June 06, 2023 3 min read

Your name: Ashley & Derek Vitiello (a.k.a. Know Nothing Nomads)

Home Base: Asheville, North Carolina

Camping Set Up: Tent car camping (NEMO Aurora Highrise 4) or backpacking (Marmot Catalyst 2P)

Favorite Camp Spot: Dispersed camping in the Colorado mountains

HEST products: HEST Sleep System - see our in-depth HEST Sleep System Review.

Most beautiful place you’ve ever woken up? 

We backpacked up to Ice Lake & Island Lake in Colorado and had this amazing sunrise after a rainy and stormy night.

Who’s in your adventure squad?

It’s just the two of us!

Advice for first time campers?

Don’t skimp on buying good gear, even if you’re just trying it out. Too often we hear stories about tents leaking water after a rain, air mattresses deflating, and uncomfortable campers that can’t sleep. These experiences just make you hate the camping experience and don’t make you want to go back. To make things as peaceful and fun as possible, get good gear from the start.

On your average weekend adventure, what is the gear set up you bring with you? What do you like most about your set up?

We have a four person tent (or two person tent for backpacking), camp chairs, cooking equipment, firewood, and a 4x4 vehicle to get us there. Besides the normal camping gear, we always bring hiking shoes and fly rods. Ashley loves finding trails to explore and Derek loves connecting with the locals via fly rod. We camp so we can have fun outdoors.  We love how our setup enables us to go off the beaten path so we can reconnect with nature.

Any upgrades or improvements you’re planning for your set up?

We just recently upgraded from a smaller tent to the NEMO Highrise 4, so we are looking forward to taking that on more adventures this summer. Otherwise we just plan on buying more HEST gear!

What’s the one creature comfort you can’t camp without?

Ashley’s one creature comfort is her sleep setup, which means the HEST Sleep System and a down sleeping bag. Without a good night’s sleep, she’s not a happy camper, so she’s perfected the nighttime comforts. Derek’s creature comfort is hand-ground coffee. He never goes anywhere without his Handground, Aeropress, and whole bean coffee.

What do you look for in a campsite?

When we go camping, we want peace and quiet, so we look for remote campgrounds that have very few (if any) people. Bonus points if it’s near a river and can only be reached by a vehicle that has 4x4 capabilities.

Best camp meal?

Our go-to camp meal is a tin foil packet with smoked sausage, potato, carrots, and half an ear of corn, all covered in a good layer of cajun seasoning.

Worst night of sleep while camping?

When we visited North Carolina for the first time, we tent camped in July (big mistake!). We were running on about two hours of sleep after a red-eye flight, and it was ridiculously humid. We set up camp, took a cold shower, and laid down on our cheap air mattress. The symphony of frogs was as loud as a freight train and our mattress was deflated within a couple hours. We had to pump up the mattress several times throughout the night and booked an AirBnb first thing the next morning. I will never sleep in a tent without my HEST again!

Any special camp traditions? 

Pretty much every time we have a campfire, we eat campfire corn (corn on the cob with butter, salt, and cajun seasoning wrapped in foil and cooked on the fire) plus s’mores with dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate. The bitter dark chocolate contrasts the sweet marshmallow and the graham crackers - so delicious!

What’s your next camping adventure?

Next week we will be camping near a lake in South Carolina so we can use our new paddle boards! Plus, it’s starting to get warm in the Appalachian Mountains, so it’s time to start swimming as much as possible.

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