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How do you pack to reduce clutter? (packing accessories)
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dhaavers
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2010 12:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

1621 wrote:
...steamer trunks...

Ding ding ding ding! Please quit calling, folks - we have a winner!
1621 wrote:
...I think due to the way they were made...

Well actually, I'd bet they were so named...because they were used for ocean trips...in the big passenger ships...steam powered ships...called..."steamers"...hence..."steamer trunks".

Still, I bet I could find one for a grand or so...that'd probably be better than the plastic drawers! Laughing
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jetpoweredmonkey
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2010 8:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We like to travel light and we are kid-free, so it's easier! Here's my list of van gear - most of it just stays onboard, except for clothes/shoes/food. It takes about half an hour to grab clothes and be ready to hit the road (minus grocery shopping).

Glove box:
- first aid kit
- good quality AAA battery flashlight
- phone charger
- camera charger
- manuals
- spare fuses
- room for wallets, camera and phones

Kitchen drawer:
- pair of AAA battery head lamps, a must-have - they pack small and keep you hands-free after dark
- spare mini AAA flashlight
- spare AAA batteries
- compact can opener/bottle opener
- small box of hand wipes for roadside dining hygiene
- parachute cord for clothesline duty
- lighter
- couple of coasters from my favorite breweries!

Kitchen sink:
- wash rags (cleaned and dried)
- soap
- one or two more wash rags stored on the stove grate to stop it from rattling!

Kitchen cabinet:
- dry food, chips, cans, fruit, etc.
- paper towels
- cooking kit (GSI Bugaboo Camper with a few pieces left at home)
- cooking kit contains reusable plastic plates, four nesting cups, pots, pan, handle, lids, soap, sponge, salt and pepper, and utensils - grab it and head to the picnic table, it's ready to rock!

Dometic fridge:
- whatever didn't fit into the ice chest and isn't likely to kill you if it gets too warm

Ice chest:
- good old steel Coleman rides on the floor behind the passenger seat
- beer, meat, cheese, etc.
- a Whynter or Engel is on the list but $500-1000 can buy a hell of a lot of ice

Small cabinet behind fridge:
- frisbee
- hammock
- toiletries bag

Cabinet over water tank:
- nothing, it's hard to get into with the table in the way

Under rear bench:
- soft duffel bag full of clothes
- sandals
- hiking boots
- bags for trash and dirty clothes
- extension cord and adapter for shore power (never used!)
- water tank filler nozzle

Closet:
- Camelbaks
- jackets if needed
- single burner butane stove (see below)
- bed blanket to stop stove from rattling around

Rear cabinet:
- books
- towels
- curtains and bug screens (never used)

Rear hatch shelf:
- jack and lug wrench
- pliers, screwdrivers, and end wrenches as needed

Rear cargo area:
- pillows
- blankets or sleeping bags
- REI folding chairs, top quality Cordura for $20 and COMFY!

Rear hitch:
- two bikes, if needed

Luggage rack:
- Pakboats kayaks, if needed

And that's about it. Keep it simple, keep it light, have more time to enjoy the spot where you've landed, spend less time screwing around with a bunch of crap you didn't need anyway! Setup consist of setting the brake, popping the top, stashing the clothes duffel upstairs, deploying the bed and unfolding the chairs.

I try to keep the van running well and maintained as tip-top as I can get it so I don't carry a whole bunch of parts and tools in case of a breakdown. On a very long trip I will throw the Bentley in the back and maybe carry my multi-tester. The usual sizes of end wrenches are handy just in case. If something bad happens like a defective AFM, I don't have the parts on board anyway and Napa's not going to have it, so I figure I'll scrounge any missing tools locally if I'm going to stay put for a night or three while I wait for parts.

The single burner stove is a great find, I bought mine at a local Asian food market, they are ubiquitous in restaurants and dining rooms in that part of the world. Big 5 carries them. The stove is brute simple, costs about $15 and is the size of half of a Coleman two burner, maybe a little smaller. We never need the two burner stove cooking for just the two of us, and while the van stove is good for coffee and oatmeal, we don't want to cook greasy splattery stuff in the van and stink it all up, so we do that kind of stuff outside.

The stove comes in a plastic clamshell case. A pack of four butane canisters at the food market was $5, they will last me for years - buy them when you can though, because they aren't commonly found in camping stores. Not a big problem, they pack small. The grill inverts into the stove for storage and prevents loading the cartridge when it's stored, so you probably won't explode your van with butane fumes. The cartridge loads with a lever and there is a piezo igniter, no matches needed. The flame control is great, the butane burns clean and doesn't screw up your cookware, and the clamshell case can be stood on end to act as a wind guard. I can set it up and be cooking in seriously five seconds, which I am more apt to do than I was with the Coleman when we stop at a picnic spot.
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Classicvibe
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 26, 2010 3:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I will chime in now, both what I use, and how I got there...

