I’m sitting here in Yellowstone with my family inside my RV trying to figure out how we are going to cook dinner and charge our batteries without a generator. At 8000 feet of elevation our 30-year-old generator is a little less reliable trying to breath in the thin alpine air. Tonight it is dropping down to 28 degrees and our furnace usually takes a full charge of our one RV battery. Yes, only one. Our rig we recently acquired from a nice little old lady who just “can’t adventure like she used to” gave us a great deal on it, but it’s 30 years old and has a lot of stories under its belts. It’s currently the antagonist of mine as I sit here trying not to panic as we are at least 50 miles away from the next actual town. No generator, means no battery charging, which means a VERY cold night with a 9-month-old baby, a 3-year-old toddler, and a wife who chills even in a sub zero sleeping bag.
Power is one of the essential needs we have when we are out camping and exploring, but with our new rig we are unrealistically reliant on our gas guzzling generator. Our Wander Wagon power supply wasn’t always like this. The RV we are in now is actually Wander Wagon II. Wander Wagon I was a camper van my wife and I lived in before we had kids. We did the “van life” thing before it was called “van life”. I guess you can say we are partly to blame for the whole van life craze that floods Instagram and YouTube today. We were the first to create daily vlogs and put them up on our YouTube channel to show the masses what van life was all about. We gutted our old 30 year old van, rebuilt the inside, and traveled a 30,000 mile loop in it starting in Idaho going through Canada all the way to Nova Scotia, and then looping back down the southern United States to the Oregon coast. No generator on that trip. Just one solar panel and one RV battery. We were roughing it. Just a couple of van life pioneers before the days of the $100k+ Mercedes sprinter vans where everything inside is shiny, new, and is out on its first, and possibly only, adventure. But Wander Wagon I introduced us to the power of the sun. We always had a full battery because when we weren’t driving it was charging with the solar panel on our roof.
Fast forward a couple years and we ended up traveling the west coast in our parents RV. We had just moved from our rental house and were searching for a house to buy. We decided before we bought the home of our dreams we would travel in the RV for three months showing our then 18-month-old daughter the rules of the road. We remembered what we had learned about power from the first Wander Wagon and loaded up five Inergy solar panels on this rig with the Inergy Kodiak portable battery. We never even thought about a shortage of power. We had a gas generator on that rig but hardly ever even used it. In campgrounds generators are loud and we try to be considerate campers so instead of running the generator for our blender or other appliances we would just hook them up to our Kodiak and be on our way.
I realized I could charge the battery on our now powerless Wander Wagon II by using the lithium battery I use to jump start our dead engine batteries. Phew, we’ll have heat tonight. But the stress of the last few hours was nothing I had to experience in the last RV. Since we just bought this RV and we have only gone out less than a handful of times we are making a list of modifications we need to make in order for it to work for our family and needs. I can safely say we’ll be patiently waiting for the release of the Inergy Flex 1500 Power Station.
Portable power is a must for us and having the right amount of power on your trip can literally be the difference of a warm restful night or a situation that will leave you out in the cold.