Like boarding a jumbo for an extended trip overseas with nothing but a backpack to store your gear, when heading out in your camper trailer — pack lightly and keep things agile.
When it comes to any sort of extended camper trailer tour, the urge to pack for every possible scenario can be a little tempting. Fortunately, most of us will be restricted by the load-carrying capabilities of our vehicles and trailers as opposed to just available space.
Weight has a negative impact on towing with an increase in braking distances, reduced economy and performance; so minimising weight by packing light has an immediate benefit. And then there’s the concept of clutter; items that don’t necessarily weigh that much, but rarely get used and manage to get in the way more than they should. So what is the secret to packing light?
Adding your favourite camping gear to the mix is an essential aspect of any camping or outdoor adventure. I mean, what’s the point of having something you love using only to leave it at home?
Depending on what you’re into, favourite gear is usually associated on why you’ve gone out in the first place. If you’re a paddler, it’ll likely be boats you load up on top of your roof racks; if it’s mountain bikes, it’ll be bikes.
Often it’s your favourite gear that will dictate the rest of your packing. Specialised repair kits, spare wheels, paddles and other forms of specialised componentry. As well, your chosen destination is probably related to the gear you’ve packed, so you might have to bring along some aspect of kit that suits the terrain or other peculiarity associated with where it is you’re going.
It’s your favourite gear that forms the theme for the rest of the packing.
Food and water are the basic staples we can’t live without. While canned food can be heavy, limited supplies can work well well for emergency rations or a quick meal – baked beans on toast is hard to go past on simplicity alone, buts it’s not something you’d want to live on or carry around in large quantities.
Water is one of the more critical items. Research where you will be bush camping (if at all) and where you can top up on the way. Water is heavy and will add weight, so you don’t necessarily want to be lugging large quantities around if you don’t need to. Caravan parks normally have water to use and many fuel stations have taps for use if you are buying fuel.
For the warmer climates, authorities generally suggest to carry a minimum of 3L per person per day to cover drinking water and enough supply to cook, wash up and take care of personal hygiene; think a dab of water under the armpits and other areas and you’re on the right page. Showers will require much more. And while your destination may have plenty of water, you may still need water in your rear tank (if fitted) to help balance the load plus some water for the journey and an emergency supply. Check with your trailer manufacturer for loading suggestions.
Clothes are another area of common excess more so for clutter. Layers provide the best flexibility for warmth and comfort. It’s a personal thing but I generally find I can survive with a pair of jeans, tracky dacks, shorts, bathers, three t-shirts, a long-sleeved shirt and five pairs of jocks and socks. The latest Teflon-coated shirts are gathering popularity in the northern climes; we’ll be putting them to the test on our next trip through outback SA and NSW. The long sleeves provide good skin coverage and the Teflon-coating resists staining and heat, scoring a UPF +30 Sun rating, while a vented mesh-lined back keeps you cool.
Protective gear, be it hats, suncream and insect repellent, should also be considered as essential. It doesn’t take much exposure in the warm sun to get sunburnt, which may have roll-on ramifications on comfort and enjoyment, so endeavour to cover up as much as possible. Sunglasses prevent headaches from glare as can hats, with the wider brim variety offering the best protection.
Heavier recovery gear and substantial tools or welders can be shared amongst a convoy. The only risk being if a member departs the convoy early due to bad health or family issues, they can depart with a critical tool.
Last but not least, pack a great attitude and don’t be daunted if things go wrong or you realise there’s something you’ve left behind. Adapt, and compromise!
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