Author Archives: Lori

Holding Tank Deodorizers

 Walex TOI-91799 Porta-Pak Holding Tank Deodorizer, (Pack of 10)Check PriceEvery RV or camper that has a bathroom needs to carry holding tank deodorizers onboard.

Holding tank deodorizers come in a few varieties, including little pre-measured packets (which we prefer), a dry powder or as a liquid – both of which must be measured – which is put right down the toilet after you do a dump (empty the black water holding tank).

The holding tank deodorizer remains in the holding tank until it’s dumped the next time and diminishes any smells from material in the holding tank by rapidly breaking down toilet paper and solid waste.

Just treat the toilet with a dose of whichever holding tank deodorizer you choose after you perform each dump. Your holding tank treatment will keep your camper smelling much fresher.

Note: You can use these holding tank deodorizers for any portable toilet or waste water container (think bucket….).

 Walex BIO-11530 Bio-Pak Natural Holding Tank Deodorizer and Waste Digester, (Pack of 10)Check Price Happy Campers Organic RV Holding Tank Treatment – large 64oz tub (64-treatments) for RV, Marine, Camping, Portable Toilets.Check Price Reliance Products Bio-Blue Toilet Deodorant Packaged (12-Pack)Check Price Valterra V22128 ‘Pure Power’ Waste Digester and Odor Eliminator – 128 oz. BottleCheck Price Camco 40256 TST Gray Water Odor Control – 64 ozCheck Price RID-X RV Toilet Treatment Liquid, 16 Treatments, 48 OunceCheck Price

shadow cruiser S260BHS

Shadow Cruise S260BHS Travel Trailer Personal Review

shadow cruiser S260BHSI bought our Shadow Cruiser S260BHS on a whim….

….yes-sir-ee, Bob, that brand new Shadow Cruiser S260BHS was not planned!

I was in Tucson, Arizona visiting my brother, minding my own business when I saw a sign for ‘Free Hotdogs’ at an RV show. Now, I’m not one to pass up a free hot dog, let alone a free RV show but, perhaps, in the future, I’ll think twice. It’s not because we don’t really enjoy our Shadow Cruiser S260BHS travel trailer, because, well, we do. But, it was sort of a more expensive day than I had envisioned.

I bought our travel trailer at that very trailer show in Tucson after a rushed call to my boyfriend in May 2013. We’ve been on the go and enjoying the camper since.

My total experience with camping in a trailer was watching my parents yell at each other when Dad tried to back in his camper to our driveway. Anyone who has watched this display will be familiar with the yells of ‘Turn the wheel the OTHER way – no, wait, you were right….’

So, our maiden voyage in our travel trailer was to take it cross-country (yes, we’re nuts) from the purchase spot in Mesa, AZ to Boyds, MD. We came through it relatively unscathed albeit with a few less camper parts than we started off with. We definitely had some fun (and a few painful….) experiences with our new Shadow Cruiser S260BHS trailer.

Kitchen of the Shadow Cruiser

shadow cruiser travel trailer kitchenThis is the kitchen in our 2013 Shadow Cruiser as see on the day I bought it.

As you can see, it’s a pretty typical set up for a travel trailer kitchen, including very some nicely laminated countertops.

The full kitchen includes an over-the-stove microwave, refrigerator, 3 burner gas stove and a double sink. There’s even a wee oven which is perfect to make cupcakes on a rainy day – ok, my cupcakes don’t come out so good as the oven doesn’t appear to heat evenly, but I’ve learned to live with it.

There’s also a vent fan above the stove – note to readers: when you use the vent fan, you need to go outside and unclip the cover that protects the open vet from becoming nests for birds, etc. Always remember to clip the cover back on before heading out on the road. Yep, you guessed the reason for that bold type – ours blew off on day 2 on the road. Live and learn.

