So now that we have a third body in the car with us – Ayla, who will be almost fully grown by the time we leave – it was time to start thinking about what we would bring on our trip and how it will all fit in and on the Defender.

While we have no doubt the truck will be able to hold everything we need we are also trying to think practical. We will be on the road for 21 days, pitching out tent at a different campground each day and with so many things to see and do we want to spend minimal time looking for things and setting up camp.

The search for the perfect equipment began and we quickly found that even though we already have a lot of camping and travel gear most of the packing options we already used work fine when you want to stay with a big group at one place for a couple of days but not really practical for what we are planning.

Purely by accident we ended up on LL Bean’s website and found what could be the answer to our prayers for two items we had been looking for: Kitchen and Tent.

Let’s touch on the tent first. We already own two of them, but neither of them would make for an ejoyable trip. The old goldielocks problem – one is too big, while the other will be too small. So for the past few months we have browsed the internet, visited stores and thumbed through catalogues but still didn’t find anything we really liked. With Ayla in the picture and the prospect of rainy nights in northern Spain and France on the return trip made the search even more complicated. Now we where looking for something next to impossible – a tent which would be large enough for us to sleep in comforably, while also giving us space to hang out in if rains, have enough space for a big potentially wet newfie and set up and breakdown in no time – right?!?! We couldn’t find anything suitable and had almost given up and where discussing our alternatives when we stumbled on the perfect tent at LLBean. It has a nice sized dome tent with another dome attached which acts as a screened in porch – aka dog house and Accoding to the LLBean website it sets up in 10 minutes – perfect. In the shopping cart it went.

Now on to our next dillema. We love to cook and cooking while camping is something that we love even more. Usuall we bring along a full sized grill on our camping trips, along with one of those tiny gas bottle powered camping stoves, but that wouldn’t do for 3 whole weeks. Once again we where looking around the web trying to find something suitable. Our criterias for the search told us we would need something to hold all of our kitchen equipment, with a new stove (yet to be found) as well as provisions of the staples (spices, tea bags, sugar, pasta, etc.) and of course it would have to be convenient to set up and break down. LL Bean delivered again. The Campmate camping kitchen is fantastic. A huge plastic box – the top comes of leaving space for a 2 burner stove and two doors which swing out and form a work surface. The doors have enough space for spices and the rest of the box holds everthing you could ever use in a camping kitchen – plates, cups, silverware, pots, everything has its own space. We have already received the campmate and have begun to stock it. Yesterday we added a CampingGaz two burner stove and it looks like it will be exactly what we have been looking for! Pop the lid, open the doors and start cooking.

For the provisions we have decided to use an extra storage box which we bought yesterday. We decided on a 3 case kit which could work reasonably well for all of our storage needs – there is still plenty of stuff on our supplies list which we need to get and a few other things to work out – man, it feels like we are going on a full blown expedition.

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