So, we’ve been back home for quite a while now settling in to a normal routine. I’ve never done so many home renos and fixits, tiling, caulking, drywall patching, painting, stripping, moving earth and moving it back! Two bathroom renos and a major fence build. Enough, time for something else! Of course we also have spent a lot of time catching up with friends and family, what they’ve been up to in the last few months. As Lars and I reflect on 2018 (and now the better half of 2019), we’re also thinking and talking a lot about what we’d like to do in the future.
The motorcycle trip as documented, was incredibly awesome. To be entirely honest, it was no vacation. Someone asked me if I loved it, and I responded that I loved what it enabled us to see, and the experience was really one of a kind. After some thought and lots of reflection, the motorbiking wasn’t the be all and end all of the trip. It was an amazing experience, but I think both of us don’t really want a steady diet of just motorbiking. While we were “out there”, I really thought it would have been wonderful to take off on one of the many dirt roads, and go exploring; have some flexibility to go for hikes and walks without the overhead of locking up all the gear. The restrictions of carrying gear, and adequate amounts of food and water, and the 3-D puzzle in making everything fit… uggg. To underline though, those quiet dirt roads off into unchartered territory certainly looked inviting.
Fast forward, and we’ve talked a lot about what we want to do in the coming years. Being fortunate enough to have enough youth, health and being selective on how we spend our funds, we have come to some decisions on what we want to do.
We want to motorbike, but don’t want to necessarily travel by motorbike. The logistics are too overwhelming, to ride to a destination, then set up shop and use the bikes to explore more destinations. As satisfying as minimalistic travel is, carrying tent, sleeping bag, stove, food and all the gear; it gets pretty old very quickly. We found it to be very time consuming, set up and take down when we camped. Also, having little capacity for food meant we were shopping almost every day. Seriously tedious. Making distance meant staying in motels/hotels, and not camping. For our trip, that was OK, but not financially feasible, or what we want to do in the long run. So…
We want to be more self contained, with a home base, and more freedom to use the bikes for fun, exploration and recreation, vs transportation and hauling. We’re not getting any younger, so crawling into the tent… yeesh, you know. Also, while we were in Death Valley, the temperatures were beginning to climb, and with a tent and two motorbikes, there was little opportunity to escape the heat. We want some space to take shelter from whatever the environment might throw at us. Up to a point, of course.
So along our continuum of decision making for recreation options, our discussions have included:
- converting a Ford Transit van, or Dodge Pro-city ram and hauling the bikes in a trailer;
- using a pickup truck to carry the bikes and hauling some sort of RV or popup camper;
- using a pickup truck with a camper, and hauling the bikes with a trailer;
- we looked at jeeps, because of their hauling capacity;
- we looked at Subaru’s, but weren’t convinced that the roof racks would be robust enough;
- we looked at Class B and C RV’s because we knew nothing about them;
We were so close to committing to a van conversion, when I said to Lars jokingly, so we’re not going to consider a roof top tent, are we?
So, we did what we do. We talked, and considered the options and possibilities. A quick search of RTT’s led us to the iKamper. It’s a very slick, quick setup and we and thought of how it could work for us. With a lot of Youtube viewing, we saw a lot of opportunity with the iKamper set up. Yes, there’s a ladder, but for now, that is absolutely fine. This Aussie company Drifta, had an interesting and entertaining review that pretty much sold us. He talks a lot about having small kids with, and where they’d fit – not necessarily our concern, but it’s all good. Have a look at the annex.
So, if we want to use a RTT, so, what vehicle to consider? Our preference is standard transmission, personal choice. 4×4, vs AWD, and then the selection became very narrow. We wanted a smaller pickup vs bigger. As above, we did consider the Jeep, 4×4 sport version. We liked the utility of it, six speed manual, hearty rack for the tent, but, they are pricey, and not terribly practical for long distance travel. Air condition is an add on, I presume heated seats would be too.
It became an exercise in taking what was left on the table. Manual transmission, 4×4, and costing out the options. Really, Jeep, vs. the Nissan Frontier, and while the jeep does maintain value well, the two-door sport is small and there are far more features in the Frontier for the same costs. So, that’s what we got, a 2018 Nissan Frontier Pro, 4×4, manual transmission. There were all of three in BC, two white and one charcoal blue. It rides like a dream. After more research, we got a Thule adjustable rack for the iKamper. Totally solid.
There are many small details with starting this up from scratch. So. Many. Details. We spent a lot of time discussing and researching what systems would work for us. Storage bins, and how to mount them in the truck, what bolts would work with the rails in the truck, where to position them. It’s been dizzying…
We want to be off grid with food, cream for coffee, you know… To do this, we purchased a Dometic CF28 fridge, Yeti 400 lead acid battery unit, with inverter, and solar panel.
For the trailer, we decided to go with an aluminum unit, Express Custom Trailers from Coombs, B.C. They manufacture them onsite, and were able to dial it in to our needs. We opted for aluminum because we wanted to be able to move it by hand. Steel would have been a challenge.
So, at this point in time, we have our set up pretty much ready to go. We did a camping trip to try out the truck, camper, and set up.
Everything worked out really well, more or less. The mattress is pretty firm, so will be making some adjustments. It was cold too, so it will be a matter of dialling all that stuff in.
Here we are, about to go with the full setup. Truck, roof top tent and trailer with the bikes.
The other benefit to this set up, is that it’s modular. If we find that we don’t like the iKamper, or this type of camping, we can remove it and try something else. We can haul our bigger bikes if we want to do a different type of riding. We can leave the trailer behind if we just want to hike; or add a bike hitch for our bicycles. It doesn’t leave us with only one option, we will have many with this setup.
In a short while, we’re going to head out again for a longer trip. Will be posting from the road, stay tuned!