as water to clean up after cooking.

  • Stove
  • Fuel
  • Utensils
  • all-purpose Soap
  • water treatment (mechanical or iodine)
  • Toilet Paper/ Personal Wipes
  • Toothbrush

All purpose soap is available that can be used for doing dishes and washing hands as well as washing your body and hair. This kind of soap is usually environmentally friendly and the best option so you don’t need to carry around multiple body washes, detergents, and shampoos.  The lighter you can make your kit, the better off you will be.

Accessories
  • Headlamp & Batteries
  • Shovel / Scoop
  • Stuff Bags
  • Sunglasses

Headlamps are the way to go. Having your hands free and being able to see at dark is a hikers best option.

“Stuff bags” are great to keep your clean and dirty clothes separate and store items and layers as needed.

Fitness level for long hikes

It’s always better to start small and work your way up to longer distances. Runners do this with a program called “couch to 5k” – where you work your way up to a 5k to reduce injury and increase strength and endurance.  In fact, you can use the couch to 5k programs to train for hiking. Running is a great sport to build up your fitness level for hiking.

In my personal experience, beyond the essentials of starting small and working up to long hikes the biggest aspect of long-distance hiking is the mental fitness and mental conditioning. Hiking will try your body, your soul and your mind. You will get tired no matter how much you train. You will get soaked, cold, miserable and sleepy. You will run into dead ends, broken gear, outdated maps and an endless supply of trials and tribulations await you. It’s knowing this that brings mental fitness to be an extremely important trait of hikers.

Mental Conditioning for long hikes

Mental fitness is your ability to know yourself. To remain safe at all times and to listen to what you need and make adjustments. The ability to know when to rest, read your body and know when it’s safe to stop and set up camp will come with experience and most importantly patience.  Don’t rush yourself, don’t push deadlines, don’t take unnecessary risks.

When Nature Calls

We all have to use the bathroom and when you’re out in the wilderness, you’re just part of the ecosystem of the wilderness itself. If you’re not at a campsite with facilities you will have to do your part to preserve the natural habitat and keep things sanitary.

Burry solid materials 5-6 inches deep and at least 200 feet away from camp and sources of water.

Carry out & Dispose of wipes in Ziploc bag.  Animals like to dig up tissue paper and it doesn’t decompose as quick. Our goal is to leave no trace behind.

Do not burn your waste or tissues. Tissue paper is extremely flammable and can cause forest fires. It’s best to dispose of waste materials properly.

Volunteer

Many trails are only open to the public because of the hard work of volunteers who help maintain and protect them. Look for volunteer groups in your area and offer to help join them to clean up, maintain and protect our trails. Some of the best trails in North America are maintained by volunteer groups and wouldn’t exist without their hard work and dedication.

Summary

Hiking is a zen sport for me. When I’m out with nature I am one with nature. I’m at peace and just humbled by the experience and soaking it all in. It’s this zen that keeps me sane when things go south and its that zen that keeps me modest when I feel I could do something I shouldn’t.

Having the right gear, the right knowledge and right tools to be safe, have fun and enjoy the experience is essential to experiencing the zen of hiking. You don’t need the best gear. You don’t need the lightest gear. You just need the essentials and desire.

Sometimes you will step out of your comfort zone – when nature calls and your out in the wilderness it can be funny to have to bury your own nature call but that is part of the experience and every hiker does this.

Hiking 101 is about learning the essentials and increasing your confidence and hiking skills  – We hope we helped you a little bit and gave you some direction to start from.

Have fun and safe trails!

PS, we love community feedback. Leave a comment below with your beginner hiking tips and we’ll keep this post updated!

The post Hiking 101 – Complete beginners hiking guide appeared first on Rockchuck Summit.

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We were all a brand new starry-eyed Jeep Owners at one point, and we all had dreams of what we wanted to upgrade at first chance.

I’ve curated this list of the Best Jeep Upgrades for a new Jeep owner on two concepts. First, these upgrades need to be affordable, readily available and worth there price. Second, they have to be easily installed and not require any shop or professional service.

Your first upgrades should give you something to address any issues from the factory, increase your capability and protect your vehicle.

What are the best jeep upgrades? What Jeep mods should you do first?  Read on for our Best Jeep Mods and aftermarket upgrades.

Headlights

Our first upgrade is the most important. If you own a Jeep JK, chances are you have awful halogen lights as your headlights. I was blown away by how much better I could see at night and how much safer I felt when I upgraded to LED lights. If you don’t have nice LED lights already, this should be on the very top of your list of first upgrades.

Personal Recommendation: Raxiom LED Headlights.  Love these lights!

I know lots of people think upgrading headlights is boring when they’re dreaming of big tires and lift kits. Don’t be fooled; I drive in the dark now with a giant grin on my face rather than a concerned squint.  New headlights with LED technology improve not only your ability to see at night but increase your overall safety. That is why it’s on the top of our must do Jeep upgrades.

Oh s**t Handles

A set of quality handles for getting in and out of your vehicle and having something to grab while bouncing around on the trails is probably the most affordable first have for new Jeep owners.  Some Jeeps will come with these; it depends on your dealer. Grab Handles can be purchased online for 15-50 dollars.

Little things like grab handles pay off in dividends.  As you upgrade your Jeep, lift it, get larger tires they will be even more practical than ever before.

All-Weather Floor Mats

Factory floor mats are just a disgrace to Jeep owners the world over. They’re terrible and just not worthy of such an excellent vehicle. Upgrade your floor mats to all-weather floor mats to better protect your Jeep and provide an easier to clean surface.

Upgrading your floor mats can run anywhere from 100-300 dollars. Easy upgrade to do – yank out those nasty carpet mats and insert your choice of all-weather mats.

Personal Recommendation: I use the MaxLiner Smartliner floor mats for Jeep Wrangler, and they have held up well, fit great and look fantastic.

Cleaning up your Jeep is a lot easier with these mats. They hold the dirt, mud, water in and keep your vehicle protected from the elements. They also provide a reservoir of sorts for materials to rest in so you can lift them out and spray them off to instantly clean them.

If you have dogs and pets and drive them around in your Jeep, you will want these floor mats. Otherwise, you will have dog hair in your carpets that will never come out no matter how hard you try.

Locking Lugnuts

Wheel theft is on the rise, and you should take every precaution you can to protect your investment. Sadly, locking lugnuts is up high on our list due to the reality of theft.

Quality locking lug nuts or wheel hubs can save you thousands of dollars and protect you from the hassle of insurance claims.

Make sure you always have the lug nut key on your person at all times in the event of a flat/breakdown. Do NOT leave the key in your glovebox or center console.

I wish this wasn’t on our first things for a Jeep owner to buy list, but they are. Better safe than sorry!

Running Boards

Why did my Jeep come from the factory with terrible plastic running boards? Heck, some Jeeps don’t come with any at all.

Running boards serve multiple purposes and are a fantastic first upgrade. Running boards help you enter & exit your vehicle. Additionally, they’re great for protecting your truck while off-roading.  It’s better to ding up your nerf bars than it is to put a massive dent in your doors or undercarriage.

Personal Recommendation: Tyger Auto Jeep Running Boards – I’ve had these on my Jeep for a year now, and they have held up great on and off the road.

Jeep Rubicons will come with very narrow rock crawling nerf bars, and they too can be replaced or upgraded with aftermarket parts.

Aftermarket running boards run anywhere from an average of $150 to $350 dollars but there are sets for extremeoff-roadingg or ones that have electronic controllers to hide them that cost much more.

Summary

Why isn’t there a bunch of wheels, rims, tires, lift kits, bumpers, and such? Well, we wanted to stay true to our opening comments. These first jeep upgrades should be easy for anyone to install, affordable and create immediate value.

We’re firm believers in getting to know your Jeep and knowing your mission before we recommend upgrades that will change the way your vehicle handles.

If you are looking for information on Choosing Off Road WheelsJeep Body Lift Kits or even information about the Stock Jeep Wranglers offroading capabilities check out some of those posts or do a search for more guides, tips and product reviews for Jeep Gear.

We’d love to hear what first jeep mods we may have missed, Please leave a comment below and we’ll update this post as we get feedback! Tell us what your first Jeep upgrades were and why!

The post Best Jeep Upgrades for a new Jeep Owner appeared first on Rockchuck Summit.

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Sometimes you have to learn lessons the hard way – you go on a road trip across a few states and before you know it you’re being pulled over and ticketed for driving without mirrors.  You think to yourself for a minute “but the doors come off as a feature from the factory” – But some states simply don’t care.

Here are the state laws for all 50 states regarding mirror requirements. We’ve tried to distill them down to “Required“, “unobstructed rearview mirror ok” (no trailer) or “Vague” if there is too much gray area. All states have links to the applicable code.

State Mirror Laws Alabama:

Unobstructed Rear View Mirror OK

Every motor vehicle, operated singly or when towing any other vehicle, shall be equipped with a mirror so located as to reflect the driver a view of the highway for a distance of at least 200 feet to the rear of such motor vehicle.

Alabama Code – § 32-5-214

Alaska:

Required

The motor vehicle must be equipped with a mirror mounted on the left side of the vehicle AND the right if towing.

Alaska Administrative Code AAC 04.220.Mirrors

Arizona:

Unobstructed Rear View Mirror OK

A motor vehicle that is constructed or loaded in a manner that obstructs the driver’s view to the rear of the vehicle from the driver’s position shall be equipped with two mirrors located in a manner to reflect to the driver a view of the highway for a distance of at least two hundred feet to the rear of the vehicle.

Arizona – ARS 28-956

Arkansas:

Unobstructed Rear View Mirror OK

Every motor vehicle shall be equipped with a rearview mirror. If rearview mirror is obstructed then a mirror which provides a view of the highway for a distance of at least 200 feet to the rear of the vehicle is required.

PDF:  Arkansas Code – § 27-37-305

California:

Unobstructed Rear View Mirror OK

Out of state registration only requires unobstructed rear view mirror. In state registration requires at least two mirrors with one on the left.  Vehicles that are towing require unobstructed mirrors.

California Vehicle Code 

Colorado:

Required

Every motor vehicle shall be equipped with a mirror or mirrors so located and so constructed as to reflect to the driver a free and unobstructed view of the highway for a distance of at least two hundred feet to the rear of such vehicle

Jeepers Notice: Appears that the Colorado statue actually beats around the bush and says “any vehicle not equipped with a rear window and rear side windows” which means with no doors you have no side windows. Flagging this Required…

Whenever any motor vehicle is not equipped with a rear window and rear side windows or has a rear window and rear side windows composed of, covered by, or treated with any material or component that, when viewed from the position of the driver, obstructs the rear view of the driver or makes such window or windows nontransparent, or whenever any motor vehicle is towing another vehicle or trailer or carrying any load or cargo or object that obstructs the rear view of the driver, such vehicle shall be equipped with an exterior mirror on each side so located with respect to the position of the driver as to comply with the visual requirement of subsection (1) of this section.

PDF Model Traffic Code for Colorado

Connecticut:

Unobstructed Rear View Mirror OK

Commercial for-hire vehicle specific laws require rear and left side viewing.

General Statutes of Connecticut

Delaware:

Unobstructed Rear View Mirror OK

All motor vehicles and motorcycles shall be equipped with a mirror so placed that the driver thereof may readily ascertain the presence of any vehicle traveling in the same direction and overtaking the driver’s vehicle.

Delaware Code 1935, § 5663; 21 Del. C. 1953, § 4308;

  • Note Bumper Height Laws
  • Note Light Accessory laws
Florida:

Unobstructed Rear View Mirror OK

Every vehicle, operated singly or when towing any other vehicle, shall be equipped with a mirror so located as to reflect to the driver a view of the highway for a distance of at least 200 feet to the rear of the motor vehicle.

Florida Statutes 316.294

Georgia:

Unobstructed Rear View Mirror OK

Every motor vehicle which is so constructed or loaded as to obstruct the driver’s view to the rear thereof from the driver’s position shall be equipped with a mirror so located as to reflect to the driver a view of the highway for a distance of at least 200 feet to the rear of such vehicle.

Georgia Code – § 40-8-72 Mirrors

Hawaii:

Unobstructed Rear View Mirror OK

Every motor vehicle shall be equipped with a mirror or mirrors so located as to reflect to the driver a view of the highway for a distance of at least 200 feet to the rear of such vehicle.

PDF ROH Chapter 15 Article 19 Section 15 Code 19.29

Idaho:

Unobstructed Rear View Mirror OK

Every motor vehicle shall be equipped with a mirror so located as to reflect to the operator a view of the highway for a distance of at least two hundred (200) feet to the rear of the vehicle.

Idaho Statutes – § 49-940

Illinois:

Unobstructed Rear View Mirror OK

Every motor vehicle, operated singly or when towing another vehicle, shall be equipped with a mirror so located as to reflect to the driver a view of the highway for a distance of at least 200 feet to the rear of such motor vehicle.

Illinois 625 ILCS 5/12-502 Sec 12-502

Indiana:

Unobstructed Rear View Mirror OK

A motor vehicle that is constructed or loaded so as to obstruct the driver’s view to the rear from the driver’s position must be equipped with a mirror located so as to reflect to the driver a view of the highway for a distance of at least two hundred (200) feet to the rear of the vehicle.

Indiana Code

Iowa:

Unobstructed Rear View Mirror OK

Every motor vehicle shall be equipped with a mirror so located as to reflect to the driver a view of the highway for a distance of at least two hundred feet to the rear of such vehicle. Any motor vehicle so loaded, or towing another vehicle in such manner, as to obstruct the view in a rear view mirror located in the driver’s compartment shall be equipped with a side mirror so located that the view to the rear will not be obstructed; however, when such vehicle is not loaded or towing another vehicle the side mirrors shall be retracted or removed

Iowa Code  – § 321.437

Kansas:

Required

After January 1, 1975, every motor vehicle shall be equipped with a mirror mounted on the left side of the vehicle and so located as to reflect to the driver a view of the highway to the rear of the vehicle.

Every motor vehicle, except a motorcycle, shall be equipped with an additional mirror mounted either inside the vehicle approximately in the center or outside the vehicle on the right side and so located as to reflect to the driver a view of the highway to the rear of the vehicle.

