From $500 racks to $2 hooks, listed here are some vanlife group and gear-hauling necessities in your subsequent journey — tried and examined.
Staying organized on a street journey might be chaotic at greatest. With out organizational techniques in place, the one that you love journey rig will probably grow to be an unlivable pigsty, and your in any other case dreamy street journey might deteriorate into merciless, hellish actuality.
A number of easy packing hacks will assist with the small stuff. However the actual gear savior might be a dialed rack setup on your cumbersome toys. By sidestepping stress, you’re free to let the great occasions roll (and shred).
My girlfriend and I just lately acquired a 2006 Chevy Categorical AWD, transformed it into our dream journey van, and took off on a surf journey from Canada to Mexico. After dwelling collectively in a 60-square-foot field for a number of months and coping with moist wetsuits, overflowing gear, and organizational mayhem, we’ve figured a number of issues out. The next racks — and some packing hacks — labored wonders for us on our surf odyssey.
Stretching the legs after placing critical miles down the winding “Ruta 1” in Baja. Photograph credit score: Katie Botwin
Greatest Racks for Vanlife
Reality: Racks are rad. Not solely do they make your rig look extra badass, however additionally they permit you to retailer your gear outdoors of your car, liberating up dwelling area. I used two racks on my journey van: a motorcycle rack on the again and a board rack alongside the aspect.
Whereas I wholly advocate the VertiRack and Küat rack, there are quite a few choices available on the market. Contemplate your gear wants when evaluating the best choice on your setup.
VertiRack Surfboard & SUP Racks: The Answer Surfers Have Been Ready For
VertiRack isn’t a surf firm. It builds ladder racks for contractors out of Pennsylvania. Nevertheless, surfers stored pestering VertiRack for a board-friendly design and the model ultimately obliged, filling a niche out there.
The resultant surfboard and SUP racks now are available a number of choices. You possibly can go for a one- or two-board design, with both a bolt-through mount (you’ll should drill holes into the wall of your car) or a roof-track mount (you connect the rack to a van’s C-rails). Whereas these are the 2 fundamental mounting choices, VertiRack truly customized constructed a “Franken-rack” utilizing a set of awning clamps for us. This allowed us to safe the rack on to our rain gutter and forgo poking holes within the partitions.
Fabricated from chrome steel and aluminum, the development proves notably sturdy. The stout help arms regulate up and down the primary beams, as do the straps, so you will get a totally customizable match to your board(s).
We’ve pushed 75 mph on California highways and handled Baja backroads that threatened to go away us stranded. However we by no means had any issues with the rack shifting or had boards fly off into the street. And since the help beams are aluminum, the rack stays comparatively light-weight and as low-profile as you’ll be able to ask for lashing surfboards to the aspect of a van.
Ideas for Utilizing Vanlife Racks
That stated, I nonetheless advocate exercising warning when driving at excessive speeds with two boards. A sudden gust of wind can catch the highest board and tug the van into the subsequent lane.
And although VertiRack’s stretchy straps cinch down tight to maintain boards in place, they don’t truly lock. So it might be straightforward for a thief to stroll up and relieve you of these valuable surfboards. I like to recommend utilizing Kanulocks, lockable tiedowns with two metal cables hidden contained in the straps. They gained’t stand as much as a motorcycle thief’s bolt cutters, however they will’t be breached by a knife or scissors.
We all the time lock up boards with Kanulock straps. Photograph credit score: Katie Botwin
Küat Racks NV 2.zero: A Rack Value Its Weight in Bikes
We outfitted our van with a Küat Racks NV 2.zero, far and away the perfect bike rack I’ve ever used. Aesthetically, the NV 2.zero is peerless — what number of different racks have modern, aerodynamic curves and anodized orange accents? However that industry-leading type isn’t why I fell in love with the NV 2.zero.
The platform rack design forgoes the necessity to take away a tire, and it takes a matter of seconds to raise your bike into place. Simply snap the ratcheting arm down over the entrance tire, slip the strap between the spokes of the again tire, lock it up, and hit the street. It’s value noting that cable locks cover contained in the rack itself (they gained’t deter a critical thief, however they’re a welcome protection).
Moreover, the hitch rack’s tire cradle is adjustable. It matches each my girlfriend’s skinny street bike tires and my 27.5+ mountain bike tires. The truth is, the NV 2.zero matches tires from 20 to 29 inches and may even accommodate fatbikes, utilizing a separate $10 package.
