Many avid camper trailer owners believe that the longer they can spend off-the-grid, the better. After all, who doesn’t want to escape the hustle and bustle to spend time surrounded by the simple pleasures of nature? Although, ‘simple’ is a relative term and there’s still plenty to take care of when you’re out bush. Not to mention all the phones and other gadgets that are either a necessity for safety or sanity; they’ll probably need tending to at some point. Not to worry, the right setup is all you need.
Unless you plan to eat stale bread and muesli bars for your whole trip, proper food storage and cooking are important. These days plenty of campers will have a 12V or gas fridge/freezer on board, which is great, but will require sufficient power to keep it running. A good quality esky will keep things chilled for a decent amount of time; just be mindful to keep it in the shade on sunny days.
When it comes to cooking, LPG cylinders are the go for campers. However, it may be a good idea to substitute the stove or barbecue with a campfire cook-up some nights, to stretch out gas reserves. Small camping stoves can also be useful, particularly when open fires aren’t an option. There are loads of options when it comes to camping stoves, but if you’re really keen to head off-grid then check out BioLite’s CampStove, which burns biomass (twigs, sticks and so on) for cooking while utilising excess heat to generate power and charge devices via USB. The BioLite CampStove can be found instore or online at Anaconda and other camping gear and equipment stores.
A good solar setup is one of the best investments you can make with regards to spending time off-grid. Your solar system needs to be hooked up to a good battery and solar regulator rig so that it can store the power you capture to use later on. LED lighting and other low-draw items will make the most of the power you have in storage.
A lot of current campers will come with fixed solar panels and a full network of batteries and outlets. Pretty much the only downside to this system is that fixed solar panels will require you to set up in a spot where they’ll get plenty of sun and at an angle that’s going to optimise their exposure. To compensate for this, it might be a good idea to have a portable panel that you can plug into the system and move around to capture the most sun. These come in a few different forms, including solar blankets, which fold up for easy storage.
The technology behind solar (and therefore the options available) is constantly improving — so do your homework and don’t just jump on the first thing you see. There’s sure to be something ideal for your setup and power requirements, rather than making do with a halfway measure.
Having a steady supply of drinking water is a fairly basic necessity when you head off-grid, but water can be hard to come by on the road, especially if you’re taking on an outback summer adventure. Filling your tanks before heading off is a good start, but when it comes time to top up, it’ll pay to have a water filter installed. A good filtration system will enable you to fill the tanks from rivers, dams and rainwater tanks without having to worry about harmful chemicals or bacteria that might be present.
Water filters are rated in microns; essentially, the lower the rating, the more stuff they remove. To reduce the risk of giardia and other harmful bugs, a water filter needs to be rated at 0.5 microns or lower. Systems may include a large sediment filter followed by a well-rated reverse osmosis filter. It can also be handy to have a submersible bilge pump to top up from rivers. The specifics of the system you need will depend on the kinds of places you plan to visit, but in our experience, it doesn’t hurt to lean on the side of caution and set yourself up with a top-quality kit.
And don't forget to take care of your water tanks between trips.
Camper trailers come equipped with varying levels of bathroom facilities. Some may have portable toilets, and some may not, some even have heated showers. If you don’t have a toilet, be sure to observe considerate and appropriate practices when it comes to doing business. Stay well away from waterways and be sure to dig deep and bury your leftovers properly. Some areas may require you to carry out your own waste; if you don’t have a portable chemical toilet then wag bags will be your next best option.
Showers aren’t all that important for a couple of days, but eventually you’re going to need one. Rather than bathing in rivers and polluting waterways with soap and shampoo, you can get a simple gravity-fed solar shower and set it up far away from water sources. All you need to do is fill a bag with water, leave it in the sun and then string it up when it’s time to shower. Be sure to check that the water isn’t too hot.
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