The Ultimate Campground Patio
Set off the season in style with a fresh crop of outdoor furnishings
Whether you camp in an RV or a tent, let’s face it, weather permitting, it’s the outdoors that beckons. There’s something very satisfying about setting up a site, taking in the surroundings and making friends with new neighbors. But beyond a pair of folding chairs and a side table, many campers don’t put a lot of effort into their outdoor living spaces, and that’s a shame. What’s under your patio awning makes it more welcoming, comfortable and personal, creating an area that’s perfect for cooking, entertaining or relaxing on a summer day.
While each of us has our own idea of what constitutes the ultimate patio, we can all pretty much agree that it should be well equipped for your lifestyle and intended purpose, be portable and easy to take down and, of course, properly decorated. To inspire you to create your own ultimate patio, we’ve compiled this guide to more than 20 must-have items that will make you the envy of any RV park or campground.
Our prediction: There will be a new TV reality show in the future called Campground Patio Wars. Remember, you heard it here first!
Kelty created this portable love seat — it’s the perfect size for two adults and has adjustable arms and even bottle openers right there with the beverage holders. The Kelty Low-Love Chair has a 12-inch seat height and a slight recline. It’s around $90 and you can get it at Sport Chalet, www.sportchalet.com
Meet the Caravan Sports Oversized Zero Gravity Chair. This recliner features lumbar support and an adjustable headrest, and folds down to just 6 inches thick for easy storage when not in use. The fabric is durable Textilene suspended by a double bungee system and it can cradle up to 330 pounds. The chair costs less than $100 and is available from Camping World, www.campingworld.com
Weber offers two portable grills perfect for outdoor entertaining. The Weber Q 1000 has 189 square inches of cooking space — and for 2014, it’s equipped with a split-cooking grate, which means half of the grill can be removed and swapped out for a porcelain-enameled cast-iron griddle. Read: pancakes. The Weber Q 3200 has 393 inches of cooking space, as well as two stainless-steel burners, a built-in thermometer, electronic ignition and removable folding work tables, among the features. The Q 1000 costs about $200, while the Q 3200 runs about $400. Check them out at www.weber.com
This Coleman RoadTrip NXT 300 propane grill has 20,000 Btu of cooking intensity, and 321 square inches of cooking space (enough for 18 burgers!), Electric Instastart ignition (for matchless lighting) and a top-based thermometer so that you don’t have to open it to feel the heat. Independently controlled Even-Temp burners, porcelain-coated cast-iron grills, stainless-steel side tables and a scissor-leg design round out the notables. It’s around $280 and available from Coleman, www.coleman.com
If you’re a fan of charcoal versus gas grilling, the BBQ Pro might be up your alley. It’s uber-portable, and at only 14 inches, carrying and storing is easy. There are 151 inches of cooking space and two locking clasps keep the lid in place. It weighs less than 4 pounds and runs around $20. BBQ Pro also offers a disposable model with 93 square inches of cooking space that costs just $5. Get them at Kmart, www.kmart.com
Trend alert: smokers. They give great flavor to all kinds of meats, and this Smokey Mountain Cooker from Weber can fit in most storage compartments. It boasts 286 square inches of cooking space, two plated-steel cooking grates and a built-in lid thermometer. It sells for around $220. Weber, www.weber.com
Utensils are only half the equation here. Zippo came up with this idea as a way to conveniently have, yes, utensils at the ready, but also towels, cookware, condiments and spices.
The Utensil Tree has an 8-inch tray, a patio base and a two-pronged step bar. It also breaks down for packing. The cost is about $50. Get it from Zippo at www.zippo.com
Any patio light can help when the sun goes down, but it takes something special to create ambience. These elegant Etched Bronze Globe Lights can diffuse light from bulbs up to 60 watts, and are connected via a heavy-duty, black-coiled cord that can stretch to 30 feet (also includes a 20-foot straight extension cord). Made in the USA, the kit’s six globes are shatter- and water-resistant. Available at Camping World for less than $100.
Mosquitos ruining the party? Terminix offers a solution in its AllClear Mosquito Mister Lantern with Naturals. It’s a functional lantern with a button that controls the mist based on light, medium, or heavy mosquito visitation. According to the company, it covers 300 square feet for up to 10 hours with a 100 percent all-natural lemongrass formula. That means it’s not a problem to stay put on your ultimate patio when it’s activated; your pets can stay, too. You can learn more and where to buy (it’s about $60) at www.terminixallclear.com
Tiki torches are a sure sign of a party — and you can help get yours started with the 4-in-1 TIKI multiuse torch. As its name would imply, it can be used four different ways: As a full-size torch, a garden torch, a deck-rail-mounted torch or a tabletop torch — just by changing pole sections. As a side benefit, it burns Citronella or OFF BiteFighter torch fuel to keep the bugs at bay. It is a real flame, however, so make sure to keep it away from combustibles like awnings. Available at Camping World and at www.tikibrand.com for around $20.
