Living Vehicle Goes Off Grid
To celebrate the arrival of Living Vehicle at our offices in Santa Barbara, we decided to put its off-grid capabilities to the test by taking it on an extended camping adventure without hookups to power, water or gas. One of the greatest resources in the United States for people seeking a small space mobile lifestyle is the abundance of pristine wilderness found in public lands. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) offers free dispersed camping for up to 14 days and there are endless choices of breathtaking places to stay in the Western US.
Matthew’s love for the outdoors and his childhood connection to the town of Mammoth Lakes led us to settle on the nearby Alabama Hills Recreation Area outside of Lone Pine, CA. Not only is this high desert volcanic landscape strikingly gorgeous and the backdrop to countless classic films, it offers an extreme winter climate that would pose a suitable challenge to LV’s off-grid features. Sub-freezing temperatures, light snow and powerful wind gusts were all on the forecast for the week.
On the trip from our offices to the destination, we were met by wind, gravel and grades-- the usual terrors of towing. Matthew was overwhelmingly pleased by LV’s stability and our Ford F250’s ability to handle the unit’s 1100# loaded hitch weight. We arrived to our campsite around dusk with just enough time to watch the sun set behind the mountains from the outdoor patio.
That night, six of us enjoyed a home-cooked meal in the lounge before a good night’s sleep under the unit’s open skylights. The oversized propane tanks kept the space comfortably heated all night and as we woke up to running water and hot showers, we were grateful that the conditioned utility basement kept the pipes from freezing.
Joined by the rest of the company the following day, we spent the remainder of the trip testing LV’s features such as the portable propane BBQ and enjoying the beauty of our surroundings. Despite our reliance on a significant amount of electricity to charge electronics, camera gear, lighting and round the clock use of the exterior speakers to play music, it’s safe to say that LV’s lithium ion batteries and robust solar panels had us covered. Our Design Manager, Fred, even hooked up his DJ equipment for an afternoon concert.
By the end of the trip, we felt thoroughly satisfied that LV had provided a quality off-grid experience and we were ready to return to the office with a different dimension of insight into our product. Matthew’s mantra is that “design comes from experience.” Being the users of our own product is essential to who we are as a company and is the fabric of our process from beginning to end.
If you plan on using LV to get off the beaten path for extended periods of time, stay tuned for tricks and tips as we share our experiences exploring public lands across the US.