My first decision was, can I install a roof rack that will allow me to mount a safari rack, a box, or some combination of storage?

The impact of Yes:
* I will need to drill holes in my pop top if you have one.
* I will lose at least 1 mpg when cruising, but it literally takes 30 seconds to remove mine and put it away.
* Things are a bit more difficult to reach up there
* Me or someone will need to perform a few hours work (plan on 4-5 for a complete set up with accessories).
* The costs is big, retail looks something like this for a basic set-up:
** Bars $70
** Mounts & Towers $230
** Locks 2 @ $35 (I used 1 on each mount, 2 to lock down my safari, 2 for my ski rack) = 8 = $280
** Box = $450
** Safari = $320
Stack on a few other small randoms and that is $1,500 retail. If you look hard you can save on this stuff, just be patient. 20% off pops up all the time. I bought all this brand new for less than $900.

At first I answered "no" to the above question, so I worked on maximizing space in the van itself. Keep in mind I have the storage under a 3-person bench seat as well as the storage under the jump seat.
* Those cubes as described earlier are nice, but I really have to find things to be contained in them, for the system to work. For instance, I thought it was not enough space for an adult (fine for kids), so I use my cubes for:
** First aid kit (for those who are first responders and up, the cube is a perfect size for your entire kit.
** Mess Kit for 6 (I bought a kit from REI where the pans and dishes and cups all fold up together. Other cups, foil, hand cleaner is here as well. Everything to set up the kitchen.
** Play toys - Frisbees, kites, etc.
** Burner and Gas (I bought one that folds nicely into this space. I would recommend the aluminum kind over anything you will find. Expensive, but simply the best. This is my fave:
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

Such a joy to cook on and clean. Love it.

Another thing that is really great are space bags and compression sacks. In my rig, I store a comforter, sheets and 2 pillows in the top which fold up fine when you lower the pop top. I store bedding for the bottom in my cabinet (weekender). You can either compress comforters or other low-frequency items (or bulky).

A shoe box for all is a superb idea. Also, I hunted down some photos of the steamer boxes. I am on the fence on this one. They are freaking huge, but I like the modular mobility part.
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

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Lost those images above! Why does the man keep taking down my pictures? Seriously Lame! Admin??????
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The containerstore.com sells item hammocks, and you can stack those on the sides of your van for little goodies.
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

The common rear hammock is good, and this one that raises with the pop top works well also. You can see both in this picture
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


You may consider a rear storage unit that hitch mounts. You can get pretty cool boxes if you plan to stay on flat lands:
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

I personally plan to put a Yakima Swingdaddy back there next year, which holds 4 bikes.

I also bought a few other things such as:
* Rear passenger seat caddy (someone pictured above) - so many uses for high-frequency use items.
* Floor Caddy - pretty much any stable open-top box system that you can move around. Great to contain general sheot like gum, aspirin, tire gauge, sunblock, electronic cords & gadgets, napkins, water bottles, etc. That is what I have in mine at least. Here is the one I bought:
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


I also bought this dumb thinger:
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


For you weekender folks, this thing is pretty sweet as well:
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

Kelty Binto Bar, although they may not make it anymore.

I will remember more of my old "non-rack-storage" tricks and list them.

So if you answered yes to the top rack question, well then the sky is the limit. I bought a storage bag to hold things in my Safari Rack (load warrior), and I ran a storage box on the side of it (Thule Atlantis 1600 I think). The width of those two is exactly the wdith of the van, as well as the bars (70"?).
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


We still have to pack thmart, but our family of 5 can rock anywhere, and I can remove the rack at will. I still use a bunch of my space saving ideas from before I had the rack.

My recommendation is to think of this as I mentioned above...frequency of use, as well as, importance to the mission. This will help you not only define what should be in the van, but also where the item should reside. Should the tire jack be in the van? Important to mission!!!! Frequency of use? Put it far away, hidden from all. How about the game console and tv? Frequency of use? Massive!! Importance to mission success? Zilch. That gets filed at home somewhere (actually we dont own one). Car designers do the same thing. Windows=tons, both frequently used and important to mission (for instance).

