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Maximising external storage for roadtrips

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paul_f

Messages
131
Location
Kent
Vehicle
T6 Beach 150
I also say ditch the 5th seat. Put the older child in the front seat and the Mrs on the bench with the toddler.
This is a great idea. We did this with our Splitscreen camper without our walkthrough.and my children (7&9) often talk about the great trips when they got to sit in the front!
They still prefer the Beach though as they have their own sleeping area!
 
CamperFam

CamperFam

VIP Member
Messages
135
Location
Colchester
Vehicle
T6 Ocean 199
This is a great idea. We did this with our Splitscreen camper without our walkthrough.and my children (7&9) often talk about the great trips when they got to sit in the front!
They still prefer the Beach though as they have their own sleeping area!
I would, but our seat's an IsoFix, and i'm not keen on using seatbelt only when IsoFix is available. Eventually we will for sure - but not until older.
 
Azteccamper

Azteccamper

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Messages
365
Location
Swansea Valley.
Vehicle
T5 SE 140
Btw...
Awnings, roof covers and external screen covers. Ditch all of them.

The less unnecessary items you take, the more room you have and the easier life is in camping mode.

If you can’t park and set-up camp with 10 minutes.
Then you simply have to much equipment...
How nice to read.
We take as little as we can get away with and to us that is the joy of a camper. Used to take too much when we had a caravan years ago - never again. I am amazed at what people buy and take in/on their vans!
Each to their own tho.

I do like to take my toys tho - Bikes / SUP’s / walking gear. ;)
 
soulstyledevon

soulstyledevon

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Messages
3,701
Vehicle
T6 Ocean 204
How nice to read.
We take as little as we can get away with and to us that is the joy of a camper. Used to take too much when we had a caravan years ago - never again. I am amazed at what people buy and take in/on their vans!
Each to their own tho.

I do like to take my toys tho - Bikes / SUP’s / walking gear. ;)

You gotta take the toys...
Bikes and surfboards are always on my van. It’s usually why we are away.
Boots in the rear wardrobe, ready to go.
:thumb
 
Calimili

Calimili

Messages
662
Location
Lake Starnberg / Frankfurt
Vehicle
T6 Ocean 150 4Motion
Ash , thanks for the response. Extremely useful. Absolutely can appreciate the frustration of loading the fourth bike and needing to get to the boot - one of the 'love to hate' parts of Cali ownership i've found - theres a process flow to everything! :D

Very much looking forward to ditching the child seats - and all the future adventures when theyre that bit older too.

In regards to the softbags, do you pack them away when you arrive, or use them in the awning? Do you ever feel that a hardshell (ie the Thule Backbox, MFT, etc) would have been more valuable/beneficial? As a 'storage box' when camped down in the awning for toys/games/detritus? It's on the pro side of our pro/con list, but it's theory rather than practice!

What's the security like on the softbags?
I‚ve thought of soft bags, waterproof , attached to a tow hitch carrier or the bike carrier. The issue is , you can‘t leave the van unsupervised while enroute. Say you need to go shopping or restaurant, rest area etc. It can be stolen easily. At destination it or its content will have to be placed somewhere when not in use and it won‘t be secure.
A dedicated box instead, can be locked. Locked attached to the van and locked lid. Of course it could be forced open , for the same token a window of the cali could also be smashed with same ease and level of noise.
Hence I am seriously considering ordering one myself. Mainly I wont to store stuff in i5 that i prefer not having in the van. Small gas cartridges, dirty stuff like wet power cable, levelling ramps, flip flops, shoes...
 
A

ash

Messages
4
Vehicle
T5 SE 174
Ash , thanks for the response. Extremely useful. Absolutely can appreciate the frustration of loading the fourth bike and needing to get to the boot - one of the 'love to hate' parts of Cali ownership i've found - theres a process flow to everything! :D

Very much looking forward to ditching the child seats - and all the future adventures when theyre that bit older too.

