My First Guest Blog!

With the weather getting cooler and days growing shorter, I’m longing for summer sun and family camping adventures. I thought it’d be a great time to share with you my first guest post and product review featured on Camping with Your Kids Blog hosted by my good friend, Sue.

The Camper’s Mansion: Napier Sportz™ Midsize SUV Tent Review

The Sportz™ Midsize SUV Tent is a perfect shelter for family camping adventures. The innovative design uses an adjustable durable tarp-like sleeve to transform your CUV, SUV or minivan into ample camping space.  This sleeve is also detachable to transform your shelter into a standard ground tent.

sportz tent

Last spring we were surfing the web for new family camping ideas and my husband stumbled on this SUV tent. I immediately fell in love with the idea of using the back of our Chrysler Town & Country as additional camping space. I was picturing a twin-sized air mattress in the back and space to change diapers while standing up. It was full of potential and convenience. As luck would have it, I found one barely used on a regional swap and sell site.

A few days before our camping trip, I backed my van into the yard and unfolded the tent to gain some experience setting up. I highly recommend this for any new tent purchase. There is little worse than showing up to your campsite in the dark and arguing over what goes where. I know I’m not the only one who’s done this.

camping 1

camping 2

The assembly is a breeze and can be done by one person if needed. The tent assembles into a plentiful height of 6′ in the corners and a spacious 7′ in the center. The connecting SUV sleeve goes up over the open hatch and under the bumper encasing the backend of your vehicle to extend your living space into a mini mansion. The tent is equipped with a 6′ x 6′ awning and a 6′ x 7′ bottomless screen room if you’ve purchased that model.

I highly recommend this mini mansion shelter to any SUV owner looking for a little extra space and functionality in their car camping excursions.

camping 3

Specs:

  • Adjustable SUV sleeve custom fits your CUV, SUV or minivan hatch creating additional camping space.
  • Detachable SUV sleeve transforms tent into a standard ground tent.
  • 9′ x 9′ footprint comfortably sleeps 4 – 5 persons.
  • 7′ of overhead room at the center and 6′ in the corners.
  • Steel and fiberglass pole structure for strength and durability.
  • Waterproof polyester taffeta tent featuring full length taped and seamed rain fly and storm flaps in the windows.
  • Durable waterproof shower liner style floor prevents rain runoff from flooding in.
  • Cyclone Ventilation system provides adequate airflow without compromising storm coverage.
  • Two inside gear pockets and a gear loft.
  • Approximate weight: 30 lbs.

Recommendations:
Go for the screen room. We definitely wish we had that extra space.
Shop around. Most sporting goods stores offer the screen room model new from $260 – $370.
If you purchase the screen room model, spend the extra $30 on the Sportz Footprint to line the bottom of the screen room.

A standard twin sized air mattress is a bit too wide to fit the bed of an SUV or minivan. Coleman makes, at a reasonable price, a Portable SUV Quickbed that measures 41″ x 63.”

Likes:
I have to say the spacious overhead layout is my favorite feature of this tent.
The shower liner style floor is new to me in the world of camping equipment features and I was quite impressed with the ease of sweeping it out at the end of our trip as well as the ability to keep light rain from leaking in at the bottom seams.

Dislikes:
The adjustable SUV sleeve doesn’t quite fit around the bottom of my 2013 Chrysler Town & Country. The bumper is a little wider than my previous 2010 Dodge Caravan model and consequently the sleeve comes up about an inch or two short in material to encase the bumper. To solve that issue, I tuck the bumper portion of the sleeve under the back row of my stow-n-go seating and the folded down seats seem to hold it in place just fine.
I saved a ton of money buying slightly used. The problem is that not everyone sweeps their tent out at the end of a camping stay and over time that dirt grinds at the tent like sandpaper when the tent is stored away. Our tent is in excellent condition with a few little holes in the mesh of the ceiling vent and top of the fly.
While the tent is perfect for car camping, it’s much too bulky to kick the car sleeve and pack into camp to use as a ground tent even if the load was split between two persons.
Campground camping often requires lot scouting and reservation in advance to secure the perfect space to fit the vehicle and tent side-by-side.

Green is the NEW Black

If you’ve seen my Facebook page, you know that my favorite bargaining site of the past few months is Thredup.com.  I stumbled across the site through a Facebook ad and have fallen in love with the whole idea of swapping online.  Why?  It’s simple, cost-effective, and I no longer have a build up of used clothing I keep meaning to take to the thrift store.

Outfit and shoes from Michelle Messer (Michelle M.)

