Kitchen and Domestic

Solar panel

I am no expert on solar but ​​ Wind&Sun  are, so that's who we got our complete set up from.  The Sunsaver control unit comes with a display that tells you some stats, some I do find very useful some I don't. The most draw from the solar panel we have had on our trip is 6.5 amp. Im not sure if this is very good but we only run the fridge and charge a few things via USB so it is more than enough for us. The long cable we need to be able to remove the panel to chase the sun might mean that we loose some amps. The set up we have has been faultless so far and we can stay static for over 5 days in one camp location if the weather is good.

Vikram panel (£95) , Sunsaver duo control unit (£130)

Our solar set up consist of a 100w Vikram ridged solar panel that we have attached to the roof tent with ratchet straps so it can be removed and repositioned when in a camp location without moving the car. I also opted for this idea as I wasn't to happy about drilling the fibreglass of the roof tent to bolt it down. The panel is still in perfect condition and has been tested on some very rough roads and tracks. Being a ridged panel it is far more efficient than a flexible panel and it is very strong. I'm not sure you need a flexible panel if you are going to mount it to the roof permanently. I believe these panels are used on boats and yatchs so they are tough.  

We use a Sunsaver duo control unit that runs and optimises the charge coming from the solar panel and directs it to the batteries and prevents overcharging etc. You plug it in and forget about it to be honest, it's a good system. It is also easy to fit and set up with good instructions. I have set the solar charge to go 90% to the auxiliary and 10% to the starter battery this can be tailored to your requirements. 

Uses: Constantly

Fridge

Engel MR040  (approx £600)
Weight: 22kg
Dimensions 63.5 x 39.4 x 47 cm

The Engle 40l 12v fridge has been a great addition to our kitchen set up providing plenty of room for fresh food for a duration of around 5 days for 2 people eating 3 meals a day with dry food suppliments. However, it cannot sustain me in cold beer for this period! We keep the fridge in the rear of the vehicle as it is quite a large unit. It is extremely efficient using only 2.5 Amps on average. It can be switch to freezer if needed, however, we have not used this function. You can take the whole fridge apart with a Phillips screw driver and normal socket set. I had to take it apart to repair the fuse holder and replace the fuse. This was a simple job requiring no special tools. 

The fridge did run a little noisy when contaminated with dust from the roads. The Land Rover rear door seal does let dust in quite a bit. After a blow with an air line, it resumed its normal quiet nature. Cleaning is relatively straight forward with the removable basket. It can also be plugged into 110v/240v plug socket. The fridge has been very good so far and the size is perfect for our needs. It's not cheap, but it has not had a break for 7 months over some very bumpy, dusty, hot roads.

Uses: Every day

Cooker - Jetboil

Jetboil flash
Price: approx £100  Weight: 0.4kg

The jetboil was first issued to me from the military and after extensive use in all manner of situations I knew it would be a valued member of the team. Upon leaving the military unfortunately I had to hand mine back in but went out and purchased one. We have used it most day to make our morning coffee and tea. I'm not sure if there is a quicker way of boiling water on the road - just 2 minutes for 1 litre. It also acts as a spare cooker if the Coleman has any issues or lack of fuel for whatever reason. It's  handy for making quick meals that require water or just heating up. Be warned, it will burn your leftovers. A 450g screw on canister of gas was lasting approximately 1 month of 1 use per day to boil 750ml of water. As it is a screw on, it can be removed for storage. The cooker worked amazingly well at 5,300m at Everest base camp, outperforming the Coleman as long as the gas doesn't get too cold. It weighs little and the pack size is small for vehicle based travel. Go for the Flash model and not the Zip as it is a little larger and has an in-built igniter. There has been no issues to date with the Jetboil.

Uses: Everyday when camping

Cooker - Coleman

RRP: £179.99               
Dimensions: 20.1 x 12.9 x 6.6 inches
Weight: 11.4 pounds

The Coleman dual fuel stove gives us the ability to cook on two burners at the same time. We have subsequently found most decent meal require both burners. It runs on unleaded fuel that is available everywhere. The stove is relatively easy to light but there is a bit of a knack to it.

When cooking for a long time, it does require some pumping to maintain pressure and cooking heat. One full tank last approximately 3-4 days of cooking, depending on what we cook. We carry a 5L Jerry can for the fuel and fill this about once every 2 months. Make sure to oil the leather cup inside the pump through the oil hole if the pressure does not build up when pumped (you should use light machine oil but we just used the transfer box oil we had to hand).