Kansas Statutes  § 8-1740

Kentucky:

Required

Except as provided in subsection (4) of this section, every motor vehicle shall be equipped with the following mirrors so located and adjusted as to reflect to the driver a view of the highway to the rear of the vehicle:(a)One (1) mirror mounted on the left side of the vehicle; and(b)One (1) mirror mounted either inside the vehicle approximately in the center or on the right side of the vehicle

Kentucky Legislature § 189.130

Louisiana:

Required

After January 1, 1975, every motor vehicle manufactured or assembled after December 31, 1972, of a type subject to registration in this state shall be equipped with a mirror mounted on the left side of the vehicle and so located as to reflect to the driver a view of the highway for a distance of at least two hundred feet to the rear of the vehicle.

Louisiana Revised Statutes  RS 32:354

Maine:

Unobstructed Rear View Mirror OK

A person may not operate on a public way a vehicle so constructed, equipped, loaded or used that the operator is prevented from having a constantly free and unobstructed view of the way immediately to the rear, unless there is attached a mirror or reflector placed and adjusted to afford the operator a clear, reflected view of the highway to the rear of the vehicle for a distance of at least 200 feet.

Maine Revised Statutes – 29-A §1913

Maryland:

Required

Every motor vehicle shall be equipped with at least one mirror located to reflect to the driver a view of the highway for a distance of at least 200 feet to the rear of the vehicle.

Every motor vehicle registered in this State shall be equipped with an outside mirror on the driver’s side located to reflect to the driver a view of the highway for a distance of at least 200 feet to the rear of the vehicle and along the driver’s side of the vehicle. This subsection does not apply to motorcycles, which are governed by subsection (c) of this section.

Maryland Statue Transportation – §22–403.

Massachusetts:

Vague – better safe than sorry to have mirror.

Every motor vehicle shall be equipped with at least one mirror so placed and adjusted as to afford the operator a clear, reflected view of the highway to the rear and left side of the vehicle

Massachusetts – Chapter 90 Section 7

Michigan:

Unobstructed Rear View Mirror OK

A person shall not drive a motor vehicle if driver visibility through the rear window is obstructed, unless the vehicle is equipped with 2 rearview mirrors, 1 on each side, adjusted so that the operator has a clear view of the highway behind the vehicle.

Michigan § 257.708

Minnesota:

Unobstructed Rear View Mirror OK

Every motor vehicle which is so constructed, loaded or connected with another vehicle as to obstruct the driver’s view to the rear thereof from the driver’s position shall be equipped with a mirror so located as to reflect to the driver a view of the highway for a distance of at least 200 feet to the rear of such vehicle.

Minnesota Statutes 169.70

Mississippi:

Unobstructed Rear View Mirror OK

Every motor vehicle which is so constructed or loaded as to obstruct the driver’s view to the rear thereof from the driver’s position shall be equipped with a mirror so located as to reflect to the driver a view of the highway for a distance of at least two hundred feet to the rear of such vehicle.

Mississippi – § 63-7-57

Missouri:

Unobstructed Rear View Mirror OK

All motor vehicles which are so constructed or loaded that the operator cannot see the road behind such vehicle by looking back or around the side of such vehicle shall be equipped with a mirror so adjusted as to reveal the road behind and be visible from the operator’s seat.

Missouri – § 307.170

Montana:

Unobstructed Rear View Mirror OK

A motor vehicle must be equipped with a mirror that reflects to the driver a view of the highway for a distance of at least 200 feet to the rear of the motor vehicle.

Montana  – § 61-9-404

Nebraska:

Required

No person shall drive a motor vehicle, other than a motorcycle, on a highway when the motor vehicle is so constructed or loaded as to prevent the driver from obtaining a view of the highway to the rear by looking backward from the driver’s position unless such vehicle is equipped with a right-side and a left-side outside mirror so located as to reflect to the driver a view of the highway for a distance of at least two hundred feet to the rear of such vehicle.

Nebraska – § 60-6,254

Nevada:

Unobstructed Rear View Mirror OK

On and after January 1, 1970, every motor vehicle, operated singly or when towing any other vehicle, shall be equipped with a mirror so located as to reflect to the driver a view of the highway for a distance of at least 200 feet to the rear of such motor vehicle.

Nevada – § NRS 484D.430

New Hampshire:

Unobstructed Rear View Mirror OK

No person shall drive upon any way any closed motor vehicle, or motor vehicle so constructed, equipped, or loaded that the driver is prevented from having a constantly free and unobstructed view of the way immediately in the rear, unless there is attached to the vehicle a mirror or reflector so placed and adjusted as to afford the driver a clear, reflected view of the way in the rear of the vehicle.

New Hampshire  – § 266:55

New Jersey:

Required

Every motor vehicle shall have rear view mirrors so located and angled as to give the driver adequate rear view vision. Every passenger automobile manufactured after January 1, 1965 and registered in this State, shall be equipped with an interior mirror and an exterior mirror on the driver’s side.

New Jersey Statutes – § 39:3-71

New Mexico:

Unobstructed Rear View Mirror OK

Every motor vehicle shall be equipped with a mirror so located as to reflect to the driver a view of the highway for a distance of at least two hundred feet to the rear of such vehicle.

New Mexico Statutes – § 66-3-845

New York:

Required

10-a. It shall be unlawful after July first, nineteen hundred
sixty-seven to operate on any public highway in this state any motor
vehicle registered in this state, manufactured or assembled on or after
such date, and designated as a nineteen hundred sixty-eight or later
model, unless such vehicle is equipped with an adjustable side view
mirror which shall be affixed to the left outside of such vehicle and
which shall be adjustable so that the operator of such vehicle may have
a clear view of the road and condition of traffic on the left side and
to the rear of such vehicle

New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law Title 3 Article 9 Section 375 Chapter 10 – § 375-10

North Carolina:

Required on 1965 or Newer vehicles

It shall be unlawful for any person to operate upon the highways of this State any vehicle manufactured, assembled or first sold on or after January 1, 1966 and registered in this State unless such vehicle is equipped with at least one outside mirror mounted on the driver’s side of the vehicle.

North Carolina General Statutes Chapter 20 Article 3 Code 126 – § 20-126

North Dakota:

Unobstructed Rear View Mirror OK

On and after January 1, 1964, every motor vehicle, operated singly or when towing any other vehicle, must be equipped with a mirror so located as to reflect to the driver a view of the highway for a distance of at least two hundred feet [60.96 meters] to the rear of such motor vehicle.

PDF North Dakota Century Code Title 39 Chapter 21 Section 38 – § 39-21-38

Ohio:

Vague – “Operators shall have clear and unobstructed view to the front and both sides of their vehicles

Unobstructed Rear View Mirror OK

Every motor vehicle, motorcycle, and trackless trolley shall be equipped with a mirror so located as to reflect to the operator a view of the highway to the rear of such vehicle, motorcycle, or trackless trolley. Operators of vehicles, motorcycles, streetcars, and trackless trolleys shall have a clear and unobstructed view to the front and to both sides of their vehicles, motorcycles, streetcars, or trackless trolleys and shall have a clear view to the rear of their vehicles, motorcycles, streetcars, or trackless trolleys by mirror.

Ohio Revised Code Title 45 Chapter 4513 Section 23 – § 4513.23

Oklahoma:

Required

Every motor vehicle shall be equipped with a mirror mounted on the left side of the vehicle and so positioned and located as to reflect to the driver a view of the highway to the rear of the motor vehicle.

