Eco-Friendly Items for Your Campsite
The camping and outdoor lifestyle industry is growing at a fast pace. It’s evolving too, and ‘green’ is the way to go, meaning sustainable and biodegradable products with solar and renewable energy solutions. Here are a few stand-out products and companies leading the way to a more responsible future.
Bio-Pak® Alpine Fresh Natural Enzyme Deodorizer and Waste Digester is a safe way to clean black holding tanks and remove odors. Formaldehyde- and biocide-free and zinc- and copper-free, the environmentally friendly formula allows for rapid breakdown of waste and paper and is septic safe—there’s no need for special RV toilet paper. Bio-Pak provides portion control and is easy to use with no messy liquids; it’s also available in Tropical Breeze scent. Walex recommends Porta-Pak black tanks when temperatures are regularly above 32°C/90°F. Available online and in various stores; price varies per pack size (approx. $17CAN/10 pack).
Biodegradable Bio-Kleen Awning Cleaner removes tough stains, mold, mildew, dirt, insects, tree sap, bird excrement, and more from vinyl, canvas and acrylic fabric awnings. It’s concentrated so dilute as required. Available in a variety of sizes including: 32oz, 1 Gallon, 5 Gallon. Bio-Kleen offers a large product range of environmentally safe, cruelty-fee and vegan cleaning products. Available online and in various stores; $17.95USD/32 oz ($23.15CAD).
Caboo specializes in tree-free paper products and wipes. Its 100% biodegradable bathroom tissues, free from chlorine bleach, are made from organically grown sustainable bamboo and sugarcane. The tissues are septic safe and non-GMO project verified. The 2-ply sheets are soft and strong, hypoallergenic, chlorine-bleach free, BPA and paraben- and fragrance-free. Other products are paper towels and baby wipes, both tree-free. Available online and in stores; prices vary per pack size/approx. $45CAD/24 toilet paper rolls.
Dr. Bronner’s 18-in-1 Pure-Castile Soaps are concentrated, versatile and biodegradable. The liquid soaps are available in eight scents (including baby unscented) and are made with organic and certified fair-trade ingredients (no synthetic preservatives, no detergents or foaming agents) and packaged in a 100% post-consumer recycled bottle. Also available in bar form. The company also has lotion and balms, hair care, home and laundry, toothpaste and more. Available online and in stores; $16.99USD/32 oz ($21.95CAD).
It took a natural disaster for the founders of LuminAID to invent their breakthrough portable solar lanterns which are now used in over 100 countries. Collapsible and compact, the lanterns (some inflatable, others pop-up) can provide more than 100 hours of bright light with every charge and are perfect for camping, RVing, hiking and backpacking, or to have in case of an emergency. The company has expanded its product line to include power lanterns with a phone charger, solar speakers and Bluetooth-enabled solar lights. Available online and in various stores; prices vary per product (PackLite Max 2-in-1 Power Lantern $66CAD).
The eRove™ Electric Cooler by Furrion is unique in that it’s also battery powered and solar rechargeable. With 50Qt of space, it can fit up to 72 cans and hold 6Qt of dry storage. The eRove comes with an ePod Power station and a 100-watt solar panel, which provides a rechargeable battery for the cooler. Its optimized cooling system can freeze to -22°C and the cooler features detachable cup and umbrella holders. Available at Furrion dealers (various RV/electronic stores); $899.99USD/$1,150CAD.
Use solar power to cook or warm your food or boil water with the GoSun Go portable solar oven; according to the company, “If you can see a shadow, it will cook”. Simply called the ‘Go’, it features a sturdy yet lightweight frame with stainless-steel cooking tray and vacuum tube; the tube acts as an insulator to enhance the food’s flavor (perfect for dehydrated foods) and keep moisture in. With internal temperatures of 550°F (287°C) the Go can also sterilize pond and lake water. No need to worry about burning yourself as the outside of this portable oven remains cool to the touch and safe. Each Go comes with four silicone cook pans, a universal action mount, cleaning brush, solar dial, cookbook and a carrying case. Specs: .91 kgs (2 lbs)/13.5-oz capacity. Available online and in various stores; average retail price $139.99USD/$180CAD.
