One of the things you'll learn when you hit the road is that over time, you realise you can cull out items you carry around that you haven't used and some items you'll just absolutely need! The epic thing I love about camping and trekking is that everyone's got a setup that is different from the next. As technology evolves, so does people's need to take extra luxury items as well. It is so loose to think that we can now travel anywhere with the right tools and have barista-style coffees along with unlimited internet access at the same time.
I think that we still travel fairly basic, I would honestly say that most things we carry are considered a "tool" of some sort (yep 10 plus fishing rods are all different tools that I need haha). Even looking towards the DMax which was a huge outlay for us at the time buying a new 4WD, but we purchased it as a tool to do a job we needed it to do. For example, everything I have fitted on it has been considered for a purpose and nothing has been fitted to it to make it look "nice". If you use this mindset throughout your camping setup you can really start to nut out what items you actually need, use and your "can't live without" items!
Below are items that we consider in our lifestyle as necessities in no particular order or preference.
Item 1 - Soda Stream, we originally put this in thinking it wouldn't get used that much but we use it every day. Both of us aren't big cool drink drinkers but to be able to convert water into soda and then add a small amount of cordial or lime or lemon juice saves us space, weight, and money. Even when we have whiskey, we add mostly soda water with a dash of CokeZero. The only con on a soda stream is the exchange of gas cylinders, so we carry a spare bottle in the van.
Item 2 - Head Torch, a good quality head torch goes a long way, and I can't push this enough. Whether you are a hiker or a caravanner this is something we all should carry and own. For years I had a bunch of low-quality head torches, and they would die at the most inconvenient times, or I would constantly lose them but a couple of years ago my good mate Angus bought me a decent Led Lenser rechargeable head torch which has been amazing. It's been so good that I bought a second one for Kelly and they are now always mounted to the headrests of the DMax for easy access and close to charging.
Things to consider or I recommend is buying one for each person, rechargeable is a must, store them in a common spot and have access to them easily!
We roll with the MH4 and the MH8 Led Lenser Headlamps with magnetic chargers. They are a great all-rounder head torch, not too heavy, adjustable beam with low and high options.
Item 3 - A Hobby, this is a pretty broad topic but a worthy one to add to the list. Some people might think that living our semi-retired life is all about putting your feet up and doing nothing much at all. But it is the complete opposite. We have never been busier, with YouTube taking up a lot of free time. We love filming our adventures fishing, hunting, rod building, cooking, and diving and our editing is approximately 20hrs per week for either of us as Kel and I both edit and sometimes tag team editing the same episode depending on other things happening. We both enjoy a bit of reading and we also run and organise our charity Pink Ribbon Fishin',
Something to consider is having one of your hobbies that you can do indoors in small spaces for those bad weather days.
Item 4 - Foldup Boat Trailer, I'm not going to mention fishing gear as everyone knows that's just part of our everyday life, but we consider a boat trailer to go with a rooftop tinny a must! No ifs, buts or excuses! If you are considering a roof topper this IS something you must add to your budget and work out where to store it. There are only a couple of times I've been able to travel without the trailer and it was a very specific camping/boating trip. Other than that, you might as well leave the boat and gear at home if you can't afford a trailer. Not only does it make the job easier (getting your boat to and in the water) it allows you to get out on the water a lot more. I've been in so many situations where I just wouldn't or couldn't go fishing if I didn't have the means to be able to launch the boat from a trailer.
Our trailer is a Mangrove Jack folding trailer, built partly in the USA but assembled in W.A. south of Perth. We picked this one because it weighs 38kg and only uses specially-made spring pins to hold it all together (no bolts or tools needed). It took me a year to really figure out how and where to store it correctly and we ended up modifying the back of the van to keep it all neat and out of the way. They cost around $2200 but this is the average price for most of the trailers and I still think it's some of the best money I've ever spent.
You can find all the info on these trailers below.
Item 5 - Lithium Batteries, these are an absolute game changer. Our original setup had AGM's that weighed 70kg combined. We have changed our Van setup a couple of times since and still slowly upgrading our system as technology grows. There is tonnes of info out there in regard to 12v battery setups but by far lithium batteries for off-grid living is a must-have. Yep, they cost more than AGM's but what you get back in return outweighs the price, hands down. I have definitely learnt in this case the saying - The Poor Man Pays Twice.
Beware if you're looking into lithium batteries for your setup, like anything on the market these days there are lots of different quality items out there and it pays to do your research or talk to a specialized 12v installer.