In regards to the softbags, do you pack them away when you arrive, or use them in the awning? Do you ever feel that a hardshell (ie the Thule Backbox, MFT, etc) would have been more valuable/beneficial? As a 'storage box' when camped down in the awning for toys/games/detritus? It's on the pro side of our pro/con list, but it's theory rather than practice!

What's the security like on the softbags?
Soft bag security not great.
Apologetic padlock which is barely worth using other than as a mild deterrent. It's almost a case of unlocked sends out a message of there being nothing of value in it so the thief walks on by. And if they want to root around cheap camping mats, decathlon buoyancy aids and halfords bike helmets then they're welcome to!

We leave it round the back of the tent full of whatever we're not using and attached to the base plate thing when on a site. Frankly it's as secure in there as it would be in the tent/awning. Yes someone could come along and take the lot which would be a pain but I'm not going to let security start to rule a holiday. Genuine valuables stay in the locked van.

A hard box has two main advantages, greater security and they tend to be bigger. But they're more expensive, more unwieldy in terms of storage, don't flex to accommodate the odd large shape and when full prob can't be lifted onto the rack by one person. It's a really personal choice. I imagine you can pick up a second hand one for say £100 so having both would give a lot of flex (including one on the bike rack and one on the baseplate) but I can already feel the minimalists itching to comment on the amount of superfluous junk youd be carrying! I dream of going light but 3 kids plus outdoor activities means I'm resigned to packing to go to the moon and back for the foreseeable. We have a lot of fun (once packed or unpacked).
 
CamperFam

CamperFam

VIP Member
Messages
135
Location
Colchester
Vehicle
T6 Ocean 199
Soft bag security not great.
Apologetic padlock which is barely worth using other than as a mild deterrent. It's almost a case of unlocked sends out a message of there being nothing of value in it so the thief walks on by. And if they want to root around cheap camping mats, decathlon buoyancy aids and halfords bike helmets then they're welcome to!

We leave it round the back of the tent full of whatever we're not using and attached to the base plate thing when on a site. Frankly it's as secure in there as it would be in the tent/awning. Yes someone could come along and take the lot which would be a pain but I'm not going to let security start to rule a holiday. Genuine valuables stay in the locked van.

A hard box has two main advantages, greater security and they tend to be bigger. But they're more expensive, more unwieldy in terms of storage, don't flex to accommodate the odd large shape and when full prob can't be lifted onto the rack by one person. It's a really personal choice. I imagine you can pick up a second hand one for say £100 so having both would give a lot of flex (including one on the bike rack and one on the baseplate) but I can already feel the minimalists itching to comment on the amount of superfluous junk youd be carrying! I dream of going light but 3 kids plus outdoor activities means I'm resigned to packing to go to the moon and back for the foreseeable. We have a lot of fun (once packed or unpacked).
Really useful and detailed ash. Many thanks for that. Definitely leaning towards hardbox then given yours and Calimili's opinions. I was hesitant at first with the 'faff' of a hardbox, but as soul said - i'm making work for myself in other ways, so whats a bit more eh! :D End of the day, it's only up to the campsite that i'm worried - after that, the plan would be for the box to become a mess trough for boots, outdoor games etc.
 
CamperFam

CamperFam

VIP Member
Messages
135
Location
Colchester
Vehicle
T6 Ocean 199
Brief update for folks who are interested.

Following people's kind input, and the fact that we still want more space/declutter the interior on roadtrips, we've come to the decision that a 'hardbox' is what we're after. Main drivers:
1. Storage - for when on-site for all the mess such as boots, toys, etc.
2. Security - we dont want to constantly worry about external cargo
3. Ease / 1-person capability - having attempted to set up a Vango Galli 3 Low last season and expecting help, it dawned on me that those activities are now solely mine whilst my other half takes on the challenge of entertaining a todder (and our newest) in the meantime. :D

So, of those that didnt make the cut:
1. MFT - absolutely lovely - but too convoluted to order and concerns on any product support/issues. If I could have ordered the black one in the UK easily, i'd have done it straight off. But there are some views that it opens way too easily, even without unlocking.
2. Softbags - as a backup, perhaps. But the constant nagging of security outweighs the convenience.
3. BacRak - the Cali's my pride and joy - and those things are clearly function with no form.
4. Pack lighter - dont be silly - i'm a materialistic millenial - wont do/cant do.