The North Face Eco Trail Sleeping Bag (stuffsack size: 22.9 cm x 40.6 cm) is made from fully recycled materials and is good to -7°C. Its shell is 50 Denier (D) 100% recycled polyester ripstop with Non-PFC Durable Water-Repellent finish, the lining is 50D 100% embossed polyester taffeta and the insulation is 600 fill recycled down. Features include:
- Extended width in knees for maximum comfort and mobility and vaulted foot box
- Wraparound J-zip for increased mobility and venting
- Fitted hood (with cinch cord) and draft collar for comfort and heat loss prevention
- Internal phone/watch pocket and tie-down loops for securing bag to sleeping pad.
Available online and in various camping stores; retails from $180CAD for adult sleeping bag.
Yukon Outfitters’ SomniSmart™ hammock is made in part from recycled plastic water bottles. The lightweight hammock is constructed with Repreve® fabric; the company is a world leader in recycled fiber. The SomniSmart™ is available in single- and double-style configurations. Available online from Yukon Outfitters; $79.99USD/$100CAD.
Eukarya makes sustainable headlamps from zebra and cherry wood, machined aluminum and high strength tempered glass. Its latest model features brightness memory and up to 14 hours of battery life, USB-C charging and a dedicated rechargeable battery indicator; it’s also water resistant. One tree is planted with each headlamp sold. Origin 2 $129USD/$166CAD plus shipping; available online from Eukarya.
The Hielo Del Dia 12L Cooler Bag by Cotopaxi is a one-of-a-kind handmade cooler made from partially repurposed leftover fabric. The coolers have a waterproof liner and are insulated with repurposed foam and feature a practical side strap; there’s also a side pocket for a water bottle. Cotopaxi sources many materials from other companies and utilizes remnant fabrics and prides itself on ethical manufacturing. Each pack in the Del Día Collection is made by employees who handpick its look, from the fabric selector to the pattern maker and sewer. Also check out Cotopaxi’s colourful windbreakers, backpacks, travel and hip packs and sleeping bags. $100USD/$129CAD plus shipping; available online from Cotopaxi to ship to Canada.
List prices/exchange rate may vary; taxes and any shipping charges applied at online checkout.
There are many ways we can be eco-friendly campers and RVers and responsible global citizens. Choose and use biodegradable and recyclable products and recycle and dispose of waste properly and safely while outdoors. For information on being a good and sustainable camper read up on the Camper’s Code.
If you have any ecofriendly ideas or products you have used and would like to share with other campers, contact us.
For camping and RVing options in British Columbia go to the Camping Map.
Share your BC travel and camping pictures using hashtag #campinbc, #explorebc, #bcnice, #green
It’s always a great day to #campinbc
RV Trends and Purchasing Tips
Camping and RVing are more popular than ever before and why people are choosing this lifestyle has changed since the COVID-19 pandemic. The RV industry has responded to this—and the demand to ‘go green’ and limit fossil fuel use—with practical and functional units and smart and efficient technology. These changes are impacting the long-term future of the RV industry.
Compact and lightweight
Class B motorhomes and campervans under 8 meters (or 25 feet) generally fall within the small RV category as do fifth wheels under 20 feet that can be towed by half-tonne trucks. Demand is high for compact and lightweight units, including Class Cs under 25 feet and travel trailers under 2,500 lbs that can be pulled by SUVs and small cars. Younger couples and eco-friendly families discovering RVing are changing the RV landscape.
Many of these options are good for smaller budgets and are often better for backcountry camping. They are easy to maneuver, have (or aid in) good to decent gas mileage and boast smart use of space with functional items such as Murphy beds, dinettes with slide-outs and convertible tables.
Electric and solar power/off-grid capabilities
Advances in solar technology and lithium-ion batteries are contributing to more sustainable and affordable ways of generating power. Some RVs are now wired solar ready and are equipped with powerful roof-mounted solar panels and controllers, large capacity inverters, high-efficiency lithium batteries, and advanced electrical management systems, which allow people to reach backcountry, and in BC some frontcountry, destinations where there are no utilities.
“We are noticing that a lot of RVers are choosing to camp in smaller, off-road, off-grid adventure-style trailers,” says Chase Paylor, GM of Woody’s RV World in Abbotsford, BC. (The company also has locations in Alberta and Saskatchewan.) Woody’s RV recently added Ember RVs to its lineup of compact trailers suited for off-road fun.
RVs specific to adventuresome types feature off-road tires with extra ground clearance, built-in bike racks and special gear closets and ‘garages’ for hauling outdoor gear. Fold-down outdoor dining tables are also on the must-have lists.
ProLite’s E-Volt, manufactured in Quebec, is fully electric and uses renewable energy. With its four 100-watt solar panels, 3,000-watt inverter and 250-amp lithium battery, it converts 12-volt energy into electrical power and can run RV and personal appliances. With a max headcount of three and a dry weight of 1,990 lbs it also fits into the lightweight and compact category.
Some RV units are specially insulated for energy conservation (including the use of tempered glass) and sound reduction. Accessory-wise, there are now solar powered LED lights and headlamps and portable solar packs for charging laptops and cell phones. Several US-manufactured RVs have also been ‘Certified Green’ by TRA Certification for energy code compliance.
Indoor/outdoor living trend
Manufacturers are coming up with new ways to bring the outside in with rear hatches and doors on trailers and panoramic windows in campervans. Added to this are outdoor kitchen and grilling options which are increasingly popular. Inside, kitchens have become lighter and brighter (gone is the dark wood cabinetry) and are more incorporated into living spaces. These features make it easier than ever to embrace nature.
Workspace options/new technology
According to an RV owner demographic profile study by GoRVing, people planning to buy a RV in 2022 intend to use it an average of 25 days per year, up five days from previous years. “This increase is indicative of the changing attitudes towards remote work and the ability for more people to be able to work from a destination more frequently than traditional vacation days afforded in the past,” says the Association’s website.
Access to technology, including cellular and Wi-Fi service while camping, has become increasingly important, particularly for many first-time campers and RVers and families opting to home school. This has resulted in greater demands for RVs with workspaces or a flex space as well as an increase in the number of people renovating used RVs to suit such lifestyle needs.
Manufacturers have answered the call by equipping models with features like natural lighting, workstations/flip-up counter extensions, chairs for both working and dining and multiple charging stations for phones and computers. RV automation has improved with updated central control systems and apps that work from afar to adjust lighting, heat and air, entertainment systems and even wind sensor awnings that detract when the wind is too strong.
RV manufacturers have recognized that more and more people are hitting the road with their pets by introducing layouts with features specific to animals such as spaces for crates and beds, pet stations and pet-specific drawers with food bowls, outdoor tie-down clips and pet washing stations/showers with hot and cold faucets. Some companies even offer heavy duty bug screens should Charlie decide to chase that chipmunk and the ability to add ramps for senior dogs. In addition, numerous RV rental companies/platforms now offer pet-friendly units, some with pet-specific sleeping areas.
So, you have decided to buy an RV. First, you will need to answer these questions: What is your budget? Will it be new or used? Who is it being purchased for and where and how often will it be used?
Write down what features you ‘need’ or want and if you’re looking for a towable trailer, campervan or motorhome. How will you finance your RV; will it be cash or credit? Look for a flexible payment plan if need be. Will you go through a dealer or purchase it via a private seller? Many dealers offer financing through a variety of lenders.
Do online research, speak to family and friends (or friends of friends) who RV, visit a few dealerships or even a RV show and keep your eyes and ears open for financing deals. Some buyers wait until the end of the RV season for possible price drops.
When you are ready to purchase a unit get it inspected. If it’s a privately sold used RV ask or hire a seasoned RVer or maintenance professional to check for any humidity, exterior and interior damage/wear and tear and any other potential areas of concern.
Think about what may come about after your purchase. Can you afford annual repairs plus insurance, particularly if you will be making monthly payments? According to GoRVing Canada the minimum down payment for an RV is between 10% and 20%.
“Customers should be asking themselves, ‘Will my dealer support my purchase after the sale?’,” says Chase Paylor, GM, of Woody’s RV World in Abbotsford.
If you purchase via a dealership find out what they offer in terms of after-sale support. Do they have a reputable maintenance and parts department and are they willing to answer questions, of which you may have a few?
Pros of buying a NEW RV: No risk of wear and tear; latest design and technology; ability to purchase what you really want and/or to customize unit; manufacturer warranty; ability to purchase extended warranties
Cons: Higher sticker price (dependent on model and features); higher insurance premiums than a used RV; after-sale sticker depreciation.
Pros of buying a USED RV: Money savings; option to renovate or restore as you wish; cheaper to insure than a new RV.
Cons/risks: Upgrades may be costly; damage/wear and tear may not be visible (i.e. humidity, mold); possibility of no manufacturer warranty.
If buying used, a general rule is to avoid RVs over ten years of age.
For places to camp in BC check out the Camping Map
For RV Dealers in BC check out https://www.campingrvbc.com/campsites/ and sort by RV Sales and Service.
Share your BC travel and camping photos using hashtag #campinbc #explorebc #bcnice
Published: March 3rd, 2022
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