Even with skyrocketing fuel prices, millions of Canadians will still take to the road this summer to enjoy a vacation or to visit family. But many will also be looking for ways to save a little money during their road trip. Opting for a park or roadside picnic rather than eating at a restaurant is one way to save a few dollars. Here are nine products that can make your al fresco experience a bit more comfortable.
Charcoal grills are great. They’re safe, they don’t require pressurized or flammable fuel, and, since they contain no valves, igniters, regulators or other complicated parts, they tend to deliver hassle-free operation for many years. The Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill from Weber makes it easy to take the charcoal cooking experience with you on the go. A rectangular shape and lock-down lid mechanism make it easy to pack and secure, reducing the space required to transport it and keeping your vehicle tidy. It’ll cook six burgers at a time and has adjustable dampers for precise heat control.
Designed to cover a large area but also fit into a small bag for storage, the MoonShade portable awning makes it easy to find some shade and shelter no matter where your ride takes you. Its lightweight design enables quick setup and easy portability, while a variety of anchoring systems make it simple to set up securely (its suction clamps allow you to use your car’s windows or roof as mounting points). It features UV-protected ripstop polyester, all-aluminum tension poles and weighs in at less than four kilograms.
($350 U.S., moonfab.com
Whether you want to boil a kettle of water for your tea, percolate some roadside coffee or enjoy an on-the-go helping of ramen noodles, the PocketRocket Deluxe Stove will come in handy. This tiny stove feeds on a fuel canister (not included) and features a pressure regulator for faster boiling times than other models. Connect a fuel cannister to the base, press the simple push-button ignition to fire it up, and a wide burner head will apply heat evenly to your cookware. When you’re done, the PocketRocket disconnects and folds down to fit in a storage bag.
For more intricate meals – or more serious tailgating – consider getting the Outdoor Slim-Fold Cook Station from GCI. Folded up, it’s about the size of a portable lawn chair. Opened, this cooking station gives you two tiers of shelving and counter space, as well as integrated utensil holders, paper towel holder, hooks and stem glass holders on its built-in side tables. The central countertop surface is heat resistant for cooking, so you can place a portable grill on it, while a lower shelf is perfect for a cooler bag so you can keep all your ingredients handy.
The trouble with many garbage cans is that they’re big and rigid and hard to take with you on the go. A worthy alternative? This spring-loaded Coghlans 1219 Camping Trash Can is made from easy-to-clean polyethylene material that can be wiped down or hosed off and features a zippered top you can fully close to contain the nastiest messes. Best of all? When set up, it will hold 33 gallons of trash, but securely collapses into a thin disc when you’re finished, thanks to built-in Velcro tabs that hold it closed until it’s time for your next cookout.
(Cost unavailable, amazon.ca
If you’re spending hours at the wheel, becoming dehydrated can make you tired, uncomfortable and even inattentive. That is why it is important to always have plenty of beverages available for your trip or roadside mealtime. Enter the Igloo 2 Gallon Sport Beverage Jug. Well-insulated, sturdy and fully vented, it can be filled with water and ice or fruit juices to keep everyone in your car – or at your picnic – well hydrated.
With excellent reviews from users and experts alike, the Coleman Oversized Quad Chair is one of the most sought-after on the market. Though many lower-cost camping chairs are available, this one can be equipped with a built-in cooler, can holder, storage pouch and other features. Adjustable armrests and a padded seatback ensure optimal comfort for quick meals or lengthy after-dinner chats, and its powder-coated, rust-resistant frame is built to last.
If you spend a lot of time exploring the great outdoors, there’s a solid chance you use a Jeep Wrangler to do it. Popular for its off-road capabilities and adventure-ready attitude, the Wrangler is supported by a massive aftermarket of parts and accessories. One of these is the Tailgate Table from Rough Country. Available for various Wrangler models, its rattle-free engineering and handy fold-up design are the stars of the show. It features an aluminum tabletop in a steel frame and includes two built-in cupholders.
($89.95 U.S., roughcountry.com
You don’t need to own a Jeep Wrangler to enjoy the benefits of a built-in dining table. The Libra Adjustable Hitch Mount Tailgate Table attaches to your trailer hitch and has three height settings so it can be used for food preparation, as a serving area or as a table you and your family or friends can sit at.
The tabletop, which can hold 45 kilograms, can be flipped down when not in use. ($149.99, amazon.ca