How to Carry All the Gear You Need While Living on the Road

Or, in other words, an exercise in decluttering and organization necessitated by a 200-square-foot living space

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A decade ago, I’d have scoffed at the suggestion that fitting everything we needed for road life into a 23-foot travel trailer would be tricky. Back then, my wife Jen and I embarked on all manner of western adventures in a 1998 Volkswagen Golf, stuffed to the gills. How hard could it be to fit all our stuff into a setup that, along with a pickup, measures nearly 40 feet long?

Turns out, it’s harder than you think, even if you’re committed to simplicity.

The day-to-day infrastructure in an Airstream is mostly self-contained, but there are some bulky exceptions: camp chairs, a table, solar panel and battery, a generator, outdoor grill, etc. We also need work essentials, including laptops, backup drives, and photo and video gear.

Beyond that, our interests are wide ranging. We both ride on the mountain and road, which means four bikes and appropriate sundries. We hike and camp, so we always roll with a couple of packs, a tent, and a trail cooking setup, plus bikepacking gear for overnights on the bikes. Fly fishing means we need rods, tackle, and waders. Hunting necessitates bows, a rifle, and camo. Climbing demands shoes, harness, a rope, and a small rack. And that doesn’t even get into skiing, surfing, kayaking, or any of the really unwieldy stuff that’s currently relegated to storage back home in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

But we’re somehow able to fit it all, thanks to some deliberate pruning—and a few carefully chosen accessories.

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Yakima Showcase 15

For extra storage and organization, we added crossbars on the roof and a Yakima Showcase 15 cargo box. I’ve used a lot of roof boxes through the years, and this one is the best yet. It solves my main complaint from past models—poor opening and closing—with a clearly marked key-lock system and a large button that works every time. As is standard, it opens from either side. Installation was simple, courtesy of locking levers that hold the feet in place and ratcheting knobs that clamp the feet onto any shape bars: round, square, or aero. Yakima makes a box with 30 percent more space, the Showcase 20, but this one is ample for our needs, providing storage for bulky items like sleeping bags, backpacks, bikepacking gear, and a tent that we don’t use every day. Best of all, we haven’t seen any real decrease in gas mileage with it installed.

Friends tease that we need less stuff, a bigger truck, or both. The less stuff is probably true, but honestly, we could fit everything into just the truck and trailer—no box or racks. The add-ons, however, let us spread out and keep organized. So instead of constantly packing, unpacking, and digging for gear, we spend more time out using it.

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Stop by your Local Yakima Dealer to learn more about the Showcase series and other great Yakima products.

Aaron and Jen also use a tray style hitch mount bike rack and fork mount roof top bike racks. Check out the Dr Tray and HighSpeed to complete your optimal #AdventureMobile.

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