The Quicksilver at 18 Months
June 25, 2016
For a number of years, before Ben came along, when Al & I wanted to go camping we'd just toss the sleeping bags and tent in the car and go. We started camping with Ben when he was a baby, and dealt with the logistical challenges he posed by getting a big Coleman tent and tossing his Pack-n-Play in the car along with everything else.
One practice we developed over the years was to keep a big, wheeled Rubbermaid box packed with most of the stuff we needed: Fire starters, campfire forks, camp dishes and the tent itself. We'd roll it out of the garage, put it in the back of the Forester, and go.
The Quicksilver has allowed us to keep that practice, only better. At 18 months, now that we're very familiar with how to put it up and take it down, I'm happier than ever that we have it.
For our last trip, which was just a quick overnight visit to a county park, all we had to do was load the ice chest and sleeping bags into the car, hitch up, and go:
- Our dishes, stove, and cleaning stuff were already packed in the galley.
- All our camping gear (lanterns, flashlights, first aid kit, kettle, etc.) was packed in a storage bin.
- Our chairs were packed in the bench seats.
- Our non-perishables were packed up in gallon-sized Ziploc bags in the galley.
All we had to do was stop by the grocery store to pick up a few consumables we were low on (propane for the stove, fire starters for the campfire), grab a few groceries, and get to the site.
We've got deploying the trailer down to a pretty quick process now. We can have it unhitched and fully stood up (tent popped up, galley in place, water/power hookups connected, stabilizers set up) in ten or 15 minutes, even in the dark. Tear down, including packing everything back up, is another 15 minutes. Because it's easy to partially deploy it when we get home and want to air it out, it only takes another 10 minutes or so to pop it up and fold it back down.
Things That Are Great
- It's so lightweight that I can hitch it up with ease. It's not a problem to pull it into place and guide it over the hitch with one hand, or get it in and out of the driveway with little effort.
- We can tow it with our Toyota Matrix.
- It has enough storage to hold everything. As long as we keep track of our consumables, we don't have to pack much to get going.
- It works well for dry camping or with hookups: The sink can either take a water hookup or pump from the 7-gallon water tank, the lights can work from the battery, and it can take a shore power connection to power three 120v outlets.
- It feels like a big tent and can be opened up in warm weather, but it's waterproof and can be sealed up for chilly nights and year-round camping in the Pacific Northwest.
- At 16' long, we can put it on smallish sites.
Things That Could Be Better
- Some of the buttons and snaps are still a little stiff. I think that's probably a good problem to have in the long run, since it means they're still not wearing out. It makes it hard for Ben to help with setup.
- Packing it back down still feels sort of like an art and not a science: You have to fold down the tent bits just so to get it to pack down flat and ensure the best seal against moisture.
- The mattresses that come with the two full beds are so thin that they're barely useful. Given the aluminum decks that are the bed ends, it's pretty close to sleeping on the ground. I have a Thermarest to take some of the edge off, but after our last trip we agreed that a couple of full-size Coleman air mattresses will probably make that part of the experience better. We still have storage space left, too, so they're another thing we can just throw in one of the under-seat bins.
So, at 18 months I'm still very happy with it. It's great to be able to pack up and go without taking a long look at the forecast, practically year-'round. It's comfortable. It's so easy to stand up, tear down, and partially stand up for airing and cleanup at home that even overnight trips are pretty fun and don't feel like a big undertaking.