Rab Electron Jacket

I first saw someone wearing a Rab jacket this past January in Salt Lake City. What I noticed right away was how it was fit well for everyday use, but it was also flexible to handle outdoor activities.

As someone who travels to different climates on an everyday basis, I wanted a go-to jacket that could keep me warm in our van, on trails and could pack down for backpacking.

Insulated

If you're looking for a jacket for cold weather, this one is for you. Made with 800FP European Goose Down, this jacket can keep you warm in high winds. You can even put the hood up over a helmet or hat. The outside zips up all the way to cover your neck and chin.

Water Resistant

With a water-resistant Pertex® outer shell, you can wear this jacket on those cloudy days and not worry about getting wet. It's also windproof, and you can clinch the draw cords around the hood to close off too much air from coming through. We tested this jacket in the rain and snow and found that the jacket did get wet, but seemed to dry pretty quickly.

Comfort

It's lightweight and comfortable. I like wearing this jacket with a short-sleeved shirt underneath on spring days and with several layers underneath on colder, snowy days. The elasticated stretch woven cuffs help trap in warmth. Inside, you'll find a zipped security pocket where you can store your keys, cell phone and other valuables.

overall impression

The Electron Jacket is suitable for day-to-day use. Pack it down into a small stuff sack (that comes with it) to store in your pack for those long trips. Use it as an under layer or main layer for skiing, hiking, alpine climbing or cold-weather biking. We tested this jacket at 25 degrees Fahrenheit in the national forest and it held up quite well with a wool long-sleeved shirt and sweatshirt underneath.

Goal Zero 1400 Yeti Lithium Portable Power Station

Trying to find places to charge your devices can be difficult when you prefer to be off the grid.

The Goal Zero Yeti 1400 Lithium Portable Power Station allows us to be in national forest and still get the work done we need to get closer to road ready.

This is a new product and we were looking forward to its release because of its lithium ion batteries. They yield longer runtimes than previous models we've tested. It's also lighter and smaller than most generators.

For tiny spaces, this thing does an excellent job while still being small enough to not get in the way.

With USB (4x), 12V, AC (2x) outputs, you can choose how you want to power your devices. What does that mean exactly? You can plug in your phone with its USB cord as well as plug in your computer or power tools at the same time.

The engineers over at Goal Zero were really thinking when they built this unit with a runtime estimator that takes into consideration your power consumption and gives you an idea of how much battery life to expect.

It has the strength to handle high-powered devices such as power tools, blenders, electric space heaters and blankets.

Without our Goal Zero solar generator, we wouldn't be able to take our van build on the road, picking up where we left off with time for adventuring with our dogs in between.

We are excited to get our solar panels installed so we can show you how these two will work together to create our tiny home on wheels, the best nature chaser rig.

BioLite CampStove 2

We do a lot of backpacking and camping and because of this, we're always looking for the best gear to maximize our experience outdoors.

We got to test out the new BioLite CampStove 2 for some van camping in Colorado’s Arapahoe National Forest.

Before BioLite came along, campers and backpackers were limited to using stoves that required propane canisters. Often times, these canisters were not refillable. Even when they were, fuel could easily leak and ruin gear.

With the BioLite Campstove 2, you don't have to worry about any of that. Just add some sticks and you have an instant fire.

This stove has become our go-to item for all of our adventures.

The BioLite Campstove 2 has some added features that make it even better than the stove that came before.

With 50% more power and integrated battery, you can feel assured that this stove will last for several days or weeks in the backcountry. You can charge your devices from the electricity generated from your fire, and you can even watch a LED dashboard to see your fire strength, power output and fan speed settings.

It would be easy for BioLite to keep producing the same products as they are tried and true, but we are grateful that they keep pushing the envelope to make them even better. The upgrades made to this stove make it more efficient, reliable and user-friendly.

We love taking turns adding sticks and warming our fingers.

Our camping experience is enriched because we are able to create a fire anywhere.

Nearly half the planet lacks clean, affordable household energy, cooking meals on smoky open fires and having little or no electricity in their homes. By supporting BioLite, we are helping others.

We’re all about companies that give back and that’s why we continue to support BioLite’s products and mission.

Teva Arrowood Hiking Boots

I have worn the same hiking boots for about five years now. When they started to wear down, I knew I wanted a pair of boots that could last and withstand my daily activity.

When I received the Teva Arrowood hiking boots, I was sold.

Not only were these shoes I could take backpacking, but I could also wear them around town.

The number one thing I like about these boots is that they are comfortable. Unlike my previous hiking boots that took me a few minutes to lace up, these kicks slide on and slide off at the ready.

