2016 Recap: Favorite Gear, Blog Stats, Favorite Trips, Blah, Blah, Blah

Well, it’s that time of the year again when many backpacking bloggers create a list of their favorite new gear from the prior year. How on earth (or why) can these folks have a slew of new backpacking gear year after year? Methinks they are focused on gear, not getting out often and walking. But I digress…

Then some of these bloggers publish web stats for their blog during the prior year. Really? How boring.

A few backpacking bloggers may only post some of their favorite pictures taken during the prior year or do a simple recap of some trip reports – I like what some of the “few” do. The rest, meh.

What is interesting is that campers and full time RVers who blog generally don’t do this. They simply keep writing about their adventures.

My backpacking gear hasn’t changed much in the past 4 or 5 years, so nothing to write about here. Same goes for our camping gear. Somewhere on this website are lists of the gear and equipment we use. You should be able to easily find those if you are interested.

Given this pessimistic outlook on gear, there is one piece of equipment that has been critical for every single backpacking or camping trip I have done since 2003.

Ford Expedition(s)

Yep, you can’t go backpacking or camping unless you have a way to get to your destination (e.g., trailhead or campground). Here in the US, public transportation sucks so it isn’t viable for us. Every backpacking trip or camping trip I have done in the past 14 years relied on our Ford Expedition to get me there… even when I flew to a destination I got to the airport via the Expedition.

Actually it was one of two different Expeditions. In 2012 our beloved Fleetwood Niagara was destroyed by vandals and totaled by our insurance company. Joyce wanted a travel trailer, which I was okay with – but our 2003 Expedition, which had a V-6 engine could not tow anything over 6,000 lbs. So Joyce told me to go buy a new tow vehicle   (gotta love a wife that tells her husband to go buy a new truck).

Neither vehicle has ever broken down and left us stranded. If fact, the repairs have been minimal, but I always do all the required maintenance at the proper time using quality parts and fluids.

2003 Ford Expedition

2003 Ford Expedition XLT

We drove this for over 200,000 miles, and like I mentioned earlier, only replaced it with something that could tow a larger trailer. During those 200K plus miles the only repairs needed were:

  • A fuel pump replaced under warranty due to long cranking during warm re-starts
  • The master window/door switch
  • Driver’s window motor
  • One ignition coil at around 190,000 miles

I ended up driving this vehicle much more for business than I anticipated when we purchased it, but we still towed our trailers nearly 40,000 miles during those ten years we owned it. Keep in mind that most of our camping trips are 100 miles round trip from our house, due to my keen thinking and planning – one of the reasons I moved to Palm Springs was the close proximity to camping and backpacking opportunities. Joyce and I camped almost 1,000 nights in our campers during this period of time.

2012 Ford Expedition

2012 Ford Expedition XLT

I really was more interested in a pickup truck than another SUV, but we got a screaming deal on 2012 Expedition due to Joyce’s advanced negotiating skills. The vehicle had been sitting on the dealer’s lot for a year, which means they had been paying interest on it for a year. So she got $10,000 off the sticker price. But would this new Expedition be able to tow our new trailer (see my 3 part series on How Much Trailer Can You Tow)? The answer was yes.

She was surprised I picked out another Expedition, and commented,

“It’s almost identical to the old Expedition.”

Precisely. I was happy with the old one and the new one would require nothing new to learn. Here are the stats so far, and happily there has been nothing to repair.

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