So ultimately, the tossup was between:

1. Thule Backup Box - the original choice....420 litres on a dedicated cargo rack. Hard-shelled and secure, but ultimately takes up a lot of space in the garage. It also cant tilt whilst attached and is a bit cumbersome in general. Overall cost £650.

2. Thule Backspace XT + Velospace XT 3 bikerack. The (soft)hardbox only stores 300 litres, but it's lighter and more easily stored than the Backup Box and less easily cracked/damaged. The rack itself also folds down well, meaning that it can be tucked away easily either on site or at home. In addition, when not used as a cargo rack, it can be used for 3(+1) bikes, up to a total of 60kg. Best of all, it tilts, allowing access to the tailgate. Overall cost £1100.

Though our friends at Amazon, we've now ordered the Thule Backspace XT + VeloSpace XT 3 - albeit for substancially cheaper!

A lightning sale was on today (perfectly timed) which meant we saved a good couple of hundred quid, bringing it down to around £750 for the XT setup. Given the additional versatility (easier bike loading when needed, additional storage, tilt function, overall better quality), we felt it was worth the premium. Should we for some absurd reason need additional storage (soulstyle is having a heartattack right now, eh?) we can always grab a cheap storage bag from Amazon again for the VW bikerack, on the assumption it'll be more difficult to steal/break into it from up high and would be unlikely to be used anyway.

Once the XT setup arrives, we'll trial fit it midday on Tuesday just to make sure it does what we're intending and we'll share a few photos for anyone else interested in the journey.

Thanks again for the feedback guys.

1609969295267.png
 
Calimili

Calimili

Messages
662
Location
Lake Starnberg / Frankfurt
Vehicle
T6 Ocean 150 4Motion
The locking mechanism seems rather weak, in addition to it being a soft/fabric box....
Not sure as i haven't seen it in real, nor have i seen the MFT to be honest..
Looking forward to your review, photos and congrats on the purchase!
 
CamperFam

CamperFam

VIP Member
Messages
135
Location
Colchester
Vehicle
T6 Ocean 199
So both parts arrived yesterday. With the weather, lockdown and a manic couple of days with the dayjob stealing all the daylight, i've yet to fit it. But I wanted to get some initial impressions out there, as I've noticed a number of users looking for similar towbar boxes.

1. The bikerack itself has a fantastic level of quality. You know the kind where you know the accessory/product is built with the job in mind. I'm really keen to get it on and test it out in-situ. Coupled with the build quality is the fact that it aesthetically matches the OEM VW Bikerack. Whilst it's down to the person and their priorities - I do love a bit of consistency!

2. The box - very impressed again. The box itself is a fantastic size, and colapses/folds down into a very small shape. Whilst the footprint is the same, the height drops considerably. In regards to security, concerns should be abated - whilst the locking mechanism isn't overly complex, with dual locks for any would-be thief to faff with, it'll delay them long enough to be noticed either by others or the owner - and arguably take them longer than a Thule Backbox or similar with a single barrell lock.

The latter point being the key (excuse the pun) thing i've come to realise through the hunt; security. In my view, these boxes (no matter what type) are not suitable for those who are wild camping or similar, but for transporting to/from a campsite where you have a little more security and/or situational awareness. If someone is routing around a towbar box in the dead of night whilst you sleep, they'll get in quietly enough and with enough time, regardless of the box.

I'll get some pictures/video up as soon as I can get the time to get it on the back.
 

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Calimili

Calimili

Messages
662
Location
Lake Starnberg / Frankfurt
Vehicle
T6 Ocean 150 4Motion
Let' see when it's up and running on the van. I agree with you on the safety issues, I personally think for my intended use I would rather prefer the mft box as it seems much easier to open/close and lock the lid as opposed to pulling two zippers, velcro the flap lid, and finally secure with the locks in the straps.
But it does fold down nicely.. always a compromise
 
O

orbital

Messages
29
Location
Bristol
Vehicle
T6 Ocean 150
Soft bag security not great.
Apologetic padlock which is barely worth using other than as a mild deterrent. It's almost a case of unlocked sends out a message of there being nothing of value in it so the thief walks on by. And if they want to root around cheap camping mats, decathlon buoyancy aids and halfords bike helmets then they're welcome to!

We leave it round the back of the tent full of whatever we're not using and attached to the base plate thing when on a site. Frankly it's as secure in there as it would be in the tent/awning. Yes someone could come along and take the lot which would be a pain but I'm not going to let security start to rule a holiday. Genuine valuables stay in the locked van.

A hard box has two main advantages, greater security and they tend to be bigger. But they're more expensive, more unwieldy in terms of storage, don't flex to accommodate the odd large shape and when full prob can't be lifted onto the rack by one person. It's a really personal choice. I imagine you can pick up a second hand one for say £100 so having both would give a lot of flex (including one on the bike rack and one on the baseplate) but I can already feel the minimalists itching to comment on the amount of superfluous junk youd be carrying! I dream of going light but 3 kids plus outdoor activities means I'm resigned to packing to go to the moon and back for the foreseeable. We have a lot of fun (once packed or unpacked).
It might be more secure than you think. I rode motorbikes for many years and used soft luggage that was often left unattended because I had no choice. I never had anything stolen - possibly because they assumed there was nothing worth nicking. I think that’s always the trick - security through obscurity.
 
CamperFam

CamperFam

VIP Member
Messages
135
Location
Colchester
Vehicle
T6 Ocean 199
Images attached for all those curious.

Notes:
1. Rock solid. A small twist-knob allows you to fettle the grip to ensure the clamp fully engages with no slide tolerance.
2. Likewise in regards to quality, the tilt function is superb. There's no play and no 'fragility' with it as it comes down. It does however need to have it's catch-cord extended to the furthest pin to allow clearance of the tailgate. (picture of the clearance included)
3. The box itself fits JUST. The box does touch the upper bikerack, but with properly loaded weight, there should be minimal friction. May invest in some form of protection buffer just incase of any fabric wear to the box.
4. Much like everything 'Cali', there is a process to it. The bikerack goes on, then the box is put on empty, and folded up whilst in situ, ideally with the top rack empty to begin with (to assemble the box). Otherwise you have to contort under the rack to affix some bits, and the zip direction is difficult when doing up and the rack in the way.
5. Equally, it's not easy to open the box with the top rack down. To open, it's best to slide the towrack forwards first.
6. Because of all of the above, it's also even more secure.

Overall, i'm impressed. A few elements where it could be better, but theyre minor 'Cali' process annoyances more than any failings of the product. For what its meant to do and how it does them, i'm happy as larry.

Also, my towbar has been christened. Huzzah.

The cherry on top - all of the neighbours looking out the window, assumpoing we were heading off on some adventure. Might refit it tomorrow for giggles.
 

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Calimili

Calimili

Messages
662
Location
Lake Starnberg / Frankfurt
Vehicle
T6 Ocean 150 4Motion
Thank you! Do you have the factory fitted detachable tow bar ? Or was it installed after?
How bad is it to open and close the box with bikes on the tailgate bike rack , i.e. with the bike rack above fully down?
 
CamperFam

CamperFam

VIP Member
Messages
135
Location
Colchester
Vehicle
T6 Ocean 199
Thank you! Do you have the factory fitted detachable tow bar ? Or was it installed after?
How bad is it to open and close the box with bikes on the tailgate bike rack , i.e. with the bike rack above fully down?
Factory fitted detachable towbar.