There’s only two 110 plugs in the kitchen, one overhead and one of the side cabinet, so make sure to bring along an extension cord if you plan on doing more than making a pot of coffee and toasting some bread.

shadow cruiser camper travel trailer inside viewMy favorite things about the Shadow Cruiser S260BHS Travel Trailer

The Shadow Cruiser takes camping to a new level! With a beautiful interior that is more modern than country as most travel trailers and campers seem to be, this cozy home on wheels is quite the showplace. It’s also a very functional camper as we’ve quickly discovered. So, below are some of our favorite things about the Shadow Cruiser S260BHS.

    • The refrigerator/freezer is actually very nice size. We were pleasantly surprised to see the size of the fridge and even more surprised to see how well it works. Once the trailer is unhooked from electric, the refrigerator moves over to be powered by the propane tanks on the Shadow Cruiser so our food stays icy cold all day, even when traveling. Also, we were cautioned that the camper fridge/freezer would take about 24 hours to cool – it actually works much quicker than that. In fact, it seems to cool faster on the propane while we’re on the road.When we’re on the road and the refrigerator is cooling on propane, we just have to make sure to switch off the propane before we pull in to gas up the truck. Never forget that!The freezer may be fast in freezing but it doesn’t have an ice maker – this is roughing it! So, John bought me a portable 26-lb per day ice maker which I will spotlight later.
    • The little bathtub is just too cute. Ok, so maybe adults wouldn’t be so comfortable in this itsy bitsy bathtub but, when it came to picking a travel trailer, we preferred one with a smaller tub and bigger living area. The bathtub is fine for kids or dog though. The shower has nice pressure also – we stayed in one state park where the shower was totally disgusting so we broke in the shower in the Shadow Cruiser. Not bad at all.We were leery of putting bolts in the walls to hold shower towels so we bought these 3M hooks which work perfectly to secure towels or a hanging makeup bag.
    • The bunk beds are the perfect place to stash a few dogs. The S260BHS comes with 2 bunk beds which are, if not the most comfortable beds around, are perfectly serviceable as dog beds or storage for suit cases, or beds for small children. Additionally, I love that this area is accessible from outside the trailer so, if the bottom bunk is not being used, it can be folded up and additional items stored. This is the perfect place to stash the BBQ grill. We plan on putting a small gate across the front to keep the dogs in at night.
    • The Shadow Cruiser S260BSH has a nice slide out which adds about 3.5′. Few 28′ travel trailers have as nice a slide as this one has. The slide out slides the dining table and sofa out quite a bit so that the 4 dogs underfoot are not necessarily underfoot.Another nice thing about this slide out is that you don’t have to slide it all the way out. In other words, see that tree over there? The one that is about a foot from the side of your trailer? Just move the slide out 8″ or so to give yourself a little more room. Not necessary to expand it to its full glory.And, even when slid in, when traveling for example, one can still get to the bathroom, bedroom and fridge, albeit, the bathroom is a bit of a squeeze. What more can you ask for? As a note, if the slide out is not all the way out, it may not be water tight so do not expand it in wet weather unless you can expand it all the way.
    • Outdoor, waterproof speakers mean that we always have tunes available. When camping, trailer or not, we prefer to be outside so we usually set up an outside camping living room that contains a rug, camping chairs, and the little red propane fireplace. iTunes are never far away. With outdoor speakers, my music equipment can remain inside, high and dry, even on rainy days. The Shadow Cruiser radio has an auxiliary jack where we plug in any music player, including our phones.
    • I love the entertainment center!. OK, perhaps ‘entertainment center’ is a bit of a fancy way to say the recessed cabinet for the TV. But the cabinet is not only recessed, it also swivels between the living room area of the camper and the bedroom, so, if you want to look into a mirror instead, you can do that too. The cabinet takes a 24″ TV which is perfectly fine by us.
    • Comparing the S260BHS to other travel trailers, the cabinet space is immense. We’re used to being out overnight on a 26′ boat, so we at least have an idea about how to store items in small spaces but, with our new Shadow Cruiser, we needn’t have worried. There’s cabinet space all over – including a large closet by the bathroom that’s perfect as a linen closet or to store taller kitchen items. In fact, I think what I’ll have to remember is not to fill the cabinets with items we don’t need so as to keep the weight down!
    • Speaking of storage, the Shadow Cruiser gives you plenty. The foot of the bed lifts up to give you storage under there and both dinette ends lift off for larger storage areas perfect for additional kitchen items or larger bedding such as comforters. There’s also a full pass through storage area in the front of the camper perfect for storing those camping chairs and rug.
    • The interior decor of our Shadow Cruiser seems, at least to us, to be a bit less ‘country’ than others. There’s not as much oak work and, in fact, most of the Shadow Cruiser is covered in a pretty, very neutral wall paper. We’ve enlivened the look of our travel trailer camper with decorative bed pillows that double as couch pillows for guests who stay over.

