(Click here to read the complete disclaimer)
Have You Spotted My Favorite Inexpensive Camping Accessory in the Photo Yet?
I have several of them. They're pretty subtle, but I use them to solve a lot of problems. If you already have some, you probably take them for granted. However, if you're new to life with a small travel trailer, you may not have discovered these yet. They are low cost items that will save you from spending money on several fancier solutions.
Yep, it's the wood blocks.
I know, it seems crazy for me to call them my favorite inexpensive camping accessory. But it's amazing how many people we've met in our travels are not using them.
Having a bunch of wood blocks is one of the most cost-effective investments you can make for your camping. Now don't get me wrong. Many of the more expensive things we've bought have turned out to be really useful. In fact, I have a full list of Products We Use and Like here on my website. But you just can't beat having wood blocks with you.
Here are four examples of how we use them on almost every trip.
Stabilizer Jack Pad
In the lower left corner of the photo on the top of this article, you can see how we use wood blocks as a pad below the trailer's stabilizer jacks. Using a pad is especially important when on stone or dirt. It provides a stable platform for the jack leg and prevents sinking into the stones or dirt.
You can see in the photo on the left above how I use a wood block here. The image on the right is the commercial product designed specifically for this purpose.
Once in a while you get lucky and pull into a perfectly level campsite. Quite often though, you find that on many sites you need a little help. Leveling your trailer front to back is easy and done by adjusting the height of your tongue jack. To level side to side, you need to adjust the height of your wheel(s) on one side or the other.
If you look closely at the photo on the top of the page, you can see where we're using a pretty long wood block under the tire on the far side of the trailer. There are an assortment of products available for this purpose, and I've tried a few, but using wood blocks is what I've settled on. If I need more than one to get the right height, I start with a long one on the bottom (like used in the top photo), then use progressively shorter ones stacked on top of that. (I've used as many as three in the past, but if I need more than one or two, I try to move the trailer around until I can find a better spot.)
Getting into position
Once you find the exact place for you trailer, you pull ahead enough to lay down the wood block(s). Then, SLOWLY back the trailer to the correct place, driving the desired wheel(s) up onto the wood block(s). It's good to have a helper watching and letting you know that you are centered properly, but make sure they stand back in case one of the blocks slips out when backing on to it. I'm always careful to have the tire lined up and centered beforehand, and have never had this problem occur. But, I'm always careful.
I've shown a version of the commercial blocks in the right photo above. If you do some searching, you'll also find more sophisticated (and expensive) products to be used for leveling.
Tongue Jack StandYou can see that I have a pretty good chunk of wood for this. A few thinner boards will work fine, but don't stack ones that are too small very high. I keep thinking I'll need to replace my big chunk, but it just keeps working. (I'm a big believer in a saying I stole from another hobby..."If it works, don't fix it!"). When I eventually do, I'll probably cut some pieces from a 1"x10" to give me a little larger base. A lot of people get the tongue stand in the right photo, but I've never liked it as well as stacking some wood.
Sewer Hose Support
To be honest, I do have one of the commercial stands on the right. I use it if we are somewhere and need to have the hose spread out. I don't really like it though. It's the second one I've had because I wasn't careful enough and broke a couple of sections on my original one. I prefer the wood blocks whenever I can get by with a shorter distance, mainly to reduce the chance of breaking the other one.
Now you know my favorite inexpensive camping accessory. Go get some wood and get your saw. You should have several of varying lengths cut from a 2"x8", maybe a few from a 2"x6", and if possible, a couple of big ones cut from a 1"x10".
In addition to being cheap, what I like about using wood blocks is that they can be used for a lot of different purposes. Not only things you plan on, but they come in handy at times to solve problems you run into. I also like keeping things simple and reducing the number of specialized things to take with us when we travel- Denny