Clarence the Camper - Episode 2 - Things I did not know that I Needed
If you’ve already read my Preface and Episode 1, you are well aware that I jumped into the purchase of my camper without much thought… I imagined that - you own a camper, you go to a cool spot, you cook, enjoy nature, and just have a wonderful time. What else could you need? Apparently, that is NOT realistic... (shocker, I know 🙃). As it turns out, you need a lot of extras to make a habitable and safe mobile home.
It seems like some people just know things. Or that some people instinctively think of useful items they will probably need given their situation. I am not one of those people. Thankfully, I received good advice from individuals that know a lot more about off-grid living than myself. For instance, your home is now mobile, so you need things that prevent other things from moving… Makes sense!
Below I’ve outlined what I found to be my top 9 essential items for smooth camper life. If you want a larger list, stay tuned for the next Clarence the Camper episode where I launch into other very useful items to improve off-grid living.
Some essential items not shown on the list that ideally are come stock with a camper include, a heater, fridge, stove, bed, curtains, and cushions. Surprisingly, the camper I bought (with blind optimism) did not have a bed, curtains, or cushions… I’ll address how I addressed these necessities in posts to come.
I’d like to stress that any photos and links to items just happen to be what I’m using. I am not saying they are the best options as they are likely the only options I have tried.
The 9 Essentials:
Carbon monoxide alarm
Battery jumper/charger pack
Wall mounting accessories (wall hooks, heavy-duty velcro, and "one wrap")
Plastic (or bamboo) cups, plates, and tupperware.
Plastic (or wire) containers and Non-slip material
The 9 Essential Items for Camper Life
1. Carbon Monoxide Alarm
A carbon monoxide alarm is a no-brainer. Luckily my camper did come with one, I just had to change the battery. Don't worry, it will kindly let you know you need a new battery by beeping.
I honestly don’t know which one I use but a couple of examples to purchase include:
2. Battery jumper/charger pack
This thing has saved my ass so many times.
Early on in owning my truck Betsy, I developed a helpful habit of leaving her lights on and killing the battery...She didn't appreciate that much and it got to the point I was jumping it almost every time I needed to start the truck. I did eventually get to solving the problem and got a battery and alternator so I no longer need to use the jumper daily...
But even if you don't routinely kill your battery, if you inadvertently do while you're in the bush and there is no one around, this thing will save the day! Just imagine, you're in an amazing spot, enjoying being offline with no reception, come back from a great day of biking, fishing, hiking, hunting (whatever else you fancy) and you find your door ajar! There may be no one for miles and you may have a long walk until you reach reception. With this guy, you can just jump yourself, hassle-free. For 100 whatever dollars, it's completely worth it.
When purchasing, you should make sure the model you get is strong enough for your battery and if possible that it has the additional feature of charging electronics. This guy has charged my phone in a pinch more than once.
3. Trickle Charger
A trickle charger is a helpful device that you use when you are on-grid to prevent overcharging your batteries. There are different amperages that change the speed at which it charges. Mine is a 15-8-2. Typically the idea is that you keep it on the lowest, slowest setting, though from time to time if you need a speedy top up, you can crank the mode up for faster charging.
I typically just leave mine tucked away plugged in all the time so I do not have to remember to plug it in when I plug in. (ADHD hack... design your environment so you do not rely on your memory...)
You can find the one I bought by clicking here. (Again this just happened to be the one I purchased, feel free to review different options!!)
A ladder is one of the items that I feel most practical people would instinctively recognize that it's essential. I didn't even realize the camper didn't have one until well after the purchase. I realized the necessity when it was too late, the top of my camper was full of snow, so my solar panels were covered and I drained my battery super low (potentially causing the failure of one of my broken heaters).
You of course also need to use the ladder to get up to the roof for repairs such as sealant leaks, solar panel install or maintenance etc.
I ended up buying a ladder through Facebook Marketplace, though they can be found new on Amazon as well.
These little guys trap the moisture in your camper. As it turns out there is a LOT of moisture to trap. I'm sure there is a scientific reason why condensation is ramped in mobile homes but I haven't bothered checking yet...though I will at some point - once I triumph over procrastination...
It's also helpful to have paper towels and towels around to mop up the condensation on the windows. Though I most often forget to do this...
6. Wall Mounting Accessories
The proper wall mounting accessories can allow for better storage options and to spruce up your camper with artwork. Extra-strength Velcro, hooks, and Velcro "one wrap" are so far my favourite organizing tools.
The velcro holds up artwork and keeps storage baskets in place. I was very pleasantly surprised at the strength of the Extreme Outdoor Velcro, there are different weight capacities, I bought the 15 lb. and 10 lb. rolls.
The one wrap helps hold loose items together for storage but I also used it to allow me to store my broom and Swiffer below by cabinets, where they don't take up any extra space.
There are lots of different styles of hooks, when you don't have a lot of space, putting a few hooks around really helps. (you got to be somewhat mindful though for when you move if the items are going to stay on the hooks or not...)
7. Bungee Cords (of all sizes)
I had no idea how many sizes bungee cords came in! And I had no idea that having the different sizes come in so handy!
Bungee cords are instrumental in keeping things in place when you're on the road.
I would actually not recommend the set-up you see in this picture... I'm still trying to find a better solution, to use the ledge. The bungee cords work to hold the containers in place when I'm on smooth road, but I've opened the door to quite a mess after travelling on potted holed gravel roads...
8. Plastic, metal or Bamboo cups, Plates and Tupperware
Basically you just want to avoid glass - no one wants broken mess after things accidentally falling out on a bumpy ride.
I don't love the taste of drinks from metal vestibules.
So, I use the large metal coffee mug in lieu of a tea pot. Steeping tea and pouring it into a cup (for some unknown reason) is a wonderful feeling. I do miss my ceramic tea pot, but its not worth the risk...
Unfortunately, there was a cup harmed in the making of this blog. It was unintentional, but it proved my point....
9. Containers and Non-slip material
Two ways you can prevent things from falling out as easily are containers and non slip material. The non-slip material should basically line all cupboards.
Putting stuff into containers on top of the non-slip material is an easy way to keep things in place and organized.