- Words by Mathieu Godin Photos by Mathieu Godin & Robert Starkes

Wild Coast Camping Gear held its annual Lala Phezulu (Sleep on Top) Customer Appreciati­on Weekend at The Vidito Family Campground & Cottages in Wilmot, Nova Scotia July 12-14, marking its fourth year of bringing excitement exclusivel­y to its Roof Top Tent (RTT) owners.

Looking at images from past events on its website, I wondered what makes this event so successful. Is it because RTTs are gaining popularity? The quality of products delivered by Wild Coast? Its customer service? Or, perhaps all of the above? So, when I received an invitation to the event, I decided to attend and find out what was so special about this company.

Wild Coast would allow me to borrow one of its RTTs as well as a portable fridge for a review. While the items could have been shipped to me in Ottawa, ON, I decided to kill two birds with one stone and take a road trip to Nova Scotia. I mean, these are two major items on most vehicle-supported adventure travelers wish lists. I would get the gear to try out for the season and even meet the owners of Wild Coast, Peter and Trish van Delft.

On top of this, I could also meet the people using the gear. As the owners use the products themselves, you can be sure they know what they are talking about. Peter suggested I try their latest Firefly model. It can fit two adults comfortabl­y and comes with a bunch of cool features. They also allowed me to demo a 35L SnoMaster Leisure Series portable fridge/freezer as Wild Coast is its Canadian distributo­r.

The event kicked-off on July 12 – a rainy Friday afternoon – for the meet and greet. Everyone received their event t-shirt and swag bag. As I arrived earlier in the morning to get the Firefly installed on my Jeep, Sandy, a customer himself and a friend of the owners,’ got me through the setup process and explained the tent features. I was then all set for the weekend. The rain eventually stopped in the evening and some of the volunteers started

a bonfire, which was enjoyed while drinking Rod’s delicious craft beer.

Saturday was filled with activities, starting with a short excursion to see the St. Croix Cove Waterfalls. Dan would lead the convoy. However, the trail conditions were unknown and we would soon find out that the last part would be a bit challengin­g and muddy. My three-month-old Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk would get its first sip of mud. We were a small convoy of four and surprising­ly, every 4WD made it through.

The hike to the waterfalls began with a very steep descent to the beach. We basically skied down the trail holding on to a wet rope that was installed to assist hikers. Once on the

beach, a short hike got us to the waterfalls. There was a bit of fog over the horizon on the Bay of Fundy, but the view was stunning and I was grateful for being there as it was my firsttime visiting Nova Scotia.

Then the worst happened – someone realised they had lost their 4WD key somewhere on the rocky beach. To make things even worse, we were looking for a single key, not a key set. While plans were being considered to get a spare key delivered, someone miraculous­ly found it. Some people say it’s not an adventure until something goes wrong.

We returned to the campground just in time for the afternoon activities. Ron Melchiore gave us a presentati­on about his time spent living off-grid, which was followed by a few contests. Since I attended as an “outsider,” Peter asked me to pick the prize winners under the following categories: Best gear head Best battle scar Best glamping Best MacGyver fix Best of show

It was no easy task as there were some pretty impressive rigs and trailer setups. Wild Coast also had a few products on display. The coolest was the automatic Bundutec RTT and awning. These were new products and Peter and Trish tried them out for the first time.

That evening we enjoyed a delicious dinner, catered and served by Meadowbroo­k Meat Market. Again, we spent the evening around a bonfire and were entertaine­d with live music by David. While chatting with people and making some new friends, I realized there was something else that made this event such a success. It was the customers themselves. They all had different background­s, yet they all had the same passion to get out and explore.

While overlandin­g means different things to different people, I prefer to use “vehiclesup­ported adventure travel.” Personally, I’m just an enthusiast and identify myself merely as

a vehicle-supported adventure traveler. Some attendees were only adept to car camping and that’s totally fine. It’s what some of us do – car camping with a 4WD or off-road car camping. It doesn’t matter.

What matters is that you just get there, enjoy yourself and explore while following the tread-lightly principles. Outfitting your vehicle or trailer with an RTT allows you to do just that. I don’t know about you, but when I’m surrounded by vehicle-supported adventure travelers, with their fully outfitted 4WD and trailers, it inspires me to get my new Jeep outfitted and get out there for more adventure.

For next year, the event is supposed to be a little different. Rather than being hosted at an establishe­d campground, the event may take place on a remote beach. Sign me up. www.wildcoastt­ents.com | www.lalaphezul­u.com

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 ??  ?? The excursion to St. Croix Cove Waterfalls.
The excursion to St. Croix Cove Waterfalls.
 ??  ?? The scenic St. Croix Cove Waterfalls.
The scenic St. Croix Cove Waterfalls.
 ??  ?? Camp set up at The Vidito Family Campground & Cottages in Wilmot.
Camp set up at The Vidito Family Campground & Cottages in Wilmot.
 ??  ?? Laughter and camaraderi­e around the bonfire.
Laughter and camaraderi­e around the bonfire.
 ??  ?? One of the RTTs from Wild Coast Camping Gear.
One of the RTTs from Wild Coast Camping Gear.
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 ??  ?? There were a range of rigs at the event.
There were a range of rigs at the event.

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