Camping Guide: Free Wheelin'

How to Car-Camp Like Royalty

Here's your deluxe, all-PNW guide.

By Benjamin Tepler May 22, 2018 Published in the June 2018 issue of Portland Monthly

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Want some solitude? Camp on Bureau of Land Managment land like these guys did, near Cove Palisades State Park.

1. CVT

Rooftop tents are a necessity in the snake- and spider-ridden Australian Outback, but thanks to social media’s outdoor recreation obsession, they’re all over the West Coast. Bend-based CVT, the dominant Pacific Northwest brand, sews together everything from two-person canvas tents to giant four-person models with LED lighting and a burly neon rainfly for snowy weather. Yes, they’ll fit on your Subaru. From $1,595,

2-3. Snow Peak Take! Bamboo Chair and Pack & Carry Fireplace

This compact canvas camp chair ($159.95) is beautiful enough to pull double-duty as patio furniture, while an ingenious device resembling a giant stainless-steel pour-over cone lets you build a campfire almost anywhere ($189.95).

4. Rumpl Blanket

Poofy blankets are now a requirement for lust-worthy Instagram posts, so it’s safe to say Rumpl is doing quite well for itself these days. To celebrate its recent headquarters relocation from San Francisco to Portland, the company released a limited-run PDX carpet print that will keep you both warm and fashionably nostalgic on cold nights. $129 at

5. Hydroflask Wine Bottle

Hate warm whites and cold reds? This vacuum-sealed vessel keeps your wine the perfect temp for hours, fits an entire bottle, and won’t retain flavors. $44.95 at

6. Finex Dutch Oven

The makers of beautiful, octagonal cast-iron cookware have turned out a five-quart dutch oven, perfect for baking cobblers nestled directly in hot coals. $300 at

7. Filson Cooler

A major upgrade over your cracked Coleman, this 24-can cooler has two-inch-thick walls and heavy insulation to keep your dinner (or fresh-caught trout) chilled for days. Plus, it’s hunter orange! Safety first. $275 at

Not quite ready to commit to #vanlife? These four Portland-based outfitters will let you try it on for size.

Roamerica Owners Gretchen Bayless and Taylor Hood specialize in Ford Sportsmobile camper vans with “pop-up” roofs, which give a luxurious six feet, eight inches of standing room. They’ll pick you up at the airport for free, and let you take their rigs into Canada. From $215/night,

Road Trip Oregon RTO launched in 2011, way before Vanlife was a thing. “We were the only camper van rental company between San Francisco and Vancouver, BC,” says founder Chris Emerick. RTO runs everything from old-school VW Westfalias to fancy new Sprinters. From $145/night,

Go Camp It’s like ride sharing for the Vanlife community: hop into someone else’s dream build for a weekend, or list your own to help mitigate the cost of that pricey onboard wine cooler. From $150/night,

Wonderland Expeditions If you’re heading way off the grid, you’ll need a burly off-roader to take you there. Wonderland’s fleet includes Toyota Tundras, 4Runners, and a sweet vintage FJ60 (pictured above) equipped with rooftop tents and pop-up campers. From $150/night,

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