It's extremely easy to over complicate things when it comes to your vehicle setup and surprisingly hard to know what's unnecessary on a long journey. We recently sat down and asked a man that needs no introduction for some of his top tips & lessons learnt on keeping things simple. Sivan Heyns (or as you may know him, @themighty60) definitely doesn't have a rig many of us would call "simple", however, you only learn by doing, and what better person to talk to than someone who has built a truck from the ground up and learnt some good lessons along the way. This is what he had to say:
Ironically, it may seem simple, but in today’s day and age the over landing/adventuring industry is packed with countless amounts of different products to fit out your vehicle or camper out with. More options doesn't directly translate to simplicity or keeping things easy. So heres some things I think it's important to keep in mind when planning out your vehicle and gear.
Selecting your Vehicle.
When it comes to vehicle selection it’s all based on personal preference, but one thing to keep in mind is consider getting something with plenty of available parts. There's nothing worse than fearing your vehicle breaking, because you chose something that parts are impossible to source, or overly complex to work on. Here in Australian, and I'm sure it's that same with you Kiwi's, is that something with a diesel engine is almost essential. They can be cheaper to run, easier to fix and perfectly suited to getting you deep into places others can't go.
Personally I decided to build a 60 Series Landcruiser, as I wanted something that had that Wagon shape & space but also eye catching/unique at the same time. Selecting your type of rig will also heavily influence other factors, like storage. For example a wagon like mine, can require a very different setup when it comes to storage when compared to a double cab ute.
As most will know storage plays a huge role in over landing and a simple well organised storage setup makes all the difference! For me, it was essential that I maximised this when it came to building my four-wheel drive, especially with it being a wagon. There’s so many small DIY Modifications you can do to maximise space, and I decided to come up with a few ideas when I built mine. From using rear-drawer wing storage to house Amplifiers, 12V Systems & Batteries, to taking advantage of the barn doors to house a Spice/Cutlery Rack & a Drop Down Table. There’s an endless amount of creativity you can add to a vehicle and those are just a few I’ve used to help out my storage & accessibility. My best advice would be to start simple, and learn as you go. You'll quickly discover the things you use, and the things you don't and you can build a storage system around that to suit.
When it comes to camping no body looks forward to setup a tent or taking hours to get everything ready so that they can finally relax. Companies in the industry are constantly working towards making the setup/pack down simpler and quicker. As my setup grew I opted for the rooftop tent route and I already knew I wanted a Feldon Shelter’s Crow's Nest. I needed something cleverly simple, well built, would last & was ergonomic; it ticked all the boxes. A roof tent's advantages aren’t just about sleeping arrangements though, its things like the shelter it creates underneath that has a huge effect on your usable living area when setup for camp.
The rear of the 60 has been fully set up as the kitchen/pantry, with the drawers housing fruit/veggies, cooking ingredients, snacks and all food related items in neat, practical storage cubes. The pantry on the left hand side holds spices & necessary cutlery and accessories, while the right hand side barn door acts as a quick drop down table with the cooker stored inside. Having a fridge on the drop down tilt slide works great for additional space and ease of pulling the fridge up and down.
As I said early, your setup will evolve the more you get out and use it, so don't rush into the idea that you have to have it all!
So after some recent work my vehicle set up was looking better than ever so I set off on a road trip for 2 weeks to test it all out.
It was a bigger trip compared to the rest we’ve done throughout the year so myself and a few friends did some pre maintenance (which is always highly recommended). For those that aren’t used to doing this you can start by checking your coolant, other fluid levels, bushings, tyres/pressures & wheel bearings are also another great idea!
I set off for the trip with a close friend of mine and our first stop was to visit the town of Bremer Bay, in the southern region of Western Australia. It was a very busy time of year so we were solely relying on free camping our way through the entire trip. Free camping is of course cheaper, but also enables you to find some very unique & quiet locations. So if you don’t often free camp I would highly recommend it as long as you know where you are allowed to go!
Beach camping was what most of our trip consisted of and we managed to change location every day to make the most of our time away from the city. With gorgeous blue water and exceptional white sand, beach camping never got tiring; even though the sand does tend to get everywhere. Lucky for me I had the Crow's Nest on this time around, so at least I wasn’t sleeping on it too.
After staying at a few stunning spots down in Bremer Bay we ventured up the coast stopping in Albany, Denmark & a few more local towns to see the sights. Our next major stop was Pemberton, an inland town on our route home where we were met with some great 4wding & stunning forests. By this stage I was in love with the new setup, we were pulling up to a few campsites late at night and having the rear of the vehicle setup with everything accessible means we could fully set up the kitchen & bedroom in a matter of minutes.
On for the homestretch of our trip we landed yet again in the Margaret River region in search for some waves, and waves we found! Although we didn’t stay long the waves & coast in that region stood out amongst the rest. We moved along as free camping wasn’t permitted in most of the region and decided to stay at one of the lakes just before we hit the city traffic again.
Another great trip down into the memory bank and the next trip had already started being planned as we made it back to our home in Perth. I was extremely pleased with the setup I had developed in the car; 50L of fridge space, an easily accessible kitchen, a great 12V system to power the camera’s & of course a super comfy, rugged rooftop tent to seal the deal. Adventuring never needs to be overcomplicated, sometimes you’ve just got to keep it simple and simplicity is best.