Monday, January 01, 2024

My New Camping/Fishing Rig Setup - for Boondocking Trips in 2024!

Living in Colorado for over 20 years and having explored much of Summit County, Grand County and the Front Range with the wife and previous chocolate lab, I am familiar with most fishing areas in the state.  I am always looking for new areas to fish - and enjoy the solitude of some of the smaller streams and rivers.

I watch a lot of videos by LookNFishy on YouTube  and he's my inspiration for getting out and exploring more of Colorado/Wyoming/Utah/Montana - and now that my daughter will be headed to Laramie to attend the University of Wyoming, I have no excuse but to visit the area more.  I recently reconnected with some old friends from the RockyMtnFly webpage and they do trips up there all the time (and some live in the area).  So no excuses for 2024 - I need to do more exploring - I ain't getting any younger!! 

Last year I started looking for a rooftop tent to do overnights in Winter Park with my son who downhill mountain bikes at Trestle Bike Park.  

I looked for about a month and found an almost new (used twice) SmittyBuilt on FB Marketplace for $900 - it sleeps three (well, two comfortably) and fits on my factory roof rack.  The only issue I found was that mounting it to my factory rack on my 4 Runner is difficult - the hardware it comes with sucked, so I had to improvise - especially since the room under the rack is very tight and near impossible to get your hands under and turn the bolts that hold the mounting hardware around the factory rack bars to the rails of the RTT.


Smittybilt Overlander XL

I had to get creative with the brackets since there was nothing off the shelf that would be perfect.  I went to Home Depot and walked around for a while trying to find something better than the cheap brackets provided.  I found these 3 inch electrical conduit straps that are pretty heavy duty.  They were  more round in shape than would fit around my factory bars, and I needed more of a flatter handle shape.  Again, I improvised and banged them down with a hammer to more flatten them out.  With shorter screws and a ratched 1/2" wrench, and the addition of a hockey puck sitting on my crossbars (duct taped in place), I was able to get the RTT securely attached to the rack.

I have driven many miles with this thing on my roof and it is safe, I check it constantly, and besides one of the pucks wiggling out of place (hence the duct tape), I have had no issues.  

I purchased a 1.5" mattress topper to add to the 3" mattress pad, and my sleeping bag.  I slept pretty good - and the RTT comes with a USB LED lights that are so bright I had to put duct tape over half the lights so they weren't blinding.

Mattress Pad 

We were now ready for our maiden voyage.  Unfortunately our first trip was cut short when Z wiped out pretty badly on the last run of the day, and he was pretty dazed and I made the decision to just drive the hour and 20 minutes home to be safe.  I don't think he was concussed, but he had scrapes all over his shoulders that weren't covered by his chest protector and helmet.  His helmet was a mess - and the visor was cracked off.  That put an end to the inaugural boys night in WP.

We did manage a second trip that we actually did stay overnight.  He biked for most of the day, and then in the early evening I convinced him to try fly fishing, but unfortunately the fish were down and the mosquiotes were up.  We cut the evening fishing short and went to dinner and then hit Lot G at Winter Park to camp for the night.


I really enjoyed the freedom of having the RTT and being able to get more out of my trips by having the ability to stay overnight.  I know there are tons of free places to camp in NF or BLM land and most of the places I fish are off the beaten path.  I would love to extend my stays with the ability to "work" on the road and be able to extend my fishing time past Saturday's and Sunday's.

In preparation for the spring/summer/fall 2024's camping/fishing season, I have watched a million boondocking and truck camping videos and looked at all those "best gear" videos and started a wishlist of my own gear.  For Christmas this year, I started buying a bunch of things that would make my trips more comfortable.

Before I started buying gear, I wanted to add a shelf to my truck - adding more ability to carry gear.  I built this shelf that allows me to put three 10" tall tupperware type containers in here and still store my boots and rods and a power station under the shelf.  I can throw my fishing gear on top of the shelf along with sleeping bag and other gear.  I want to leave the back seat open for a float tube and my clothes and a cooler - and anything else I am forgetting.

In total I paid $17 for a piece of 3/8" OSB and $19 for a grey indoor/outdoor carpet.  I shaped the edges so it countours to the truck and set them on the wheel wells for support.  The split is 36 inches on the left and 24 inches on the right (ish).  This is pretty sturdy and holds a ton of weight.  I might put the legs on hinges so they flip out of the way.  I can fit a 39" deep solar panel on top of the tupperware container on the left hand side - I put the carpet on the back side of the shelf to protect the solar panel from scratching.  This also leaves my hitch open for a cargo basket, a bike rack or a hitch for the raft & trailer my buddy has.

Now that I had the rig all set up, I wanted to get a power station - after watching a few videos, I notice a few people had Bluetti's and they really liked them.  I wanted something strong enough to charge my laptop battery for a full weekend and charge all my other gear at night.  I chose a 700W system - as it would be easy to charge with a 100W solar panel.  This one isn't exactly the one I got - but is very close - it was $319:

Bluetti EB70 700W Power Station

I then got this solar panel - as it was the cheapest - $65 vs $90 for the same exact one at Harbor Freight.  y buddy told me I wouldn't need much more than this, especially if I left it out all day to charge the power station.  He was right - as I have left this out in my yard during winter sun and was pulling about 97 watts with it into the battery - and after about 3 hours it filled my battery from 60% to 100%.

100W Solar Panel

The next toy I had to get were lanterns/torches - I saw a video of a guy who lives out of his 4Runner and he had these lanterns that had magnetic bases, so you could stick them to anything.  They were also easily rechargeable through a USB cord. 

LED Magnetic Lantern's for $14

I was shopping over at Murdoch's (yes the horse feed store) and noticed they had tons of camping equipment for relatively cheap prices.

Mini Foldable Shovel for $17

Three pack of Sporks for $9 (these are the closest I could find):
Propane Stove for $18

I assume I won't be cooking very much - I will just need to boil water for tea and those Mountain Meals or Peak 2 Meals you get at Cabelas/Sportsmans Warehouse/Murdochs - you can get some other high end meals as well - but I don't plan to be too far away from civilization - so might even head back to town to do some work on my laptop and hot spot and grab food then.

I hit Sportsman's Warehouse looking for some deals and got:

I already have a ton of other items, like rope, sleeping bags, storage bags, cooler, first aid kit, propane bottles, tp, tire compressor, gloves, tools, blankets, matches, lighters, pillows, battery packs, truck battery jumper, tow straps, USB Fan for the tent, etc.

I still need to get bear spray, a life jacket (one of those small inflatable ones), maybe a WeBoost to increase my cellular signal (?), a small heater, a table system of some sort, mosquito netting - these are things I might wait to see their necessity after my first trip.  Of course I will also need a Wyoming full year NR fishing license.  

I'm thinking about getting a GoPro knock off camera to document some of my trips.  Still lots to research and keep me occupied during the winter months.

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