Campers Could Soon Charge Cell Phones With Pee

Stuck in the woods with no way to charge your cell phone? Soon, you might be able to solve the quandary with your own urine. Researchers in the United Kingdom have figured out how to use waste-eating bacteria to produce enough electricity to send a few text messages and make a call, with the output steadily improving.

Here’s what Dr. Ioannis Ieropoulos of the University of the West of England, part of the team who worked on the project, explained to the Independent:

“The beauty of this fuel source is that we are not relying on the erratic nature of the wind or the sun; we are actually reusing waste to create energy. One product that we can be sure of an unending supply is our own urine.”

As of right now, the urine-to-electricity device is about the size of a car battery, but it’s expected to get smaller and more portable. Besides charging mobile phones, they could also be installed in bathrooms, allowing us to harness our urine power day and night year-round. In a few years, it might be normal to see pee-powered charging stations at National Parks — or, visitors could just plug in at a luxury hotel nearby.

The Winnebago: A Slideshow Tribute

Just last week, we reported (via Thrillist) on Tonke Campers, the coolest custom RV’s ever to hit the road. Well, Thrillist has done it again, this time providing veteran road warriors with a slideshow retrospective dedicated to that most classic of caravans: the Winnebago.

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I long to live in a retro camper (just as long as it takes me to cover several continents; I’m not trying to become Jack Nicholson in “About Schmidt”). Clearly, I’m not alone, given the ever-increasing number of Airstream hotels and motels, vintage RV parks and rallies (an acquaintance of mine just returned from the 6th annual Trail Along to Pismo Vintage Trailer Camp), and trailer-courts-turned-food pods or flea markets (check out the one in the industrial Georgetown ‘hood in Seattle).

Whether your idea of a sweet ride is a janky gypsy wagon or a sleek Roadtrek camper van, we don’t see RVing going out of style anytime soon. Cheers to that.

Tonke Campers Are The Modern Nomad’s Motorhome

When I was 3 years old, my parents invested in a Roll-A-Long camper. It wasn’t sleek, like the Winnebagos of the day. It was more like a super-sized camper shell mounted on the forerunner of a dually truck. It was badass, and survived innumerable family vacations and sleepovers (when my brother and I were in college, we’d bring friends down to my parents ranch, and use it as a dorm of sorts).

Sadly, my parents sold the camper after I graduated. Unbeknownst to them, I’d been silently contemplating living it it, in order to save money and support my nomadic lifestyle. Not long after the sale, my dad said, “If I’d known you were going to move so often, I would have just sold it to you.” Dammit.

I’ve longed to live in an RV ever since. I still fantasize about it, and despite my love of vintage trailers, I find the immediacy of a camper more appealing. Interior design is also crucial to me (the Roll-A-Long’s was hideous, even for the early ’70s). Therefore, I was delighted to discover Tonke Campers.

Thrillist aptly describes these groovy, custom Dutch campers as “old-world Gypsy carts.” The Fieldsleeper 1 model they feature is mounted on a Mercedes Sprinter. It boasts polished wood interiors and exteriors; teak flooring; colorful retro fittings; an ample kitchen; cozy sleepers for three; and a bathroom kitted out with a shower and eco-friendly toilet. The rear doors open for an al fresco dining experience, and there’s hidden bike storage. Most ingenious, hydraulic legs make it easy to ditch the shell so you have an “around town” vehicle. Should all that not be enough, Tonke Campers founder Maarten van Soest will happily create a “motorhome” to suit your needs. That’s what I call living the dream.

Belgian family recreates “Home Alone” – son left behind on rest stop bench

Next time you run through your checklist of things you don’t want to forget when you go on vacation, be sure to include your kid(s) on the list.

That is where a Belgian family went wrong last week, when they left their son on a bench next to their caravan.

The family had stopped at a French highway rest stop and set up their caravan for the night. When the young boy got too hot indoors, he decided to sleep outside on a bench.

When he woke the next morning, his family was gone, and he was on his own without any money or a phone. His family made the mistake of leaving the rest stop, without making sure their son was still with them.

The boy eventually made his way to a gas station where the police were contacted. His family was stopped about 200 miles away and immediately returned to the gas station to pick up their child.


Weird Campers, Unusual RVs, and Other Bizarre Rolling Rooms

Hotels are nice. Motels are cheap. Earth ships are, well, you know earthy. But for real travelers — the wanderers with a lust for wheels — there’s nothing more intoxicating than traveling the countryside in a camper.