Every motor vehicle shall be equipped with an additional mirror mounted either inside the vehicle approximately in the center or outside the vehicle on the right side and so positioned and located as to reflect to the driver a view of the highway to the rear of the vehicle.

Oklahoma Statutes Title 47 Chapter 12 Section 403 – §47-12-403

Oregon:

Unobstructed Rear View Mirror OK

A rearview mirror or device only meets the requirements of this section if it enables the driver of the vehicle to have such a clear and unobstructed view of the rear at all times and under all conditions of load as will enable the driver to see any other vehicle approaching from not less than 200 feet in the rear on an unobstructed road.

Oregon Volume 17 Title 59 Chapter 815 Section 235 – § 815.235

Pennsylvania:

Unobstructed Rear View Mirror OK

No person shall operate a motor vehicle or combination on a highway unless the vehicle or combination is equipped with at least one mirror, or similar device, which provides the driver an unobstructed view of the highway to the rear of the vehicle or combination.

Pennsylvania Vehicle Code Title 75 Chapter 45 Subchapter B Section 4534 – § 4534

Rhode Island:

Unobstructed Rear View Mirror OK – May require left side mirror

Every motor vehicle which is so constructed or loaded as to obstruct the driver’s view to the rear of it from the driver’s position shall be equipped with a mirror so located as to reflect to the driver a view of the highway for a distance of at least two hundred feet (200′) to the rear of the vehicle.

Caution: Second part could cover Jeep as “Passenger vehicle” – not sure if commercial or for hire.

Every motor vehicle, the primary function of which is the carrying of passengers, shall be equipped with a rear-view mirror on the left front door or fender, so located as to reflect a view of the highway for at least two hundred feet (200′) to the rear of the vehicle.

Rhode Island – § 31-23-15

South Carolina:

Unobstructed Rear View Mirror OK

Every motor vehicle which is so constructed or loaded as to obstruct the driver’s view to the rear thereof from the driver’s position shall be equipped with a mirror so located as to reflect to the driver a view of the highway for a distance of at least two hundred feet to the rear of such vehicle.

South Carolina  § 56-5-4990

South Dakota:

Unobstructed Rear View Mirror OK

Rear-vision mirrors required–Visibility distance–Violation as petty offense. Every motor vehicle entitled to be licensed in South Dakota shall be equipped with a mirror so located as to reflect to the driver a view of the highway for a distance of at least two hundred feet to the rear of such vehicle, whether operated singly or towing another vehicle. A violation of this section is a petty offense.

South Dakota Codified Laws  § 32-15-8

Tennessee:

Vague – Unobstructed Rear View Mirror OK

Any motor truck using the streets, roads, highways, and other public thoroughfares, which, by reason of its construction, either when loaded or unloaded, prevents the driver‘s view of the rear, shall be equipped with a mirror arranged in a..

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Are you dreaming of having a Jeep rooftop tent and driving off into the wilderness and setting up camp? We’ll help you understand the ins and outs of choosing a rooftop tent for your Jeep and what options are available to satisfy your mission based on your vehicle type.

Know your mission

Are you a heavy duty rock crawler who may camp sometimes? Are you an Overland dreamer and using four-wheel drive to explore and camp in the backcountry? Knowing your mission will help you narrow down your choices and set you off on the right foot for enjoying your rooftop tent.

If you’re into rock crawling then a lower center of gravity may be better than adding additional weight to the top of your Jeep, but if you’re into overland camping, then a roof-mounted tent or a trailer towed tent would satisfy your mission.

There are no absolutes here; both install options are very capable but be aware of how extreme your mission will get and that having 200lbs on your roof or a heavy trailer behind you will impact your capability and performance.

Know your weight limits

If you drive any Jeep besides a Wrangler, you’re in luck. Your roof is rated for a dynamic and static weight load that can hold quite a few rooftop tents options and your only cost is the actual roof rack rails and rail feet (if needed).

Jeep Wranglers don’t certify the roof for a roof rack systems weight. This fact alone was a huge factor of my choosing to go with a trailer towed tent vs. installing an RTT on the roof of my Jeep Wrangler.

Manufacturers that provide 3rd party roof rack systems will rate their system for vehicles. The Thule Rack System for Jeep Wrangler is rated for 165lbs of dynamic rating – which means that at most you can carry 165 lbs of rack + gear on your Jeep while the Jeep is in motion.  Again, for the Jeep Wrangler, the static load limit is missing.

Always know and understand the limitations of your equipment including the weight, balance & installation requirements.

I would advise against installing an RTT on a Jeep Wrangler Hardshell Top simply because it isn’t static weight rated – but that doesn’t mean you have to follow my advice or that we don’t have other choices. Knowing that Jeeps don’t do a static load rating on their roof, we feel that your best options are to install a roll-cage style frame supported rack mount system or to use a trailer to mount your RTT.

If you’re still interested in roof racks options, check out our Jeep Wrangler Roof Rack Guide.
Roof Rack Mounted RTT

If you have a standard roof rack system and a non-Jeep Wrangler vehicle, then the factory rails mounted roof rack system (or 3rd party roof rack) on your vehicle is the lowest cost of entry into Rooftop Tent Camping.

The standard roof rack system affords you the ability to remove equipment during off-season to save on gas and securely stow your tent away when not in use.

The full height of the tent above ground means roof rack mounted RTT’s are excellent for those who want a full height annex as well.

RTT tents are often extremely heavy to install and remove so do so with a friend or multiple friends who can help you load & unload safely.
Benefits
  • Nothing to Tow
  • Affordability – Lowest cost of entry
  • Removable – Heavy, but can be removed during of season
Pitfalls
  • Noisy at highway speeds
  • Feels Top Heavy on short wheelbase vehicles
  • Can’t easily remove freedom tops (wrangler)
  • Can’t easily remove the hard top (wrangler)
  • Can’t easily open/close the soft top (wrangler)
@Gallivanting_overland IG

Again, it bears repeating – This is not adviseable on the Jeep Wrangler line of Jeeps.  We recommend a tow behind setup or roll cage setup for Wranglers.

Roll cage mounted RTT

Roll cage mounted rooftop tents offer strength and durability over a bolt on system or after market removable rack system. With full height above ground and three ways to open up your tent – left/right or rear, you have a lot of options and flexibility.

@kentek

Roof-mounted tents have the luxury of plenty of room under them for awnings and annexes. If you desire to have an annex for more living & personal space while camping then having your tent mounted on your roof may be the best option.

One pitfall of installing a roll cage is that they can be noisy and reduce your gas mileage. If you are going the roll cage style mount, I would spend a lot of time looking up reviews and asking for feedback from other owners before purchasing any of these systems.

If your Jeep is a dedicated overland vehicle and not a daily driver, then the reduced mileage and noise may be moot as both usually happen at highway speeds. We all know Jeeps aren’t amazing with gas mileage to begin withn.

Benefits
  • Heavy Duty RoofRack & Roll Cage – Holds a ton of weight & other options
  • Accessory Mounts Galore
  • Nothing to Tow
  • Durable compared to a bolt on roof rack
  • Everything is bolted to your vehicle – minimizing theft.
Pitfalls
  • Noisy at highway speeds
  • Gas Mileage may suffer
  • Can’t easily remove freedom tops (wrangler)
  • Can’t easily remove the hard top (wrangler)
  • Can’t easily open/close the soft top (wrangler)
Trailer mounted RTT

Trailer mounted tents offer a great balance of all choices – you get the experience of camping above the ground and the ability to leave your trailer with tent setup as a basecamp.