The cooker is not the easiest to clean and little and often is the best approach. The burners can be taken apart for a proper clean . The cooker did struggle to light at an altitude of 4,000m plus but apart from this we have had no issues. The build quality is very high especially at £100 price tag (The RRP is higher but we got a good deal). We have dropped the cooker from a height of over 1.5m with no effect to the performance but we don't recommend doing this.

Uses: Everyday when camping

BBQ Grill

£80

This big grill will cater for up to 6 people no problem. After some research this was purchased in Australia and then bought to the UK via a friend returning home to save on the tax and postage similar to our Zippo axe. It goes on the spare wheel so takes up no extra room. It is fully adjustable and fits our 265/75/16 BFG tyres no problem. The grill does get greasy but we never clean it. We have used this grill at least 15 times on our trip to date and we really like it. There are a few on the market and I'm not sure ours is any better or worse. We chose this particular grill because it looks very robust. Due the way we store the grill a hole has warn through the centre of the grill itself but this is our fault and due to our unique solution in storing it on the roof spare wheel as the rear wheel is occupied by the Trasharoo. We also cook with pots and pans on it and it is very sturdy, I'm sure it would hold half a cow.

Uses: 15+ 

Trasharoo

Trasharoo
Item weight: 3.1 pounds
Product dimensions: 17.2 x 13.7 x 2.1 inches

Mainly used for rubbish but also good for firewood or charcoal so anything dirty you don't want in the car. We also use it to store our petrol Jerry can for cooking fuel. The only problem is that it can get quite dirty and you will get dirty when you reach in to get stuff out. We just wash it out with a hose from time to time as is has drain holes for this purpose. The bag itself is made of a very robust material that provides some waterproofing from rain and river crossings etc. But it's not fully water proof as there are drain holes. It has a zip pocket on the top lid and mesh pockets around its base for dirty shoes of wet swimwear for example. It's also a great place to store recovery gear when off roading, providing easy access for a rear vehicle etc. A couple of plastic clips that keep the straps tidy have snapped and the bag has faded somewhat, these are the very slight issues of continued use. We bought the bag off eBay for about £60 + import tax. 

Uses: Everyday when in the car or camping

Chairs

Oztent King Kakoda ​​​
Packed Dimensions: 95 x 30 x 20cm
Weight: 8kg
Price: £95 eac
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They are expensive for a chair and we chose them on the grounds that the way they pack was perfect for where we wanted to store them and the fact it's a larger comfortable chair with hard metal arms which then makes it easy for eating at the table with. The chairs are very comfortable and we did try before we bought. There is adjustable lumbar support that is a great feature. So far, there has been no issues with build quality. The bags are showing signs of wear due to vibration on the road where they have rubbed on the netting we use to store them.  You can store the bags in the head of the chair to create a cushioned head rest but if you are short like Me-An it might not always be comfortable to have the headrest so high. These chairs are our sofa and dinning chairs so we thought it was important to find the pefect combination but this comes at a price. We were able to get a good deal by buying 2 at an overland show. 

In the tropics, they have started to rust slightly on the steel leg poles. I've oiled them and will keep an eye on it. Find out how they get on in the next review at the trips end.

Uses: Everyday when camping

Table

Quest - Adjustable Aluminium Lightweight Slatted Folding Table Portable Camping
£49.99
Table Size: 53 x 90 cm
Table height 45-75cm
Packaway size 10 x 20 x 90cm
Weight 3.9kg

We have a collapsible table with adjustable legs. The reason we chose this particular table is because the way it packs down, we can store it in the same netting system as our chairs. The aluminium table top means that we can put hot pans directly on to the table without worrying about it burning. The adjustable legs have also been useful as we don't always have even ground to put the table on. We often have the table lower i.e. coffee table height for when we are having drinks etc and then full height when we are eating. The table does get marked quite easily but is quite easy to clean for general dirt and grime. The build quality is quite good and it is still going strong after 7 months of use. This table is good value compared to other camping tables.
 