Item 6 - Utility Knife or Folding Knife, anyone who knows me will know I have a bit of a knife fetish. Not sure why I do but I just embrace it! But that aside a quality EDC (everyday carry) is an absolute must when trekking, camping or hunting. There is a shit tonne of options out there, but I swing between a couple of basic factors - affordability and function. I also like to carry 2 types of blades everywhere we trek. One is a simple folder with a belt clip and the other, a sheathed fixed blade. I find both have their places in any camping kit but if I could only pick one it would be a decent folder. Easy to carry and store but still big enough to do a range of tasks. The utility knife I've used for trimming meats, cutting small pieces of firewood to shucking abalone. Keep your knife in a handy spot, clean it, oil it, and sharpen it regularly and it will last a lifetime!
Tip ** for knives not used for food I have found the 3 in 1 oil is a brilliant oil for outdoor blades.
** for knives used for food or with wood handles I use a natural Tung oil.
We now stock a small range of folders and hunting knives on our website that I've used and selected over the years. Link below for all the knives we sell.
Item 7 - Jump Pack, there are many different brands of these on the market but it's also another item that can hold multiple uses. Even having a fairly new car, we recently had our main battery cark it and not hold charge when we were fairly remote. We were able to use the jump pack for a couple of days to start the car until we were able to find a town to buy a new battery. During this time, I was thinking how far up-shit-creek we'd have been if we were relying on good ole jumper cables and other travelers to get us going.
I do think there are lithium dual batteries on the market these days that have cranking amp capacity to jump an engine but having this handy little pack available is a great addition! Another use for these portable jump packs is they are a fairly decent-sized portable battery bank. If we go on swag missions, we use the unit to charge phones, GoPro batteries, and head torches. Ours even has a built-in torch. They are light weight, easy to store and most come in a protective case.
Tip - make a point of checking it's fully charged every couple of months even if you haven't used it.
Item 8 - A Bucket, this may sound stupid but a decent 20l bucket can be used in so many different situations. Couple it with a lid and you have endless possibilities. We roll with 2 x 20l buckets I think we bought from Bunnings way back when. We use one for our washing machine on the road, to catch grey water if needed, and to transport stock water for showers. Our other is good ole Bucket 'O' Bill which is not only our trusty biltong maker on the road but also our boat bucket and everything in between! They are light to carry, easy to store and their uses are endless. The ultimate goal out of a lot of the items we trek with is to have multiple uses for it and the bucket does this hands down!
Tip - don't skimp out on a cheap bucket and get one with a decent lid and steel handle, it will pay you back in dividends!
Item 9 - Webber Q BBQ, I never thought I'd say I was a Webber guy...but I am fully converted! For years when we lived in a house, we had a Ziggy and we were always stoked with it, so it was only fit to add another Ziggy to our caravan setup. The way I built the caravan is to have a swingout BBQ off the drawbar for easy access and storage and this has worked a treat but after a year on the road the poor ol' Ziggy just simply couldn't hold up to the punishment we put it through, being exposed and all the vibrations. I have to add also although the design is great for bigger roasts and is still compact, they are not good in the wind.... compared to a Webber! Another flaw in the Ziggy is its issue of cleaning and its grease trap. The Webber is a far better and simpler design. So you guessed it, we ditched the ol' Ziggy, purchased a second-hand Webber off a mate, and strapped it on to see what all the fuss was about! So far after another full year of using it, we have been well impressed. The gas knob has fallen off but other than that it is a superior little BBQ that I encourage every traveler to add to their arsenal. Another addition we added to the Webber is stainless steel side plates that fold inside the BBQ when travelling, we purchased these from KAON online and even though they cost over $100, they are a worthy investment!
Item 10 - Folding Firepit, this little bit of gear is something we should all relate to when it comes to any sort of outdoor activity. We have a Quokka 2, Medium Size, made by Ozwit. The complete setup is around 12kg in weight, takes around 1 minute to set up, the grill adjusts in height, and you can mount accessories like our rotisserie. They retail for $329 and even though it seems like a fair bit from my experience so far, they are totally worth it! I originally bought one of those steel plate fire pits before we started travelling. Other than it being 27kg it became an issue to put together after a few cook-ups as it started to warp. So I ditched it and went on the hunt for the perfect pit!
We use our Ozwit on average around 3 to 4 times a week, it is actually pretty easy to clean and from all the punishment we've given it, it's still going strong! If you weren't full-time travelling I'd be safe to say if you bought one it would last your lifetime.
There are some other brands out now that are cheaper and look like copies of the Quokka 2's, but I've never used one so can't comment on how durable they are.
If you're looking for a Quokka2 you can use discount code WILD at checkout from Wild Touring website for 10% off products.