On my trailer, the roof rack isn’t as high as it would be on a vehicle so using an Annex isn’t really a viable option however on some trailers you can crank up or extend the rack system to be higher once your vehicle is stationary so there are options and trailer choices to increase the height.

As with any decision you take, choosing a trailer mounted option snowballs into other things you may want to think about. If you’re towing a heavier trailer or plan on going on more difficult off road terrain, then a brake controller and electronic brakes on your trailer is highly advisable.

I also recommend you look into several hitches that are explicitly designed for unimproved road and off road use. The standard ball hitch works excellent on the highway, paved roads, and flat dirt roads but if your mission includes anything more aggressive and off camber then I’d I’d suggest you check out the hitch styles below.

Trailer brake controllers

If you go the trailer route and wish to go off-roading, I would opt for a trailer with electronic breaks and implement an electronic brake controller. Jeep Wranglers don’t come with built-in brake controllers, so you have to go with a 3rd party solution. After many months of digging around and watching for options and reviews, the following controllers have all been highly recommended. I use the Prodigy P2.

Off road hitch mounts

There are three well-known hitch systems that offer extended off road capabilities over ball hitches.  These hitches will allow further articulation, rotation and off camber capability improving your off road towing capability and safety.

Pintel

Pintel hooks and lunette rings have been popular on military trailers – the infamous m416 trailers that many Jeep owners are building, restoring and modifying for their adventures often have a Pintel style connection. These are extremely durable for rough terrain.

The lunette ring is attached to your trailer.

The Pintel Receiver hitch is attached your vehicle.

Once the lunette is grasped by the pintle receiver, your trailer can rotate around & articulate fully.  Many different manufacturers offer pintel & lunette hitches and receivers of varying designs & capacities. No tools are required to disconnect your trailer from the receiver. These are generally considered maintenance free hookups.

Lock N Roll

Lock N Roll hitches are another style of fully articulating hitches with many configurations for your trailer, weight and mission needs. These are manufactured in the US by lock N roll and designed for specific trailers, weights, and uses. No tools required to disconnect your trailer from the receiver.

Lock N Roll Demo Video

Lock and Roll_YouTube-Vimeo HD 720p.mp4 - YouTube
Max Coupler

Another design picking up traction is the Max Coupler receiver & hitch system. The max coupler is a three-axis coupler offering full rotation and a solid connection to your trailer. There is no chance of uncoupling short of failure. Tools are not required to disconnect your trailer from the receiver with newer Max Couplers. (Some versions may still require tools to separate). Max Coupler hitches do require maintenance and lubrication. Please follow manufacturer recommendations.

Max Coupler Demo Video

Max Coupler Articulation - YouTube
Benefits
  • Complete use of Freedom Panels/Sunroof/Softop
  • Hard top / Soft to / Doorless OK
  • BaseCamp – don’t need to pack up camp to drive around
  • Can use the roof rack for other equipment & gear
Pitfalls
  • Some trailers aren’t tall enough to support Annex Rooms
  • Storage – will it fit in the garage? Outside? Pay for safe storage?
  • Expensive
  • Not bolted to your car – Trailer Theft can be a concern
  • Gas mileage

When trailer camping always be sure to use chocks to secure your trailer and lock everything down including your hitch & receiver.

Choosing an RTT Tent

Check out our detailed Rooftop Tent guide to help you understand the options, configurations, and choices you have with regards to RTT tents, styles, features and tradeoffs.

@Jeep_outdoor_adventures IG Jeep Rooftop Tent Camping

The most important thing for Jeep owners to understand is their mission. It’s the..

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How romantic does an overnight trip down a scenic river sound?

Just you, your SUP, maybe a companion or two? And all the wholesome nature you can soak up.

It’s a dreamy sort of night out but one that definitely needs a little preparation. Of course, you need not be reminded of some items to take. Things like, remember your paddle! Well, aren’t entirely necessary! But a list helps keeps thing organized and so you don’t forget small but important items, like a repair kit!

IMPORTANT STATEMENT:

What follows is what I take with me on river escapades on my inflatable SUPs. These are rivers I know that don’t turn nasty therefore don’t need a performance board. If you are thinking strong rapids, perhaps a hardboard will be something you should consider. Though I sincerely hope if you are doing something that adventurous you don’t need me to tell you what board to take!

The board

I vote touring boards with an ample amount of storage space. Here in Australia, I love Baysports Original Series Touring SUP. It’s made from high-quality materials, it moves quickly and easily and has 4 D-rings with bungee cord up front to help secure gear. Something like ERS Touring SUP or RPC Tour, Isle Explorer..all are great options. Some just have better quality materials so perform better, are lighter etc. If you are stuck on finding the right board, let my Best SUP list help you out or even just drop me a line via the comments and I’ll be sure to help you out!

Why inflatable though?

This one is easy. As I stated I don’t need something (nor will most people) that can cut and swerve rapids like a fish to water. I experience chop, wind and light rapids and have always been fine (maybe fallen off once or twice okay..). One of the biggest advantages is the transporting of a 12’ board. If it can be rolled it becomes easy and therefore you’re more like to keep getting out!

The other is my favorite, it seconds as a bed. So long as you aren’t paddling in freezing cold country, you can take a mozzie net and you’re sorted! It’s so comfortable! You can even light a fire and keep it going like a cowboy of the river if it’s super chilly.

Conditions

Research! Are there rapids? What class? Have you paddled this far before? If not, work yourself up to it! How far do you have to paddle? Do you know if there is a good spot to camp along the way? Is there definitely water the whole way…this is something that has totally happened. Get a way down and realize the rivers dried up! What temps are you expecting to feel day and night? How close are you to tidal rivers, are there currents? Do you need permissions? Does the river split anywhere? All questions you want to answer!

Gear

TIP: PACK LIGHT!!

Sunscreen! Zinc! But PLEASE think eco-friendly. So many river and waterways are polluted already thanks to residential/commercial and agricultural runoff. Our poor frogs and fish don’t like the chemicals we put in most commercial sunscreens and zincs. They’ve already got 100 SPF skin! So choose some natural. Something like Tropical Sands 50+ SPF.

Hat, light long sleeve..tights or light pants. Stuff that dries quickly and easily in case of an abandon ship moment. Keep you protected from the suns ray (which are more powerful being reflected from the water) but also not restrictive for movement or keeping cool. Some kind of water-resistant shoes too! Even on a warm day, getting wet feet consistently can lead to uncomfortable numb toes!

Dry bags – another no brainer. I even go as far as wrapping things in double dry bags.
Head torch – Water resistant is best of course but seeing as you probably won’t be paddling by night, just using it for cooking etc. You can get away with it not being water resistant if you keep it in the dry bag.

Camel Bak – Keep hydrated!! Having it easy to get to, means no chance of accidentally dropping your paddle while juggling your bottle and it. Get it in a water-resistant backpack and keep some essentials like the Epirb, some food and something warm in the backpack too.

Food – tinned foods, pre-prepped lasting food like fried rice. Trail mix to keep up your energy through the day. If you are a keen fisher, even take a line!

