Over the years we’ve amassed a myriad of camping, caravan and campervan equipment. We still carry some equipment dating back to our touring caravan days. As weight is a consideration when touring it’s good to get everything out and evaluate what equipment is really needed. Shelter, sleeping, seating, cooking and eating is the highest priority for the campervan equipment, but there’s always room for a few extra gadgets.
Internal fittings in the campervan
The rock and roll bed is the main bit of kit inside the campervan, with belted seats for travelling and then converting to a flat double bed at night. We also have a double bed in the pop-top roof but recently we’ve relegated the kids into the drive away air awning with sleeping compartment and double airbed. Lots of storage and LED lighting is pretty important when trying to conserve battery life.
External additions to the campervan
I fitted a Fiamma Carry-Bike Rack quite soon after getting the campervan, it’s only a two bike rack due to the load on the rear doors but we tend to only take the kids bikes away with us. Extra additions include fitting the Alyans XT2 Side Steps, adding homemade fly nets and the thermal windscreen cover for privacy and warmth.
The Volkswagen Transporter isn’t exactly spacious, not like a motorhome at least. The addition of an awning was always key to our time away as a family of four (plus a Cocker Spaniel). We started with a Quechua Base Seconds XL pop up tent which is very spacious but not great for sleeping in. The Lichfield California Drive-Away Air Awning is a nice piece of equipment and inflates with minimum effort and has an additional sleeping compartment large enough to cater for a large double air bed (with built in electric pump).
I installed a Fiamma F45s wind out awning which has been great, not only for rain in the UK but as a shelter from the sun abroad. Combined with a small pop up “pup tent” for equipment storage this is a great way to travel light and make a quick get-away in the morning. Perfect for the long journey with multiple stops down to the South of France.
Camping chairs and tables
Folding camping chairs and tables are pretty important pieces of equipment. They need to be light and they need to fold away to save space. I think we’re pretty happy with what we have and it works really well at mealtimes. Go for top quality and they with be ultra light and will last a decade.
Cooking inside the campervan
It’s not often that we will cook inside the campervan although it is fully equipped to do so. I’d rather be outside on the Cadac (see below) or be cooking on an open fire on the campsites that allow this. With a built in 12 volt fridge and lots of storage we can be self-sufficient and eat at the campsite. The kids love to run off and meet other kids so it’s a great time to wind down for the evening with a leisurely meal. There’s a sink, a double burner gas hob and a gas grill all built into the side of the campervan. We use a Nespresso when we are hocked up to an electric pitch to provide a easy cup of coffee (or hot water) at the touch of a button.
I’m a big fan of outdoor cooking and jump on the home Weber barbecue at any opportunity. I also love cooking over an open fire and often teach my Scout troop fire-lighting techniques. When away in the campervan on a site that doesn’t allow an open fire, I have three options – a Cadac Eazi Chef, a Cadac Safari Chef or a portable gas burner. Both Cadac’s come with a selection of accessories for either open flame cooking or on their specially designed non-stick metal pans and allow for “lid on” cooking. In the caravaning/motorhome world these really are a top choice, but you do need to hook them up to your gas bottle.
The campervan carries two batteries – one to start the engine and a larger leisure battery for the habitation power. With LED lighting so common you don’t need to waste battery power on lighting the van at night but the fridge and any other accessories can start to drain the battery. Whenever you drive you are charging the battery with the alternator but if you are pitched up for a while without an electric hook up solar panels are the way to go. I installed a semi-flexible solar panel on the roof of the campervan and I have a portable folding solar panel which I can re-position to catch the maximum rays. Powering and charging devices via USB has become so universal that I have a multitude of USB sockets dotted around the interior.
You can’t go camping without gadgets! on a rainy evening in the UK the kids watch TV or a movie. I have various methods to pick up Freeview services without the use of mobile data. A USB Freeview receiver can be used on my Netbook (or any laptop) and an iPad has a dedicated unit that plugs in. If we are in an area with a weak Freeview signal we can use the mobile Mi-Fi device connected to 4G antennas mag-mounted to the roof of the van or a media sender that is loaded with a few movies. Messing about with two way radios is also great fun when out an about – the kids always have one attached to their BMX. However, these days they both have mobile phones and don’t seem to want to play “walkie talkies” with their dad so much anymore.
Have I missed anything? let me know in a message or in a comment below …