Northern California, USA
Matt takes his family out camping across California in their 1988 Vanagon.
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We take the Vanagon wherever we go camping. It’s so easy to pack up quickly and get going when you have a camping van. So much that you need while you’re camping can live in the van. All you need to do is grab some food, pack clothes, and go!
It’s common in these old vans to do an engine conversion, so we did that a few years ago. Now a Volkswagen on the outside and a Subaru on the inside! This made is way more reliable and gave us enough power to pass slower cars on the highway.
The Vanagon Westfalia comes with a two burner range and sink. It originally came with a refrigerator, but that wasn’t functional when we bought the van, so we removed it and gained extra cabinet space.
The two burners are powered by a propane tank that is filled from outside the van. I feel like most anything you’d eat when camping can be cooked on two gas burners. We tend to eat a lot of chili, Indian food, and grilled sandwiches on our trips. The little range is great for breakfast foods too.
One tip: make chili at home and freeze it. It makes a perfect ice block for your cooler.
Speaking of coolers, we love our RTICs. They’re high performance and super durable. We keep freezer packs frozen at home, so when it’s time to camp, we throw those into the RTICs and go. Rarely do we have to buy ice, which is awesome.
With lots of campfire restrictions in California during the summer, we often bring our propane powered fire pit with us. It’s convenient because you can start and stop a fire quickly. Nothing beats a wood fire though!
We just recently bought Dometic Go chairs and so far so good. Our previous REI chairs were great too, but after several years they’d worn out. We’re doing everything we can to get the most longevity from the new chairs.
The Vanagon sleeps 4 when you fold down the rear seat and pop the tent. My wife and I have two small girls, so they sleep on the bottom while we sleep up top.
We’ve found a two-person sleeping bag from REI to be a great setup on the top bunk. It stays in place through the night and is cozier. We have two small camping pillows that are easily washed.
- 1988 Volkswagen Westfalia
- Thule 615 Pulse Rack
- RTIC 65 QT Hard Cooler
- RTIC Backpack Cooler
- Dometic Go Compact Camp Chair
- REI Co-op Camp Chair - Kids
- Goal Zero Lighthouse 600 Camping Lantern
- Flying Kite
- Outland Living Firebowl
- REI Co-op Siesta Hooded 20 Double Sleeping Bag
- REI Co-op Trailmade Mummy Bag Pillow
Favorite place to camp
They’re often booked months in advance, but we love visiting our California State Parks. Some of these spots have been in operation for over 100 years and they’re often in phenomenal locations. We often find ourselves in the Santa Cruz Mountains and the parks in that area.
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