Sleeping gear – You can get little blow-up pillows but if it’s just one or two nights, I just deal without one. Though I’m weird like that…I can sleep almost anywhere. Again, you’ll need to asses weather for what kind of sleeping bag or if you need a tent. Ideally, your SUP, a mozzie net and a thick flannel sheet wearing your clothes too are ideal. I’m all for minimal!

First Aid for you and your board! A repair kit, in case you receive a puncture (less like than a dint on a hardboard) and the essentials for your own boo-boos. If you are going remote, an Epirb.

A survival band – Something like this that has a flint for starting fires, a safety whistle, compass, shows the time, has an LED etc. Even if you were to lose everything in a freak fall, you’d be able to help yourself with this bracelet.

One last tip….

Tie your paddle to something! Yourself, your board…If you accidentally drop it, you won’t lose it! I have lost a paddle a couple of times now, luckily on short trips…But it’s not fun and I’d be losing it if it were on a long paddle.

Most importantly….

Take it all in! The smells, the sights, the stars…It’s an incredible way to travel and even if those pesky kayakers come flying past just remember, you can see more than them standing up! We get a better view!

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There is no better way to experience camping in the wilderness than to be perched in a fort above the elements with windows and views of nature above the ground. Rooftop tent (RTT) camping is an entirely new, exciting and fun way to camp.

We’re excited to welcome you to the wonderful world of RTT Camping, and we hope you read on to learn what you should know to make an informed decision on rooftop tents. We’ll help you make sense of all the features, options and capabilities you should be aware of in planning your purchase and finding a tent that fits your mission.

What are Rooftop Tents?

It’s widely rumored that the Rooftop Tent concept started in Australia. With bugs as big as big as some of our family pets it seems all the wiser that these amazing tents were championed down under as a means to keep people safe and sound above all the critters and creatures of the outback.

RTT’s are tents that are aptly named “rooftop tents” because they get installed on your rooftop. They connect to the cross beams of your vehicle or trailer. They offer a more pleasant camping experience being that they’re quick to deploy, up off the ground and usually built to handle the weather better.

Types of Rooftop Tents

RTT’s come in all sorts of shapes and sizes but the common groupings are a softshell and hard shell and variations of sizing & capacity therein.

Hard shell rooftop tent

Hard shell RTTs are usually a pop-up or clam shell type tents. As the name implies, they have a hard shell – usually a clam shell hard & soft top design with fabric sides. These types of tents are excellent for 1-2 person camping with usually very quick setup times. Hard shell RTTs offer very good protection from the elements, quick setup times and simple setup. Some hard shell tents even offer storage capability and utility space while on your roof.

Soft shell rooftop tent

Soft shell tents are the most common roof top tents and usually the most affordable. These can be sized anywhere from one to four + people and are built of heavy-duty fabrics, poles and attachment pieces. In the industry, there are two major types of softshell tents – the ones where the ladder is at the very front, and you climb up through a door or ones where the ladder is under the tent, and you climb up under the tent through a bottom entrance.  I have no real preference here other than the two styles tend to lead to design choices for aesthetic purposes and some features.  For example, if you plan on having a vestibule setup and want space below your tent, then the style where the ladder is in the bottom means the ladder will be covered by the vestibule however front entries usually will be open to the elements. I liked front entry because the views when the doors are open are fantastic and I love their simplicity & design. The bottom entry units can be larger.

Side Entry RTT

Bottom Entry RTT

What to look for in shopping for a rooftop tent

When shopping for a rooftop tent, there are a few things you should look for. Beyond the design/appearance and looks that you strive for you should make sure that the tent will perform, last and when the inevitable wear outs and breakdowns happen that you can get parts and service for your gear.

What is your mission? Are you camping for two? Camping for a family? Going off roading? Overlanding? Weekend getaways a few days a year or spending weeks on the road in four season weather?

Think about your mission and then understand tent designs, quality and performance features needed to exceed your mission goals.

Build quality

The general build quality of deck, poles, platform, and shell.  Will it hold up to your mission? Will it be durable? Is it flimsy? Known problems?  Just like any camping gear – you often get what you pay for.  I look for wrapped poles – if the tent company can engineer a rooftop tent that collapses, has wrapped poles and made of good materials then I know they put the effort in to think not just of RTT design but usability.  You also want a good strong base – it is, after all, folding up and holding you up above the car/trailer and giving you a rigid above-ground platform to sleep on. Not only should it be durable for this purpose but also durable on the bottom to withstand debris and water. My tent is on an expedition trailer that will be dragged around on old mining trails and off road useable so I opted for an extra durable build with diamond plating since trees/dirt/rocks may be flying up or brushing by.

Quality of fabrics

This is probably your second most important decision when choosing an RTT brand to go with – What is the quality of the fabrics and components but fabrics being topmost. You want durable fabrics, heavy weave, and good protection. You want fabrics that will not only withstand weather, temperatures, humidity, and rain but also will withstand the force of being packed and stored and being zippered away.

Speaking of packing away, no matter which tent you buy or use, always be sure to let it dry out completely before any long term storage. You don’t want any mold or mildew buildup on your tent ruining your fabrics and shortening the lifespan of your investment.

Spares/parts

Ask your potential RTT vendor how long they have been around, whether or not they still sell spares and parts of tents that are discontinued.  The last thing you want to do is buy a tent from a company that won’t make parts once they move on to newer or designs or styles. You’re investing a lot of money for a product that should last for many years to come.  Name brands like Tepui and CVT are known to support their products and offer good warranties as well.

Mattress

This is one of the beautiful things of RTT tents; they come with a padded mattress. It may not be essential or wise to spend a ton of money shopping for an RTT purely on the mattress comfort alone as you can often throw a foam mattress pad on top to give you just the comfort you seek.  We carry a 2.5″ king size mattress pad that on top of our tents built in pad gives us a comfy space to sleep in. (totally spoiled!!)

Aesthetic Features

I love the roof skylights on my Tepui, and it was a reason I chose one brand over another. Choose a color you like, choose the layout you prefer and shop around for the features you want. Do you like both ends of your tent to open to have a portal view of the wilderness?  Do you like removing the rainfly and watching the stars while laying on a comfy mattress protected from the elements through roof skylights/windows? These features vary between tents and manufactures and while they don’t necessarily modify the tents capability they are great features I enjoy so be aware of the slight difference, features, and characteristics of the brands and products available.

Moisture pad/barrier

Moisture in any tent is always a problem regardless of RTT or on the ground but In RTT’s moisture can be excessive and its wise to invest in a moisture pad/barrier to help keep your mattress pad and sleeping above any moisture that does wick through your tent. Most manufacturers include moisture barriers in their high-end models, but almost all of them will let you purchase them separately. I would advise investing in one to make sure your tent is comfy and dry.

To help keep moisture down in my tent, I invested in an easy to use de-humidifier that  I can plugin to dry-out and re-use. It doesn’t require any electricity while in the tent, and so far it has helped keep the humidity/moisture down in my tent.

Size

How many people are you looking to pack into your tent? How big are you willing to go?  How much weight can your vehicle or trailer handle safely on the road?  Sizing isn’t universal, and just like regular tents, a two-person tent may be intended for two people who like to snuggle rather than two people who want their own space. If you like plenty of room and you’re always just two people, then a 3+ or 4 person tent may be better for you.  I purchased a four-person tent even though its just the wife and I, my kids still like to have their tent on the ground BUT if the weather is terrible or we are unsure of the area we can fit the entire family in the tent and be nice and cozy

As an addendum to size, I like to remind people that a lot of tents may let you leave sleeping bags/blankets/pillows or mattress pads inside the tent while collapsed down. This is a nice time & space saver so if you’re shopping around you may want to ask if the tent can collapse down with some sleeping essentials inside. Not every brand can do this, but some have the room and extra space when collapsed that the cover can cover them without too much stress.