And the things we’d change about the Shadow Cruiser travel trailer camper

The Shadow Cruiser has a very reasonable price (we paid 20K for a new 2013 Shadow Cruiser) so there are some shortcuts taken either by the manufacturer or the people who put it together. Here’s some of the problems.

    • The plastic shower nozzle has a little knob that you push to turn the nozzle on and off when you shower. Since water is at a premium when RVing and has to be stored in the gray water tank, showers are quickly done – no 20 minute showers in this camper. But, when one turns off the water to conserve it while soaping up, the nozzle leaks everywhere. So plumbers tape or even a nicer nozzle will fix this.
    • The back bumper is hollow and designed to hold the sewer hose which is a great idea. What isn’t such a good idea is putting bumper end caps on that easily come off. As a result, we lost both bumper end caps and our brand-new, never used sewer hose on the first leg of our journey out. We had to stop at a Camping World on the road the very first day to replace it.John’s response to this problem was to drill a 6″ screw from top to bottom through the ends of the bumper. A wing nut holds the screw in place and prevents the sewer hose from escaping again.

 Camco 40313 4Check Price Camco 40303 Bumper Caps – 2 pack (Black)Check Price Camco 39761 RhinoFLEX 15′ Sewer Hose Kit with Swivel FittingCheck Price

  • Every time we opened a door after being on the road on our first camping trip, there were screws lying around on the floor. After we determined where the screws came from, we secured them back up and added a bit of glue to hold them in place. A tube of Gorilla Glue will hold anything in place and is a good investment before you even hit the road in the camper.

Summary of our purchase of the Shadow Cruiser S260BHS travel trailer

Would we buy this same camper again? The answer is probably yes. It’s not made any better nor any worse than any other travel trailer in its class. And, unless you go with the Airstream for about 80K more, this is about what you’ll get for 20-25K.

sewer line support

Sewer Hose Supports

 Camco 43041 15′ Sidewinder Plastic Sewer Hose SupportCheck PriceOk, maybe a brand new RV owner doesn’t exactly need a sewer hose supports, but, the first time they go camping, they’ll sure thank you for the thoughtful gift.

Depending on your RV site, the sewer connection (if there is one) may not necessarily be downhill from where your black water (sewer tank) is. Therefore, when you go to drain the black water tank (the sewer water), it may not drain properly or thoroughly as the draining waste could be fighting gravity.

That’s why sewer hose supports are so nice. Just place them out under your sewer hose in accordian fashion with the tallest support near the camper and the low end right by the sewer. The gradual decline built into the sewer hose supports will allow all of the black water to drain right out, making what could have been a messy job not nearly so.

leveling blocks

Leveling Blocks

 Camco 44505 Leveling Blocks – 10 packCheck PriceFor those of us without self-leveling RV rigs, leveling blocks are our best friends. Leveling blocks do what they sound like they do – they will help level the RV on an uneven surface.

If your RV is unlevel from left to right, just build up a few of these interlocking leveling blocks into a small pyramid, and drive the low side of the camper atop it to level the camper side-to-side. Easy balancing this way!