With the Küat NV 2.zero, we introduced our bikes as much as British Columbia. Photograph credit score: Katie Botwin
Plus, the NV 2.zero is a shapeshifter. It pivots up and down, permitting you to fold up the rack when not in use, drop it flat whenever you’re hauling bikes, and angle it farther from the trunk when accessing different gear.
Whereas this function is useful, when you’ve got two bikes on the rack and press the lever, the platform drops virtually dangerously quick. So be sure to’re standing out of the best way until you need a handlebar to the brow!
Küat Pivot: Heavy-Obligation Hinge for Vanlifers
Whereas the NV 2.zero rack presents a strong, standalone choice for a lot of automobiles, SUVs, and vans, it doesn’t supply the clearance we have to swing out our van’s rear doorways. Fortunately, although, Küat ready for this plight with the Pivot, a lifesaving accent that extends off of your hitch and connects to the bike rack.
Primarily, this overbuilt constructed hinge swings out 90 levels. This grants full entry to the rear of the car — good for truck beds and cargo vans alike. For security’s sake, the Pivot locks by each a toggle clamp and a security pin, making certain it doesn’t swing out when you’re driving.
Set up is a breeze apart from lifting the cumbersome accent into place and lining it up with the hitch. Understand that the Pivot is heavy, because it’s constructed to be suitable with Küat’s four-bike model of the NV 2.zero and may deal with as much as 250 kilos.
There are some things to notice with the Küat rack and different hitch-mounted bike haulers. Regardless of cranking the Pivot’s anti-rattle hitch pin, it nonetheless tends to wobble on bumpy backroads.
Plus, the entire setup places vital weight over the rear bumper. For our overloaded van, attaching the Küat Pivot, NV 2.zero, and two bikes was a big addition. What’s extra, the Pivot drops under your hitch, consuming priceless inches off your rear clearance.
In reality, throughout use, we slammed the underside of the rack into dips on a pair events. This was sufficient of a priority that we truly left the rack in California once we went browsing down Mexico’s rutted coastal roads.
However for many who have respectable suspension or aren’t carrying a full load, this can probably not be a problem.
Vanlife Packing Hacks to Keep Organized
See-through plastic drawers take advantage of sense for wetsuit and kit storage. Photograph credit score: Katie Botwin
Much less Is Extra
Once you’re on the street, you’ll be stunned by how little you actually use. Every time you’ve doubles of one thing — be it rain jackets, headphones, or anything — you’ll find yourself counting on a single favourite and forgetting the backup.
Be strategic about what you pack. It might assist to put out your whole gear and garments after which eliminate doubles. It will release area in your car and make the journey extra snug.
Clear Plastic Bins
Initially, we deliberate to put in picket drawers all through our van, however we as an alternative opted for plastic bins. No, clear plastic bins don’t look nice, however they do will let you see precisely the place your gear is. Plus, they’re good for hauling moist wetsuits and soiled gear.
Our kitchen setup. Discover the bins, plastic drawers, and metallic mesh meals storage containers. Lighter than drawers and to simpler see all the things. Photograph credit score: Katie Botwin
In our “gear storage” (aka trunk), we use a Tetris-like system of 10 plastic bins of various sizes to retailer all the things from fly fishing gear to climbing necessities. One go to to the shop will go a great distance.
Entry Is Every little thing
Simply since you deliver one thing alongside on a street journey doesn’t imply you’ll want it repeatedly. For example, each jumper cables and a toothbrush are essential to a street journey, however you don’t want to make use of jumper cables twice a day (a minimum of I hope not).
Pack the car in order that on a regular basis gadgets are all the time inside attain and sometimes utilized gear is stashed out of sight.
Hooks are extremely helpful when street tripping. Photograph credit score: Katie Botwin
Hanging stuff is a revelation, and hooks, straps, and bungees are a street tripper’s greatest pal. Get artistic about hanging gear otherwise you’re sure to waste invaluable vertical area.
Connect hooks to the partitions, and fairly quickly you’ll be hanging your hats, soiled socks, moist boardshorts, and extra.
Get Going and Determine It Out
That is under no circumstances an exhaustive record. There are many racks that could be extra tuned to your particular wants, to not point out packing hacks that you simply gained’t uncover till the inevitable trial and error of life on the street.
Hopefully, although, these concepts begin your gears turning with the intention to dial your rig for the subsequent street journey.
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