“Happy wife.  Happy life.”  My wife insists that I passionately believe that old adage.

To make my wife the happiest cook in the campground (or at least at our site in the campground), I modified the pantry in our Flagstaff 21DS.  This four-beer project began with removing the factory shelves from the pantry. 

In their place I screwed in a pair of Rev-A-Shelf heavy duty pull-out wire shelf stacks (model 5WB2-0922CR-1 fit our trailer), about $100 each from Amazon.  These shelves fully extend and are rated for 100 pounds, which makes them perfect for a pantry.  The lower unit bolted into the pantry floor.  Remounting one of the factory wooden shelves halfway up provided a base for the upper shelf stack.

The shelves were mounted flush against the refrigerator side of the pantry, which allows space on the other side for cutting boards, griddle and other vertical objects.  A pair of removable webbing straps keep the shelves from moving when we’re on the road. 

Wife loves the new shelves.  Husband loves them, too, especially when he discovers that someone has moved his flask of Cognac to the very back of the top shelf.

Next came the spices.  We’ve seen many, many ideas about where to put a spice rack in the trailer.  The person I need to make happy did not want anything mounted on an outside wall (too hot) or exposed to a window (no sunlight).  My solution was to put the spices into the pantry.

I bought some six-by-nine-inch bamboo stackable drawer organizers from Lowe’s (about $6 each).  Using my wife’s best one-inch-wide emery board nail file (she was gone), I sanded inch-wide notches in the sides for elastic straps to go across.  The boxes were then carefully screwed into the fat part of the pantry door.  With Amazon providing spice bottles and labels, my wife filled the racks with her spicy favorites.

The one downside to this arrangement was that the pantry door handle kept the door from fully opening.  We couldn’t extend the sliding shelves past the spice boxes.  After considering various options, I solved that problem by simply grinding a bit off the door handle bases.  It’s a bit more difficult to grip, but the family cook says that’s a small price to pay for having everything so handy.

She’s happy, which means I’m happy.  She even brought me another beer.

Over the years, we’ve spent a lot of time and money trying to figure out how to tote our bicycles on trailer trips.  With our previous trailer, we ultimately decided the best way to carry the bikes was on the front of our tow vehicle.  We mounted a Curt front receiver for our Xterra and slid on our Swagman bike rack.  Worked fine.

Then we upgraded both the trailer and the tow vehicle.  Neither Curt nor anybody else made front receivers for our new Nissan Titan. 

At the dealer’s suggestion, we ordered our trailer with the optional Lippert Jack-It bike rack, which fits around the electric jack on the front frame.  Unfortunately, to be able to open the truck tailgate with the trailer attached required mounting the jack sideways.  That meant removing the Jack-It.

We considered and rejected a few other options such as carrying the bikes in the trailer or in/on the truck.  The best option seemed to be a variation of what other folks have done and simply mounting a receiver on the trailer’s back bumper and sliding in the bike rack.  Not only would this get our bikes to camp, but by then moving the rack to the back of the truck, I could take the bikes to nearby trailheads.  

The bike rack conversion turned out to be a three-beer project.  To beef up the bumper to carry the load, we installed a pair of Mount-N-Lock Safety Struts (around $85).  These supposedly increase the weight capacity of the bumper to 400 pounds according to the folks at eTrailer.  To our reinforced bumper we bolted on an Eaz Lift RV Bumper Hitch (around $48 from Amazon). The hitch, rack and bikes weighed 100.8 pounds.

Mounting the bikes close to the bumper required moving the spare tire to another location, removing 43.2 pounds from the bumper.  To do that, we bought a BAL Retract-A-Spare (about $100 from Amazon), which allows the spare to be carried under the trailer.  It works just like the spare tire carriers found on most trucks and SUVs.  A cable fits through the spare and is raised and lowered with a turn of a removable crank. 

For ground clearance purposes, I wanted to put the spare as close to the axles as possible.  While I would have preferred a back-of-the-axles location, the sewer drain plumbing on one side and the grill’s propane orifice on the other necessitated a front-of-the-axles mount.  Three beers later, the job was ready for testing. 