In the past few months, these boots have already gone to some amazing places, such as national parks, hiking trails and down back roads in our van.

But they have also gone to some urban places, such as post offices, restaurants and grocery stores. It was during one my grocery store visits that a woman pointed to my shoes and asked me where I got them. I told her, and when I returned home, she messaged me on Instagram and said she recognized me from my shoes.

The world of social media will always amaze me. When I met up with her, we realized we had a few friends in common.

But perhaps we wouldn’t have ever met if it wasn’t for these boots.

Joolca Hottap Showers

In our search for the best Vanlife related Hot water shower, we have used a variety of suppliers; the Coleman Hot water on demand & the Companion Aqua Cube. None of these compare Joolca Hottap. If you are looking for awesome water pressure you can actually wash your hair with and have a good clean, Joolca takes the cake. It doesn't come with a battery attached like others. It is the world's smallest water heater in it's class. This means you can hook it up, screw it in slim line positions such as the side door or against the inside of the back door of your van.

A lot of heat comes from the top of the system, so it needs to ventilate. It is important to have maximum airflow and the doors open when using. We have noticed the engineering of the Hottap is of a higher standard and believe it will last a lot longer and have less faults. Obviously we can't guarantee that but Joolca can. We struggled with the other two systems, both batteries died and nearly burnt our hands off with leaking gas connections and hot copper pipes. Joolca have a 2 year Guarantee with shipping paid both ways. Joolca also have an amazing and friendly support team to call as we did in setting it up. We even sent pictures and videos to make sure it was right and the support person on the phone was super helpful!

Technical Specifications & Comparisons with Competitors

1) Joolca has got a higher gas capacity (27,500BTU) essentially means they can heat more water to a hotter temperature

2) A Joolca unit can operate to a higher flow rate (6L per minute)

3) In particular, Joolca Pumps are very high quality and not only are they the 6L flow rate (others are around 3-4L max) but they've got very good pressure allowing for flexibility. Users can pump from a water source directly to their campsite 20-30m away. Competing products can barely lift 2m and no more. 

4) Following on from point 3, the Joolca unit is so much more versatile in how it can be used and its potential applications. Joolca tries to exploit this by offering heaps of specifically designed accessories for various scenarios, such as bags / jackets / trolley mounts / drawbar mounts / shower stand / Tent. And everything that they sell has been designed to integrate with other bits. Such as the Shower Stand fitting inside the Ensuite tent, making their combined use very comfortable. 

Beyond product specific points, I also think there is something to be said of the backup support and service:

1) 2 year warranty with shipping paid both ways

2) 30 day trial for direct purchases - where you can actually take the unit camping and if you don't like it you'll get a full refund (including shipping). 

Blundstone Boots

Winter is coming in Colorado.

We headed to the mountains this past weekend with the van to get some fresh air and do some exploring. To do this, we teamed up with Zappos to show you #HowIRoam in these Blundstone boots.

As we four-wheeled down back roads, I was reminded that the best destinations are never easy to come by.

When we began our journey, it still felt like summer outside. But when we ended, there was snow scattered on the ground and frost dusted on throughout the treeline.

I hold my boots to a high standard as we don't have much room in our van for more than one pair of a similar item. As you can see, I have already broken them in (quite quickly) wearing them hiking and running behind the van on mountain roads.

This is a pair we're going to have for a while.

If you're looking for a high-quality boot with a lot of kick, this one is for you.

REDARC 2000W 12V PURE SINE WAVE INVERTER

I have been looking for an inverter for a long time. I make music, run a website, events, work, collaborate and love to play. Ash designs and makes clothes, laughs lots, and tickles my fancies so choosing an inverter that can help facilitate our joys on the road has been a long time coming.

REDARC, design, develop and research electronic converters and associated products. Being out of Australia, we @vanlifediaries want to support local industry as well as put it up against international competitors to see what floats. We intend to be transparent with what is an efficient and durable, what is cost effective and valuable and what we want to install and advocate. As well as discover what is necessary for our individual needs while on the road.

Firstly, what is an inverter? A power inverter changes 12 volt current (D.C, direct current) into 240 volt current. (A.C alternating current) This is the conventional current you get when you plug into your everyday house hold power point.

Secondly, what is a pure sine wave inverter (PSWI)? A PSWI inverter is a type of inverter that produces a smooth sinusoidal AC wave. As you can see below, the PSW has a continuous, smooth, flowing rhythm. This is more or less what you get in your power point at home, it is also what most household appliances and the latest devices are designed to run on. With the ever increasing sensitivity of modern electronics, appliances are becoming increasingly complex and many simple devices feature advanced microprocessors which require PSW current.  

