Seems like we can always use more water when camping out in the backcountry. And so I crafted a simple metal mount strap for carrying a 7-gallon Aquatainer on the trailer tongue.
My long running search for the perfect bike rack ended last month when I received exactly that from 1 UP USA. American made by a small company in Wisconsin. All-aluminum construction with none of the easily breakable plastic parts used by most manufacturers. This review is specific to the roof tray version, but I’ll touch upon the hitch-mount product that I later ordered.
Hitching a popup camper behind your vehicle often forces bike transport to the roof rack. We use these “Look Up Dummy” static cling stickers on the windshield as an effective reminder before backing into the garage or driving under an overhand.
We just purchased an Intex Mariner 4 inflatable boat, and their marketing tagline is correct: this thing is as “good as it gets!” Super tough PVC, fishing rod holders, 3 seat cushions, and even a motor mount and spot to put the marine battery! I’m posting this in both the mods/upgrades and trip reports section to discuss why you too should buy this boat and how we’ve enjoyed using it on trips.
We rarely travel with a fresh water hose, always boondocking (rather than a full hookup site), and almost always filling up with water at home. However, after forgetting the hose on a trip last year where it was needed to refill, I started looking for a storage location. Today, I had an epiphany – the spare tire!
A guest post by Sarah Meas: Ok, first off pop-up camper make-overs online are hard to come by! So when I went looking for tips and ideas, I didn’t find much of anything! We got a huge deal on this Coleman beast and I had to make sure I kept it well under $100 bucks, for everything including all the supplies you need while camping. Here’s how I did it.
One way to add an exterior tool box to your camper is by simply mounting an extra battery box. The solution is cheap, easy to install, and conveniently accessible.
If your camper doesn’t come standard with a powered roof vent, I highly recommend purchasing it as an option or installing later as an add-on.
A roof fan really helps air the camper out, including cooling it down after having sat out in the baking sun all day or drying out humidity collection. The power consumption is relatively low compared to the benefit offered.
A separate outside grill is a must have in my opinion versus a single grill that can be rotated inside and out. I greatly prefer having a grill inside to warm up water for tea or coffee, which I can keep clean, while letting the outdoor grill get messy and greasy. I can then store the outdoor grill in my tow vehicle at night when camping in bear country.
Discharged water from your popup camper’s sink or shower should never be allowed to simply drain out the side and onto the ground. Food particles will attract animals and soap chemicals will damage the landscape. This is particularly important in desert environments where even clean water discharge can cause erosion.
Adding a bunk-end light/fan combo is quite easy to do and provides several benefits including a private reading light at night and better air circulation into the bunk.
Another simple upgrade to your camper is a plastic drawer cart. Simply remove the wheels and enjoy the convenience of seeing what is inside with easy access from each drawer.
A simple upgrade that costs less than $1. Purchase a small plastic strainer from your manufacturer or dealer to fit perfectly into your popup camper’s sink. This prevents food from getting stuck in the discharge pipe, which could both clog up your plumbing and attract animals.
A vinyl overhead storage cabinet has been one of the best conveniences in our popup camper. It’s easily installed on each trip and holds items like paper towels and wash rags close to the kitchen sink without taking up valuable counter space.
Leveling your camper before popping it up is extremely important, not only for the obvious reasons (not rolling out of your bed at night), but because certain equipment like your refrigerator must be level to operate properly. Leveling is required in two places: front to back, and side to side. One is easy, the other can be difficult – but I’ll show you how to make it easy too!
The first couple of times I filled my water tank, it didn’t last as long as I had expected. I finally realized that it wasn’t actually getting “full” because water was running back out the fill hose unnecessarily. To combat the problem, I created a small ramp for one wheel to sit on which helps angle the tank for proper filling.
One of the simplest conveniences to add to your popup camper are storage hooks. Simply screwed into the top of your swing down galley, these provide a convenient place to hang a hand towel or even a trash bag. I installed several to mine.
One thing I’ve learned about soap is that it always leaks out of the container. Probably more so when going through drastic elevation changes like my popup camper often does. An easy solution is to store all of these items inside a plastic container and place that container inside the sink pan.
After installing a 12 volt outlet inside my camper, I use a battery monitor that plugs into the cigarette lighter style power receptacle. This allows me to conveniently monitor available battery charge without crawling under the slide-out bunk, opening the battery box, and checking the battery directly with a multimeter.
Dual propane tanks can be a nice convenience for all popup campers. Even if you can complete a camping trip on just one tank, having two tanks with an automatic regulator allows you to not worry about filling up before you leave – as long as at least one tank is showing full. Two tanks can also be an absolute necessity when boondocking for longer periods of time.
Raising your popup camper’s frame helps provide more ground clearance. You might not think this is needed for your camper, but simply navigating campground roads can sometimes cause your camper’s bumper to touch. This is because your popup acts a bit like a see saw on it’s axle. Raising the frame gives your bumper and even the front of the trailer more clearance.
Twice the battery, twice the power, twice the fun.
If you need extra power out on the road to power your rig for longer, including the heater furnace fan, lights, water pump, and even help charge your iPad or mobile phone, then adding a second battery is a fairly cheap and easy upgrade.
One of the first things we did in our popup was to install a memory foam mattress pad. But this extra foam created too tight of a squeeze when popping the camper down – hitting the door when placed in the storage position between the mattress and roof. So, I moved the door!
Stabilizer jacks can take a lot of cranking to raise or lower. This adds precious time to the setup and take down of your popup. Thankfully, a common cordless drill can accelerate this process into only taking a few seconds.
One of the first things we did to our popup is trade in sleeping bag camping for real sheets and pillows. The easiest way to stay warm is by using flannel sheets and a down comforter.
One of the easiest and most impactful things for a boondocker to do is replace your standard incandescent light bulbs with an LED version. An LED bulb will use 10% of the energy and last 20 times longer than an incandescent. This means more time between bulb replacement and a lot more time on one battery charge.