How it works:

  1. Join the Thredup community and Thredup sends 10 medium flat-rate boxes to you.
  2. Dig through all of the gently used clothing your children have outgrown, inspect it for holes, rips, tears, stains, broken zippers, missing buttons, etc.
  3. Wash all of the items considered to be in good condition and sort them by size.
  4. When your boxes arrive, roll your clothing and stuff them into the box until the box is full without entirely busting at the seams.
  5. Login to your Thredup account and follow the steps to list the box.
  6. Someone picks your listed box and pays a total of $15.70 ($5 + shipping) to Thredup.  This covers the cost of the shipping rate and a $5 web/service fee to the company.
  7. When your box is picked, you will receive email confirmation with steps to confirm and send your box.
  8. Print the shipping label, tape the it to the box, and either drop it off at your local Post Office or schedule a pick up and leave the box at your door.
  9. Each box you send adds to the Swap Balance number of boxes you can pick and purchase for yourself.
  10. Pick a box, pay for it, and your first swap cycle is complete.

Wait.  If I’m not making money off my clothing, how do I benefit from this?

  • Get rid of your used clothing without making an effort to go to a thrift store and drop it off.
  • Find joy in knowing someone else is using what you no longer need.
  • Help your budget by saving money on clothing expenses of growing children.
  • Belong to a community of women who love to swap and are both supportive and friendly.

Using Thredup’s Family Savings Calculator, I find that I will save an estimated total of $1,894 this year. I absolutely believe it seeing how quickly my boys grow along with having a baby in the house.

In the month of October, I cleaned out my daughter’s closet and dresser to find that she had barely anything left to wear.  No dresses for church, no pajamas, one pair of shoes in a toddlers size 5, and the list goes on.  I jumped onto Thredup and started browsing.  Within two weeks I purchased four boxes of clothes, each containing name brands such as Gymboree, Children’s Place, Old Navy, and Osh Kosh.  All of the boxes had over 10 outfits a piece and every item was what I consider New Without Tags.  One of the boxes contained a Tom Arma Signature brand monkey costume for Halloween and I paid $11.70 for it because I had a $4 credit from Thredup!  In all, I received two pairs of Robeez shoes, a pair of white dress shoes, one pair of tennis shoes, a pair of pink TrumpetToo brand penny loafers, three dresses, numerous long sleeve and short sleeve t-shirts and onesies, seven pairs of jeans, countless knit pants, and five pajamas all for less than $65!  My daughter is now set for clothing from sizes 12 – 24 months.  I recently snagged a Golden Threads box containing three brand new Threadless Kids t-shirts for my oldest son; a box full of books for 4-5th grade reading, including three Diary of a Wimpy Kid books we needed to complete the series; a box of three brand new pieces of Lia Sophia jewelry from a member who was getting rid of her consultant overstock–each piece is at least twice as much as I paid for the entire box; and a box of four DVD’s for children, one of which had never been opened.  Mom’s are coming together from all over the place to swap more than just clothing.  Thredup encourages swapping related to mothers needs, maternity, and everything for children.  With Christmas on the way, they’ve created a specialty section for toys.  I’ve seen Wii games, DS games, Leappad learning software, and sets of Legos and Trios swapping left and right in the last month.

How to choose a good box:

Sometimes, a member doesn’t follow the Golden Rule on swapping and we find ourselves with a box of. . .well. . .second-hand crap.  It happens to the best of us, but Thredup support does their absolute best to take care of us even if that means giving back a little credit to buy a new box.  I’ve learned to be very particular about who I pick  from to avoid the downer of buying a bad box.  Here are my suggestions for you:

  • Follow the Facebook fan page and visit often.  It’s a great place to see pictures of box content, see current member reviews, and sometimes drama and spats that show the true color of some of Thredup’s not-so-great members.  You’ll quickly learn who offers the best boxes and can favorite them in your Thredup account so you know when they’re posting new boxes.
  • Read descriptions and brand names carefully and ask questions.  If you have a question, use the discussion section on the box listing or try to look for the person on the Facebook wall.
  • Ask for pictures.  Thredup doesn’t allow pictures to be posted with each box listing for a variety of reasons, but they do allow us to leave links in the description for our boxes posted to Thredup and post albums of pictures to the Facebook wall.  Use this to your advantage.  If someone refuses to send you pictures or gets an attitude about sending  pictures, don’t pick from them.
  • Post your needs or wishes to the Facebook wall.  Many of us can help you out and are willing to post custom boxes just for YOU.
  • Consider Pro membership.  Pro allows us to see and pick boxes within the first 24 hours of their listing.  You’ll miss out on a good selection of boxes without this benefit.

A special deal for you:

From now through December 15th, you can use the Thredup button in the far right sidebar of my blog and receive Two Months FREE Pro Membership–this offer is available to new members only.   Come join me on Thredup!