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Before my 2018 Pacifica I had a Dodge Caravan for 225,000 miles before the rust got so bad I couldn't keep it running anymore. When I had my Caravan I built a wooden box to use as my sleeping platform so I could put my cooler and clothes and some camping gear under it. It worked OK but when I put it in my Pacifia the floor wasn't quite flat so I has to add a board to one end. The sleeping platform got nicknamed the coffin for good reason. I wasn't the most convenient. So recently I've been working on upgrading that system. I bought a cot of of Amazon that really fits well.

Here is a link to my Google Photos album and a short list of things I found helpful.

Must have camping supplies IMO
  • Blackout curtains, I used Reflectix Insulation which is silver bulbble wrap. I put a light inside the van and taped down butcher paper to the outside windows and then traced a pattern to get the shape of the window. I cut out the butcher paper template and laid that down on the Reflectix and traced the pattern and then cut it out. I made it slightly oversized and it tucks inside the window perfectly and you usually don't need anything to hold it in place. For the windshield I added a few suction cups.
  • flat place to sleep, this cot from Amazon looks like it was made for it and was only $50. I don't know why you want to but it does fit over the second row seats if needed. see pictures in photo gallery
  • USB powered fan. I like this one because it has a clamp but it only has 3 speeds and even the lowest one might be a little too fast. It does have a built in battery and the clamp is great though. This fan I like better but it doesn't have a built in battery and it needs a level surface to work. I like it because it has lots of speeds and can get very quiet.
  • Klymit Static V Lightweight Sleeping Pad. This thing is rediculous. It packs so tiny, is very comfortable and is always in my Pacifica. I've actually gone out to the car to get this and bring it inside and use it on top of a matrase at an AIRBNB when what they had was so uncomfortable. It takes 10 breaths to blow up and you can fit it back into the stuff sack easily. On a long drive I will sometimes blow it up and sleep on it right on the floor when my wife drives. I have the pillow too but I think there might be better ones.

Optional
  • Now there are lots of good options for Solar Generators. Basically a big battery that you can charge lots of stuff from. The one I have is small and dumb, but it works OK. They call them solar generators because you can recharge them from solar panels. You can also charge them from your car or the wall outlet too. Make sure your's has "pass through charging". Mine doesn't and it didn't bother me until I had a solar panel. Basically pass through charging lets you charge in at the same time you are using it. This seems obvious but mine doesn't have it. I ordered the new Bluetti AC50S on indiegogo to replace mine. The AC200 looks awesome but more than I need for now.
  • Some USB fans to circulate air if camped in one location for a while. I sleep in the "steel tent" so I rigged up some fans and some dryer hose to pull cool air from under the van and exhaust the warmer air from the ceiling out. It worked ok. I had a small solar panel that ran this during the day and at night I would plug them into a power bank. I bough them on Amazon and I really like this vendor. I've bought a lot of stuff from them since then. They are dead quiet and work well. Great bang for the buck.
  • Solar panel. I got these 100W Rockpals folding solar panels and it seems to work well. I've only had it a few days but it changes up my phone, iPad and solar charger at the same time. It packs down pretty small too. I wish they had a few more grommets on it because just one on each corner doesn't seem to be enough to support it well on irregular surfaces. I have to rig up a better mount. You can find cheaper and smaller ones if this doesn't fit your budget.
  • DC powered cooler. I ordered this Alpicool but I haven't gotten it yet so I can't give any recommendations. I thought it would be great for camping and also getting groceries and longer road trips.

I can update this post when I have more info about the solar generator and the DC fridge.

cheers
-david
 

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No, typically one time a year for a few days in a row when I go up to Oshkosh, WI for the EAA. When I was younger I lived out of my car for 6 months but I haven't done that since.

Here are some photos from my old Caravan and the setup hasn't changed a whole lot. Still sleeping in the steel tent. I got some screen material from the hardware store and left the front windows down and used magnets to hold it in place. It worked well. I wouldn't try that in Chicago though.

The screened porch is just a cheap thing from Walmart and I measured and cut one side so I could dock the back of the Caravan into it. I still use it with the Pacifica.

cheers
-david

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Great set up David! That dryer hose idea is really smart!
The cot sure folds up tiny. Impressive! :)

I'll share some pics of my minivan camper soon too.
 

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I got back from a 900 miletripand I got 31.5 mpg according to the trip odometer. Gas was ~2.05/gal so I wasn't really keeping count. I did get to try out my Alpicool compressor fridge and I really like it. I used it plugged into the back of the van on the 12v jack which is always hot. The one by the dash is switched with the ignition. The Bluetooth app on the fridge seemed ridiculous but it's actually helpful. I can set the fridge to Med power cut off and ECO. The app also tells you what voltage the fridge will turn off to save the battery and also the exact volatage of the battery it's plugged into down to the 1/10th of a volt. The ECO mode doesn't do a whole lot but it spools up the compressor a little slower and it drops the power draw about .1A as far as I can tell. I also bought a solar panel and a solar charge controller and I can run the fridge on that continuously with an old car battery and not have to mess with the Pacifica's electrical system at all. I didn't travel with the extra car battery I just used the 12v jack in the back of the van. Alpicool keeps messing with the Amazon listing so to clarify the one I ordered was the C22 but the link above just links to whatever model they feel like selling at the moment.

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I wasn't camping out of the van this trip. We had 3 adults, one dog, one bike and lots of stuff. I didn't need to put anything on the roof or outside and it drove great. The fridge/cooler is a nice convenience but IMO a luxury item, a cooler with ice is way cheaper. It starts to make more sense if you are using it for more than a few days because your food won't get soggy and you don't have to look for ice. The tiny built-in icemaker in the C22 works well even if you have the fridge at 40 degrees. It makes enough ice for one large drink or two small ones.
 
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