We hooked up the trailer, mounted our bikes to the back and did a 250-mile drive down the pothole-infested piece of pavement known as Colorado’s Interstate 70.  Eying the bikes through the observation (backup) camera, they traveled solidly with no sway, and the spare tire came through still tightly mounted to the undercarriage of the trailer. 

All that called for yet another brew or two.

Gone are our old pair of 65-amp lead-acid batteries.  In their place sits a new LiFeBlue 200-amp, low temperature lithium iron phosphate battery.

After considering several options (including the popular Battle Born brand), we chose the LiFeBlue, which comes with Bluetooth battery monitoring.  With my iPhone or iPad, I can look up the voltage, the state of charge, how many recharging cycles it’s gone through, the status of each cell bank inside and more.  This is in addition to what I get from my battery monitor.

Then there is size.  This 200-amp LiFeBlue battery fits in a battery box made for two group 24 or two GC2 golf cart batteries, which is what we already owned.  Although Battle Born makes a 100-amp GC2-size battery, the group 27s that Battle Born and others sell would not have fit.

Another reason we chose LiFeBlue is that they offer an optional low temperature lithium battery.  Most lithium RV batteries cannot be recharged in subfreezing weather.  If the battery is located inside the RV/trailer, that may not be an issue.  Ours, unfortunately, must be mounted outside.  Our low-temperature battery has a built-in heating unit that allows it to be recharged in cold conditions.  It’s not often we’ve been camping in subfreezing conditions, but it has happened.

To prevent theft of the batteries, we bought a battery shackle (about $150 from batteryshackle.com).  Thick steel and three padlocks pretty much ensure that any thief is going to have to work his tail off to abscond with this battery.

Our Battery Shackle is mounted upside down with the padlocks on the bottom.  This gives us a flat area to strap on an empty jerry can or two we can use in camp for hauling water when we’re boonie camping.

To fully charge a lithium battery, one must install a power converter specifically designed for lithium batteries.  There are several replacement units available to transform our stock WFCO 8955 converter into a lithium-ready converter.  We chose the WFCO WF-8950L2-MBA, which required little more than undoing a few screws and disconnecting/reconnecting five wires. 

We now have 200 amp-hours of battery power available for boonie camping.  With lead-acid batteries, one is warned to never go below 50% of the available amp-hours.  Lithium does not have that limitation.  Plus, lithium batteries with the proper power converter/solar controller will charge up many times faster than lead-acid batteries.  We’ll test that out on our next camping trip.

One fringe benefit of lithium is weight.  Our two lead-acid batteries that came with the trailer weighed 78.4 pounds in total.  The lithium replacement only weighs 55.4 pounds.  That’s a weight savings of 23 pounds…

…which means we can carry 30 more 12-ounce beers onboard without increasing the trailer load.

We’ve made two big improvements and a pair of smaller ones to our front door. 

The first improvement was to install a Camco screen door bar, which cost about $15 from Amazon.  The handle provides an easy means to close screen door when the outer door is open.  It’s a very common fix that should have come as standard equipment.

The one-beer installation required drilling a few holes and screwing the bar into the door frame.

The second big improvement, a two-beer project, was to replace the stock door window with a Thin Shade window.  We’ve been camped in places where the morning sun has come blasting through the front window, blinding us as we’re trying to eat breakfast or work on our computers. 

The Thin Shade window has a built-in blind that can be lowered to block out all light from entering through the window.  When not in use, it folds up into the window frame, totally out of sight.

There are two brands of Thin Shade windows commonly available.  We went with the Lippert unit (about $100 on Amazon), which is the same brand as the original.  The package included everything needed, including the clips one needs to remove the original window.

The AP Products brand unit is a few dollars cheaper, but one must contact the company to get the clips needed to remove the old window.  While the Lippert replacement goes back on without screws, the AP shade uses screws. I like the clean look of the Lippert.

The Thin Shade comes with see-through tinted glass, which most people prefer.  We happen to like the frosted glass for its privacy factor.  Instead of using the tinted glass provided, we just reused the frosted original. 

Two other two minor modifications were attempts to provide a means of keeping the door open on a breezy day in camp.  The first was to install a door-holder clip (about $10 from Amazon).  We used one of these on our old A-frame trailer with so-so results.  On this trailer, the clip proved far too anemic to hold in even light winds.

