It was exciting times when we were designing our canopy fitout of our Urban Escape Vehicle, but it’s not something we simply jumped into. So if there’s one bit of advice we can give, especially if you’re a first timer setting up a touring vehicle, then it’s important not to jump into designing a canopy fit out until you’ve had a chance to spend time travelling with your vehicle first. You need that time to get a feel for how you like things set up and what you might be after. In our case, we’d been travelling with a variety of different approaches for well over 12 months before making any canopy mods. So we had a pretty good idea what was going to work for us.
For the vehicle’s passenger side, this was going to be the side to hold the pantry, fridge and kitchen prep area 100% of the time. The aim was to only open this gull wing area to access food and drink requirements and deploy our wraparound awning if we ever needed protection from the weather.
But if we were heading away from our base station camper, the canopy design needed to accommodate a week’s worth of food and drinks as our camper already had ample storage with a Waeco 110 litre upright fridge and an area for extra pantry items for additional weeks. The solution also needed to be lightweight, with a balanced weight distribution over the chassis of the vehicle. Lastly, it needed to be efficient to use with everything quick to access and items having a dedicated home in the way it was integrated in the overall layout.
Our final design is a combination of pantry drawer with divider, a shelf storage for soft bag items, drinks and a butane burner, and a slide out table that works as a prep bench or can be used as a sit around table. There’s also a swing door with all cutlery and utensils individually stored, and heavy bulky items are stored in a false underfloor. For the fridge solution, we chose the Waeco 65 litre upright compressor fridge for a variety of reasons.
Having used Waeco fridges in the past with great success, we were already confident in the brand. And we’ve found an upright fridge provides some excellent benefits when used in a canopy environment. Not only does it save on a huge amount of space, it’s significantly lighter when compared to a chest fridge which needs a fridge slide of sorts that adds more weight. The energy draw of 3.5 amps is very efficient in 12v power draw, and this model automatically switches from 12v to 240v if we happen to be in a campground with sure power.
The layout of the fridge provides a small freezer which is big enough for a few small frozen items, but large enough so we can make ice cubes while on the road. The fridge accommodates tall items in the door and has a small crisper compartment and a couple shelves. And when you combine a 7 day meal planner with this fridge size, it works well for us.
With the design now manufactured, installed and in full use, we’ve received comments such as how streamlined our canopy fit out looks with the upright fridge. And people seem to be surprised how much we can fit in it, especially when we pull out ice creams while 100kms away from shops in some remote desert area. That gets some looks!
In the end, we figured we’ve saved close to 40kgs in weight compared to having a chest fridge layout with a slide, and that’s 40 kilos of extra water or fuel we could be carrying which is very important for our style of travel.
So if you’re considering what fridge to use for your setup, check out the upright style – for us it’s been the perfect solution for our canopy kitchen layout.
Catch you next time!
Grant & Linda
My Aussie Travel Guide