Mr. Heater’s Big Buddy will heat up to 400 square feet; set it on low and it’ll do its work for 220 hours. No matches needed; it has push-button ignition. A built-in fan is how it spreads heat evenly, and there’s a multiposition heat-level knob: 4,000, 9,000 or 18,000 Btu. Dimensions are 17.5 by 17 by 10 inches. Can be purchased for less than $150 from Cabela’s, www.cabelas.com or Wal-Mart, www.walmart.com
Burning ring of fire? That would be the Redwood from Camp Chef, which is a portable gas fire pit with a high-pressure burner and 12 pounds of lava rock. No wood, and no smoke. There’s a 55,000-Btu burner, and it comes with four extendable roasting sticks. The msrp at www.campchef.com is $175, but you can get it for less from Camping World, www.campingworld.com
When shade isn’t enough, employ the power of evaporative cooling. Misty Mate’s Cool Camper 6 mister includes a portable 2-gallon tank plus 10 feet of lead line and 6 feet of mist line. It uses clip-on attachments to secure the line to the awning. The system requires no electrical power; it is pressurized using a pump handle on the tank. Use with filtered, soft or distilled water to prevent hard-water stains on the coach and awning. MSRP is $70, but you can get it for less at a variety of retailers including www.amazon.com and www.campingworld.com
If you’ve thrown your share of parties, you know you can never have too much ice. The Dometic HZB-15S portable stainless-steel icemaker will make up to 33 pounds of the frozen stuff every 24 hours; the first ice production takes less than 15 minutes. It has a 6-foot power cord, handles and a removable basket. Power is via 120-volt AC at 2.5 amps. Camping World has it for less than $300 at www.campingworld.com
The good ol’-fashioned ice chest has finally been rendered obsolete. Dometic’s TropiCool 37 quart Cooler/Warmer can keep cold foods at a range of 32 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit, or warm foods at 118 to 150 degrees. A seven-stage temperature regulation with LED display features a memory function that saves the most recent power setting, and a membrane keypad protects the electronics from dust and moisture. The unit operates on 12-volt DC, and includes a 120-volt AC adapter as well. It retails for around $350 at Camping World, www.campingworld.com
Cooking outdoors is great fun — but stepping into and out of the rig and/or having ingredients spread out on a table isn’t the most efficient way to produce al fresco treats. This Folding Camp Pantry offers three shelves to hold supplies, a zippered door with hook-and-loop restraining straps and two rear mesh panels for ventilation. Made from weather-resistant, heavy-duty fabric, the pantry measures 31.5 inches high by 23 inches wide by 18.5 inches deep and folds for easy storage in its own bag. Around $50 at Camping World, www.campingworld.com
Once all that tasty food is prepared for outdoor dining, you’ll want to keep the bugs away … and this Mesh Food Cover is a quick, simple and elegant way to do it. Just pull a string at the base of the cover to open it umbrella-style, and the 48-inch long by 24-inch wide cover locks open to protect your grub. It snaps shut for easy storage and weighs less than a pound. Sold at Camping World for about $10, www.campingworld.com
Most of us know what to bring to a party, but don’t necessarily think about where to put the trash when we’re done. The StorMate Garbage Bag Holder from Thetford sets up to hold a 13-gallon or larger tall kitchen bag, then collapses into an easy-to-store, 14.5 by 11.5 by 2-inch size. You can find it for less than $15 at Camping World, www.campingworld.com
A portable deck for an RV? Yup, Decked Out RV Products has that — low-profile deck surfaces that can be set up or put away in mere moments. Examples of what’s available include the Shore Series, which is maintenance-free; it starts at less than $2,000. The Shore Sidekick is made from anodized extruded aluminum, teak or mahogany and is 23 by 48 inches, compared to its 8-, 10- and 12-foot counterparts, and it’s $259. The Alfresco is made of marine-grade sapele ply (the texture is similar to African mahogany). It, too, has a Sidekick version; prices start at about $2,300 for the regular, while the Sidekick is $279. Same sizes are available. Learn more at www.deckedoutrvproducts.com
The Prest-O-Fit rug is not only weather-resistant, but it has rustproof aluminum grommets for stake-down. There are a couple sizes available: 6 by 15 feet and 8 by 20 feet. Various colors are also there for the choosing, including green, burgundy wine, harvest gold and brown. It’s less than $150 and available from Camping World at www.campingworld.com
This Roll-Top Table from Cabela’s is compact and lightweight. It’s made from aluminum, so it’s easy to clean and tough to destroy or scratch. Two sizes are available — 28 by 28 inches and 28 by 43 inches — with telescoping legs for changing its height from 27 to 33 inches. It rolls into a carrying bag. Pricing starts around $70, and it’s available through Cabela’s, www.cabelas.com
Here’s a remedy for campground tables that are dirty, splintered, uncomfortable or all of the above. This water-resistant Table Cover and Pads set is made of vinyl with a soft flannel backing, and is easy to clean with a damp cloth. Lightly padded seat covers make hard benches more comfortable, and the boxed-end construction and cord locks help keep everything in place. It fits tables up to 6 feet long and costs about $40 at Camping World, www.campingworld.com
No patio table? No problem when you’ve got this handy Folding Picnic Table from Lifetime. It’s made from UV-protected polyethylene and powder-coated steel, so it’s tough, stain resistant, easy to clean and splinter free. The 6-foot table folds flat for storage and weighs 95 pounds, according to the manufacturer. Backed by a two-year limited warranty, the table’s open dimensions are 72 inches long by 30 inches wide by 29 inches high. Available at a variety of retailers for less than $200 and online at www.buylifetime.com
As the saying goes, “It’s 5 o’clock somewhere!” With this Portable Bar from Best of Times, you can turn an RV patio into party headquarters. Featuring steel-frame construction and standard bar height, the assembly sets up in minutes without tools and is completely portable. Three levels of shelving hold cans and bottles, and a drop-in cooler holds a case of drinks or ice. Comes with four padded stools, an umbrella, side table and travel bag with wheels. A variety of designs are available, or customize your own. Sells for around $600 at www.bestoftimesusa.com
Bring some ’50s cool to any patio with a pair of pink flamingos. Proudly made in the USA, these birds stand 27 and 24 inches high, and feature all-weather durability so their color won’t fade and their legs won’t rust. The Pink Flamingo Set comes in around $10 at Camping World, www.campingworld.com