Tips for Camping Offgrid & Top Camp Meals
Looking for the ultimate off-grid camping experience? Pro offroad mountain biking cyclist Sarah Sturm, @sarah_sturmy, knows how to pull out all the stops. With her streamlined and comfortable camp setup, complete with a Dometic powered cooler and all the necessary camp gear, Sarah seeks out incredible trails straight from camp, while enjoying easy-to-make meals like Southwest street tacos on the road. Join Sarah, her partner Dylan, and their dog Norman on an epic road trip filled with camping, biking, and adventure through the Southwest. Get inspired by Sarah's hard-earned wisdom and her go-to recipes for camping.
Following their journey, Sarah shared some of her hard-earned wisdom—as well as a few of her go-to recipes that are easy to make while camping.
Plan Before You Camp
Sarah and Dylan research and strategize before any trip to maximize their time spent on trail—and minimize unnecessary driving. The best-case scenario, says Sarah, is finding a spot to basecamp with access to biking trails onsite. This isn’t always possible, but more likely than not, you’ll thank yourself for any time spent researching where to camp before the rubber meets the road.
Starting with a destination and camping spot makes every other decision simpler for Sarah, too—from what to pack to how they’ll spend their days when they’re there. But, Sarah says, leaving some room for spontaneity can be fun: “If it’s more than a one-day drive to get to wherever we’re going, it can sort of become a mini-adventure to get to the main adventure.”
Keep It Clean
If you’re on an extended mountain biking road trip, keeping your bikes clean can be a real challenge. If Sarah and Dylan know they’ll be on the road for a long time, they’ll solve this problem by planning a stop in town to visit a carwash.
Since their bikes are on a rack behind the bus, they can park the bus at a self-service car wash and hose down bikes without even removing them from the rack. (But, Sarah says, be careful not to directly spray your bike’s drivetrain.)
Bikes aren’t the only things that need a good cleaning once in a while: On longer camping trips, Sarah and Dylan plan to bounce back and forth between primitive camp spots and more established campgrounds that have shower facilities. The once-in-a-while washup is refreshing, and sometimes even Norman gets a shower—much to his dismay.
Offgrid Camp Kit
Sarah has a simple rule: “Whatever lives in the bus stays in the bus.” Having duplicates of kitchen items like utensils, a coffee maker, and dishware that always stay in the bus means she doesn’t have to pack up her entire kitchen every time she’s ready to hit the road.
A system like this cuts down on packing time, as well as the chance of leaving something behind. “I’m really bad at logistics” Sarah says, “so I’ve sort of designed my life and offgrid setup to be able to wing it—it’s sort of organized chaos.”
Duplicates of other easily forgotten items are great, too: It’s worth it to always keep things like sunscreen and other toiletries in your van, truck or car.
Another important part of Sarah’s offgrid setup? Dual coolers. “We have an electric cooler that stays in the bus,” Sarah says. But she also brings along a smaller, ice chest or Dometic soft storage with an insulated insert, for easy access while cooking outside, or passing cold drinks around the fire.
Cut Down On Clutter
Sarah says the bus is smaller than you’d think, so staying organized is absolutely crucial, especially when she’s traveling with Dylan and Norman.
“We really rely on small storage cubbies that are easily accessible and really organized,” Sarah says. “We have Dometic hard storage for our outdoor kitchen stuff, soft storage for our food, and then other storage that contains a lot of our essential biking gear.”
Especially on a longer offgrid camping trip, letting the clutter get out of hand can have consequences: “If you’re always searching for what you need, it really can lead to burnout and exhaustion,” Sarah says.
The right storage solution can streamline every process at camp—and you’ll never have to live the frustration of not being able to find your nail clippers, or a lighter to start the campfire.
The Power of Power
Having a complete solar setup on the bus allows Sarah to easily transition to life on the road, whether she’s traveling to races or making a quick trip to the mountains or the desert.
“The permanent setup on the bus not only powers the various features of the camper conversion, like the lights and the Dometic powered cooler, but also comes in handy for all kinds of other purposes,” says Dylan. From high speed off-grid internet to phones, computers, GPS units, and other small electronics, their Zamp solar panels keep the power flowing and their devices charging.
“Probably the most unique thing we've ever used solar power for is to recharge e-bike batteries at an e-mtb race,” Dylan says. “I wasn't sure if the system could do it, but I managed to get three full recharges in a weekend, which is pretty impressive.”
Because they don't have a dedicated kitchen space in the bus, Sarah and Dylan rely on solar power to boil water every morning for coffee. “The electric kettle is by far the fastest path to morning caffeine, which is even more handy for the 4am pre-race wake-up calls,” says Dylan.
They also travel with Dometic’s portable Zamp 40w panel and PLB40 battery setup, which comes in handy for charging things outside of the bus. “The inside of the bus is relatively small, so we hang out outside a lot to cook, work, and do bike maintenance,” says Dylan. “This setup is rad for topping off Sarah’s SRAM Derailleur batteries, portable speakers, or even boiling some water outside at the camp table setup. The best part is that it's totally portable, so we can also throw it in the truck for quick weekend trips and riding adventures, which honestly comes in handy more often than I would have expected it to.”
For any endurance athlete, there’s no getting around the importance of fresh, healthy foods, and Sarah counts them as essential—even when she’s training while camping and on the road. Because of this, her electric cooler’s always stocked with fresh milk, greens and all the things that allow her to eat just as well as she would at home.
“It really helps to have those things on hand when you’re camping day in and day out,” Sarah says. “And sometimes those little touches make a massive difference in happiness.”
While biking and camping, Sarah and Dylan keep their meals simple, healthy, and delicious. A typical morning begins with a bowl of yogurt and granola. Since they’re out riding during the day, they pack various snacks for lunch (“I’m an all-day grazer,” Sarah says). Post-ride, Sarah and Dylan whip up some outrageously good (yet simple) tacos. Read on for the recipes.
Pre-Ride Breakfast: Yogurt and Granola Bowl
Scoop a serving of yogurt into a bowl (Sarah likes plain Greek yogurt for its low sugar and high protein content). Top with granola or muesli, plus fresh fruit: Blueberries, strawberries raspberries will stay fresh for days in your electric cooler.
Post-Ride Dinner: Southwest Street Tacos
Brown ground beef or tofu sausage in a pan, seasoning with salt, cumin, chili powder, oregano and onion powder (or a pre-made taco seasoning). Set aside, then saute and season chopped sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts and zucchini. Assemble tacos on mini corn tortillas, garnishing with thinly chopped radish, cilantro and green onion. Store leftover taco filling in your Dometic electric cooler for tomorrow’s post-ride snack.
Make your next offgrid camping trip your best yet with adventure-enabling gear from Dometic, including coolers, water storage jugs and faucets, chairs, tables and more from Dometic’s GO collection.