Last month, GearJunkie moved its office into the wilds to unplug, test equipment, and ride mountain bikes as summer faded into fall. With the aid of a Winnebago Revel RV, eight GearJunkies motored to north-central Minnesota and the upcoming mountain biking hub of Cuyuna.
Over 3 days, we cooked, camped, tested gear, and worked from a boondock site on state land. We rode bikes from base camp to a nearby trailhead, where Cuyuna’s famous red dirt trails stretched uphill and into the trees.
The group leaned on the Winnebago and its amenities as well as a fleet of tents and tarps to serve as sleeping quarters. Power, water, fire for cooking, and the gear-hauling ability of the Winnebago Revel RV let us live and work in the wilds with most of the comforts of home.
Below are a few things we learned along the way.
1. Lean on Local Knowledge
Pre-trip, we got in contact with GearJunkie contributor and soon-to-be Cuyuna resident Tom Puzak. He provided a rough map to multiple boondock-able RV sites on purported “no man’s land” owned by the state.
In many parts of the U.S., RVers can find free camping to park a vehicle and live undisturbed for a few days. Even with the local beta, we had some competition finding an ideal spot to set up camp.
Puzak’s multiple recommendations came in handy as we navigated the Revel through the wandering B-roads of Hell’s Acre and finally landed on the sweet spot — a roomy site with the bonus of a fire ring and a rope swing strung off a towering tree above a water-filled mine pit. Yee-ha!
2. Mobile Office Power
In between paddling the area’s lakes in packrafts and mountain biking, GearJunkie managed to write and publish multiple articles from the Cuyuna campsite. We maintained social media accounts and answered emails.
We also (accidentally) left a water pump on overnight, as well as some vehicle lights. These rookie mistakes meant power was at a premium for our laptops and phones. The solution was portable power.
While the Revel’s built-in solar panels soaked in the afternoon sun, we had our portable batteries charged and ready to provide much-needed power to our laptops. Even if you have a reliable source of power, it’s always good to have a backup.
3. Don’t Bring the ‘Kitchen Sink’
Eight guys in a couple of vehicles, all wanting to hike, bike, swim, and paddle for a few days makes for a load of gear. “We were gone for only 2 days,” said GearJunkie’s Bryan Frank, “but I ended up bringing about six duffel bags!”
The lesson learned was just because you have vehicle space — the Winnebago can haul 140 cubic feet worth of gear — it’s still good to pack smart. Keeping the RV organized and packing appropriately, no matter the vehicle size, will pay off and help the trip go more smoothly once your destination is reached.
4. Off-Grid Connectivity Concerns
A new cell tower on the edge of a nearby town gave us a couple of bars. But when we left the connected world of the Twin Cities, there was no guarantee we’d have good service.
The crew was able to squeak by with the signal from the new tower and considered ourselves lucky. But we’ll be sure to pack a cell booster in the future.
We also sought respite at the local coffee, sandwich, and bike shop, Red Raven, during a heavy rainstorm that rolled through. It provided us a solid connection and workspace before hitting the lakes and trails one afternoon.
5. Know Where an RV Can Go
If your RV has 4×4 capability, by all means, hit the rutted track and get far off the grid. For the Winnebago Revel, which has all-wheel drive, we found a limit outside of Cuyuna. On a muddy two-track road, tires spun as we attempted to crest a hill.
Fortunately, that beta from our writer Tom Puzak put us in a good place to find an alternate route that the Revel handled with ease.
This article is sponsored by Go RVing. Check out RV travel ideas, news, and dealer information at gorving.com.