At the present moment, the RV and travel trailer market is extremely hot. In fact, you might find that a visit to your local RV dealer reveals that there aren’t many new models on the lot. A months-long wait might be in store.
As an alternative, you might consider buying a used RV. While used rigs are hot commodities as well, you can find them on dealer lots and from private sellers all over the country. If you buy a new-to-you RV, be sure you consider these used RV upgrades to make it a more practical and efficient overlanding vehicle.
Upgrade the Batteries
My Turtleback Expedition trailer came with good AGM batteries, but I’ve since swapped them out with dual lithium-ion batteries from Briter Products. It wasn’t that the AGM batteries were old or ineffective, it’s just that these new lithium-ion batteries offer much more in the way of benefits. For example, my Briter Products batteries come with an unlimited five-year warranty and are fully serviceable. This means that even after the warranty expires, the batteries can be serviced and I can continue to use them without having to invest in new ones. Nice!
Of course, there’s a litany of benefits of lithium-ion batteries as compared to AGM batteries, including:
- Better depth of discharge
- Longer lifespan
- Smaller and lighter
- Improved energy density
- No discharge memory
So, instead of about 50 percent depth of discharge in an AGM battery, I get 80-90 percent depth of discharge with my lithium-ion batteries. They also have a lifespan of 5,000 cycles, so they’ll be good to go for years and years and years!
Of course, lithium-ion batteries are also smaller and lighter, which saves space and weight in my overlanding rig. They have better energy density and can store more power than AGM batteries and they have no discharge memory so I can run them down to dead and have them recharged in a couple of hours while I’m driving. You can see why this is such a valuable upgrade!
Bonus Tip: Lithium-ion batteries work great with solar power systems. If your used RV doesn’t have solar already, think about adding that too.
Used RV Upgrades: Add More Fresh Water Capacity
Photo by MarioGuti via iStock
If you’re overlanding with your family, you’ll need more fresh water than what a typical RV or travel trailer can offer. You don’t need to add a 50-gallon tank, either (not that there would be room). But even adding an auxiliary tank with 10-15 gallons of additional water can make the difference between having enough for an extra day on the road and running out and having to find a place to refill your tanks.
Granted, adding another water tank is perhaps not a DIY job, so it could be expensive. Plus, the added weight is something to consider. Still, if you can afford it and if your tow vehicle can handle the additional weight, more fresh water will be a Godsend.
- What to Look for When Upgrading to Lithium-Ion Batteries
- How to Sanitize the Water System in a Camper
Invest in Outdoor Cooking Tools
While your RV might have a range and stovetop, why cook inside when you can enjoy the great outdoors and cook outside? Besides, why stink up your RV with the smell of dinner?!
There are lots of tools that enable you to cook outdoors while you’re camping or overlanding, from gas grills that attach to the side of your camper to hot dog skewers to propane stoves you can set on the picnic table. But for those of you that enjoy cooking like I do, you might consider something even more useful…
One of my favorite cooking tools for overlanding is the Schenk, pictured above.
This bad boy gives you multiple options for cooking – you can grill, cook in a cast iron pot, or hang a kettle to boil water for your morning coffee. You can use it as a freestanding tool or you can attach it to a fire ring if it’s required.
The vertical rod allows you to move your implements closer or further from the fire so you have all the adjustments you need to make the perfect meal. It’s just a versatile tool for RVs, travel trailers, and even overlanders and campers that rock it out in a tent!
Be sure to check out my complete review of the Schenk here.
Used RV Upgrades: Get an Anti-Sway Bar Kit
If your used RV is a bumper-pull trailer, one of the best things you can get is an anti-sway bar kit.
If you use a traditional ball and hitch, you might experience some swaying of the trailer as you drive down the road. This is especially true if it’s windy or if the load isn’t balanced in the trailer.
But if you upgrade with an anti-sway bar, you can greatly diminish how much the trailer sways because the weight on the hitch will be distributed more evenly. The result is a greatly improved towing experience. What’s not to like about that?!
Anti-sway kits are pricey, but they are worth every penny when you realize how much they improve your driving experience. Want more suggestions for used RV upgrades? Check out this additional list!