Wagon campers treat themselves to a real feast en route to the campsite. Salad vegetables, the relishes, and watermelon stay crisp and cold in the icebox. Plaid bags tote the rest of the food. Most of this family’s gear does double duty.
Utensils and unbreakable plastic bowls see daily use in the kitchen at home. Folding chairs, cooker, and cooler were “borrowed from the back yard, where the family barbecues Table was available at the roadside park: usually, campgrounds will furnish tables too.
The serving counter it travels with you everywhere. Many families new to camping round up ear they already own limit new purchases to a camping shelter, sleeping bags, cats, lantern, and one or two of the basic camping tools.
If you think the covered wagon of pioneer days is a thing of the past, you should visit a modern campground. Today’s version of a Conestoga, the station wagon, is going mighty strong Every year, its popularity as an outdoor vehicle soars to new heights, for sound reasons.
If you have never tried station-wagon camping you are due for some pleasant surprises.
The modern station wagon can carry more than a car and can be used for comfortable sleeping. With up-to-date accessories, it’s about the neatest camp home on the road.
If you already own such a vehicle but have never tried camping with it, you’re missing a fine chance If you like camping, and need a new vehicle to consider the advantages of a station wagon
A Wagon is a combination vehicle for transportation, a cargo truck for gear, a convenient dining room for rainy days, a bedroom at night
Tent poles are no problem if you’re packing a station wagon. With the back seat down, you can even carry a small boat and have room left to stow camping gear around it. Add a rooftop carrier to give storage space a huge boost.
Many campers prefer a wagon bed, equipped with air mattresses and sleeping bags, to any type of shelter. For camping relaxation, a proper bed and comfortable mattresses are important. Special mattresses, double air mattresses, double sleeping bags are designed for wagon use.
These offer comfort at night; serve as play pads en route for the youngsters.
You can invest in tailored pads ideal for wagon use or twin air mattresses that snap together to form one big wagon-wide pad.
Cots cannot usually be used in a station wagon if more than one person is to sleep there An adult and small child could manage well, one on a single, low cost, one on wagon bed A bunk unit is available to fit into a wagon.
Four people can sleep with this arrangement installed; two on an upper bunk, two below on the wagon bed.
Station-wagon camping can be made even more comfortable like the most comfortable cabin tents with the addition of a tailgate loot that offers space and privacy. The canvas boot fits over and around the open tailgate and makes sleeping quarters up to three feet long.
The boot clips to the top of the raised gate or is held out from the back of the top on fiberglass rods. The boots have a screened window or awning in the rear and long side panels that cover the end side windows of the wagon.
Boots sell for about twenty dollars can be assembled in a matter of minutes.
You can buy fitted screens for the front windows of a wagon. These let you roll the class up or down as desired yet keep out insects.
If you do not wish to invest in such screens, you can hang a piece of mosquito netting over the open door. Then, shut the door to hold the netting in place. The lower part of the netting can be held to the inside door with cellophane or adhesive tape.
Use dark mosquito netting for better visibility looking out. Moreover, use white material for more privacy from the outside world Khaki material offers about the best compromise between visibility and privacy.
For additional privacy, lightweight, dark-colored material can be draped over the windows. Tape it in place. This dark fabric gives you greater privacy at night and keeps the morning sun at a minimum.
A small tent pitched beside the wagon can work as a dressing headquarters. Or, if you use a fair amount of contortion, you can dress or undress in the wagon.
A child’s play tent, that sells for about ten dollars, serves as a dressing tent. At night, use the tent to hold the gear you take from the wagon.
The small tent will keep equipment sheltered from dew or rain, especially the first aid kits and other items. Or, cover extra gear with a lightweight tarpaulin or a sheet of waterproof plastic. Tuck the plastic under gear to keep it secure.
One of the nice things about station-wagon camping is that you have electric lights in your “bedroom.” The dome light is always there for your use.
Also, the additional lights can be plugged into the cigarette lighter. The cigarette lighter opening can also be used with a little water heater. You can make a late cup of instant coffee or an early cup in the morning.
The tailgate of a wagon makes an ideal table for either eating or cooking. Just remove the tailgate boot, rearrange sleeping gear.
If you are using a station-wagon boot in bear country, do not stow food on the front seat and then open your screened windows. You may wake and find half a bear in the wagon with you. It is better to keep your food in metal containers away from your car. Or, suspend the covered food from a tree limb.
It’s possible to camp in style and real comfort in a station wagon without any additional tent or shelter. But, some wagon campers carry along a screened eating enclosure that separates food from the sleeping quarters.
A screened shelter for eating doubles as an insect-free lounging area in camp. When the the weather is good, many campers switch and assign the shelter as sleeping quarters.
Some wagons have a hundred cubic feet of cargo space.
A car-top carrier will boost the capacity, even more, holding lightweight, bulky items such as sleeping bags, blankets. If a wagon has an outside rear-view mirror, it’s safe to load gear almost to the roof.
When you pack your wagon, place the things you will want first close to the tailgate. The lantern, shelter tent for the luggage, camp stove should be packed last. You’ll need them first.
Rain gear should be kept close to the seats so it’ll be handy if you arrive in the rain. Particularly heavy items such as the outboard motor, icebox, canned foods, should be placed close to the back of the last seat; or at least forward of the rear wheels.
This gives a better balance to the load. This distribution will also keep the tires cooler with less load on the axle.
If the children are “nappers,” distribute the heavy items along the sides of the wagon bed. Then, place soft equipment in the center to pad the floor and make a place for naps. If you have room, leave air mattresses blown up for a pad.
Such items as tent pegs, guy ropes, and poles should be kept close to the tent by the tailgate. Some campers carry all ropes and stakes in a canvas bag or old, small suitcase to consolidate them.
An extra stake and guy rope come in handy occasionally. Keep your hatchet, ax, or mallet for stake driving close by the tent.
If it is raining when you get to a tenting site, you have two choices. Either sit in your wagon until the storm lets up, or get right at the business of pitching, storm or no storm. In our rainy camping article we discussed about a bit.
You can reach for your rain gear, get out and pitch the tent on the close lea side of the wagon. This keeps it as dry as possible. Then, put your luggage into it so you can sleep in the wagon as planned. The tent should be placed with the door facing down-wind.
If you put up a boot in the rain, face wagon upwind facing rain while attaching the boot.
A station wagon does not need to be exactly level for good sleeping. If there is any pitch at all, try to park so heads will be at the highest point. Most important of all, have the wagon bed level from side to side.
Looking at the bluest sky, I forget all my stresses. Going through the green I try to breathe, more than I do in my reality. So, that's why I love camping.