With summer in full swing, it’s time to hit the road for some incredible Sprinter adventures.
Off-Grid Solar Power Solutions
Having access to power in a campervan helps us sustain our travels. Power connections allow us to charge our work devices and phones so we can continue to earn a living as digital nomads, as well as navigate the road. Thanks to off-grid solar energy, we’re also able to have additional heat sources, an electric water pump and many other elements of our custom van build.
There are several ways to equip your Sprinter with off-grid solar energy. Options include installing a system of solar panels and batteries or hooking a generator up to your van when parked. However, our personal favourite is the portable power station. They’re very convenient because they can be used inside or outside of the van, charge multiple devices at once and hold a substantial amount of power between charges. When it comes time to charge the power station, hooking up a small, portable solar panel is the easiest option. Because the station and charging panel take up so little space and are relatively affordable, we recommend this approach for your off-grid solar solution.
Portable Solar Shower Bag
If your van doesn’t have an indoor shower, a shower bag is the way to go for personal hygiene on the road. Chances are your summer travel plans include lots of activity, sunshine and movement, so you’ll want a way to stay clean without having to constantly use public facilities.
A portable solar shower is very easy to use; you simply fill it with water (usually around 5 gallons), find a place to hang it up and open the valve. To practice good sustainability, avoid taking showers for leisure and keep them as short as possible.
Attachable Hangers for Gear
Having a way to hang equipment and clothing on the outside of your van will help you keep the inside clean and dry. We use a portable bar that attaches with suction cups to the outside of the van, as well as individual hooks. Having your gear outside is great year-round, but especially during surfing season or when conditions are damp and muddy. We’ll often finish up a great surf session and immediately hang our wetsuits out to dry. Hanger bars and hooks are also excellent for dog leashes, rain jackets, bags and more.
A Roof Rack to Store All Your Toys
A great addition is a roof rack to hold all your favourite adventure gear that can take up a lot of space. Installing a roof rack or storage attachment provides additional room for things that may not be considered essential but make vanlife more fun.
Water gear like surfboards and SUP boards is our biggest storage challenge when it comes to packing, and a roof rack has fixed this problem for us. Our friends who travel with kayaks and canoes have also told us how convenient it is to store them outside of their van. If you want to save even more room, you can find inflatable alternatives for a lot of your favourite water gear.
Levelling Blocks for Parking
While it’s always nice to arrive at a campsite and see a convenient, flat spot to park our van, that’s often not what happens. Parking on any sort of slant causes cooking and sleeping to be more challenging and uncomfortable. During our first year on the road, we would make do with an uneven parking spot –but not anymore.
Levelling blocks are an absolute game-changer when parking our van. By simply placing the blocks in front of the tires that need lifting and driving onto them, we’re able to cook and sleep comfortably out of our Sprinter van. We highly recommend bringing some along when you hit the road.
Tool Kit for Maintenance
Just like any other home, our home on wheels has intricate build details. Most van conversions contain an abundance of hardware, and over time these components require maintenance. The last thing you want is a cabinet or drawer falling while you’re driving. We suggest keeping the following tools with you and checking your fasteners regularly to see if anything needs tightening:
- Power drill/driver
- Drill bit set
- Socket set
- Tape measure
- Jumper cables
- Wrench set
- Utility knife
- Duct tape
- Factory service manual
Lastly, we recommend you find a toolbox or container to keep everything together. When you need access to a specific tool, you’ll be glad all your gadgets are in one convenient place.
Security Safety Box for Valuables
When we’re on a long trip or living in the van full-time, we have most of our prized possessions with us. Taking proper measures to protect our valuables is an absolute must. Keeping these items out of plain sight is a step in the right direction, but it’s even better to lock them away.
A safe or security box is our recommended way to protect your valuables. We prefer one that is small but still has space for our laptops, cameras and passports. Beyond just locking everything up, you can easily secure the safe or box to a surface with bolts so it can’t be removed from the vehicle.
Whether you live in a campervan full-time or you’re just on a road trip, remembering what to pack as emergency equipment is important yet often overlooked.
Smoke, fire and carbon monoxide detectors are very important in a van, especially if you plan on cooking inside. They don’t require a complex installation process and can just be screwed into a ceiling or wall. We suggest installing two of each if you have a fixed bed since the air underneath is separated from the main section of the van.
Always pack a fire extinguisher when you hit the road. While we hope you never have to use it, it’s crucial to have with you. It can keep a small fire or flame from becoming unmanageable. Make sure the extinguisher is rated for Class B and Class C fires by the NFPA.
Essential Gear for the Outdoor Elements
Having a quality bag that can be used for different activities is a must while travelling. Whether you prefer a tote, duffel bag or backpack, be sure to choose something that is big enough to hold your necessary belongings but is still easy to carry around.
To ensure you’re prepared for varying weather, always pack a waterproof jacket in your van. Depending on the location, the summer months can be filled with on-and-off rain showers. Many elevated hiking destinations can have strong winds, and a quality jacket will also help to break those gusts. We recommend you find a softshell jacket that’s thin and can be comfortable in warmer weather.
A reusable water bottle is another must-have in our “what to pack” list. It will help you stay hydrated and avoid creating lots of dirty dishes. If you fill it at public facilities along your route, it can help reduce water consumption from your van’s water tank (if you have one).
We hope that with these tips on what to pack, you’ll hit the road well-prepared to ensure safety, comfort and lots of fun. To start planning your summer vanlife journey, visit https://lp.mercedes-benz-vans.ca/en/adventure-van. We wish you happy travels and hope to see you out there!