Updated: 10 hours ago
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We knew it could be cold and we were not disappointed. We decided to do this trip weeks ago, so nothing was going to stop us. On Friday Tom came up from Texas to scout the campsite out and I was glad he did. I was at the site a few weeks ago and it was amazing. Big open camp space right next to the rover. Tom sent me a picture that showed that the campsite had been underwater fairly recently. We decided to move up to the higher ground.
The new campsite was just as good and we had plenty of room for all of the rigs. Tom was already at the site when I arrived around 10:30 am on Friday morning. It is always great seeing my friends from Texas. Tom and I set up camp and waited for the rest of the gang. I will say the site needed some trash pickup, so we spent some time after setting up camp cleaning up other folks' messes. It still baffles me that people leave campsites a mess. More folks need to live by the leave it better than you found it mantra.
The gang arrives!
Rob drove in coming from Texas as well. Hos Jeep Rubicon recon edition is a great-looking rig. Mark showed up next arriving from Oklahoma. This was the first time I had seen his Jeep Willeys. It's odd for me to see him in the Jeep since he has been a Tacoma guy for years.
The Snyders arrived about an hour later. The gang was all here. The temps were in the mid-'40s and it was nice for setting up camp. We were all set up and sitting by the fire around 4 PM.
We all made dinner fairly early as it was already getting cold. The forecast called for mid 20's this evening. We were all prepared, so it was not a huge concern, but it did get cold quickly. We had our dinner, and enjoyed some fireside conversation, laughing and swapping stories. It was a great way to start the weekend. We all headed to our cozy tents around 9 PM. It was already in the low 30's. I downloaded a couple of episodes of the Netflix documentary Full Swing. It is a good watch if you like golf.
How to keep warm while winter camping. There are many ways for you to stay warm while camping in colder weather. My choice of warmth is Mr. Buddy Heater. I have used this for a few seasons now and it works great. Some folks feel that they lead to condensation, however, in our application of the Gazelle T4 it has never been an issue. It uses 1 small propane bottle for the evening and keeps the tent warm and cozy when needed. You can read my review here of the Buddy Heater. If you would like to purchase the buddy Heater and help out the channel, then use this link. https://amzn.to/3kqGUX2 it does not change your cost, but we do get a little kickback from your purchase.
Matt and his son were in a rooftop tent and they were using a diesel heater. It seemed to work well. We might need to give that a thought in the near future. We are looking at the Silvel 12V Diesel Heater. Have any of you tried a diesel heater in a Gazelle T4? Comment down below to tell me your thoughts.
We woke up to a very cold Arkansas morning. It was 24° when I walked out of the tent. Mark hooked me up with some coffee and we just huddled around the fire trying to stay warm. The weather forecast was in our favor for the day. It would warm up fairly quickly. I made some oatmeal, finished a couple of cups of coffee, and was ready for the day. It seems everyone slept as well as could be expected from the cold conditions. Today we would be exploring the Ouachitas. The trails would be easy as we were looking for a day of scenic views. We all got together and hit the trails around 9 am.
A quick tour of our rigs
I am going to take a few minutes to tell you about the rigs and camping solutions for everyone in the group.
I will lead off with Tom and his F150. He has a 2-inch lift with bigger AT tires. It is a great-looking truck and fits his needs perfectly. He also uses the biggest tent. The Kodiak canvas tent. It takes a little more effort to put up, but it is a great tent, warm, and looks like it will hold up for years. On our last trip to Robbers Cave in OK, we sat in it for an extended period of time, as it was great in colder weather. He also has a great cooking system and makes some mean Gumbo. Tom is always fun to have around at camp.
Rob has an awesome Jeep Rubicon Recon Edition Wrangler with a 2.5" lift and 35 tires. He camps in a Gazelle T4. He has a great system worked out for cooking out of the back of the Rubicon. I have always loved the look and his jeep is very capable. We have done many trips together and I look forward to doing more with him in the near future. The newest edition for Rob's rig is the Rhino rack he has installed. It looks great and is a nice spot to carry the larger T4.
Mark has been a long-time Tacoma owner but has found the light and has joined the Jeep's dark side. I joke..., but his new to him Jeep Willys looks good and is a very capable rig. It also tows nicely behind his RV so it fits the bill for what he needs for his travels. When he is not in the RV he sleeps in a Gazelle T3 tent. Mark and I have done off-road trips to Big Bend, Moab, and Colorado in the past couple of years. I am sure we will have more adventures together in 2023.
The Snyders are next. Brad (Father) and Matt (son) brought Bennett (grandson) for this trip and we are so glad they did. Bennett was a great help, so happy-go-lucky and filled with a ton of energy. We kept him busy by helping us out around camp. He was a joy to be around.
Brad has a Jeep Gladiator Diesel Rubicon with a 3" lift and 35s. He also has the best color. Brad was pulling his new to him Intech Pursuit trailer. He has some big upgrades planned and I am, sure the next time we see this trailer it will not look the same. It is already a cool trailer, but stay tuned. It is going to be amazing when finished.
Matt has a Ford F150, pulling his awesome overlanding trailer with e rooftop tent. This was my favorite from the weekend. Very capable and it allowed them to carry more than what was needed for the weekend. I could see us using one of those. Matt and Bennett seemed very comfortable. The diesel heater worked well and As I said above, maybe something we look at fairly soon.
Last but not least you have my rig. The 2021 Gladiator Mojave with a 1.5" lift and 33s. It will have 35s as soon as these tires need to be replaced. We have slept in a Gazelle T4 for the past 4 years and love it. I have a detailed post about the build so far.
The Gazelle tent is a game-changer!
As you can tell, the Gazelle tents have made a great impression on us and some of our camping friends. It is set up quickly and has plenty of room. They are well-made and built to take on the rigors of overland-style camping. You will not find a better tent. Check out the Gazelle T4 and Gazelle T3 you will not be disappointed.
Nothing beats a day on the trails.
Saturday was a great day of enjoying the Arkansas landscape better known as the Ouachita National Forest. We got in almost 100 miles of great trails, a few little water crossings, a short hike, and some great scenic overlooks. It was a fun day and I think that everyone had a good time. The sun was shining and the warmth of the upper 40s was a welcomed treat.
We made it back to camp fairly early and had a great evening of cooking and hanging out by the fire. Matt made some cobble in the dutch oven. It was a nice warm treat and we all enjoyed it. Yes, even Rob had some. Cobbler is his kryptonite.
Time to head home.
We decided to hit the road on Sunday as the rain was looming in the forecast for Monday morning. No one likes loading up a wet tent. We all took our time breaking down camp, enjoying the conversation and coffee. The weather was very nice and it was not a chore to break down camp. Tom loved having Bennetts help and even was heard saying "how does one get a Bennett"? It was a great line. We all left together and had lunch at the Hillbilly Cafe before everyone broke off and headed their own way. It was a fun weekend. Good friends, camping, and some back road exploration, what more could one ask for? If you want to see all of the pictures from the weekend, click here.
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You can see the video from the weekend here: