As all stories, we need to start at the beginning... (it's a rather long story, sorry)
Our first RV - Canada
11.08.2016 - 27.08.2016, rented RV in Halifax
Holy cow. What a monster. That was my very first impression.
We: my wife, my daughter (at that time 6 years old) and me plus my sister in law went to Nova Scotia, Canada. We did a roadtrip with a rented RV. As usual, we've been late in reservations. So only a flagship of 10 meter was available at that point of time. So it became our first "home" on wheels for two weeks.
We had no recent camping or RV experience and we said: either it will be the first time or the last time we do something like that.
We learned, that we really like that way of travel, that we like nature, we like to be by ourselfs. We learned, that we can't stand at one place for ages but want to be in move to discover the area. We learned, that solid roads are just nice to have...
We learned - it is just the beginning.
Back to Europe - same, same, but Norway
(fast forward) 27.07.2018 - 14.08.2018, rented RV in Hamburg
Ok. Let's do the same closer to home (The flight and jet lag was a nightmare). Norway seems to be a fantastic area to explore. But again, we've been late to book a RV. So again, a monster.
Well, we had all the luxus you can imagine. It was fully equiped, great kitchen, huge storage spaces, great in all aspects. What a fantastic RV... for the ones, who can value it.
For us, it became more and more a frustation. It was simply too big for small european roads, it was not built for gravel roads and it had one big disadvantage. It was a front-wheel car. With all the weight on the back, we simple couldn't manage to climb the hills, espacially if there were gravel roads. So we had to miss a lot of great spots, which was really a pain.
But again, we learned a lot. We learned, what's really important, what we really need and what's not valueable for us at all. And we learned, what we missed. We missed the flexibility to go "off"-road, the flexibility to stay where we wanted and to be able to focus on the landscape instead of taking care about the RV.
We learned - that's not us.
Searching for a solution
Right after the trip, I was so frustrated that after thousends of kilometer we had to miss so many spots, that I immediatly started to check out the market about offroad-capable RVs.
The first idea was, to find the nearest rental company where you could get offroad RVs. This time I didn't wanted to be too late to make a reservation. Problem: the next one with appropriated RVs was 500 km away. Well, that doesn't sound handy. And their offer cost a fortune (at least I felt it that way at that point of time). And it wasn't sure, that we really get one when we need it.
Ok. How about to buy one used. Again market check. Very seldom for sales and/or costs a "real" fortune. And I couldn't bet on it to find one in an appropriate timeframe, which fit our needs.
Ok. How about to buy a new one. Again market check. WHAT? That's the price tag? Not the order number? How much lead time? (It had 6 digits.) Even we would have gone that way, there were actually just two major concepts: 1) for 2 people, or 2) for four people. While the first category had some interesting layouts, we are actual 3(!) people. And whatever we checked out on the second catagory simple didn't met our expectations or at least necessities.
Again - frustration. Even bigger.
A different approach?
While sitting around frustrated, I've watched out of the window and I got a glimps to my own car. It's actually a fully equiped MB ML, 4x4 with all differential locks, easy to handle, capable...
Capable! Split the area of concern into driving capability and living capability! What we just needed was a Caravan behind my 4x4 we can just tow! Heureca!
Ok. Again market check. Again, mainly two categories were on the market: 1) regular Caravans, or 2) "Off"-road Caravans. Imagine a trip with one out of the first category was quickly obsolete. As mentioned above, we like to travel - not to stay. Yes, in theory we could park the Caravan in an area, explore it with the 4x4-only and just move to the next spot. But I knew myself: I can't leave anything behind. I'm to worried about theft, demages, and moreover about too much effort to handle.
Ok. It shall be an offroad Caravan. But it's a pitty. Those are certainly offroad-capable, but usually not much bigger than a shoebox. Seldom big enough for 3 people, no toilet, no nothing. Purely to sleep in and to carry a small kitchen. For some people it's still a totally valid option. If you're really not just "off"-road but in untouche wilderness, it's a pretty decent option. But it didn't really fit to our own needs.
Again - frustration.
A Perfect Fit?
While browsing through offers on all possible websites, I stumbled across a Caravan which was retrofitted to be certainly "off"-road capable. Was it that? Had we have THE solution? Long story short, two months after the big frustration we bought a used Hymer Eriba Troll GT 540 (lengthwise sleep!) with a offroad-retrofit.
And that was a good decission. It wasn't exactly cheap, since with just a handfull of those in Germany it's some kind of "collector's item". But it felt simply right.
First thing you learn: with an Eriba you're automatically part of the Eriba-"owners club". And that is a really nice family. If you travel in France, everybody will love you anyway, since in it's old days, it was a French invention. The Caravan was autark. It had tanks, toilet, battery, solar, etc. I did a full refactory of the whole electrical installation since it was just partially integrated. From that on, it was pretty close to our needs and simply great. And with all the gears, it was simply a fully equiped RV just split into two parts.
We had a lot of fun with the tandem of the 4x4 and our Eriba. We went to France, Denmark, Sweden, and - again - to Norway. What a difference. We were now be able to explore really lonely areas. There was seldom anything, which could stop us. It was long time a perfect match. If...
... we didn't had to learn again. Learn, what's not so great with such a tandem:
- Speed limit: just in Germany and Denmark you can go on the highway with 100 km/h. On other countries and general on country roads your travel speed is really slow. It wouldn't be any problem, if you travel locally or you have time. But all the spots we planned to visit are thousends kilometer away and we have only limited holidays. So you spend a decent part of the vacation to reach to and return from the area of interest and the net rate to actually explore the area is pretty low.
- Hybrid-problem: even we've been fully autark (even more than some DIY RVs), we were actually no RV (nor just a simple car either). That's limiting your options to stay anywhere. In Norway it wasn't a problem. But e.g. in France or Germany we couldn't stay on every RV campground. It's simply forbidden. But we couldn't just park on simple car parking slots either, since we're a Caravan-tandem. And staying always on regular campsites is simply not us.
- Length: Well, even I really became familar with the tandem and could maneuver it easily, it was sometimes really difficult to find a 11m long spot. Why: Caravan and car needs to be connected to be tolerated as somebody who needs a rest from driving. Once you decouple it, you're camping. And that's not ok. So you need the length, even though you can try to save some space by bending the tandem.
Overall, we gained a lot of our so desperatly searched flexibility in reaching places we wanted to go. That was really fantastic. But again, we learned something new: any compromise will hit you at one point of time. Either you accept it, you leave it, or you change it.
Since we fall even more in love with that style of advanture and living, it was time to make a decision. And so did we.
The final solution?
It's "Brummel"! All our past experiences, the good ones and the bad ones have been part of the journey to that - to our - unique restart of how we want to spend our time we have. We decided to built our own RV from scratch to our very own (now educted) needs. We simply don't want bend ourselfs around somebodys ideas of how it should work. We want to bend the reality around our own ideas how want to have it working. And that's simply why.
From here on you can find the "new" story in all the different articles on this website. Hope you enjoyed the journey up to here and will from here on onwards. And you may understand a bit better, why we're doing it the way how we do it - less compromises but more straight to the point. Only time itself is infinite, not, what's bound to.