We carry 20 leveling blocks in the front storage area of our travel trailer 30′ travel trailer. These leveling blocks come in handy, not only to help with leveling the camper from side to side, but they’re also helpful to put down for traction should your truck get stuck, say, in mud, maybe….We’ve even used a leveling block or two to level a campground picnic table.

These leveling blocks that we currently have come in sets of 4 or 10 and are self-contained in a little bag. And, yes, they actually do go right back in the bag for storage. My sage advice is to buy more than you think you might need as they’re inexpensive and indispensable when you need them.

 Tri-Lynx 00015 Lynx Levelers, (Pack of 10)Check Price Camco 44573 Yellow Tri-LevelerCheck Price Level-Trek LT80010 RV Interlocking Leveling SystemCheck Price Lock Block and Chock LB-10 RV and Trailer Interlocking Leveling Block, (Pack of 10)Check Price Level-Trek LT80020 RV Interlocking Leveling SystemCheck Price

Curved Trailer Levelers

These are on my wishlist for the next camping season. Instead of building a little pyramid with the interlocking leveling blocks, you just slip one of these curved babies under the camper’s low side wheel and drive it up on the leveler until it’s level. This is, by far, the best way to level a camper, particularly if there’s another person to tell you when to stop. And, these are a super easy way to lift a camper if you have a flat!

 Andersen-3604 Camper LevelerCheck Price Andersen Manufacturing 3620 Rapid JackCheck Price Ultimate Trailer Gear Duffel BagCheck Price

Tommy Bahama Beach Chair

Tommy Bahama Beach Chair

 2 Tommy Bahama Backpack Cooler Beach Chairs (1 Green and 1 Blue Striped)Check PriceThis Tommy Bahama beach chair tops the reviews when it comes to John and me enjoying our beach vacations.

The fact that this little beach chair is portable yet functional means that we tote it everywhere with us. And, with the attached backpack straps, it’s easier than ever to tote it along. John particularly likes the little cooler attached to the back of the chair – he’ll fill it up with ice and a six pack of beer. I’ve been known to stuff a whole picnic lunch in the cooler. And, if it’s pockets you’re after, this chair has them all (well it has a cell phone holder, cup holder, and zippered storage pocket in the back.

Tommy Bahama Beach Chair Pros

    • As mentioned above, the attached cooler is just large enough. And, it’s nice to not have to bring along extra gear since we can store so much in these beach chairs.
Tommy Bahama Beach Chair

My Tommy Bahama beach chair is loaded and ready for fun.

  • There’s 5 different reclining positions (including flat) in which the chair can be set. This
    makes it very comfortable for everyone.
  • The addition of a cell phone pocket means that our phones are safe and non-sandy.
  • The attached pillow can be adjusted up or down depending on the beachcomber’s needs.
  • This beach chair is very comfortable to wear as a backpack, leaving the hands free (ostensibly for a beer…).
  • If you like to sit in the water, this chair works perfectly well.
  • This beach chair has a folding towel bar so you can hang a damp towel on the back – note, this area is not really big enough for a large beach towel.
  • 300 lb capacity (for those who really love beer….).

Product Cons

  • There is a bar across the front of the legs where the thighs rest. This bar makes it uncomfortable for me to lie on my stomach when the chair is flat. I prefer beach chairs that have only webbing in this area. If you’re like me, check out my review of the Picnic Time Reclining Camp Chair.
  • Not as much of a product con as a product specification but this is a lower beach chair than a lot of others on the market. This means that it can be a challenge both getting into it and out of it.
  • Folding it back up is a little tricky. I’ve finally figured out that, if I step on one of the folding legs and push, it goes right into it’s carrying state. There is a little latching hinge that has to give in order to fold it up. Slight learning curve.

