Some New Finds

1_Uncle Stan

Uncle Stan’s Military Surplus… Fun stuff!

Welcome.  Even with the nasty, cold weather we’ve had lately, I’ve been adding some new gadgets to the van to make life easier.  A recent inspiration was a trip to Uncle Stan’s Military Surplus.  It is located in Marion, Iowa – just east of Cedar Rapids.

IMG_5683The first acquisition was this first aid kit box.  There was nothing inside.  The lid is latched down and has a gasket to make sure it is waterproof.  I plan to replace the large plastic toolbox on the right with this sealed container.  The green box will house a small collection of wrenches, pliers, screwdrivers, a multimeter, etc.  and will save a lot of interior space in the van.  The tools needed for most camping trips comprise a very short list.  Why haul everything you own on each outing?

5_KnifeThe next find was this pocket knife.  It is a brand new Rite Edge Stainless Steel folding knife. (blade length is a bit under 4 inches).  The blade is very sharp and so far it has held an edge quite well.  It should prove handy.

On the last trip a flopping trout went sliding down the icy bank and right back into the water.  No more… each fish can be “dispatched” right away.  The cost for the knife was just  $10.50 plus tax.  As long it is not used for illegal purposes, I can carry the knife in the open or even concealed.  Iowa’s knife laws are pretty liberal but that’s not the case in many other places.  Check with your local law enforcement.

IMG_5696This little plastic ammo box was picked up at Harbor Freight tools.  It’s lightweight and waterproof.  I use it for pills, the diabetes testing strips, allergy meds, an asthma inhaler, and other medical-related items.  It also houses a case with extra eyeglasses.

3_PensThe cute little recycle bin you see on the right came  from Dollar Tree, the store where “everything is a dollar.”  I could see the potential immediately.  This little bin hangs (with the lid closed) from two magnetic hooks on the van’s door.  It holds a number of pens including Sharpies and solves the problem of how to keep ink pens handy for filling out campground registrations.

Each of these little plastic storage containers solved a need and helps keep the van more organized.  There is a plan to buy another plastic ammo box to house measuring spoons, measuring cups, and plastic tableware where cleanliness is a priority.

2_LampHere’s one more inexpensive acquisition.  The little lamp (runs on 3 AA batteries) was purchased for just $2.50 in a bargain basket at the HyVee grocery store.  It retails online for $12.  I’m thinking about using this lamp in place of the glitter lamp.  It adds a soft, relaxing light to the van while relaxing with a good book and a glass of wine.

It’s fun finding little treasures like those featured here.  Getting organized is one of the biggest challenges of van camping or living outdoors for an extended period of time.  It’s also rewarding to find an the best method that works for you.  First find what you need to carry… then refine how you store it.  Organized = more enjoyment.  It’s a constant learning process.

Have a terrific week and thanks for stopping by.  If you have a military surplus store near you, definitely check it out.  They have some fantastic bargains and items perfect for RVers or camping enthusiasts.

Take care!
Bradford, the “Van Trekker”

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About VanTrekker

I am a former vandweller in Eastern Iowa who, for several years (off and on), lived in a 2007 Chevy cargo van. I still travel around Iowa with my tortoise shell cat, Jennifer Stefanie. Our favorite place to explore is the Country Heritage Community, the four far northeastern counties of Iowa (Clayton, Winneshiek, Allamakee, and Fayette). Ride along as we fish in pristine trout streams, enjoy fine home cooked camping meals, and meet new people. It's all possible on a shoestring budget. Happy travels always! --- Brad, the "Van Trekker"

6 Responses to Some New Finds

  1. tinycamper says:

    What fun! Don’t you love it when you find just the right storage solutions for the van? It’s like hitting the jackpot. I really enjoy seeing what other people do to the insides of their vans and campers.

    I also have a fondness for pocket knives. Your new one looks like a real keeper.

    And I love that lamp!

    • VanTrekker says:

      Hello! Thanks for the note. I agree… Once we find what works best for our processes, finding tweaks like new storage containers just adds another layer of fun. I’ve got some news coming up, too. I might be going on the road with two cats later this spring for a while. It could get interesting!


      • tinycamper says:

        Exciting news! I can’t wait to read about it!

        I know Sabrina is a good traveler. How does Jesse James do on the road?

        Sounds like you will have your hands full! 🙂

        • VanTrekker says:

          Hi. It’s hard to say what’s going to be happening as the year unfolds. I am going to have a real estate agent help me this week. After that, it’s anyone’s bet when the house will be sold and Dad’s estate finished up. Serena loves to camp, but Jesse is a different story. He likes to play and explore outside but cries the whole time he’s in the van. I might take him out again one of these days to see how he does. It really seems to stress him out though. Maybe he will get used to it.

  2. Pleinguy says:

    Seems as though there are always items that will improve your current setup. It’ great finding something that fits the need perfectly. Looks like you’ve found some good ones.

    • VanTrekker says:

      Thanks. By ditching some things that were not needed, there was enough space recovered to put the passenger’s seat back in for now. It comes in handy when visiting a friend and wanting to take the Express van somewhere. Less really is more. 🙂

      Take care!