Picture by Edisons

Picture by Edisons

In contrast to this, the modified sine wave, MSW. Features prolonged highs and lows, including plateaus at zero voltage. If in doubt that your appliance can run on MSW, check with the manufacturer. Using the incorrect wave can cause overheating, damage and shorten the appliance life span.

On appearance, it is a slick piece of equipment. The smooth modern metal casing is a stylish fire truck red and does not pose as an eyesore. It is slim and compact, and can be strategically mounted in or out of sight. We ran a short lead with power board attached which served our electrical needs.

The REDARC 2000W Pure Sine Wave inverter can run everything a house can. We took it on an adventure with Desert Pea Media to collaborate on a music project with the indigenous youth of Wilcannia. Setting up a studio to record on the road, we needed to run microphones, computers, interface, charge multiple cameras, speakers, batteries, UV lights, fans, the fridge and it continuously produced clean current with no signal interference and without overheating or making annoying noises. It is ridiculously easy to set up to the secondary battery, taking all the stress out of any mishaps we may of had whilst being on the set of production. We also trialed the REDARC remote which can conveniently turn the inverter on and off from a distance of over 7 metres.

Specifications

In saying all of this, it should run without a blink. It comes at a price I would balk at, a cool $2k. Make no mistake though, this inverter will get you the power you need, when you need it. We ran multiple appliances and not once did the secondary cooling fan kick in, it can run at a higher performance level, for longer. Question is, what do you need on the road? 

After arriving back to our destination we set up the projector, sipped on hot chocys, nibbled popcorn and lay under the stars watching Stranger Things.

Under Wollumbin Northern NSW watching Stranger Things.

Under Wollumbin Northern NSW watching Stranger Things.

REDARC is above and beyond when it comes to quality. I have had a REDARC smart start SBI 12V isolator for the past 18 months while living on the road. It is automatic and switches on when the van is running, no manual manipulation and never once has it faulted. REDARC is a brand for those that are serious about living and working on the road. I honestly cannot recommend them enough. We will be fitting out plenty of vans with their goods. If you are planning your fitout or dreaming of your next mobile home REDARC goods can be sourced in Australia and through out Europe. International postage to other continents is also available.

 Pros - 2 year product warranty   

          - Slimline red covering

          - Multi levels of protection (so bozos don’t blow it out)

          - You can take your clothes dryer and microwave with you.

          - Consistent 240V 24/7

Cons  - Over efficient

          - Cannot run a 1980’s welder. 

Choosing an inverter can be confusing, choosing one that suits your needs, will take the load off your mind and keep you doing what you love to do. Put your money in the hands of brands that build respect.

REDARC 2000W INVERTER = 5 STARS

 

Brand Review

Jared Melrose Campbell

@youandiandthesky @vanlifediaries

www.vanlife.com.au

 

Driving home from Wilcannia with Desert Pea Media after another successful project. Thanks REDARC 

Driving home from Wilcannia with Desert Pea Media after another successful project. Thanks REDARC 

Suaoki Clover Foldable Lantern

Have you ever been in a dark place with no electricity, trying to juggle holding your phone as a flashlight to read something? Usually I smack myself in the face. I knew I wanted something for vanlife that could act as my phone’s flashlight without worrying about draining the battery or recharging it daily.

When I saw the Suaoki Clover Foldable Lantern, I was intrigued.

Pros

Living in different tiny homes has proved that we need gear that’s compact, functional and energy efficient. The Suaoki Clover Foldable Lantern has all these things.

The first thing that drew us to the lantern was that it’s small (about 2.5 x 6 inches when closed) and weighs less than half a pound. But I also like that it can get big when you need it to. Keep it closed when you need light to shine in one direction and expand its three blades when you want to disperse light thoroughly.

It has three different settings that allow you to go from low-brightness to high-brightness to flashing. It also comes with a hook at the top that allows you to fasten it to the top of your van, tent or anything high up, maybe even a tree.

Leave it out in the sun for just an hour and you will be able to use your lantern for half an hour, but with a full charge, it can last up to four hours. It also charges with a USB to a computer so that you can charge it when you do have electricity.

For its low cost ($28.99), this lantern gives us everything we need for nighttime reading or games.

Cons

We don’t use the flashing setting, but we appreciate it being an option in case we ever decide to need it. We’d also like to see a future version that might be able to charge our other devices, such as our phones.