Wow Yogiyoda, I typed this our last week and was gonna post, but you beat me to it. I've also been wondering how/what some of you set up and tear down. I've read posts, cons of a van, in having to pack up to use the vehicle to go places and it takes awhile. I feel it's just the opposite for us as it's kept things simpler.
I feel like three things affect the time it takes me to pack up and go. One is "Stow it after I use it and everything has it's place. Two is the Comforts that I "need", the simpler I keep it the easier things are. Three, the most important I feel, Is your build choices. The length of van, options, outside storage, and floor plan can all affect how we camp. Somethings things change depending on how you're camping, campground, boon docking, stealth, or just a quick nap while traveling, but our build options can sometimes make or break our camping simplicity.
We have a EB44 with a door galley, a yakima box on top, and an aluminess box on back. I typed my process out not to bore you, but for anyone thinking about a build. Jump to the bottom to stay awake.
When we pull in
, if anything is needed out of the yakima box I take it out. I put our table in there (only needed if no picnic table is available), beach chairs (only used if we're at a beach setting), small low table to use with chairs by fire (haven't used much so might lose it), ski equipment (only used…duh), dish pan & rack (only used if we plan to stay for awhile). Sand rug that we put under step if we plan to stay awhile.
Grab the little step that gets placed on the carpet rug just inside barn door. Place outside door.
Raise the top
We chose the electric top, no lifting, rack and box on top of van don't have to be emptied.*A fixed top would be even easier, but wouldn't fit in our garage…end of decision for us.
We have a 20 gallon tank of fresh water that gets filled at home. We also carry water bottles that get put in the refrigerator to cool and some get stowed and then placed in refrigerator when needed. Two 5 gallon coleman water jugs get strapped on top of rubbermaid box on top of aluminess box. We bring these along only for longer stays in a camp ground and fill them on site. Hot water: we do have the gas/electric heater so if we want hot water flip a switch…no set up.
if inside, we lift the stove top lid and light it (benefit of having that interior stove), if outside I take out the O-grill or coleman stove out of the aluminess box (the green gas bottles are stored in the door behind the door galley box. When done cooking these get put away. After eating all dishes get washed right away in the sink (another interior option) or with the dish pan/rack on the table. For Coffee (this is needed for some of us) we have a single cup kcup machine that fits under the sink. At night I take this out, plug it in, take out the kcups, mugs, and honey. In the morning I turn on the inverter make a cup of coffee (it takes a couple of minutes) and turn off the inverter. Clean up is just throwing out the kcups (trash bag hangs on a hook next to kitchen cabinet), stow the machine, and wash two travel mugs whenever.
I bring two rubbermaid bins. One I fill with a few pieces of fire wood, kindling and paper, this goes on top of the aluminess box, and the other I fill with firewood and set inside Sherman. This is one of the few things that get set inside on the floor. If camping in the same place these two bins stay by the fire for the whole time. I also have a bottle of charcoal lighter fluid in the aluminess box to make fire making easier (don't have to prove anything and I want to be lazy). We also have two folding chairs that, if used, get stowed in the aluminess box after every use, that way they stay dry, and are with us if we want to use them while somewhere else.
We use two sleeping bags. One stays in the penthouse top and gets squished in the bed attached to the penthouse top. The other gets packed back in a stuff sack each morning and throw into the shower next to the toilet. We carry two pillow cases that we put over the two pillows SMB supplied. The cases get taken off each morning and stowed in my closet (yup, we have his and her's and it works out great. They're shelves that we found plastic bins that slide in/out.) We can either sleep in the penthouse or the gaucho couch.
If we do have a site with electric (very rarely) I take the cord out from under the gaucho couch and plug in. At home I have an extra cord to plug in Sherman when he's in the garage. I usually check the batteries before supper and if they need charging I start the generator and let it run for about 30 minutes (another choice being on board generator under back end). We have one solar panel that if it's sunny during the day will help charge the batteries. If we want to microwave something thats gonna take a bit of time we can hit the switch for the gen and have power. No set up for any of this.
We have the built in furnace so if it's cold out I move the thermostat and we have heat. Turn it off to "put away". No set up required.
We chose to not have any air conditioning except for the van AC. I have a small 12v fan that we velcro below the couch for storage and hang in the penthouse top to use. This does need to be taken out each night and stowed in the morning if we use it.
We both love to bike and have a 2" receiver on the front bumper. Our yakima bike rack goes in the front and both bikes get stored there at the end of every day.
We have the built in shower and it's only useful for small skinny people. It's basically a sit down shower if it's in the back of the van like ours and it does take some set up and tear down time. I also have an outside hook up, but in the back cabinet INSIDE the van. i open the rear doors, plug it in, shower while standing outside (swim suit required). Unplug the hose when done and stow it.
If raining we put this up, otherwise we don't set it up. Takes only a couple of minutes. At night I like to put it away in case we get windy conditions.
Not a choice for us, we had to have one. Went with a porta-potti, we can empty it in any toilet, don't have to find a dumping station, and no frozen stuff in the winter time. It sits inside the shower, sideways facing the hallway. It's always ready for use.
I carry a set of leveling blocks inside the aluminess box, but also have the shovel and axe set attached to box. I prefer to dig holes for the tires to drop in, this is a little harder to park back in them, but there's nothing to pack/unpack every time we take a drive. I do fill in the holes on the last day.
So now we want to take a drive
If any of these have been used they get left behind: Rubbermaid wood bins, rug, water jugs, dish pan/rack, table.
Things I have to do:
-place step inside Sherman (don't want to temp anyone).
-Walk around Sherman and make sure nothing is out of place.
-Un plug electric if we have it.
-Pack up leveling blocks if used.
-lower the top (remember that everything inside gets stowed after we use it, so very little to do but tuck in canvas).
If breaking camp for good
-pack tables, rug, dish pan/rack back into yakima box
-strap rubbermaid and water jugs to alumniess box
-stop at dumping station if available and empty gray water tank
then do the above for taking a drive.
I don't spend much time either way. I really think our build choices directly relate to how much time we spend packing and unpacking.
Not much storage in your floor plan means having stuff on the floor, couch, etc.
No on board generator means packing/unpacking and hooking up generator every time or having lots of solar or hunting for that 110v hookup or running your van engine for long periods of time or not using electric much.
No furnace means…you're cold or you unpack the ceramic heater(but electric needed, see above).
No water system means a lot more effort to clean dishes, wash, brush teeth, drink…I get tired thinking about it and just flip my water pump switch on.
No water heater means you either heat it in a pan or go without. I mainly just use our heater to shower unless we have a 110v hookup.
I'm guessing that those that don't have outside storage have to stow a lot of stuff inside the van floor and on the couch. Making moving around the van while traveling more "fun". We pretty much have the step & wood rubbermaid in our way on the floor. The camera bag is next to the 4x4 shifter so it's always available.
Another build decision would be the EB vs RB. I've been reading along with a current post and that got me thinking about this whole topic. Sure a shorter van is easier to park and can go 4x4ing a little better, but you lose 20" of real estate inside for….furnace, water heater, storage, on board generator (EB has two spots behind axle underneath that can have stuff), sink, stove, etc. I realize that money makes some of our choices, but we built our van to make traveling easier and don't want to spend much time setting up and tearing down.
We try to keep our campsite outside "stuff" to a minimum. If you visited our weekend site in the middle of the night you'd see Sherman and 2 rubbermaid bins next to the fire pit. (if you hear a shell being chambered announce yourself quickly)
Now…how long does it take you to get ready to leave the house and when you return from a trip?