I have decided to return to Alaska for the summer of 2017. In making this decision I thought it would be smart to review my preps I made for my 2016 trip to Alaska. I started my 2016 planning with a spreadsheet listing the items and gear I thought I may need or at least be nice to have. The list included auxiliary fuel tank, rock guards, mud flaps, tires, generator, fishing gear, etc. the list added up to almost $7000.00. As you will see in the following this list was reduced to about $1500.
The next step was to take a hard look at the list and remove the items that were in I would like to have category. One thing I struggled with was an auxiliary fuel tank for my truck. I read a lot of blogs dealing with the drive to Alaska and the opinions were all over the place. Based on the data I could find my standard 36 gallon fuel tank would not be a problem. And in the end I never had a problem finding fuel except with my limited range I was not able to comfortably get to the Arctic Circle on the Dalton Hwy. I averaged over 10 mpg on the Alaskan trip but in areas of rough slow roads like the Dalton Hwy I only averaged 6-7 MPG.
In my research I found a book called “The MilePost 2015” it is published every year so this year it is The MilePost 2017 . The MilePost is a full-service guide to the highways, roads, ferries, lodgings, recreation, sightseeing, attractions and services along the Alaska Highway and Alaska road system. Utilizing the MilePost I was able to locate fuel stops, restaurants, campgrounds, and points of interest along with road conditions for the Alaskan Canadian Hwy and all of the roads in Alaska. Using this information I decided to pass on the auxiliary fuel tank, mud flaps, grill protector, and extra tires. Removal of these items from the list made the cost of the trip much easier to accept.
The next big item on my list for the 2016 trip was a portable generator. The generator I liked was a Champion 3100 for under $1000 with electric start. I had already installed 400 watts of solar panels and was pleased with the performance. But the 400 watt solar system was not able to maintain the battery bank during rainy days that required the heater to run. The blower on the furnace is a heavy draw on the battery bank. The generator looked like an easy fix but I did not like the thought of having to store the generator and the fuel for it. Not only storage but when it was needed to charge your batteries you would need to drag it out of the truck or from a storage compartment and then make it hard for someone to relieve you of it. So I decided to add an additional 200 watts of solar panels giving me a total of 600 watts. My existing battery bank of 4 six volt batteries with 430 amp hours would be sufficient and not require any additional batteries. This decision not only saved dollars it enabled me to live off grid in Alaska without having to deal with storage of gasoline and performing maintain of a generator. With the solar system I was able to operate everything in the fifth wheel except the Air Conditioner. I was able to watch DVD or if in an area that had TV coverage I could watch local channels. All off the battery bank being charged via the solar system. I ran into one other camper in Alaska that was also using a solar system in lieu of a generator they had 680 watts with about 450 amp/hrs battery bank and had also started with 400 watt and had to upgrade.
My list included such things as fly rod, wader, fishing tackle, camera equipment, etc. Most of these items were more the like to have and not very expense so they all stayed on the list or at least most did. Something I have learn with my travels is you can buy things on the road there are Grocery Stores, Auto Parts, Tire Stores, Walmart, Tackle Shops, and Amazon everywhere you go.
Bottom line is take what you need but be smart about it. If an item is a safety item or a life comfort item it needs to be in the camper. If something is one of those items that I may not need I will buy it on the road if the need arises. Sure you may get a better deal if you shop around before getting on the road but why over load your camper with stuff you may never need. I try to be smart about my overall weight in the camper it saves wear and tear on both the camper and tow vehicle.
Part 2 “What will be different for the 2017 trip”. Coming soon.