This is a sweet set-up! A ford 4×4 diesel pickup, a small and light camper to live in, and an 8×18 cargo trailer as a Man-Cave. With the camper off the truck, it’s much more pleasant to drive and he gets 18-20 MPG (or more) out of the diesel.
Today I want to talk about a very practical way to boondock and live very comfortably, cheaply and with great freedom. Your first thought might be that’s an easy thing to do but the truth is it’s very hard. Comfort conflicts with freedom and is almost never cheap; in fact they are opposites and self-contradictory. To demonstrate that let’s look at some extreme examples like a large RV and Jeep. A big RV is very comfortable but it is anything but cheap and you give up a lot of freedom of mobility to live in that comfort. On the other hand if you live in a Jeep you are incredibly free to go anywhere you want but there is virtually no comfort in your life!
He has all the cozy comforts of home in his camper, and all the luxury of a Man-Cave in his cargo trailer conversion.
What’s important for most of us is to find the sweet spot which is the best possible balance of the three factors: 1) Comfort, 2) Freedom of movement, 3) Cheap. Because we each place a different emphasis on the three factors there isn’t one choice that’s perfect for everyone. Here are what I think are the four best balanced choices:
- I think the best all-around, balanced choice is a standard van you convert yourself, it does all three well, but none of them great.
- If you want more comfort then a Class B camper van gives you great comfort and good mobility and fairly cheap.
- If you want it to be cheaper and can live with less comfort, a mini-van is a great choice.
- If you want more freedom and mobility, I think nothing beats a 4×4 pickup with a small camper.
My friend Bryce wanted freedom so he lives in a 4×4 Ford Diesel pickup and he carries a small, light camper on it. He loves the freedom and mobility it gives him to go nearly anywhere he wants to go and because it’s diesel he can afford to take trips.
When Judy and I were on our way to Alaska I came across this sign and instantly thought of Bryce, so I got it for him as a house-warming gift. He liked it so he hung it inside! Judy wasn’t all that enthused though!
The camper was very comfortable to live in, but after he had lived in it for a year he realized that he spent a lot of his year in one place and while he was there he wished he could have more comfort and room than the camper provided. What he really wanted was a “Man-Cave!” Specifically he wanted:
- 500 watts of solar on his roof to give him all the power he wanted.
- A BIG screen TV.
- A recliner to lounge in comfort.
- A feeling of openness and room to invite friends in to relax and get put of the bad weather.
- An X Box to play games!
- A large Barbecue to cook with. Obviously he cooks outside but he needed a place to carry it.
The Man Cave! a 50 inch TV, X-Box and comfortable chairs. Everything necessary for the good life!
The more he thought about what would work for him, the more certain he became that the best thing would be an enclosed cargo trailer large enough to do all the things he wanted, but small enough to be easy to tow. I must admit, that I’m egotistical enough to think my example of living in a small cargo trailer may have influenced him. I consider cargo trailers the best compromise I know of. When I’m sitting in one place (which both Bryce and I do most of the winter) it gives us all the comfort we need, and then when we’re traveling we put it in storage (which costs me $35 a month) and travel free and easy in the van. He seemed to like that example and now he’s doing the same thing!
The Man-Cave looking forward. You can see his batteries in the plastic box and the Outback Solar Controller mounted to the wall.
This summer he bought an 8×18 enclosed cargo trailer from TrailersPlus.com, which is the same company I bought mine from. We both had a great buying experience with them and recommend them highly! I bought mine and then added my own windows, vents and ladder rack but he was traveling and in a hurry so he had them do all that for him. After he got it, he installed 500 watts of solar on the roof of the trailer which he bought from Northern Arizona Wind and Sun in Flagstaff, AZ. He already had a 140 watt panel on the roof of the camper that met its basic needs.
Bryce, Steve and I kicking-back after another gourmet meal made in the barbecue.
One of the best things about having two vehicle-homes is that you can create a courtyard between them. When it rains you can sit outside and be dry or, when it’s hot and the sun is beating down on you (like here at our Ehrenberg camp) you can sit outside in the cool shade. He has since replaced the tarp with shade-cloth so it doesn’t flap in the desert wind.
It’s working out every bit as well as he had hoped! He loves his Man-Cave and his cozy little camper. He has everything he wants, and nothing extra. All winter he lives in luxury and in the summer he can put it in storage to travel. Now that’s what I call the good-life!!
A large barbecue was one of the key elements of his plan. Even if you don’t eat much meat, it works perfectly as an oven.
Bryce cooked a perfect lasagna for us! He turns on the two outside burners so the pan never receives direct heat. That thermometer is up to 400 degrees!