Watching the scenery glide past; getting a sunburn on the arm hanging out the window; reveling in the freedom to stop anydamnwhere you please…ahhh, this is when traveling becomes adventure.

There are many different kinds of mobile living quarters: campers, RVs, and mobile homes are for the common person. For the true wandering spirit, only a unique rolling room will do. What qualifies as a “unique rolling room”? From the Train RV, to the Little Bugger Mini Home, to the ass-kickin’est overlander imaginable, here are 10 of the most unusual rolling rooms on the planet.

Road tripping is nothing new, of course. If you think about it, the exploration of the Old West was just one long, nation-wide road trip. Covered wagons, though, were not the ideal medium for cross country caravanning. Therefore, since the earliest days of travel, clever wanderers have longed for their own portable space on the open road.

For example, one of the oldest known campers is this converted Model T from 1920. Part house and part car, this novel cottage on wheels — complete with its own sunroom and back porch — gives a new spin to the term “life on the road.”

The guy who converted the Model T didn’t corner the market on wooden campers, though. Check out this truck-slash-log cabin. It doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere soon, but it’s nice to know that whereever you’re parked, you’ve got a window to throw trash out of and a tiny stove for cookin’ up some grits.

In stark contrast to that wobbly-looking log cabin camper, this mighty behemoth oozes testosterone and sweat. Fit to tackle all manner of terrain, but homey enough to receive all your favorite episodes from the Travel Channel, this camper — dubbed the Train RV — is the little camper that could.

Okay, so maybe the Train RV is a little big. Fair enough. Maybe you’re more into this completely stylized, totally tricked-out, all-season Vanagon. This particular Vanagon features:

  • a Thermal Systems 6000 BTU Platinum Cat power vented catalytic heater
  • Warm Window insulated curtains and a uniquely designed self-supporting awning
  • a Sony SAT-B3 DSS receiver; a portable, collapsible Winegard satellite dish; a Sony Trinitron AC/DC color TV; front & rear Boston Acoustics Pro Series speakers; an Alpine AM/FM cassette receiver with wireless remote control; and a compact disc changer
  • a 90-watt roof mounted BP solar panel; a Morningstar Sunsaver photovoltaic controller; an Exeltech XP125 true sine wave inverter; and a power distribution panel with the meters and switches to monitor and control it all.

Yes, this Vanagon is THE camper for the wandering geek.

Vanagon isn’t the only cool VW camper. Haven’t you ever heard about the Little Bugger Mini Home? This 1967 Little Bugger Volkswagen Conversion Camper is one of only 200 made by a shop in Irvine, California — and it can be yours, if you win the eBay auction.

Volkswagon clearly manufactured the most hackable vehicles of the 1970s and 1980s. Disagree? Check out this Hybrid RV, featuring a bus with a pop-out and a Vanagon with a pop-up:

Switching gears slightly, designer Kevin van Braak has figured out a way to bring a little countryside into the city. Essentially a trailer that unpacks into a thriving green space, the crafty trailer easily unfolds, allowing you to camp in a camper, on some grass, in the city. For more images — or to see how van Braak built this concept car — check his website.

Urban camping takes on a new meaning with Michael Rakowitz’ P(Lot) project, which we mentioned recently. Grab a sleeping bag; find a parking space; and you’re good to go.

Hit the brakes! Before we spend too much time getting INTO the city, let’s remember what campers and RVs are for: getting the heck outta dodge! Were I to get the chance to travel the world, this may be the overlander I’d choose to do it in. Sturdy, compact, and complete with a map in case I forget where I’ve been, this rugged little piece of machinery can take you almost anywhere you want to go.

And for the places that this overlander CAN’T take you — you can always rev up this bad boy. Owned by Zulu Overland, this overlander is typical of the vehicles I saw zooming through Zambia. With space below for food and gear, and plenty of seats above for convenient game-viewing, these monsters were notorious for screaming over potholes as though they were pinholes.

UPDATE: Our good buddies at Autoblog recently pointed out some other cool campers, including:

The one-of-a-kind, Wothahellizat (say it out loud…):

The sleek, Euro RV, the Knauss V-Liner:

The Terra Wind, a floating motor home:

And a custom-built 1958 Edsel Ranger Motor Home:

Can’t afford one of these campers? No worries. Just take a road trip and see some countryside for yourself.