The Community Behind the Camper

Nic & Alder
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Editor’s Note: This post is written by a member of LTV’s sponsored content team, The Leisure Explorers. Do you own a Leisure Travel Van and enjoy writing? Learn more about joining the team.

When we made the decision to purchase an LTV, we were completely new to RVs and the RV community. In preparation for our new entrance into the world of motorhomes, trailers, and campers, I began researching information on online forums, including ones specifically related to LTV owners. I found something unexpected that has revealed itself in real life as well: the wonderfully helpful, supportive, loving, and excited community of LTV owners.

Although we could not select any of the options that came with our new 2021 Unity, we were lucky enough to receive a unit with 400w of solar panels up top and 200ah of lithium batteries below. As avid tent campers accustomed to reaching places in a 4WD off-roading truck, we knew we wanted to be able to get away from crowds and other campers and access truly remote areas of the country.

After our first multi-week trip down Highway 1 along the west coast and over to Joshua Tree National Park, we decided we wanted to upgrade some of our electrical components, specifically the solar charge controller and add a smart shunt to monitor our lithium batteries . So, with a little more research in the forums, we decided to replace the GoPower solar charge controller with an MPPT from Victron Energy, move it to the inverter bay, and add a Bluetooth-enabled smart shunt to the batteries for easy monitoring. But even though several online community members had provided detailed instructions and guidelines for these modifications, I still managed to mess it up.

We were on our third major trip and had crossed the country from Oregon to Virginia to visit family and watch the leaves change color. Although we were able to monitor our power much more closely, our observations revealed that something wasn’t quite right with the way the batteries were charging and holding charge. When we landed at our relative’s home, Alder worked remotely from the lush back patio, and I sat in the driveway scratching my head and staring at a bundle of wires. Here again, the online community saved us. I posted pictures to the forum and described the problems we were experiencing, and multiple members chimed in within the hour to offer up guidance. With some provided screenshots and other detailed information on how to remedy the mistake (thanks, Sandy), I ordered some new parts, made the changes, and our issues were resolved in no time. This was the first time the wonderful community of LTV owners got us out of a jam, and it was certainly not the last.

Boondocking among the fall leaves in the Northeast.
The changing colors of the fall leaves in New England.

We have had similarly terrific interactions with other owners in the real world. No matter where we’re headed, if we ever see another LTV on the road, we are always quick to honk or wave and have always received the same greeting in return. On a handful of occasions, we have been lucky enough to be stopped next to or near another Unity and feel compelled to stop by for a visit. Our first such opportunity was on that trip to Joshua Tree and was actually in the park itself. We met a couple with a Unity FX and a pair of small dogs and spent some time talking about LTV ownership, the differences in the floorplans (ours is a Twin Bed), and the national park while walking around and taking pictures of the cholla cacti. On another trip, we ran into a couple with two golden retrievers in a campground in Zion National Park, with whom we discussed the excellent build quality of Leisure vans and the similar electrical modifications we had both made and our shared appreciation for the knowledge and assistance found on the online forums.

Later in that visit to Utah, while visiting Goblin Valley State Park, we ran into a couple who shared the same floorplan as us. They had also come to own their unit in a roundabout way and were disheartened not to have the solar options that they used to use to do boondocking. This was a fortuitous meeting for both of us. Upon our first introduction, they informed us of a nearby slot canyon hike we could take to avoid the heat of the day’s peak. We had been greatly looking forward to doing a slot canyon hike, and walking among the goblins in the Valley of Goblins at high noon didn’t seem wise on a hot summer day. We followed their directions and drove ten minutes to the trailhead of Little Wild Horse Canyon. The parking lot was full, but we found a spot big enough for the van in the dried-up riverbed next to it, where some other vehicles were parked. It was sandy, but with our truck camping experience, we had no problems positioning the camper. As we packed our backpacks and applied sunscreen, we heard a call from behind us. It was our new LTV friends! They had also come to hike the canyon and had followed our path into the dry riverbed but had become stuck in the sand.

Getting an LTV stuck is no great pleasure, but we have made enough mistakes along the way that we knew a few tricks to help free their vehicle. Their wheels had sunk down into the loose sand and were spinning. Our first trick is made possible by the add-on option of the self-leveling jacks, which they had opted for and ours had come with. We carry a collection of “Lego” blocks, the square plastic interlocking plates that people without self-leveling jacks use to balance their units. We use these when our self-leveling jacks max out in one corner or another and need a little extra height. We placed a small stack of the blocks under the jacks on the right side of the vehicle where the tires were sunk and instructed them to lower the jacks on that side. As the jacks came down onto the blocks, the right side of the vehicle raised up, pulling the stuck tires from the loose sand.

Helping our new friends get free of the sinking sands.

The second trick was to use additional blocks to create a traction track in the path of the tires, including underneath the raised wheels, to create a more rigid and grippy surface for the tires to drive on. With the track in place, they raised up the jacks, resting the tires down onto the track, and successfully reversed their van back to the paved road. It felt like a great, shared accomplishment, and we were thrilled to be able to return a favor to them after they had guided us to an interesting new hiking location.

For us, it really emphasized the value of the close-knit community of LTV owners and the pride we all take in our vehicles; it makes us feel that the Unity is aptly named and that there truly is a community behind the campers.

Note: Modifications may void certain aspects of your limited warranty, as well as affect resale values. Consult your warranty for details. Triple E Recreational Vehicles is not responsible or liable for any actions you take after viewing this page, or for any modifications you make to your vehicle. Please use a qualified professional to make any modifications to your vehicle, and ensure that any changes you make are safe, and in compliance with all applicable laws.

Nic & Alder

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