My friends describe me as a man with many hobbies. If you look at my garage, it has a bit of everything. It has a road bike, a mountain bike, an e-bike, and stuff for the snow. I collect a lot of shoes and tools too! Next week, I'm going to hit the track to race my Mustang. Of course, I love my 4Runner, and I’m constantly working on it. I think I’m on my fourth overhaul of it now, and it just keeps getting better. But honestly, what I love the most right now is camping with my family and a group of awesome friends.

I was always outside as a kid, and I can still remember my Uncle Ramon taking me camping after I moved here from the Philippines when I was 11. Man, I loved it. We went to Fort Bragg on the coast, and we got dirty! The days seemed endless, playing with my cousins and eating amazing food; I was hooked.

As I got older, there was a big stretch of my life when I didn’t camp at all. Attending school and starting a family and a career were all-consuming. Then, about four years ago, when all of us were getting stir-crazy during COVID, I asked a bunch of friends to go camping. It wasn’t a big adventure or anything, but man, it was amazing. It reminded me how good it feels to be out there–just sitting with your friends around a fire, drinking, eating, having a good time. We talked about our high school years, the good times when we were younger, and what we’re all doing now. It was awesome.

Toyota 4Runner with bike rackiKamper family camp trip

That connection with friends and family is one of the biggest reasons why camping is so important to me. My life during the week is really fast-paced. When we go family camping, we don’t do anything. I mean, we do stuff, of course, but once we’re out there, time stands still. The weekend can feel like a whole week, and that’s a great thing–to unplug for a bit.

Speaking of unplugging, that’s another big reason camping is so important to us. I don’t think my son will ever remember “that one time” he saw a video on YouTube, but he’ll definitely have plenty of life-long memories from camping trips as a kid. That’s important to me, and I know it is for him, too.

A recent trip embodied all of this great stuff into one perfect weekend. We found a quiet campground overlooking the Pacific on the coast about three hours north of where we live outside of San Francisco. We took a big group of families and camped for three days. A bunch of us have rooftop tents, so we were all set up and in full-on glamping mode in no time. We had an amazing kitchen set-up (mandatory for a great weekend), and the adults got to hang out while the kids played like kids are supposed to. I think everyone that went on that trip felt different afterward. People were having these heavy thoughts about how to reprioritize their lives so that they could do this more often. It was just perfect.

4Runner on dirt roadiKamper BDV basecamp

Of course, a big part of making those trips so perfect is having everything be easy. That’s why I love my Skycamp 3.0. We’re set up before people using ground tents have even found a flat spot. That means we’re having fun faster, not begging the kids to help with this and that or missing an epic sunset or something. Sitting high on the bluff, the views from a rooftop tent are even better, and we can watch the stars through the Skyview window as we go to sleep. A nice ocean breeze drifting through the tent and hearing the waves below; it was perfect.

Having our tent set up so fast, with our bedding and everything already in there, also allows us to spend quality time setting up the rest of the camp to create a deluxe glamping situation. It’s incredible how much more fun a family trip can be with some basic creature comforts like proper tables and chairs and a great kitchen where you can cook fantastic food. We go pretty crazy on the food and it’s a big part of the experience for us.

Campsite along the river with roof top tentWheelin 4Runner

No matter what I’m doing – whether it’s family camping or heading deep into the Rubicon for off-roading adventures with my buddies, the trips always seem to be defined by the time we spend at camp, with the engines off, just hanging out. To me, there’s nothing more important than the time we spend with our families and friends and being out in nature. Again, I’m reminded of that feeling when a weekend can seem like a whole week’s worth of time. That's a pretty fantastic return on investment.

Work and family life can seem like a treadmill sometimes, and getting a break from that and just enjoying life is incredibly important. Spending time with your family and friends and going outside where you can just relax with them, have fun, not be rushed, and remember how cool and beautiful nature is; that’s something we all need more of. Camping checks all those boxes for me. As an added plus, looking forward to that next trip–and memories of the last one–makes my hectic weeks seem slightly less crazy.