OK, perhaps you have spotted the flaw in my thinking? If you have a rack, what the hell do you plan to store up there?!? Everything is more difficult to get to. Well, in my box I store things that need protection from the elements, but not frequent use. This includes my kite surfing gear, my hammock, kid bed thing (although now I am using the cab-hammock, woot WOOT!), etc., and the bag on the safari rack holds camp chairs/tables, tents. Outside the bag I might have some wood, a cooler of beer (the bag takes 2/3 of the rack (has loadwarrior extension). So, in the van are clothes (in a storage container) for each person (always soft bags). I actually use dirty clothes as a pillow sometimes as well (inside a bag). Patagonia sells these awesome little $2 bags they make from left over swim suit material = perfect soft storage.

Hope this helps. Great thread, and really great recommendations before my post! Thanks!!!!!!!!!
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Last edited by Classicvibe on Thu Aug 26, 2010 3:23 pm; edited 2 times in total
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DAIZEE
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 26, 2010 5:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think I mentionned earlier that I had 2 of these steamer trunks and one of those was VERY plush. They are VERY HEAVY even empty. And you have to make it quite stable when under way. IMHO I wouldn't go with these. Lots of great plastic set ups, go to IKEA and get some ideas. Instead of dressers and chest of drawers, I've been using 19 stacking plastic drawers in my bedroom and another 7 in my kitchen. You can usually adjust for heights, etc. once you figure out how they stack and stay together. Easily cleaned and not suceptable to mold etc...
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RHMoore
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 26, 2010 5:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The advice has been great! I hope to implement a lot of it, but I have to let my wife decide as well. I like all the specifics and details that everyone provided. So what will I take from this?

I will look into the MountainSmith 4 cube. We will see if it works for our clothes. At least 2 bags will be short enough to fit under the lower bed. Laundry will go in a pillowcase. Bringing half the amount of clothes actually matches the way I camp, but I was afraid to admit it. I’ll pack half the clothes to decrease the bulk.

I really like the idea of storing a few boxes beneath the van when sleeping. I also like the use of a rubber/plastic tub to hold shoes. My wife also gave these ideas two plusses.

The daily repack seems like an effective idea, especially for consumables. I also have bicycle camped a few thousand miles, but I am surprised at how much clutter I cause when I have the space. Bike camping required management of both weight and volume, and I seem to have forgotten some of those lessons when using the Westy.

There seem to be more votes towards the soft bags over the hard cases. Before this post, I was leaning towards hard cases, since they may force a certain constant packing configuration, and they may be stored outside when sleeping. As some folks mentioned, I was also leaning towards one duffel bag per person plus one backpack. Next time we have a big trip, I’ll try to pack a day early and then evaluate how to “consider the van to be sort of a large suitcase.”

We will think about the Buese shelves or use mesh bags to hold glasses, wallets, keys, etc while we sleep. I think we each need our own small hanging mesh bag.

I think we will continue to stuff blankets and pillows in the cabinets, but we will try to put clothes there also, unless we go the duffle bag route. If we use duffle bags, then food goes into the main cabinet.

My wife thinks the toiletries could be placed on the high rear shelf that you access when the hatch is up. We may need to revisit that location, since she gets up early sometimes and may have trouble accessing it for a quick and quiet getaway shower.

Duffle bags will go on the front seats while we sleep.

I think the plastic drawer unit will fix a large part of the clutter problem. The seat back pockets should also help a lot.

The compact stove options looked great. I think I’d get in trouble if I purchased yet another stove, since I have the large 2-burner Coleman stove and at least 4 other backpacking stoves. I planned on just using the Coleman stove for Westy trips, and it seems like a space killer.

We did purchase a “Rola 59102 Expandable Hitch Tray Cargo Bag” that stores in the roof luggage area at the front. The bag size and strap locations fit so well that it seems they designed it for Vanagons. It does not have handles, so you put it in place and then load it. It squeezes flat to a lower profile if you don’t put much in it. On a recent trip towards the beach, we put very little in it to help with gas mileage and got about 21 mpg. On the way home, we filled it more to reduce inside clutter and got 16.9 mpg, but my wife drove home and probably went 10 mph faster than I normally drive, so I won’t blame the increased air drag. Yep, I need to check the fuel lines again.

Thank you everyone for your suggestions and ideas. I hope this thread continues, since there is more to learn and digest. I have definitely benefited from your advice.

- Rob
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IdahoDoug
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 26, 2010 9:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Speaking of roof boxes, a plug for the cheap and well shaped Sears X20 roof cargo box. For $175 (smaller one is less) it's a lot of cubes. What I like equally is the shape which swallows more things used in real life than the ski shaped typical ones. We've driven in the 6000 mile range with ours over 10 years. I purposely bought cross bars wider then the LandCruiser, so I could put 4 bikes alongside the box when needed. Will do the same on the Van.

