Simple Things That Make Our Simple Life EVEN Better!

If you are the type that wants to get out into the woods and keep it simple in a basic travel trailer, these products will enhance your experience without all the expensive bells and whistles.  They are easy to use, robust, and do the job without any unnecessary flash or gadgetry…and will help you boondock in style without investing in a large, more expensive RV.

Anderson Hitch Camper Leveler

This ridiculously simple and robust product has, hands down, saved our marriage.  We have seen many couples arrive at a campground, tired from a long drive, and then try to level their camper.  Within minutes, their pointing and head shaking turns into yelling, and often, a full blown argument. Sound familiar?  Not a great way to start a vacation! Admittingly, for the first couple of years, we spent far too much time trying to level Hamlet wherever we parked for the night.  Now, we can level it on the first try and it takes about 20 seconds.  We place the arch under the tire on the low side, roll up onto the arch until the camper is level (using the small levels on the hitch) and then put the chock under the opposite side of the tire.  If you have a dually trailer, you simply need 2 levelers, one for each wheel. We’ve had the same leveler for 5 years now, use it nearly every single day, and it’s in the same condition as when we bought it.


This Leveler Saved Our Marriage!


Small Levels on the Hitch


Leveled on the First Try with the Anderson Leveler

Renogy Solar System

For those of you who already follow us, you know we like to keep it simple...really simple.  Our small system has allowed us to live off-grid and boondock since the fall of 2012.  We started with a basic 80W panel and lead acid battery, but have recently upgraded to a Renogy 100W portable solar suitcase, Wanderer charge controller, and Renogy 50Ah Lithium Iron Phosphate battery.  


Solar System

This system allows us to run our LED lights, Fan-Tastic Vent Fan, and charge our various personal electronics – from laptops and DSLR camera batteries to AA/AAA batteries and bike lights.  We have chosen to carry only one electric kitchen appliance with us (a stick blender for making smoothies, soups, pestos and cream sauces), and it works well with this system. With a portable solar panel, we can place it in the sun and park our rig in the shade – allowing us to use passive cooling from the forest canopy and not have to run an air conditioner.  For more information about how we make such a small system fit our full-time RV needs, check out this blog.  


Park in the Shade, Solar Panel in the Sun

In 2019, we were asked to become Solar Ambassadors, Bloggers, and Affilliates for Renogy.  If you are inspired to go solar, use this link and “FreedomInACan5” discount code to place your order with Renogy.  Feel free to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with any questions about solar for your home (rolling or fixed) -- we are happy to help!

Nemo Helio Pressure Shower & Ridge Outdoor Privacy Tent

When we decided to buy an RV, we purposely chose one with no bathroom. We knew that in such a small space, it would always smell like a bathroom – either the waste itself or the chemical to cover it up.  And, to boondock with a shower meant we’d have to haul water a long way, adding weight to our RV and lowering our gas mileage, not to mention our storage. Neither sounded appealing, so we opted for alternative bathroom options for our first few years on the road. Just recently, we decided to spend the winter in the southwest -- boondocking and staying in national forest campgrounds.  We used some birthday gift cards from our family and invested in a new shower system that we absolutely love. The shower collapses to the size of a small backcountry pot set when not in use and expands to hold 11 liters of water, allowing both of us to have a decent hot shower.  We add cold water and heat it up in the sun for a few hours or simply add shower temperature water, and jump in. The simple foot pump provides the pressure needed to activate the sprayer. Combined with a privacy tent, this system has been a game changer for us, though we have even strategically used the pressure shower inside the camper in a Walmart parking lot!


Impressive Pressure for its Size


Fill with Clear Stream Water and Heat in the Sun


Add a Privacy Tent and Waallahh

LED Puck Lights

A few years into our road life, Shari wanted to add a simple light by the camper door so that she didn’t have to step into a dark camper at night.  True to his nature, Hutch came up with a myriad of complex possible solutions. After much deliberation, we found the ideal solution; a small package of battery-operated LED “puck lights” from the hardware store was the winner.  Now, we not only have one by the door, we have them strategically located over the stove, kitchen table, clothing shelf, and closet – anywhere we needed a bit of extra light. We even have a few with velcro so that we can move them around.  The LED bulbs just sip at the power, so the batteries last forever. And, during those few times we don’t have enough sun to keep our house battery charged up, we have light where we need it to make it through the low solar gain days.


Puck Lights from the Hardware Store

Banks Fry Bake

As discussed in a previous blog on Camp Cooking, this pan is our go to for nearly everything we make.  Just as the name implies, it fries, sautés, and bakes. We use it over a campfire, on our two-burner stove, and even in the backcountry.  This impressive pan was designed by a NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) Leader and her father, and has revolutionized backcountry cooking.  Hutch even made Shari a German Chocolate birthday cake on the campfire for her 50th this year…complete with all the candles!


Banks Fry Bake in the Camper


Banks Fry Bake on the Campfire


Banks Fry Bake in the Backcountry

Mr. Heater Portable Buddy

People often ask us where we go in the winter.  Our answer, ”anywhere we want!” thanks to this little heater and a fluffy down comforter with its fuzzy duvet cover.  The heater runs off propane, which we have hooked to our 20lb refillable tanks on the front tongue of Hamlet (our 1957 vintage trailer).  We never sleep with it on (for safety reasons), even though it does have a built-in low-oxygen sensor and we installed a carbon monoxide detector over our kitchen.  It simply sips at the propane; we spend less than $100 per year on heating and cooking. When we aren’t using it, it tucks neatly away under one of our bench seats.


Mr. Heater Keeping Us Warm


Mr. Heater Buddy

Fan-Tastic Vent Fan

We run our Fan-Tastic Vent fan directly from our 12-volt battery and it has been the best single repair/upgrade we made during our renovation.  This little fan removes cooking fumes/smoke and cools our trailer at night superbly.  Even in warm muggy conditions, we can close all the windows in the trailer except the one next to our bed and keep a cool breeze flowing over us all night long.  Who needs an energy hogging air conditioner?

 
Fun-Tastic Vent Fan - Multi-Purpose Little Fan

In our small space, bringing along extra gadgets is really not an option.  Everything we have we use, has to have multiple uses, or serve a need so spectacularly well that it requires no justification.  These few investments have really helped us discover how to live large by living very small...and simply. Have fun discovering what it is that you need!

Learn more about Shari & Hutch’s RV adventures on their website and join them on the road via social media at Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube!

Shari and Hutch
Author: Shari and Hutch
In 2012, David Hutchison “Hutch” and Shari Galiardi left behind careers and a comfortable home in North Carolina to travel with the vintage camper trailer they lovingly restored, outfitted with solar, and named “Hamlet.” What they thought would be a year or two adventure around the continent transformed into a new lifestyle. 6.5 years later, with no end in sight, they share stories and insights from their mid-life adventure to large industry travel shows, intimate college campuses, open tiny houses in REI parking lots and a growing online audience. Traveling over 100,000 miles to 49 states, countless National Parks and other public lands, the couple pursues what it means to live the good life on their own terms and sustain it. The writing and photography duo currently pen the popular “Full-Time Campers” column in The Dyrt’s online magazine and contribute to Renogy’s solar blog as well as other publications.

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