Gearing Up…

One good thing about having lived on a small sailboat at anchor for the last four years is that when I finally move over to the SUV there’s a lot of gear that will easily make the transition. But there are some things I’m just going to have to buy from scratch. I’m waiting for the Coleman 6-person Instant Instant Tent to be delivered. Traveling around there are a lot of campgrounds that have rules against sleeping in your vehicle. So a tent is necessary. I could have gone with a smaller tent, but I like the idea of being able to stand up. My youngest brother, Mark, used to do a lot of backpacking but in recent years, as he closes in on his dotage, has taken up car camping and he recommended this tent. He has one himself. Looking at videos of the tent and setting it up I figure even with my COPD I can set it up with little effort. Some other advantages are that if I run into a couple of days of inclement weather, a distinct possibility, it will be more comfortable being in a tent this size than being cooped up in an SUV. It’s also a place where one can poop in private if there’s no nearby facility available.

I need to buy a table. Mark pointed out one he got on Amazon that collapses easily for storage. Also need a folding chair.

I already have a lot of things…A propane stove. I recently bought a smaller 11 lb. tank with an eye on space requirements. Have been looking at a smaller water jug than the 5 gal. size I have on board. You can buy smaller 2.5 gal. jugs on Amazon but they’re $25. Yesterday at Wally World when I went to get my meds I saw at their water vending unit small 2.5 gal. jugs. Will buy one of those the next time I go out. I have a rechargeable pump that can be used as well as a still in the box manual pump as a backup.

I’ve been sleeping on a very comfortable 4″ Memory Foam tri-fold mattress for a couple of years now. That’s coming with, of course. It’s width will also be the determining factor in the construction of the bed.

My Enya polycarbonate ukulele will be riding along

as well as my computers, iPad, and cell phone with its mobile hotspot. Needless to say my 12-volt mini fridge will find a place to live in the van.

While nearly everything I have runs off of batteries…2 notebook computers, an iPad, a semi-literate phone, and my interior lighting comes from a pair of Luci Lights though I only use one at a time. My mini fridge operates off of 110-volt AC or 12 volt DC. I have a car-type socket directly wired to the 150-watt battery bank that runs the unit. The power supply for everything comes from cigarette lighter-type sockets. I also have a 2000 watt AC/DC inverter to run the couple of power tools (corded drill and jig saw) that I use occasionally.

You don’t have to delve very far into Facebook van camping sites before you find someone extoling the virtues of their Jackery power station. Usually the 500 watt-hour version.

Occasionally the more powerful 1000 hour model. My first reaction, months ago, was yadda, yadda, yadda. I wasn’t interested. The price really threw me off. The 1000 cost nearly a grand and the 500, like the big brother, was about a buck a watt. Besides that, I have been living exclusively on solar power on my boat for the past three years. And realize that when I say “living on my boat, I mean just that. I haven’t slept on land now in nearly five years! I figured that rather than shelling out that kind of cash I’d simply take my two deep cycle batteries off the boat along with my 160-watt Renogy monocrystalline flexible panel and solar charger, leaving the 100- and 50-watt rigid panels secreted inside the boat when I’m off journeying. To that end I even ordered a $20 battery isolator so I could have a starting battery bank and a “house bank.”

Jackery’s biggest rival is a company called Bluetti. They make units the same size as Jackery…500 watt, 1000 watt, but they also make one that’s in between. A 750 watt unit. It had different battery technology…Lithium Ferric Phosphate by which it’s capable of 2,500 charging cycles versus the Jackery 500s 500 cycles. Also, the price for each unit is nearly the same which makes the Bluetti the winner in my mind.

So, thinking about the hassle of setting up and installing the panels, the controllers, the outlets, etc., and looking at my bank account, I went ahead and ordered the Bluetti.  It will take about a week to ten days for delivery, but that’s quite all right. I don’t need it right now.

The next big deal is to do the build out of the SUV. I’ve spent hours poring over photos online of what I think are good designs. I’ve also spent time just looking at the space and trying to visualize how things need to go together. Today I noticed that the two intrusive wheel well covers are not mirror images of each other.

The idea burbling in my head says I’ll just make the bed wide enough to accept the mattress and leave the side behind the driver’s seat to the tailgate open to accept storage. More stuff to mull over.

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