Comprehensive Update on Car Setup

A lot has changed since I went into details about the setup inside of my car on my blog, so I wanted to go ahead and provide a comprehensive update, describing how everything is these days!

I took out the time to list off everything notable on my Living Setup Page. Due to the outdated nature of this post, you may wish to review that page for the true setup on how I live out of Tivona. I won’t provide the links or the details of exactly what I have here, referring instead to that page. Here, I want to outline more how everything is setup, and how I make all of this work.

Traveling and Space Efficiency

TravelMode I have still been maintaining an active goal of always keeping as much stuff as possible in the cargo area, hiding beneath the retractable cargo cover that came with Tivona. When I switched to the new Suitcase Solar Panels that took up a lot more room, this proved to be a challenge, due to the much larger size of the new solar panels. However, with some work, I’ve got that goal all working again. When I am traveling, everything fits within the cargo area.

SpareSpaceTo make this still work, I took my spare tire out of the bottom of the cargo area and moved the batteries and several other, non-often used items into that space. The spare tire was then mounted in a newly bought rooftop basket. All of this freed up an immense amount of space, and I still maintain the efficient use of space that I have aimed for all along, despite the much larger solar panels.

Electricity and Solar

SidePanelsOutThis leads to how the new solar panels are setup. With my 2 Group 31 AGMs in the spare tire bay, I have wires attached to each running through the floorboards, up to the enclosure, where everything else is connected. This enclosure and the charge controller always lie up in the actual cargo area.

For the solar panels themselves, I’m always entirely connecting and disconnecting them when I arrive or leave a campsite. However, they fold up into their cases when I hit the road, and lie on the passenger side, opposite the wiring enclosure and charge controllers. All of this space is freed in camp, when the solar panels are setup.

TrunkVentsOf course, to make myself comfortable with the batteries laying in the spare tire bay, I needed to supply proper ventilation, along with a route for the wires to run. I ended up cutting a couple of holes into the cargo area floor, which I capped with some vent covers from West Marine. The larger hole, purely for ventilation, was covered with a simple ventilation cover, and the other with a clamshell cover to allow the wires to run through. Along with new wires to make all of this work as desired, this all worked out great, giving me comfort that there’s still enough ventilation to provide myself some idea of still being safe with these batteries in the less open space.

These new solar panels and the new battery setup are working great. Where my old panels were damaged and difficult, the new panels require much less work to tie down in wind, and have ultimately resulted in much more room when in camp!


In Camp Setup

Hammock set up, with the cuben fiber tarp over it
Hammock set up, with the cuben fiber tarp over it

There’s ultimately a few options that I have when I’m setting up for in camp. The first is to setup my hammock. When this is an option, I really love it! However, I have been in a number of places where there’s nothing really available to hang the hammock up on, so it’s only something I get to do every once in a lucky while!

I could also setup my tent, but I usually avoid that option. For times that it would, it really just ends up being your usual tent camping scenario.

FullSleepingSetupAll other times, I’m doing one of my variants of sleeping inside of the car. The simplest, when privacy or stealthiness is not a concern, is to simply blow up my air mattress with the back seats folded down. I’ll often take off the cargo cover these days as well, providing a limited feeling of more vertical space. With the solar panels set up, several items moved into previously empty space, and all of this setup, it’s quite comfortable for me to splay out and enjoy!

CampStealthOne alternative available with the in-car sleeping that I can do entails utilizing the cargo cover, blackout curtain, and clothes bar. All of this put together makes my sleeping area entirely covered. I can make this entirely private from the outside, with no one able to view within. Although it does restrict the space available within the car, it is still quite comfortable and cozy, while providing quite absolute privacy and a nice amount of stealth.



Plugged into the batteries, working outside!
Plugged into the batteries, working outside!

With everything setup in camp, I have a few options for performing my work duties as well. If the weather outside is delightful, I enjoy setting up my REI FlexLite Chair and working outside. Not many people get to say that they do this on a regular basis, and I really thrive off of it! It is absolutely lovely.

Of course, that’s not always the best option. Sometimes, whether because of rain, lack of shade, or some other variable, I’m stuck searching for the inside of my car, where there is safety. I enjoy keeping the front passenger seat open in camp, where I can sit comfortable, working as well.

FrontSeatAll of this is worth mentioning how well my work goes with the laptop on a lap desk. It’s not always the best of situations, and can be sometimes clumsy. However, I’ve found that all of the benefits far outweigh the issues.

I do use my Verizon MiFi for connectivity, and have my 4G Cell Booster when I need to squeeze out every bit of reception I can in a spot. All of this works amazingly well.

This Is My Home!

So there you have it! My home! How I make all of this tiny living work. It’s everything that I need, and a little more, even!

Only a few things that I didn’t mention. I store all of my food in a Ziploc WeatherShield container–no cooling right now, but I make it work without. This sits off to the side in camp, and in an otherwise accessible location above the solar panels when traveling. I also have many hiking and other adventure supplies that fit in in various different locations, being accessible as is appropriate for how often I access them. Otherwise, several different things such as clothes and that like, lie in compression and dry bags and fit around in various different places, depending on how often I use them.


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