Addon Features available Annex room

Add a room below your tent. Annex Rooms are offered by many of the RTT manufacturers and can provide much-needed living space, privacy, and rooms below your tent taking advantage of the covered space below. These are great for eating areas, extra sleeping space (kids!), pets, storage, shower/cleanup/privacy area.

Awnings

Awnings aren’t necessarily part of the rooftop tent design, but many companies offer awning accessories that complement roof top tents. These usually provide great coverage and ease of setup & removal just like a tent, and some even offer up to 190 degrees of coverage. The 240 degree ones are great for having a left/right awning that covers your vehicle tailgate making them great for shade and vehicle access in inclement weather!

Accessories

There are an infinite amount of accessories for your tent, but the common ones that we would recommend are shoe bags,  lanterns, and lighting.  Most tents come with plenty of internal pockets but we’ve learned its best to have a shoe bag or duffel type bag that can hang out by the front door, so you can easily take your shoes/flip flops on and off while climbing in and out to minimize dirt inside the tent.  Cool lanterns that can hang from the inside mounting brackets or bars are nice, and we love some of the rope lights that can be used to light up inside the tent.

What do you need to install an RTT?

A roof rack is needed, and it has to meet your tents rating weight and size. There are multiple ratings when choosing roof racks and its extremely important you know and understand these ratings.

Dynamic Weight Rating – This is the maximum rating of weight that can be on your vehicle while the vehicle is in motion. Your roof rack company (such as Yakima / Thule) or your Car manufacturer should have this rating in the vehicle sizing guide.

Static Weight Rating – This is the maximum weight rating of the entire system on your vehicle.

For many installations, the average max dynamic rating is usually around 160 lbs. This means that your tent while collapsed and on the road should not weigh more than 160lbs – Including all the hardware and attachments on the rack system.

For static weight rating, you don’t want to exceed the rating of the system while the tent is open, setup and with people in it. So if you plan on having two adults and two children in a four-person tent, its imperative that your static weight rating is strong enough to support the 150 lbs of the tent, 30-40 lbs of gear (mats/bags/clothing/shoes/lights) and the weight of four people in the tent.

I chose trailer mount because my Jeep with a hard top or soft top doesn’t have manufacture set static weight rating and I didn’t want to install an exterior cage system for the tent.

Keep in mind that if you do have a Jeep or a truck with a bed cover that a lot of these vehicles don’t have a static weight rating for a rack system on these plastic/polymer roofs and you may have to fabricate, build or buy support systems to safely transport and use your tent. Always follow the manufacturer recommendations and never exceed the weight or balance of your vehicle.

Choosing where to put your RTT

You have two essential choices that come with purchasing an RTT – Do you install it on your vehicle or do you mount it on a trailer.

When you install on your vehicle, you have to remember that any time you drive, you have to close up the tent. This process can take anywhere from 2-3 minutes to 15-20 minutes depending on the setup you have. If you have an annex room, awning, and a vast 4+ person tent, it will take you a while to setup and teardown the RTT, and you will want to keep this in mind for how you choose to carry your RTT.

If you install on a trailer, then you can secure and leave the trailer set up as a basecamp. This is what we chose to do with our Tepui Roof Top Tent.  I have it installed on an expedition trailer that not only carries the RTT but all of our gear and allows me to drive off with the Jeep and have a base camp.

With the expedition trailer setup, I can carry hundreds of lbs of gear inside the trailer and coolers on the tongue and keep my Jeep mostly free for the family and enjoying excursions. Previous to the trailer I had a roof top carrier and the vehicle packed to the brim, so I’ve enjoyed having much more space and a base camp style setup.

Regardless of trailer or roof install, its common for people to call this type of camping “overlanding.” With overlanding people build up pretty impressive off road rigs capable of trail driving and off the beaten path camping. Overland/Expedition vehicles & camping is almost universally exchangeable to describe these setups and trailer systems.

Where to buy an RTT

RTT’s can be heavy and awkward to ship – most companies will need to ship freight, and sometimes this can be another 200 to 300 dollars on top of your price – especially if they’re delivering residential.  Some brands figure this into their base price if they specialize in internet sales, some brands ship through Amazon and offer amazon prime free shipping (yeah!!!) while others will focus on established retail channels such as your local sporting goods, off road, camping or truck specialty shops. If you can buy local, I always say buy local – local warranty is a beautiful thing to have (who wants to ship back and forth something that may cost you 600 bucks!!!) otherwise if you order online Amazon is hard to beat if you don’t go vendor direct.

Hopefully, we’ve given you some information to digest and enough knowledge to help you shop and select your new Rooftop tent! We love ours, and we agree that these tents are “game changers.”  Every time we’re out camping its a conversation starter and every time I get out to open it up and set up camp I do so with a big grin on my face.  There is some sticker shock and price to pay for this luxury, but it does come with the great reward of experience the majesty of the outdoors with a view above the ground that can warm the heart in ways that on ground camping can’t compete.

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It’s no new knowledge that traveling is one of the best forms of learning and meditation. The scope of diverse knowledge that traveling provides a person with, is unmatchable by any other activity. What you experience, see and live are the best lessons you can teach yourself. That being said, road trips are a popular traveling experience that travelers opt for. Driving down an unknown road and mapping the entire path that gets you to your final destination, cannot match to flying above clouds and landing directly on the destination airport. Though flying has its own set of advantages and perks, you definitely need to take these four kinds of road trips at least once in your life.

Solo Road Trip

Let’s start with yourself. You must take a solo road trip to someplace out of the city or even out of the state. Pick a place that you’ve wanted to go to, put in the gear and drive down to your destination. Don’t forget to take pit stops and explore the roads you’ve driven down on and click lots of Instagram worthy pictures. A solo road trip will open your eyes to more beauty of the place you’re traveling to and you can do just about anything you want, your way. Whether you want to explore a museum for hours or just have coffee and come back, it’s your wish and you’re in charge of your own travel plans. It will give you confidence and empower you to take on challenges in life and face them on your own. 

Family Road Trip

Nothing bonds a family like a family road trip. You have to take your parents, grandparents, children on a long family road trip. Checking out the changing sceneries outside the car windows, stopping for snacks and listening to the radio, these are little joys that will make long-lasting memories for the entire family. You can talk about different things, get to know each other better, play games and make the perfect family gettogether.

If you need some advice for your next family road trip, check out our planning the perfect road trip guide.

Road Trip With Bae

You can tell a lot about a person if you dine and travel with them. So if you’re in a relationship that’s headed towards the aisle, then you need to take a road trip with your bae. Apart from how much fun it will be to drive down listening to your favorite tunes, exploring a new place with your loved one, it will also be a small sneak peek into what your lives together will look like. You will get a peek into your future life as a couple. You will learn new things about each other and be able to assess better whether he or she is ‘the one’ for you.

