Callen here: So You Want a Mobile Basecamp?

My first taste of simplified materialistic living began one fateful fall semester at yours truly, The University of Texas at Austin. I had missed the memo that everyone leaves the on-campus dorm system after freshman year and by the end of my second year in the dorms I knew it was time for a change. I felt like I needed to make up for the lack of “college-house-life” I’d heard tales of, so I figured nomadically limping from house to house staying a week or so at each collective man cave would quickly make up for lost time during my sophomore year. What I discovered was quite incredible.

Less is More:

Western culture preaches that more is more, but I feel most of us can relate that such a sermon is unwarranted on moving day. You know, when you are super stoked to move to a new apartment or home and then are met with a staggering amount of junk you gotta ghetto-pack into the car(s) and pile into trailers. Anyways, I didn’t buy the more is more approach and opted for a simpler way of life (at least in the material sense). So that’s how it went down, I lived at 20+ locations over the course of 3 semesters, hung out with bros and felt a part of an expansive community, all from materials I could carry in one load from my car to a backyard, deck, or harry potter-style closet. Some days felt homeless no doubt; when the tent’s leaking, you’re locked out of the house and you brush your teeth from the water hose, but the simplicity of “less is more” fascinated me nonetheless. 4 years later, Abbi and I have decided to “less is more” together. 

The Mobile Rig:

College life was easy from a gear perspective requiring a computer, a bed (or cot in my case) and a tent ($10 Goodwill Junker…). Traveling fulltime as a married couple with cute dog, operating as professional photographers, and pretending to be adventurers will look a bit different and my old tent is an un-great solution. Thanks to craigslist, the world is our marketplace and after months of trolling classifieds nationwide I spied a gem in Denver, CO during our last trip. It was on our route and the price was right, so we scored this swiss army knife of a trailer/camper and couldn’t be more stoked. Here are some specs that helped seal the deal on this 2007 from LetsGoAero:

  • 500 lbs dry weight
  • 1,000 lbs cargo capacity
  • 50 lb tongue weight (take it off hitch and roll it by hand into camp)
  • full size bed
  • 42 cubic feet of storage under bed

It reminds me of my cot back in the day. Sleep on top, store backpack and clothes under. The Gear Wagon is just the family version. Makes total sense guys…

Things Considered in Our Quest for Mobile Basecamp:

  • Base Vehicle, ie. Live in a van or tow a living space independent from vehicle
  • Fuel Economy: our Subaru Outback 2.5i towing the gear wagon gets 22.5mpg, and allows us to disconnect the camper 
  • Storage Systems: basically we wanted a solution that wouldn’t require moving gear to go to bed each night (I highly recommend avoiding the daily transformer approach for the sake of long-term morale) 
  • Stealth Camp-ability: will we be able to ghetto camp in semi-residential areas when we don’t wanna drive out to public lands? Gear Wagon, Yes…
  • Amenities: less is more was our motto, so we basically have zero amenities. 
  • Upkeep: with amenities comes the breakdown of amenities, the gear wagon has very few technical components and will require minimal upkeep. Yay. 
  • Cost: At $2,400, there are definitely better solutions out there, but I’d be surprised to find something with the same offerings at a lower price.

Bottom line, we bought a bed and accompanying storage to drag our gear and business around Spaceship Earth with us. We bought Basecamp Mobile.

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