As we enjoy camping adventures around New Zealand, it might be time to look at some new technology to make life on the road easier, says Liz Dobson.
Sitting in your RV thinking you could really do with a bit more power in the tank or that you need to upgrade your driving experience? Perhaps you’re simply looking for some ideas to make your trip a little easier. The good news is, many Kiwi dealers are providing some top-tier technology products that will make life on the road a dream.
Solar panels have always been popular with campers. They make living off grid easier, and with the increase of range comes a decrease of price and simpler models for everyday use. For example, RSE has a 160kW flexible solar panel ($659.30) for 12V/24V battery charging. The panel is made of ETFE material bonded with the fibreglass back sheet, making this a stronger panel than cheaper PET film panels with less chance of cracking or water intrusion. Because it has less reflection, there’s more power per square metre. It is also better at light absorbtion, is stain-resistant, and easily cleaned by the rain. The flexible, waterproof panels are highly resistant to seawater corrosion and cope very well in harsh operating conditions. The panels include high bond tape for easy installation.
On the road
Most luxury cars these days have built-in head-up displays, which show your speed plus information like navigation details on the window screen in front of the driver. It’s a great safety feature as it keeps the driver’s eye on the road. Now, thanks to technology, you can buy your own head-up display unit from the likes of Mighty Ape ($79). The OBD 11 unit is an easy ‘plug in and play’ that sits on your dash and reflects such information as your speed, fuel consumption, vehicle temperature and in-built speed alarm so you won’t get speeding fines.
While most modern motorhomes have built-in reversing cameras, it doesn’t mean that older vehicles can’t use that technology too to help back into tight spots. Apollo has wireless reversing camera units that utilises 2.4Ghz digital wireless technology to produce clear wireless reversing camera pictures, with a 7in dash mount monitor with up to two cameras connectable. Monitors plug into 12V power, with the dash mount unit having a cigarette power cable. There is also an optional roof mount antenna for camera. (See page 49 for more on Apollo options.)
A heavy duty folding wagon is the Swiss army knife of camping tools. They do everything from carrying supplies for a beach outing, to taking your washing to the campsite laundry, or even loading up your camper at home as you set off. The DUSC Heavy Duty Folding Wagon at Repco costs $200, and with a weight rating of up to 80kg it can cart plenty of heavy gear. It also has extra wide wheels with aggressive tread.
If you’re keen on getting some fresh air, how about heading out on an adventure with a foldable e-bike? E-bikes are becoming the top accessory for many motorhomers. They are a quick and healthy mode of transport when you’re parked up, and can be easily stowed inside your cabin, or an exterior storage area.
If you have a larger mountain bike then maybe it’s time to upgrade to an electric rack for the rear of your motorhome. It can be lowered to ground level for easy mounting or dismounting of your bike. The BR Systems Bike Lift Electric Bike Carrier (standard from $3099 from RV Super Centre) is suitable for three classic bikes or two e-bikes.
A bit on the side
Space is a premium in all motorhomes, and while there is sometimes room on the roof, have you ever considered the side of the vehicle? It is restricted by width, so it is possible to carry thin long items on the side, such as a surfboard or SUP boards. VantageRV has a range of gutter rails you can attach to self- contained vans or motorhomes. Priced from $885, the NZ-made set of brackets can carry surfboards, paddleboards, or a SUP.
The stainless steel brackets are made to fit onto the side of the VW Crafter, or a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter panel van. The brackets can be removed and refitted without the need for a ladder, so if you are not transporting your boards just remove them and store them inside the van.