Additional Author Comments

If you’re a dedicated beach person, this lightweight, easily portable Tommy Bahama Beach Chair with the Backpack is for you. With enough pockets to carry suntan lotion, books, beer, phones, iPads, etc, what more could one need? We’ve had our beach chairs for 3 years now and they’re still as good as new – no fading, rusting, etc. You’ll be pleased with this purchase.

portable bar for travel

Portable Bars For Travel

 Three Bottle Bartender’s Cocktail Bar Travel Bar with ToolsCheck PriceI’m a firm believer that an RV is not completely packed if the portable travel bar isn’t onboard.

Our 3-bottle portable bar has been all over the US with us on our RV trips. It’s always packed with a bottle of vodka (mine), bourbon (mine) and scotch (ours!) along with everything needed to make the best martinis, manhattans, or scotch rocks.

Portable bars come in various sizes, generally carrying 2 or 3 bottles. Some of the more lightweight travel bars carry liquor in flasks. The best portable bar is just what you make it. Load it up with your favorite libations and sip a cool cocktail as you make camp.

Since these portable bars are so easy to carry along in their well made cases, you can take your libations on camping trips, boating trips, picnics, or anywhere you’d like a cocktail (and where it’s legal). You can even take your portable travel bar on vacation and carry it on the plane as long as you wait to load it up with liquor when you get to your destination.

Portable Bars – Cocktails At The Ready!

These travel bars are stocked and ready to go, just add your own liquor. All the tools you need for cocktail hour are at your fingers.

 Picnic Time Manhattan Insulated Two-Bottle Cocktail Case/Bar Tool Kit, MahoganyCheck Price Two Bottle Bartender’s Cocktail Bar Travel Bar With ToolsCheck Price Trav-L-Bar Vinyl 2-Bottle Travel Bar, BlackCheck Price Three Bottle Bartender’s Cocktail Bar Travel Bar with ToolsCheck Price Three Bottle Bartender’s Cocktail Bar Travel Bar with Flask & ToolsCheck Price Barmaster’s Pro Bar Travel SetCheck Price Genuine Black Leather 10 Piece Travel Flask & Shaker Cocktail Barware Set BS913Check Price Franmara Martini Travel Bar Set with CaseCheck Price Bartending Bar Kit, Home and Travel- 24 Piece Kit! Best Seller!, Garden, Lawn, MaintenanceCheck Price

Travel Flasks

We always carry a flask or two along on our RVing trips. These Anne Taintor flasks are among my favorites.

 Anne Taintor Flask, Wasted All DayCheck Price Anne Taintor 58285 2-3/4 W by 4-1/4-Inch H Flask, Rat’s AssCheck Price Anne Taintor – Warning Label Stainless Steel FlaskCheck Price Old Enough to Know Better Hip FlaskCheck Price (3×4) Anne Taintor – Try Anything Stainless Steel FlaskCheck Price Anne Taintor Flask, ModerationCheck Price

Infrared Temperature Guns

infrared temperature gunParticularly for those RVers who drive on hot surfaces, like those in the Southwest US in summer, preventing tire blowouts is a challenge so having an infrared temperature gun along is just plain old smart. Once a tire heats up to an unacceptable temperature, well, that’s pretty much it. And, the last thing in the world you want to be doing is sitting by a baking roadway awaiting rescue.

That’s why it’s so important to have an infrared temperature gun along for the ride on your camping adventure. Just point the gun at the tires and press the trigger. You’ll instantly get a temperature reading in celsius or fahrenheit so you’ll know when you need to give the rig a rest to cool down. Or, if one tire is reading hotter, it could be that that brake is not operating properly – time to hit the RV shop.

Some of the more expensive infrared thermometers, like the DeWalt model shown above are rechargeable and will even keep a log of the data which is a very nice feature. You’ll then be able to see the variance between a cold tire and a hot one.

Note: Some of these infrared temperature guns use AAA batteries vs 9 volt. Whichever batteries you need, just make sure that you have a spare set along.

