Is that an Airstream?
No, Airstreams are shaped like a hot dog, with rounded sides. Ours is a “Canned Ham” style with straight sides, but rounded front to back. Airstreams are very popular and can be very expensive, and are still being made with their classic look today; but even the smallest new models start around $40k. And if you own an Airstream, make sure you wave back when you pass us on the highway.
How big is it and how much does it weigh?
Hamlet's dimensions are 15’ from tongue to tush, by 6’6”. Interior height is about 6’2”. Dry weight is around 1,500 pounds.
Where do you go to the bathroom?
Usually, we are parked/camped within a short walk to a toilet. However, we use portable containers for those mid-night requirements. If we are camping in a forest where there aren’t any outhouses, we practice leave no trace protocols for disposing our business -- just like when we are backpacking. It’s not usually a problem, and the space trade-off gained from not having an interior bathroom is simply huge.
How do you shower?
We have gotten incredibly creative with meeting our personal hygiene needs. First off, we no longer have to meet the professional dress code standards, so showers are no longer an everyday requirement. We can clean the “important parts” in a variety of methods. With this said, many campgrounds, recreation centers, truck stops, gas stations, and some laundromats have clean showers that give you hot water for about a buck for 5 minutes. We have a small “dorm style” shower caddy in the camper and bring it into the shower with us. And if we can’t find an indoor shower, we use our solar outdoor shower and privacy tent. We fill our Nemo Pressure Showerwith water and let it sit in the full sun. When we come back from a day of hiking, we have a warm shower waiting for us! If we don’t have sun, we heat water in a kettle for just a few minutes. Shari finds that just washing her hair every few days really helps and this can be done just about anywhere we’re parked.
Does you have air conditioning and heating?
For A/C, we try to park in the shade and open all the windows and turn on the Fan-Tastic Vent Fan, which runs off of solar power. We've been able to sleep comfortably even on the hottest nights. For heating, we have a Mr. Heater Portable Buddy propane heater that is designed for campers, boats or small workshop. Even on the coldest days, it heats up the entire camper in about 15 minutes. We typically spend less than $100 on propane each year for heating and cooking.
Your camper is so small, how do you live in such a small space?
Keep in mind, we don’t live IN it much, we use it as a place to sleep and eat/hang out when it’s cold. Mostly, we live outside because we want to enjoy the outdoors via hiking, cycling, kayaking, snowshoeing, etc.. We’ve spent way too much of our lives living inside of windowless offices, classrooms, and houses that are much too big for us. But we can come inside on a nasty day, make tea and brownies, turn on the heater/fan if we need it…and pick up a book or the blog. It’s amazingly comfy in there…like your tree/club house when you were a kid.
Where did you find your camper and how much was it?
We found it on eBay for $900. It had been a hunting trailer and was in a bit of a state when we got it, but it had great bones. We did nearly all of the labor ourselves and put about $2500 into it, including the solar powered system and the custom bike rack. Since these vintage trailers have become quite popular over the past few years, we could probably sell it for $8000 now, but it’s not for sale!
Why did you name it Hamlet?
It has nothing to do with Shakespeare’s tragedy. It is a “canned ham” style travel trailer and it is a small house = Hamlet!
How well does your truck pull your camper?
As of the end of 2019, we’ve put about 100k miles with our 2000 Nissan Frontier 6-cylinder 4x4 truck and it seems to be doing extremely well. We’ve had a few issues with the truck, but it's 20 years old, so that is to be expected. None of our truck issues had anything to do with the camper. It’s a bit slow uphill at times, but not too bad, we aren’t in any hurry.
How well does your solar panel work?
Solar power is a simple technology based on how much you gather, store, and use. Figuring out how to balance that equation is very individual. We made the choice to go minimal – using the solar panel to charge a 50Ah 12V Lithium battery which runs LED lights, charges batteries and our laptops, and runs our ceiling fan/vent (which was arguably the single best upgrade we made to the whole trailer). We mounted our solar panel on the tonneau cover on the back of our truck so we can easily take it off and put it in the sun, while our camper is parked in the shade. This makes a huge difference! On the other hand, we park the camper in the sun during cold weather seasons, and while aluminum isn’t exactly a superconductor, it helps heat it up. Use passive solar “technology” to your advantage and you'll save battery life.