Santa Barbara, Penasco NM 2007

01 Jun 2007 - 03 Jun 2007

The second voyage for our new popup on a totally dry camp (no power or water hookups). I was pretty excited about this trip as we were not only going to spend it with some good friends, but I was also going to get a really good taste of total dry camping and how everything would hold out.

During dry camping here's what you have to worry about.

Battery - This runs your interior lighting, water pump, and most importantly the fan on the propane heater. The lighting isn't a big deal because you've always got flashlights and would be like tent camping. Losing the water pump means all your stored water is now inaccessible for showers, drinking, washing dishes etc. I always bring bottled water so it wouldn't be a big deal, but it would certainly be inconvenient. Losing the propane heater can be a big problem. Now, the heater itself is propane, but the fan that moves the heat out into the popup runs off the battery. When you tent camp you have sleeping bags that are hopefully rated for the weather you're camping in. In a popup you typically have sheets and blankets. It's always a good idea to pack extra blankets just in case you can't use the heater.

Propane - Without propane, you can't run your heater, fridge, stove, grill, or hot water heater. Technically you could switch your fridge over to battery, but then you have to really keep an eye on your battery. I always bring a monster cooler with us for food and drinks because the 1.9cu foot fridge just isn't all that big anyways.

Freshwater - Most popups come with a 20 gallon freshwater tank. If you don't have an alternate source of water (like bottled water) then this could be a big problem. You could forego the showers, but having water to drink, brush your teeth, clean dishes and cook with is important.

So how did everything do? Well, the battery (which was my primary concern) was down to 12.26v on Sat evening which is about 65% charge left. I forgot to check it again Sun morning though. My guess would have been right around 12v, but I don't know for sure. While we were conservative on power usage, we didn't scrooge on it either. We didn't leave lights on when we weren't inside, and we used the 921 bulb (1 Amp) over our bed to read by for about 30 mins before going to sleep. The water pump ran when it needed to and we used the heater both nights. More so on Fri night as it was in the 50s. Sat night was in the 60s so we didn't use the heater a whole lot. Where we did have a problem was that our 20 gallon freshwater storage was gone by Sat afternoon. That was after only one shower (Rachel), washing dishes, brushing teeth etc. I wasn't even that concerned with the water supply, but it went a lot quicker than I had thought it would. 20 gallons is nothing. I'm going to pick up a five gallon gascan and mark it for water because the closest water spigot was too far for the freshwater hose to reach so I was using a 2 gallon container to shuttle water back and forth to refill the tank.

Even running out of water, I consider the dry camping experience a success. I even set up the toilet which we used at night. It worked great and my wife who wasn't all that keen about having a toilet in the popup totally changed her mind when she didn't have to trek out to the potrapotty in 50 degree temperatures in the middle of the night. The 36 LED arrays in the two light fixtures in the back were good. They weren't as bright as the two 921 bulbs, but they provided sufficient light to read by at the dinette. The power savings are enormous though. I could run a total of six 36 LED arrays (two per fixture) for less than I could run a single fixture with a 921 bulb that came stock from the factory (738mA for six LEDs vs. 1A for one 921 bulb).

Santa Barbara Campground (upper lots): N36 05.181 W105 36.542

Trail Head: N36 05.065 W105 36.557

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