Travelling with everything in and on your car. Camping in free nature all by ourself self-sufficient and independent of all needs is one of my lifelong dreams. Step by step i’m checking the wishlist both in destinations as in the needed equipement.
We are a family of four: my girlfriend Liene, our two daughters Ellis (9)
& Liv (7), and somewhere on our travels in the mountains of Spain we picked up our cherished dog Roover. We try to discover our continent as much as posssible by car and slow traveling. You can fly all over the world to find the most beautifull places but if you can’t appreciate what is in your backyard then why bother flying to the other side of the globe. We also like to travel slow and unplanned. When we take of it’s for a minimum of two weeks and the longest we were out was a month and a half. Up till now that was the longest possible balancing between jobs, school and some family obligations. But we ‘re working on all those restrictions. I’m not going to dive deeper in our travel philosopfy, this would take me way off topic. I’ll get back on that in another article.
What we learned from our previous trips, is that a lot of time is wasted on arriving at and departing from a layover. To win back that time, we cooked up a system that allows us to not unload anything from the car. The trunk of my pickup truck opens on 3 sides and is equipped with a drawer system on the back. That drawer fits six boxes. The first thing I replaced on the car was the canopy: an expensive but important part. It allows acces from every direction into the back of the car, is thief proof (I installed an alarm and it’s very strong), it also alows to support heavier weights in the roof.
The two boxes in the back were filled with practical stuff for emergencies and tools: a first aid kit, a saw, an axe, water purification tablets, a compressor, tools to winch the car when it gets stuck, a battery starter, a tire repair kit, and more. The two boxes in the middle contained mainly photography and drone gear, and some spare clothing I would need quick access to in case of emergency weather. That way I could quickly put everything on if something happened during a storm or sudden rain. Finally, the two boxes in the front were used to store all dry foods and cooking equipment.
We placed the fridge on top of the drawer system. It was fixed, since the second battery on which it runs, is placed in the back of the trunk as well. In front of the fridge we installed another, easy to access drawer system. Next to the fridge stood a ten liter water tank, which we used to cook and drink. On the other side of the fridge we stored some stuff for the dog.
The left side of the drawer system has an in and out for a water tank of fifty liters, on the right side of the dual battery, which powers the fridge. This water tank doesn’t indicate the amount of water left, so we always refilled the ten liter tank. That way, we could keep count of how much water we had left.
Through the right door of the trunk, we gained access to four more boxes. Every member of the family got assigned one box, filled with clothing. And nothing else! This makes it very handy to pack clothes for the trip, and you don’t have to dig through luggage anymore. Everything is perfectly organized right in front of you. This bring us to one of the most important learnings from our previous trips: we always pack too many clothes.
The small space in front of the clothing boxes was used to store dirty laundry.
Open the left door of the trunk, and you would find four boxes on this side as well. One containing all toiletries and towels, and one stuffed with insulated coats and sweaters. The third box contained more supplies for the dog: 5 kilograms of dog food and stuff to bite on, a twenty meter leash in case we had to camp close by a road,… The last box was dedicated to all our camping gear: a clothesline, gas bottles, tinfoil, mosquito repellent, firelighters, toilet paper, grill irons, and more.
Moving on to the roof, we had installed two boxes there as well. One with shoes, slippers and hiking boots, the other one was filled with stuff for the car: motor oil, a pneumatic jack, straps and some more gas bottles.
In between our rooftop tent and those boxes we put our camping seats and the barbecue — which always comes in handy on cold nights and at spots where you can’t build a fire from the ground up.
In the space between the rooftop tent and the roof rails, I stuffed some foldable tubs — to do the dishes — and a couple of MaxxTraxx. These were to be used if the car got stuck in the sand, and there would be no tree to adjust the winch to. Furthermore, there was a little shovel attached to the rails — which we used to burry our number two’s. Used toilet paper would be put in a little trash bag and be brought back.
The roof rails are also equipped with two tables, a third one was installed against the ceiling of the canopy. Why two tables? Because you’ll need one to cook on, the other one to eat from. If you only have one table with you, you’d always need to clean up the table after cooking, before you can eat.