Uses: Everyday when camping

Drinking bottle

Camelback drinking bottle 750ml
Price: £18

We use this every day we are in the car, we chose this size as it fits in our cup holders (Not as easy to find as you may think). As we have a 40l drinking water tank we need to have a bottle to drink out of. We chose this bottle because of the straw. It means that when driving you don't have to open a lid and you don't have to tip the bottle up and potentially take your eyes of the road. We love it and if it breaks we will buy a new one. There are signs of wear on the bottle, scratches etc but everything is working fine. You can disassemble the straw for cleaning and this must be done regularly however it is a little tricky to clean the rubber bite valve and we use cotton buds for this. I think it is possible to buy spares.  

Uses: Everyday

Washing up bowl

Ortlieb folding bowl 10L

This bowl has been amazing. We use it for washing the dishes and collecting water from a nearby source and then filtering from it. We wash our clothes in it and wash ourselves with it. It folds down very small. It is incredibly robust and perfect for our needs. The size is adequate for what we use it for. I first used Ortielib in the military and their product are of the highest quality. They pride themselves in making top quality waterproof products such as map cases, hard wearing waterproof bags, water carrying bags. These are the product that I have personally used and owned and I'm sure they make many more top quality products.

Uses: Everyday showering, washing clothes, washing food, washing pots, carrying things.

Water bag

Ortlieb water carrier 10L

Another Ortielib product that is fit for purpose. Our Kytadine water purifier fits on the threads of the hole of the bag aiding in filtering straight into the bag. We manly use this bag for grey/non potable water for washing up and showering etc. If you do use it for drinking water, pleae be aware that storing the water there for any length of time does leave the taste in the water. The build quality is high and the plastic screw on cap and nozzle work well. The two handles with male and female clips help with carrying  and securing the bag to the vehicle when driving and to hang the bag in many different configurations for showering/washing up. It is perfect for our needs.

Uses: Everyday when camping

Water filter

Katadyn Vario (£60)

The flow rate of 2 litres per minute is very good and I believe it's one of the quickest for its size using both up and down strokes to purify the water. The unit is possibly a little large for backpacking but perfect for car overland travel. You have two options of flow rate, one is faster only passing through 2 of the 3 filters used for cleaner fast flowing water and the second is slower passing through all the filters including the ceramic pre filter, used for stagnant water. We used the pump in some very dirty water on one occasion and it did clog up very quickly. We soon learned that you must let any sediment in the water sink to the bottom of a container before attempting to filter it (we used the Ortlieb washing up bowl for this). Once we did this is worked well. There is no taste added to the water from this system. However we stored the pump in a box with washing powder. The powder never spilt on the filter but the smell and taste impregnated the filter. We then had to clean the filter as recommend with bleach and had to run a lot of water through it to get rid of the taste of the washing powder. So don't store the filter with anything smelly. The filter is very easy to use and clean and is still in perfect working order.

Uses: twice a month on average

Toilet

Reliance toilet stool  and disposable toilet bags

We purchased this from the US as it was a third of the price as what we would have to pay in the UK. Early in the trip, we used it quite a lot but for the past 4 months we haven't use it and prefer to just dig a hole. In emergencies, we have special toilet bags that we can use. They are called John bags and if there is no other option than to use the toilet tent or go inside the car these are great for number ones and twos. They have dried crystals that soak up most of the liquid and are totally sealable so they can just be thrown in a bin. We use them in military and that was where I got the idea from. The toilet stool does double as a camp stool if needed as it has a cover that goes over the top of stool covering the hole. Good for guest when they arrive. The build quality is poor however with the stitching coming apart after only a handful of uses. It does pack quite small. But I think having the John bags as an emergency measure is adequate and if needed you can just hold the bag and do your thing. So we might be sending the stool home.

Me-An also took a SheWee so you don't have to wee sitting down. This was used once and that was only because Me-An felt she needed to use it. It does require a lot of practice to use it without spillage. 

Uses: less than 10 times

Washing line

Bungee cord

We use a 2 meter piece of bungy cord with two large carabeeners attached at either end. It's incredibly versatile as we use it the car to dry cloths when needed stretching it between the roof grab handles. We twist/ravel it up in to twists and poke the cloths through the gaps to secure them. When we use it outside, from the car to a fence or between two trees we use Me-ans what I think is a genesis solution and thread the line through the cloths using the arms off a tea shirt or the leg of some shorts for example. This way no amount of wind will ever blow the cloths off. You can move the line into the sun or into the car with out taking the cloths off.

Uses: 30+