One With The Friends

This one couldn’t have been far behind. A road trip with your friends is a must, especially before one of you gets hitched. So whether its a hen or a stag do in Krakow, Amsterdam, Prague or any other popular hen or stag destination, make sure you rent a car and drive around the town and explore the place. You can drive around the countryside, listening to music, reminiscing your college days, a road trip with friends is equivalent to therapy. The beautiful surroundings accompanied by the best company of your friends, it’s what legends are made of.

One With A Stranger

Want to learn about people or want to know stories? Take a road trip with a stranger. Whether you hitchhike or give a ride to a stranger, try and take a road trip with a stranger at least once in your life. The conversations, experiences, and stories of people you don’t know, will open up your mind and eyes to things bigger than what’s already in your heads. It’s also a lot of fun to make new friends and travel with them because you get to experience and see things from a new perspective.

Go on a road trip!

Road trips are a great way to learn about patience, appreciate the beauty and overcome obstacles. Nothing can be predicted about the journey ahead in a road trip and that’s the beauty of it. You don’t know what’s going to happen and yet it’s exciting to experience and see what’s waiting for you at the next turn. 

Got any plans for a road trip coming up? Have any advice for our readers? Leave a comment below or join our community and share your road trip advice!

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There is an endless supply of portable power systems available today from small handheld battery packs people use to keep their cell phones charged to much larger systems capable of running several small devices and even 12-volt fridge systems and small appliances.

I needed a solution that would not only charge our phones but provide power to recharge devices such as cameras, drones, laptops, tablets and more. I wanted something I could easily pack up and use to fill up inflatable mattresses and more while camping. It needed to be small, portable, reliable and easy to use.

I wanted something with a handle – not too big – not too small – something with 300-watt capacity and able to charge while driving from a 12v adapter as well as being able to plug in at home and use a solar panel to charge from.

After some research, we landed on the RockPals portable generator.

RockPals Portable Generator

Upon receiving the item, I was surprised at how little the package is and how much it weighs. It’s surprisingly small and light for its capacity. It arrived with a ~80% charge from the manufacturer and they recommend that you run it dry before fully re-charging so I was able to immediately start playing around and seeing how it works.

Capabilities

At this price point, you often have some pretty glaring trade-offs you have to deal with when shopping for a portable battery system. I was pleasantly surprised to see that this unit allows you to charge/use devices while plugged in and charging itself.  This means while you have it plugged in on a car drive using the 12v charger, you can still use it to charge devices or power devices while on the road or while you’re using a solar charge you could use devices plugged in. Just be aware that you will increase the charge time while doing this, but it is a great feature.

Beyond the “pass-through” charging support, Rockpals offers complete control and a complete overview of everything going on. You can enable/disable the individual power systems by clicking on the little button above them – such as disable the USB port or disable the 110v port. This is convenient for leaving some things plugged in but optimizing the charging of specific ports/devices.

The LCD screen offers feedback on everything going on, and I mean everything. The screen shows what ports are in use, whether power is coming in or going out, the voltage of the battery, the fans enabled or disabled.  It offers kill-a-watt style functionality on the 110v port so you can see the power draw for anything actively consuming electricity.

Lithium Ion Portable Power

Lithium-ion portable power is exactly what we wanted. While we’re out camping we want to be able to use 100% of the battery, charge it as much as we can during the day and use it up at night.  Lead acid batteries are heavier, need to be larger for their power size and can be cumbersome to maintain compared to sealed lithium batteries. We don’t need much electricity, just enough to be convenient, portable and quiet. Which is why we researched battery systems vs gas generators.

So far, I’ve tested the following items and they all worked great!

  • Inflating Camping Mattress
  • Charging Surface Pro Tablet
  • MacBook Pro Charge (USB C power adapter on 110v)
  • Charging Drone Batteries
  • Charging Camera Batteries & GoPro
  • Running Christmas Lights (we like to light up our camp/trailer)
  • Phones/Tablets

I had no problems with self-inflating mattresses drawing too much current/power for this power system to handle and my Surface Pro was able to charge at 100% efficiency with no complaints of not enough power to charge that I experienced on other power systems.

Charging Surface Pro Tablet with Rockpals Portable Generator

Beyond power for camping, these work great as backup power at home. One of the most common reviews is using this for backup power for CPAP machines.

Safety

The rockpals features a comprehensive safety system & BMS (Battery Management System) to protect you and your devices from failure

  • Overcharging
  • Overcurrent
  • Short Circuit

The device comes with full CE, FC, RoHS certifications.

This was a fairly large deciding factor in not building my own. Having something so comprehensive and all-in-one is a nice piece of mind. I didn’t want to have to worry about failing batteries, fires, sparks, voltage problems while I’m out camping and enjoying nature. Plug & Play.

Solar Charging

The 300-watt generator includes built-in support for solar charging. You will need to purchase your own solar panels. RockPals provides a standard MC4 interface cable and they sell a couple of solar panels themselves but any panel with the MC4 style connectors should work (as well as DC/12v power output).

12V Charging

The 12V charger is included for charging from a Car or any 12v system is included with the unit.

Rockpals 300watt Generator Specs
  • 3.7V/280 Watt-hour lithium-ion battery
  • 75000mAh
  • 600 peak watt output
  • 340+/-20 overload protection
  • Pure Sine wave inverter
  • Two built-in flashlights
  • 2x 30 AMP fuses
  • Handle
  • Lightweight Package
  • Solar Charging
  • 12v Charging
  • 1120v Charging
Ports
  • AC 110v Output (with ground plug)
  • DC 12v/24v Output
  • USB 5v 1a /2.1A output (4 ports) – USB 2.0 (x2) USB 3.0 (x2)
  • 12V 4A 3 ports
  • 12V 8A 1 port
  • 24V/3A – 1 port
Dimensions
  • 7.5 Inches Wide
  • 5.5 Inches Deep
  • 5.5 Inches Height

The unit by itself weighs just around 7lbs.

Unboxing

Rockpals portable generator came well packed and insulated in an easy to open box/

Immediately upon opening, I had fun playing with the built flashlight right out of the box.

The power station is complete and slightly charged out of the box and ready to experiment with.

The small package contains three different charging cords.

MC4 Solar Charger connector is included.

2.5mm DC power adaptor cable

12vDC Power adaptor to charge from car power

Charging Rockpals Portable Power Generator

The Rockpals generator can be charged with plugging into a 110v wall outlet, attaching to a solar panel or through a vehicle 12v system. One of the awesome features about the charging capability of this unit is that you can charge and use it at the same time!

Wall Charging

Plugin 110v wall adapter, Plugin to Wall, Unit will light up and show that it is charging. You will see the LCD panel light up to show electricity coming in and some quiet little fans will kick in to keep things at the optimum temperature.

On some basic testing – it took about ~3 hours to fully charge while plugged into a 110v wall outlet.

Solar Charging

I am awaiting a solar panel to test out. I will update this review once we have tested and provided a full field report update as well.

12V Vehicle Charging

I grabbed the Rockpals, ran to my jeep. Plugged a Nook tablet into the power generator and you can see the USB light lit up and it started to charge the tablet.

The 12v connector simply plugs into your cars lighter adaptor and right into the input DC12-24V input on the back.

Once you have the 12v power source plugged in the device immediately lights up the LCD that it is charging and providing output to the tablet. The little fan will blow as well to keep the unit cooled/operating efficiently.

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