One day, I plan to have a simple rack made to carry this box from the rear hitch to get it in the wind shadow and help with MPG. I currently have a Softride 4 bike hitch rack that pulls rearward so the hatch opens with it in place. This rack is modular for several items like snowboards, etc and a way to hold the cross bars may just fit like these other accessories. We'll see.

Anyhow, the Sears boxes are a great deal and they always go on sale in the spring when college lets out.

Dougm
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 28, 2010 2:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

great thread, its good to see i`m not the only one constantly trying to improve on the packing. with the misses, a 10yr old and a 6yr old the westy pop top is pretty cramped when the weather is bad.

lee.
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 28, 2010 3:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

RHMoore wrote:

We did purchase a “Rola 59102 Expandable Hitch Tray Cargo Bag” that stores in the roof luggage area at the front. The bag size and strap locations fit so well that it seems they designed it for Vanagons.


I got the same thing last week after reading about it in another thread. After my last lengthy Westy voyage, I got annoyed at stashing individual bags of stuff up there. I looked into GW's bag, but $100 was more than I was willing to spend. The Rola is slightly larger and expandable and is half the price. Haven't used it yet, but I'm sure I'm going to like it! I'm thinking about modifying the straps though to make them more "quick release"... Think
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 28, 2010 3:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gear is an issue for us. I am often racing bikes while traveling in the van, so that means lots of gear. Tools, spare parts, extra wheels, pump, repair stand, tires, etc.

Roof top box = indispensable. Holds all the bulky stuff as well as the dirty stuff. Chairs, kids bike, folding table, BBQ, Kelty, dirty boots, etc.

The Mountainsmith cubes are sweet. Bought those this year and cut down on a lot of bags. Bought the 3 pack so everybody gets one. Even for me, it holds all my clean street clothes for about 4 days. Also really nice for taking to the shower at the camp ground. It's waterproof enough that you don't worry about it.

I condensed down my cook kit too. Bought an expedition backpacking nesting cook kit and ditched some bulky pans and dishes. Found a smaller plastic box for it all and saved some space. Using a backpacking stove over a 2-burner coleman. Cooking 2-3 pot meals takes some work, but it's worth the space savings. White gas is much more space efficient than propane too. Makes coffee in 1/2 the time too boot.

Next step is fridge removal. We carry a cooler anyways so ditching the fridge will just mean more space.
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 28, 2010 4:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kam said:
Quote:
I'm thinking about modifying the straps though to make them more "quick release"...


We were able to undo 1-2 straps at a time and pull out a few things, rather than undoing all 3 or 6 straps. That sped things up a bit for us. Please post details about the quick release straps, since the feature would be convenient.

Concerning being waterproof, the jury is still out. Everything stayed dry through the rainstorms while driving. While camping one night, we stored the bag on a picnic table. The overhead tarp drained onto the bag, and there was a gallon of water inside the bag when I checked later. I don't know if the bag was properly closed with the flap over the zipper during that time, however. Thus, the jury is still out, but such a test is somewhat harsh.

I like the bag so far.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 16, 2010 6:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just got a waterproof rooftop cargo bag & I love it.

It's zippered on 3 sides so you can access the contents through the pop-top screen window or open a door & step up to reach stuff from the sides.
I use it for lightweight bulky items like chairs, tarp, poles, sleeping bags, blankets & pillows. It's got handles on it so I just take it off & store it in the garage once home.

I find that I can fit everything else I need for camping (aside from ice chest & folding table) into the cabinets & it really is nice not having to pack anything but food & clothes before I go or shuffle anything around once I get there. Everything just stays in the cabinets out of sight so no clutter.

Happy camping!
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 16, 2010 6:35 am    Post subject: clutter Reply with quote

shameless plug - OK, I admit it!!
put one of these on - same fuel consumption, everything is inside, lots of volume for all of that soft clutter, sleeping bags, clothes bags etc etc while underway.
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 17, 2010 12:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We use 6 milk crates in the back for organization (just 2 of us). At night the crates go in the poptop area and we sleep down below. Easy access to everything, 6 compartments make sorting stuff easy....and they are free!
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 08, 2010 8:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I use this as a space saver, love the stuff and it lasts and lasts and lasts and etc.....
http://www.lushusa.com/shop/products/haircare/solid-shampoos/
http://www.lushusa.com/shop/products/hair/conditioners/jungle
Oh, my hair has never felt better. Just so you know, when first using their products, it will strip the wax crap that the other shampoos and conditioners use to give you that shine (and brittleness) right out of your hair leaving it dry and frizzy. Keep using the lush and it will go away leaving your hair oh so nice and soft. Very Happy The natural oils from the Cocoa butter and the Avocado Oil will put a much better shine back in your hair. Enjoy!
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 30, 2010 11:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

andy syncro-nutz wrote:
Put Beer in fridge, Leave wife at home,
beer in fridge wife on roof rack(just kidding hon)
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2011 6:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Someone suggested I post my recent blog article on our Van-Fu process here. Still a noob, myself. Hop someone finds it entertaining. It's long, but there are some photos. Enjoy!

