Now that we have a bed, floor and some insulation, the van is usable for overnight trips. My goal was to be ready for an overnight by year-end, and we made it! (albeit barely)
We’re at Mt. Madonna campground for New Year’s Eve in our version 0.1 van.
To the floor/bed/fan, we added:
- Engel 45 fridge/freezer (Bought on sale - thanks MsNomer)
- Goal Zero Lithium 1000 (also available from Costco for cheaper if you have a membership)
- Little Buddy propane heater
- Elite Platinum 800W induction “burner” (good deal for $13 when NewEgg was getting rid of them, but questionable reliability based on Amazon reviews - we have two, so a backup if one fails…)
- Coleman Triton Plus propane stove (replacing Camp Chef Basecamp)
- warm white dimmable LED temporarily wired to the Goal Zero (and zip-tied to the roof)
- LED fog light (brought as a spotlight for finding our site after dark)
- aluminum collapsible table
Since we don’t have any cabinets yet, we used storage bins and racheting tie-down straps to secure everything.
We found that the LED fog light was quite a bit brighter than the other LED, but also consumed 11W. The other LED doesn’t even register on the Goal Zero as consuming power…
Cooking with the induction burner pointed out to me again that the Goal Zero 1000Wh is not sufficient for our requirements. Seven minutes to bring water to a boil, simmer for another few, and that’s 20% capacity down. It’s very nice to be able to cook in the van without a flame though.
Things we’ve learned:
- Becky needs access to water at night - need a shelf or something beside the bed. Since we’re setting up the bed to be usable in either direction (heads to left or right) that means shelves or counter-top on both sides.
- windows with stock Promaster tint are completely transparent when it’s dark outside and light inside the van (duh!)
- The Little Buddy will keep the van comfortably warm in 5C/41F weather with our current partial insulation, but the requirement to light it outside the van, and the need for make-up air makes it less convenient than we’d like.
- a 13” step stool is necessary for Becky to climb into bed at the current height, and probably also necessary for me to climb over her.
- the handle I installed at the slider is very useful, but a step at the slider may also be helpful
- even the partial Thinsulate insulation we have installed does a decent job at sound insulation - lots of people in the campground playing music, and there are fireworks in the distance, but inside the van they’re pretty much inaudible.
- we’re very happy with the factory swivels, but they definitely need a footrest. We used storage bins on this trip, but I’ll build some permanent storage eventually.
Overall, very happy with the van and build so far.
We returned the Camp Chef Basecamp this summer after a two week trip, mainly for poor quality control:
- one of the burner control knobs stripped within a week
- regulator behaved inconsistently and needed to be reset by removing and reattaching the propane cylinder
We are much happier so far with the Coleman.