Trailer Updates, 2021
I wanted to update some stuff from the original post about my trailer.
Recent thoughts on "if I did it again"
The biggest thing is that Hiker now has a new model, the Mid-Range XL Off-Road. This basically splits the difference between our Mid-Range and the much, much more intense Extreme Off-Road. You get a slightly more robust chassis and a little more ground clearance.
We do not, as I have said, do crazy off-road stuff, but we do push the envelope a little. We've never had a problem with clearance, but we have on occasion had to look at where we were about to go and pause for a moment.
So yes, if I had to do it all over, knowing what I know now, 100% I'd upgrade to the newer Mid-Range Off-Road.
A second thing I would do, which I think was not an option when we bought ours, was to not use a car battery as primary power source. They're big, heavy, and require semi-specialized charging equipment. I would absolutely put in some type of "portable power station". The Jackery line is quite popular (but also quite expensive). The idea, though, is that for the same weight and size, you can get WAY more power, and it comes with built-in dinguses of every type: 12v, AC, USB, the works.
I am thinking about making this next year's project, actually; I'd love to get rid of that heavy, awkward wet cell.
Speaking of power
We broke down and bought a Jackery E500 and a knock-off solar panel. We now have a solid weekend of power to run the fridge.
I'm sorry did you say 'fridge'
Look, I know, I know. That is neither simple, nor bulletproof. I was pretty resistant to the idea. It does, however, have advantages: namely, you can go longer than a couple days without hunting down a 7/11 that sells ice.
(I don't want to shock anyone but turns out there are not a lot of 7/11s in the unincorporated town of Cherry Grove, WV.)
Anyway, I was really against it, but my lady ended up making a good case: like I said, we no longer relied on ice, which meant we could have longer trips.
We use Jackery E500 to power it. It lasts, on average, all weekend, even when it's hot outside. When paired with the solar panel it can go even longer.
I made a modification to the truck for travel: you don't want to have your travel time eating battery! So, I added a fuse panel and ran 12v DC to the bed, then added a 12v DC plug (aka "cigarette lighter plug") to the bed of the truck. So on the road, we plug in, and then into the battery when we arrive.
I also added a low-voltage disconnect to the fuse panel, so if anything ever causes the battery to get low, it disconnects it. The fridge itself also has an LVD, so my truck battery is safe.
Here's some pics! Fuse panel and LVD install:
The plug: (I had to drill a hole in the bed!)
The fridge and the battery:
The shower enclosure
We decided to not go with one. They have a few problems; namely, that it's affixed to your trailer!
We do the overwhelming majority of our camping in "dispersed" or "off-grid" locations: "take County Road 420 to Forest Road 69, then turn right after you cross the creek", that sort of thing. This means we often are putting the trailer in whatever flat spot we find.
So that ends up with a couple of side effects. 1, depending on how you've positioned the trailer, the window would be blocked immediately by the shower enclosure, and that's not very scenic. Two, you're probably making a mud puddle right next to your trailer.
We ended up getting something like this (that's not the exact model, but close enough). Folded, it fits into the top shelf in the galley, it's sturdy and stable, and super easy to pitch and stow.
The final point to make here is that it turns out we don't shower as much as we thought we did. On a regular Friday-Sunday weekend trip, unless it's broiling outside we can get by. So spending considerably less money on a (in our opinion) more flexible solution ended up making the most sense. We really use it more as an outhouse, and the solar shower as an ersatz faucet for washing hands and dishes.
I'm sorry did you just say 'outhouse'?
Yep! No more pooping in the woods. We are fancy now. Got a shitter and everything.
As usual: small, lightweight, simple, bulletproof.
(That pic is of the old outhouse, a $20 instant-up I got on Woot, to test the concept.)
Have you changed your mind about the whole square-vs-270 awning thing?
Grumble. I don't know. We use the ersatz 270 a little and it's sort of a pain. But so is a real 270. So I don't know. Ask me again later.
We have 4 bins, instead of 2. And now they have labels. Always be organizing!