http://madmaxine.wordpress.com/2011/10/16/epic-road-trips-and-the-art-of-van-fu/
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 18, 2011 4:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

good thread here, I took pics of my packing/set up on my recent 2 week 3000 mile trip, I plan on posting them today look for the trip report.

I don't think it makes sense to double post.
Thanks, Todd.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 18, 2011 10:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

3 of us in full Westy - weekend trip
In the storage area above the bench seat:
Wife's clothing and 2 battery operated personal fans

In the rear closet with the 3 shelves:
One shelf for my clothes
One shelf for the son's cloths
One shelf for towels/hygiene/firstaid etc...

On the shelf above the engine compartment:
tools, rope, flashlight fuses, etc....

In the front closet with the mirror on the door:
3 sleeping bags and 3 pillows

Under the sink:
All of our food which consists of Montain House entrees, coffee, oatmeal, ramen noodles, instant rice,etc.. Everything we eat only requires boiled water.
Coffee perculator
2 pots
3 cups

In the drawer under the sink:
3 sporks
packets of salt/pepper/ketchup/mustard from fast food restaurants
pot holder
Instant drink mixes - tea - tang - gatorade
Kershaw kit that has handle with interchangable spoon, spatula, and fork
Swiss army knife - climber model

Fridge:
3 lbs dry ice - to make the lame fridge actually keep things cold
As many adult beverages that will fit in there. I can usuallly get 2 bottles of wine and 6 Sierra Nevada Torpedos in there.

Under the seat
3 cheapo folding chairs that come in bags
Coleman fuel
1 small folding table
spare parts and other tools as necessary
pillow case for dirty laundry
hiking boots/shoes
small electric heater - if needed

In the rear area:
1 collapsable trash can
1 medium sized cooler with ice and water
1 coleman lantern
3 hiking sticks

In the 2 compartments above water tank

Left side-
books
2 small battery powered lanterns
cards
anything else my son wants to bring that will fit in there

Right side-
3 plastic plates
Dish soap
Dish Towels
Hand Towels

Cabinet next to the fridge
Coleman Peak One backpacking stove
Cleaning items such as Simple Green, Lysol
Toilet paper
Trash bags
Matches/Lighter
Firestarters

In the roof storage area:
Firewood covered with tarp

In the shelf above sink:
Nothing - as there is no need for putting things there and hence no annoying rattling

Laying diagonally across the edge of the bench seat and the sink cabinet:
Awning that is rolled up with poles

Dont bring the rear fold out table as we never use it

Combination drink holder/storage compartment between front seats

Rubber floor mat on galley floor.

Upon arrival at camping location:

Park van on level spot
Take out rubber floor mat and place outside of door
Pop the top
Set up the awning
Lift the bench seat
remove the chairs, table and coleman fuel
set up collapsable trash can
lower bench seat

Spin front seats around and setup front table

open the stove /sink
turn on propane
fill perculator with water from sink
make coffee
drink coffee

get firewood from storage area
get firestarters
start fire
setup chairs and folding table

son makes his drinks as applicable

i crack a Torpedo and the wife a cup of wine

boil a pot of water
each of us has a mountain house entree for dinner by the fire.

throw empty mountain house bags in trash

put on hiking boots and grab walking sticks

hike - explore etc.....

at night drop the bench seat

get sleeping bags and pillows

go to bed - use portable fan if hot.

repeat as necessary

have fun
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1982 Westy
2004 KDX200
2008 Kawasaki KLR 650
1979 Yamaha DT 175
1995 Toyota 4Runner
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Mad Maxine
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Joined: July 08, 2010
Posts: 23
Location: Seattle, WA
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 18, 2011 11:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

oooh, I hadn't thought of using the interior floor mat as an outdoor mat, but I like that idea.
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wolfej1
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Joined: August 15, 2005
Posts: 679
Location: North Royalton, Ohio
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 18, 2011 11:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

there is a ton of room in there if you really keep it simple - and your family members are totally into the camping aspect and are willing to live spartan like
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1982 Westy
2004 KDX200
2008 Kawasaki KLR 650
1979 Yamaha DT 175
1995 Toyota 4Runner
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