You are in for a treat! Caleb Probett’s fit-out is refined from a lifetime of camping. Basically, do what Caleb says and you are golden.
Hey, I’m Caleb.
My wife Chanelle, and our 2 kids, Sophie and Auston live north of Auckland. We love getting out on weekends for trips to oceanside spots for surfing, tramping or occasionally I’ll go hang gliding or fishing with mates. As a family we also enjoy the odd game of golf, Chanelle is a keen golfer and plays most weeks. Together we run a roofing company weekdays and try to make the most of life on the weekends if weather permits.
We both have enjoyed camping trips throughout our life together with the kids first trips away to DOC campsites as babies under a year old. For me it all started with family trips to the Coromandel as a 6-7 year old with the massive old canvas tent that had to be towed on a trailer.
We would set up for weeks at a time and catch fish, muscles and paua at the local beach for a feed. Our days were spent playing in the sand dunes at Hahei or Hot Water Beach. Eating wild berries or snorkeling around trying to find stingrays or octopus.
As our kids grew up we always had a tent and gear ready to go. We tried to make it a goal to camp at a new location each year. Over time we started to find it a hassle with all the setup/pack up so we invested in an old caravan to renovate. It was a major project and a good learning curve.
I replaced the whole exterior with new aluminium, new interior walls and also upgraded to have solar and got it self contained. We had some great trips in it, even doing a long haul from Auckland to Queenstown and stopping at a new location every day along the way.
The downside to owning a caravan is storing it somewhere in the off season and we didn’t have the spare parking space for it.
Time for a new plan…
We made the decision to sell the caravan and go back to tents. But this time I put a slide out kitchen in the back of the ute to keep all the camp gear tidy in one spot and easy to access.
This was our starting point for the current setup, we bought an ARB slide kitchen and made a basic storage setup. The kitchen is great! Setup and pack up is less than a minute so I started using it to cook my work lunches.
Being the type of guy that’s keen to have a go at a bit of back yard inventing I started thinking about how I could add on to my setup. Still keep it fast to use. After spending hours on each trip preparing and dismantling camp sites it is the last thing I want to do on holiday!
My next add-on was an awning that I found could be extended really quickly with a modified electric drill. I welded up an aluminium support bracket and installed it. We had our day camp gear all sorted now.
After a year or so of using this it was time for an overhaul and rethink how to improve it. The new plan was to make everything quick to remove with a forklift. So the ute can be used for transporting other things or camping gear stored off season.
I ordered a full aluminium canopy from Ute Masters to allow for easy side and rear access to gear. It also blocks any view of the content in the ute tray.
Next mission was fabricating an aluminium pallet for the kitchen and camp gear to be stored and also be easily removed with a forklift to store.
This pallet looks simple but holds a huge amount of gear like seats and a table, to fire extinguisher and basic 4×4 recovery gear.
Everything has a place so I went a little nuts with the label maker to make sure it stays packed right. I went with an aluminium design to keep it strong and last while also keeping the weight down as much as possible.
This current setup is just using a chilly bin. I do have plans to upgrade to solar later and add a fridge, for now we just use Makita batteries and a usb adaptor to charge things. We also use a Makita vacuum, drill etc.
Looking into getting the roof top tent took a lot of thought to get the right one for us. It mostly came down to a decision on what do we want? More room in a tent or less room and a faster setup? Most of our trips are only a few days so faster is better for us (also helps for drying out a wet tent at home).
We went with the Kiwi Camping Hardshell compact which also gave us the option of adding roof racks for surfboards on top.
The reason we went for the Kiwi Camping model over other brands is because it has a light blackout canvas for day sleeping. These style tents are crazy fast to set up, all done in 50 seconds!
On my tent I also added a small deck which is helpful with loading the roof racks and can double as a storage area for travel.
In a nutshell my end goal was to create a setup that is ready to use in under 5 minutes and is just as easy to pack away if the weather turns bad.
For planning my design I started by placing the most important items first then finding space to fit other items around the main gear.
Easy access to frequently used things is a must and Sistema containers help keep everything fresh and tidy.
For me, making a comprehensive list of all the items I want to pack then crossing off each one as placement is found has helped a lot.
We pack personal items for each trip as needed like sporting equipment, sleeping bags and hygiene.
Now that we’re all setup the goal is to use it for family trips away or maybe ditch the kids for the odd weekend. I definitely plan on a few overnight surf trips up north or even snowboarding at Ruapehu!
Here’s my list of items I’ve included in my setup:
3 burner cooker
12 piece plate/bowls/cups
Plate dry rack
Pot and Pan
Spatula, can opener, tongs, cutlery & sharp knife
2 x Chopping boards
4 x Seats
Coffee, Tea, flavoured drinks
Seasoning and spices
Handy towel holder
First aid, meds, ointments and creams
Portable LED lighting
Makita battery set for device charging
Outdoor floor mat
Other items needed to pack:
Sleeping bags and pillows
Hygiene (soap, shampoo, toothbrush and paste)
Food and Drinks
Additional tent mattress and seating