We also have a winch, a 130 liter diesel tank, some extra lights, bottom plates, a different suspension, and other stuff with us — but these things aren’t worth mentioning here.
So… This is the short description of our set up. Everybody does this in his own way. For us, this workes perfectly. This way, we could arrive somewhere and be installed in only ten minutes: open up the rooftop tent, roll out the sleeping bags, pull out the tables, and done! We could leave again in only thirty minutes. Of course it helps to keep things organized and tidy.
Being organized is a necessity if you travel the way we do. If you stay somewhere for just a single night, and you want to move on directly after, you can’t afford to lose any time on packing. You want to enjoy yourself!
Another practical, and very important factor for this trip was our new lifestyle. Since a couple of months, we’re following the Keto lifestyle. I’m not going to get into the details, but it comes down to this: we try to eat a low amount of carbs and a high amount of fats. The idea is to push our bodies to start burning fats instead of sugars. This means we no longer eat bread, pasta, rice, milk, potatoes, fries, and more. On top of that we stopped buying processed foods as much as we can. In a country where the local eating culture resembles the American one, this was no easy decision. During our trip, we made ninety percent of our food ourselves. Especially since a quick unhealthy bite alongside the road doesn’t fit our philosophy.
Getting supplies turned out to be very important for us, so we could provide the right nutrition. Kudos to my dearest tiger Liene, who succeeded in producing amazing meals with little ingredients!
What has changed:
After 3 years we realised that being on the road like this has one disadvantage. You are kinda stuck to your vehicule. When you park it for one night you are happy to stay there around the fire, cook a meal and enjoy eachothers company.
But we also like to hike and discover the surroundings by other means then a car. Search for hiking trails, wander in a National Park. And especially for the kids and Liene they sometimes need a slight hint of civilisation.
A sensitive subject among overlanders. There a different technologies and they all have their pro’s and con’s. I always carry these devices of communication:
1. A cell phone: obvious…
2. A couple of Network Radios: A network Radios is a like Walkie Talkie or CB with a Sim Card in it. As long as you have cell coverage you can reach the whole world. No distance restrictions. To keep in touch with close by vehicules or the old folks at home. (more info)
3. A pair of Walkie Talkies: back up for the Network Radios if you need to winch.
4. Garmin Inreach: Sattelite communicator in case of emergency
(I’ll go deeper on this subject in a different article)
So after our big trip this summer I bought an Offroad Trailer. I can use this for my work to put my working gear in it. But also I fitted the rooftop tent on it.
This alows us to go Wild Camping as much as we like but when we’re in need of different activities like hikes, natural parks, go serious offroading… I can go to a Camping leave all the camping gear there and take of with only the car. In previous trips we had to break up camp if we wanted to go somewhere.
So now I thing we can even make it longer out because we will have even more variation. It might be a bit more challenging on tougher terrain but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. 😁
There was nothing wrong with our little Primus cooking kit but since whe had the option to fit a small kitchen in the trailer I didn’t hesitate. It would make life a little bit easier on the road. Also cooking for four deserves descent equipment.
Back to the car, getting the rooftop tent of the roof freed up a lot of space there and that gave me the oportunity to finaly add a solar panel on the roof. The second battery system is now completely independent. After a day or three I was forced to break up camp and start driving to refill the second battery. Mostly the refrigirator consumed a lot of power and also me charging camera’s, drone batteries and laptops taks a lot of power. Problem solved now. I tested it allready during my job charging heavy batteries that powers external photo flashes and it charged them fast and without blinking. If it can handle that it will handle everything.
I travelled 30000 kilometers with my car the past 2 years. Never hit anything… Went to a nearby city and hit a concrete pilar. The whole back bumper mover 15 cm up, what resulted in not being able top open the trunk. Replaced it with an offroad bumper. Offers far more protection and is actual one big towing point. Looks better as well.
Since the rainy winter saison has started we haven’t been out a lot with the camper. Can’t wait to stress test it in spring in the Spanish mountains and in Summer we are heading back to Sweden, Finland and “fingers crossed”: Russia.
Maybe we do a little winter trip, just because … 😀🏕☃️🏔
To be continued….