van life essentials (+ the wish list!)

stop thinking every single thing through. let me lay out for you the basic essentials you need to get started with van dwelling full-time. hint: it’s less than you think.

electricity

what you need.

you will need a source of electricity, whether that is a small portable generator like a Jackery or Kodiak or a full solar system mounted to your rooftop.

lithium batteries are lighter and can be discharged lower than 50%, so if cost is not a major factor, the weight and extra usable amp hours is well worth it.

i have both.

this was by accident. the plan from the beginning was a solar system also charged by the alternator, but an excellent deal on a Goal Zero Yeti lithium generator, so I had to pick it up a backup.

so i charge my yeti with my solar system and never learned how to hook it up to the alternator. which i learned sucks during the cloudy winter months and rainy days because i’ve run both batteries after a couple of days of no sunshine and lost power to the fridge, leading to plenty of bad food.

what i want.

if i had to make any additions right now, it would be the link between my alternator and my batteries on my solar system.

i would also buy a foldable 100w solar panel for the goal zero when i can’t run the main batteries down too much and want to top off.

third, i might replace the main batteries for lithium once the cost goes down some.

hygiene

what you need.

something to pee in, at the very least. this could be a large mcdonald’s cup, or a giant jug with a funnel. for showers, a $10 monthly planet fitness gym membership will keep you fresh when you most need it.

i have all of the above.

the large cup from mcdonald’s was the norm since that was dinner for a while. but since i’m cooking these days, i have a large empty water gallon and a rubber funnel my mom gave me as a christmas gift.

what i want.

thanks to the ‘rona, gyms are closed, so what alternatives do you have?

since i’m able to stand in my promaster, i have considered a spare bucket with a smaller bucket to douse my hair with.

i’ve always considered these electric showerheads if i wanted to be fancy, 

food

what you need.

you have to decide how you will be getting your nutrition.

it took me almost a full year to invest in a stove and fridge, mostly because i was eating fast food and i was content with that.

one day it was no longer convenient, so i bought a single burner camping stove. i decided to buy the dual fuel butane/propane because i didn’t want to sell myself short off the top.

i only needed a single burner because the double burner takes up more space. keep this in mind. also, some single burners are dangerously small and would be catastrophic if you caused a spill in your vehicle.

what i want.

i’m actually good on this front! i have an instantpot i’ve never used, especially because of the electricity 

insulation

your walls, your ceilings, your floors will all bleed heat and cold, in and out. it is a constant battle. depending on the season, you will want to control the climate inside your van to your comfort level, and the better insulation you have, the less you need to do on a seasonal basis.

but you need to know that if it’s hot outside, the coolest the inside of your van will be is whatever the current temp is outside. no amount of insulation will keep your vehicle cool when the sun is blasting down on it from above.

i know it sounds like common sense, but your level of insulation is going to depend largely on what the climate is like wherever you live.

keeping your vehicle warm in the winter is way easier than keeping it cool in the summer in that it is impossible to lower the temperature without an AC.

so if it’s hot where you live, consider the fact that the more insulation you have, less heat will be able to escape as quickly, and it will take more time in the evenings to cool your van down.

what you need.

insulation for the ceiling and floor FIRST.

i have a basic floormat that was cut to the Promaster’s floor pattern, and heat/light blocking curtains for the back windows. the most important places to insulate are the ceiling and floor. insulating the ceiling will keep the heat inside during the cool months and block the heat from direct sunlight during the hot months.

what i want.

more permanent ceiling insulation. 

so for now i’m happy with what i have, but i know once it begins heatin up again, we gon have some real problems. but i’ll figure it out as i go.