 Raytek MT6 Non-contact MiniTemp Infrared ThermometerCheck Price Nubee® Temperature Gun Non-contact Infrared Thermometer w/ Laser SightCheck Price HDE Temperature Gun Infrared Thermometer w/ Laser SightCheck Price UPGRADED TopG® Temperature Gun Non-contact Infrared Thermometer w/ Laser Sight U.S. FDA/FCC/CE/ROHS ApprovedCheck Price Kintrex IRT0421 Non-Contact Infrared Thermometer with Laser TargetingCheck Price DEWALT DCT414S1 12-Volt Max Infrared Thermometer KitCheck Price

magnetic knife strip

Magnetic Knife Holder

 Maple M.O.C. Board 12 Inch Wood Magnetic Knife Holder or Magnetic Knife StripCheck Price

Since storage in an RV kitchen is almost always at a premium, hanging a magnetic knife holder makes a lot of sense.

Magnetic knife holders come in various sizes, but I suggest getting the largest size that you can hang. For instance, in our Shadow Cruiser, we managed to hang up a 20″ magnetic bar that has plenty of room for our knives, scissors, and wine opener (after all, you’re going to want that wine opener handy). I also keep a few safety pins on the magnetic holder; they come in very handy. In fact, I got very bright and bought some magnetic tape so that I can hang all kinds of things on my knife bar now. For instance, I keep a small box of bandaids there for when I cut myself on one of those knives….

Be particularly careful though when hanging anything in an RV. The last thing in the world you want to do is go through the thin shell. Check your owner’s manual for the correct equipment you’ll need to hang a magnetic knife holder and then proceed slowly. It will be worth it.

Note: it used to be that these magnetic knife holders were all metal but, now, you can find them in maple, cherry, or oak finishes if you’d like to match the interior of your RV.

 MIU France Stainless Steel Magnetic Knife Bar, 20-InchCheck Price Norpro 12 Inch Magnetic Knife Tool BarCheck Price Walnut M.O.C. Board 12 Inch Wood Magnetic Knife Holder or Magnetic Knife StripCheck Price Norpro 18 Inch Aluminum Magnetic Knife BarCheck Price Ikea 15 3/4 Magnetic Knife BarCheck Price 1Heavy Duty Knife StriCheck Price Better Houseware  Bamboo Magnetic BarCheck Price Cherry . Board 12 Inch Wood Magnetic Knife Holder or Magnetic Knife StripCheck Price

Make anything into a magnet with this magnetic tape – note: it’s not super strong so be careful what you choose to hang:

 Magna Visual Magnetic Tape, 1-Inch X 50 Feet, Charcoal (MAVP240P)Check Price Flexible Magnet Tape, 1/16Check Price Flexible Magnet Tape, 1/16Check Price Magnum Magnetics-Corporation ProMAG 3/4-Inch Diameter Magnets with Foam Adhesive (AFG-12557-PGY)Check Price

Expandable Hose

expandable water hoseAn expandable hose for your RV is a thing of beauty! For one thing, these types of hoses take up much less space than the regular, bulky garden hoses and, as a bonus, they’re much much lighter in weight. Now, that said, reviewers note that they spring leaks much more often than regular hoses, which, I suppose, makes sense as they’re much lighter.

Our expandable hose is pictured there above. We’ve been using it all summer on our various camping trips and have not had an issue with it. Just sayin’….

Available in various sizes, expandable hoses all work the same way – just connect them to the water tap, making sure that the nozzle is in the ‘off’ position, and turn on the water tap. Like magic, the hose will expand to its full length.

Note: none of these expandable hoses should be used for drinking so don’t use them to fill up your camper’s fresh water tank.

 InSassy (TM) 100 FT Green Gardener Expandable Hose with Spray NozzleCheck Price InSassy (TM) Flexible Expandable Garden Hose, 50 ftCheck Price Expandable Garden Water Hose & Nozzle Combo, Expanding From 17′ to 50ftCheck Price The Rumford Gardener Tuff-Guard Expanding Hose, 50-FeetCheck Price Big Boss Xhose Holder and Support for Garden HoseCheck Price