The latest thing we’ve tried to hold the door open is a bungee cord.  I simply replaced one of the door-clip screws with a small, screw-in eyebolt and did the same with one of the trim screws on the side of the trailer.  With an eight-inch bungee strung between the two, the door should stay open.

When not in use, the bungee clips on the wire rack, which we installed when we removed the TV.

The very first improvement we made to our new Micro Lite trailer was to remove the television. 

We go camping to be in nature.  Instead of watching sitcom reruns, we’d rather sit by the fire, sip a glass of wine and gaze up at the stars.  That’s why we rarely camp in RV parks, preferring instead to bunk down in state or national parks.

Removing the TV was an easy, one-beer job.  The TV slid off its mount and eight screws later, the mounting bracket was off. 

In place of the TV, we screwed in an adjustable, Rubbermaid FastTrack wire shelf bought at Lowes.  We use it for hats and ballcaps in camp.  The lower shelf holds coffee cups, wine glasses, a 12-volt clock, an indoor-outdoor thermometer and other odds-and-ends when we’re in camp.

Do we miss not having a TV?  Never.

If we want to watch a video or stream something over the internet, we can do it on our laptops or iPads.  And if it’s a sports event we want to see, we can always head for a sports bar or better yet, we’ll bring over a six-pack and watch it at your trailer.

As the chief, on-the-road dishwasher in the family, I wanted to have a decent faucet with a pull-down sprayer and a single handle for setting temperature and flow. We went with a WEWE kitchen faucet in brushed nickel finish, which cost about $80 at Amazon. On this model, the faucet handle can be mounted in front or to the side. I chose a front mount to keep the handle from hitting the blind.

Installing the faucet was a fun, two-beer project on our trailer (Micro Lite 21DS = Mini Lite 2104s). Access under the sink comes through a drawer opening. Installation required removing the old faucet, cutting a center hole in the counter top for the new one, tightening everything down and connecting the water lines.

Instead of cutting lines and installing new connectors, I simply used nipples to connect the factory water lines to the new faucet. As a result, it takes a bit longer for the hot water to cover the extra distance from the tank to faucet. A few nylon straps keep the lines from bouncing around. So far, no leaks!

One of the big reasons we wanted to upgrade from our little A-frame folding trailer to a Micro Lite was so we would have an actual bathroom with a toilet and separate shower. Here are some of the improvements we’ve made to that shower.

One of our first upgrades was to ditch the origial shower sprayer.

We replaced the stock spray head with an Oxygenics sprayer. We went cheap and installed the white standard model #26781, which cost about $40 from Amazon. It provides a much more pleasant spray and supposedly uses less water. Installation involves little more than unscrewing the old hose and screwing on the new.

If I had it to do over, I might opt for one of the more upscale Oxygenics sprayers, but this works fine.

The cheap plastic clip provided with the Oxygenics sprayer would not hold the shower head in the desired position, so we replaced it with a rotatable aluminum bracket, which cost about $10 from Amazon. With it, the shower head stays nicely in position.

The Oxygenics shower sprayer has an on/off push button for use when taking sailor showers. It’s designed to allow a minor flow when closed, supposedly so the water temperature stays constant. That’s not an issue when camping with full hookups, but when boonie camping, that constant dripping is wasted water doing nothing more than filling the gray water tank.

To cut down on water waste, we installed a KES chrome shutoff valve (about $11 from Amazon) on the shower line. Flip the lever to the left and no water flows through the pipe. Flip it all the way to the right and the flow is full. Anything in between moderates the flow to any desired pressure. We love this thing, and have never had an issue with water temperature not being constant.

After the first few camping trips in the new trailer, we found we were collecting hair in the shower drain.

To solve the problem, we picked up a package of cheap drain strainers, probably from the Dollar Store. We leave the plug in the drain while traveling. When we get to camp, the plug comes out and the strainer goes in. No more hair in the drain issues.

To provide a place to hang wet sox and dainties, the female half of the family wanted a retractable clothesline across the shower (about $15 from Amazon). It turns out this was pretty much a waste. Instead of pulling out the line, she has found it is more convenient to simply hang the wet items over the shower door.

Finally, we added some command hooks to the shower stall walls for hanging wash cloths, a back brush and a shower squeegee.