I haven't tried with the bikes on the back, but to be fair - I wouldn't normally entertain the idea anyway, out of a risk/concern of fowling the roof with handlebars etc.

With that said, the box tilts all the way forward so that the boot can open without restriction - at which point, it's just the same as any other tailgate bikerack with bikes on.
 
Calimili

Calimili

Messages
662
Location
Lake Starnberg / Frankfurt
Vehicle
T6 Ocean 150 4Motion
Factory fitted detachable towbar.

I haven't tried with the bikes on the back, but to be fair - I wouldn't normally entertain the idea anyway, out of a risk/concern of fowling the roof with handlebars etc.

With that said, the box tilts all the way forward so that the boot can open without restriction - at which point, it's just the same as any other tailgate bikerack with bikes on.
I was just thinking of the scenario in a campsite, and the reason why I would consider a box on the towbar : if I am leaving in the morning, I would try to pack everything already the evening before. That would include putting already the bikes on the tailgate rack. In the morning of the departure I would put all the remaining bits of gear that go in last, like ramps, cables, external stove etc in the box. Therefore I need to be able to open and close the box when the bikes are already mounted on the rack above..
 
kurienp

kurienp

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Messages
1,272
Location
Newbury, Berkshire, UK
Vehicle
T6 Ocean 204 4Motion
Therefore I need to be able to open and close the box when the bikes are already mounted on the rack above..
The box lid opens up. Can interfere with the rack. With the box, higher chance of wasted space up top in the lid.

The Backspace XT lid zips out front. That is the advantage of the XT. Also, you can load the XT with the zip partially open, maximising space used.
 
CamperFam

CamperFam

VIP Member
Messages
135
Location
Colchester
Vehicle
T6 Ocean 199
I was just thinking of the scenario in a campsite, and the reason why I would consider a box on the towbar : if I am leaving in the morning, I would try to pack everything already the evening before. That would include putting already the bikes on the tailgate rack. In the morning of the departure I would put all the remaining bits of gear that go in last, like ramps, cables, external stove etc in the box. Therefore I need to be able to open and close the box when the bikes are already mounted on the rack above..
Hmm - I agree in logic in part.

However to be fair, when packing up we make heavy use of the rear of the van and we wouldn't be entertaining the idea of the box/rack being in the way during packing, even if it is tilted forwards. It's still slapbang in the middle of the loading space. It's fine for tilting if you 'forgot something' or need access for XYZ reason. But it's quick enough to setup and light enough to lift that we wouldn't worry about it going on the night before.

The issue is solely on whether the bikes are loaded the night before or not, which in my mind is simply a case of 'cali process' and whatever suits you best. For us, we'd happily entertain the idea of doing them last, as when the kids are older, they'll likely be on said-bikes whilst we battle the driveaway awning etc.
 
Calimili

Calimili

Messages
662
Location
Lake Starnberg / Frankfurt
Vehicle
T6 Ocean 150 4Motion
The box lid opens up. Can interfere with the rack. With the box, higher chance of wasted space up top in the lid.

The Backspace XT lid zips out front. That is the advantage of the XT. Also, you can load the XT with the zip partially open, maximising space used.
On your first sentence, are you referring to the mft box ? If so, yes, the lid opens but doesn't interfere with the rack and you are correct, being a rigid box youmay not fully use the space.

The XT has zips on the front, but to close it you have to fold a flap at the top and then pull down the cover, attaching and locking it with the straps. It's because of that flap that I am not sure if it can be closed with the tailgate rack down...

Look at min 1:05 :
 
Calimili

Calimili

Messages
662
Location
Lake Starnberg / Frankfurt
Vehicle
T6 Ocean 150 4Motion
we'd happily entertain the idea of doing them last, as when the kids are older, they'll likely be on said-bikes whilst we battle the driveaway awning etc.
If that with the kids would work for me too, than yes, I could live with mounting the bikes last
 

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