By Guest Blogger Colin Boyd of Afuera Vida
While every van dwellers’ home is unique, we all suffer the same challenges found in a nomadic lifestyle. A few that come to mind are - illumination, keeping our home strapped/tied down for bumpy drives, and keeping our kit organized. When planning to write a guest blog for Nite Ize I simply began looking around our 1978 Mercedes 508D converted fire truck for inspiration and realized that Nite Ize was quietly sitting in the background, providing us with greater ease with smart and effective solutions for the van dweller. So for those of you looking to increase your satisfaction with van life or wondering what application one of these nifty products may be used for, here is a list of our top six products in no specific order.
This smart and user-friendly collar constantly saves our butts. When we pull over in any new spot, we are comfortable letting our dog Lola hop out and do her business knowing if there’s leash laws or other dogs passing by, we’ve got her covered. I can’t tell you the number of times we couldn’t find a leash, but the collar was already on - letting us go ahead without searching every corner for it. Hands down, if you own a dog that behaves just as well on or off leash, you need this product.
Over the past year we’ve covered over 18,000 miles in every corner of the states and we love to take our young family out on adventures when and wherever we can. With two toddlers - both of which who typically need a lift on any walk over an hour - we have little space for extras and Lola (our dog) is usually left to finding her own water or slurping out of a water bottle and my hand with most landing on the ground. The packable dog bowl is lighter than a toothbrush and literally takes up less space than one. It has kept Lola charging longer and makes it way easier to keep her happy on the trail.
When your family of four lives in less than 120 square feet, any light can affect bedtime routines and early mornings. With three dim settings, a handy clip, and a USB charge port out, the lantern is a swiss army knife for the van and mobile charging. I’ve found myself packing this during the day if we need extra cell phone juice and also having enough light to read bedtime stories at night. Since it’s lightweight and super durable, we often use it out of the van to light up our camp for the night and give it to the kids to play with.
The Nite Ize Gear Tie is quite possibly the most useful item in our gear kit. I have this holding bananas and books in place, my shower nozzle on, organizing my electric cords, and strapping our backpack guitar to the ceiling. In some of these instances rope may work, but with the simple twist and the guaranteed hold up over time, I’d find myself reaching for a Gear Tie over rope in many low consequence circumstances.
Light is so critical and I never know when I will need it most. It could be a break down at night, taking our oldest out for a pee in the middle of the night or heading out on a backpacking or biking adventure. In any case, a Radiant 300 Rechargeable Headlamp is always close by and since I have USB ports all over the van, recharging is easy ensuring I’m all set for the next night.
I retired my Maglite after firing up the INOVA T8R PowerSwitch Rechargeable Flashlight. Bringing 762 lumens to the dark sky in a pocket sized light, this beast is my new best friend. Just the other night, we found ourselves (typically) arriving at our planned destination well after dark. The dirt road deteriorated quickly and we were entering what appeared like rock crawling terrain in the desert. With the high beams on, there still wasn’t enough light to assess if we’d be able to get out if we drop any further along the single lane track. With the INOVA T8R in hand, I tripled my vision out the window and on further inspection by foot scouted the rest of the track and the campsite from over 300 yards away. In the past, I would have likely opted for the safe route and just shut it down before getting myself too deep up the creek without a paddle. With the INOVA T8R I feel so much more confident showing up to difficult boondocking sites at night.
As a practicing minimalist, I am very picky about what makes it into my space, and all of these truly have saved me time and energy over the course of the past few months. Literally from the moment I received a grip of Gear Ties, they went to use and the Steelie is literally my steadfast driving companion in any driving situation. If you are a van lifer or are looking to buy something for one close to you, consider any of our top choices as none will sit idly in a cabinet as the utility for the van life application is the perfect fit.