Camping, Off-Roading

I Dig My Rig

For this post I’d like to go into my camping rig. I’ve been camping and exploring in my truck (that I have affectionately named The Beast) for as long as I have owned it, going on 6 years now. We have had many off-road adventures and been to some truly epic places.

Over the years I would upgrade a little here, and a little there. Every time I went out I constantly thought of things I could use to inprove my overall camping experience. It wasn’t until last December when I had to move into my truck that I seriously got about making some major living improvements. My situation was pretty bleak so I needed to make quality of life adjustments right away.

First I did my best to plug the cracks to stop the wind from blowing through. Next I installed curtains for privacy and shade and installed a cargo net to keep my gear off the floor. The first week I absolutely froze, it was horrible. I realized I needed a heavy sleeping bag so I got a nice model from Coleman rated down to 4 degrees below 0. That bag was heaven-sent, it made sleeping outside in the 30’s tolerable.

At the time, I was sleeping on air mattresses that would constantly leak and grow mold in the damp environment, so the next big improvement I made was to get a metal cot frame and 7 inches of memory foam on top. This was a huge upgrade for me and well worth the money. It’s a twin XL frame which is long enough for my body. My ankles hang off a normal twin. It also allowed me to stow my four bins of camping & off-road equipment underneath my bed. This freed up a ton of room. I have two bins dedicated to my kitchen supplies, of which I added a lot of stuff to. I got collapsable bins for dishwashing purposes, I really like how they just open up and then collapse so neatly.

Back when I was in Louisiana last year, I had bought a power box for my trolling motor battery. It came with fuses and two 12 volt plugs built in, so I brought it with me here to California to use as my secondary power supply. I would just recharge it every 3-4 days with a battery charger. This grew tedious, so I installed a 100 watt solar system.

It’s been great fun to play around with. Not wanting to drill holes in my roof, I installed my solar panel with 3M heavy duty mounting tape. It is supposed to be like a metal weld in strength, but I attached metal zip-ties from it to my roof rack for peace of mind. My old trolling motor wet lead-acid battery wasn’t up to snuff so I bought a top of the line 300 dollar AGM sealed lead acid 100 amp hour battery that should be good for 5-10 years. I also got this Bluetooth module for my solar controller so I can monitor my system in real-time. It also graphs my daily usage so I can see if things are running optimally at a glance.

A closer look at my 12 volt system with 500 watt inverter.

With my setup I can charge my devices, run my weather station, my two mini-swamp coolers, and my LED lights. Utimately I want to get a 12 volt refrigerator to save me from the tyranny of constantly having to resupply my ice chest with ice on the trail. I had placed two orders on Ebay for a cheaper model of cooler that fell through with not enough time left to order another for my trip. It’s a bummer, but when I get back from Alaska I will get a good quality model that will be a better investment than the cheaper model would have been.

The only things left to do is to get some kind of reservoir and water pump installed for water, a water purification system, an electric shower, and a cell-phone booster. After this, I think I’ll be set. As far as off-road gear goes I just got this nice 150 dollar air compressor which is a necessity for off-road travel. My last one was a cheap 35 dollar piece of junk. I do want to get some traction mats and a hi-lift jack for getting out of sticky situations. A winch would be nice, but you can get a kit for the hi-jack that basically does the same thing.

My truck needed a lot of work done after a time of not being financially able to take care of needed repairs. I fixed the brakes first, and then replaced the left ball socket & left tie rod. I then got a new set of All-Terrain light truck tires and replaced the linkages on my sway bar. It’s good to be rolling with a truck at 100%. The Beast & I are rip-roaring ready to go out into the wilderness for sure!

The Beast ready to roll.

So that about wraps it up. It’s been the greatest thing to slowly build up my rig from miserable to somewhat baller! I made a truck bed into my own little bedroom. I can’t wait to get out and get off-road with my new setup. It gets really hot and really cold with barely any in-between, but I have really come to enjoy sleeping out in it. I can’t wait to sleep on a real bed when I am up in Alaska though. It’s been a year and a half since I have slept in a real bed and my back could really use a break!


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