Can Go-Pods be used off-grid?

For some caravanners, pitching up on a remote site without access to facilities or power has a certain, unique appeal. Off-grid caravanning certainly isn't for the faint hearted, but there's something deeply satisfying about being able to brave stays at off-the-beaten-path locations relying entirely on the equipment and supplies that you brought with you.

What is 'off-grid' camping/caravanning?

The term "off-grid" (our American cousins sometimes use "off-the-grid") is defined in the Oxford Dictionary as;

"not using the public supplies of electricity, gas, water, etc."

In simple terms, "off-gridding" is a practice of self-reliance and resourcefulness.

Likely the first thing that springs to mind is a lone man living a reclusive lifestyle in a mountain cabin (until his former army commander/comrade arrives to bring him out of retirement for "one last mission"), but in the context of caravanning "off-gridding" usually means staying at sites without electricity, running water and toilets/showers.

There are purpose built "expedition" vehicles designed primarily for use off-grid, but they often come in the form of bulky camper vans built on a commercial vehicle chassis that are so ridiculously over-equipped that it seems they were built to survive the apocalypse.

You may be surprised to learn that there are compact, lightweight solutions for off-gridding that won't require you to remortgage the house! Go-Pods are one such solution.

What makes Go-Pods suitable for use off-grid?

Go-Pods are compact, lightweight, 2 berth "micro tourer" caravans designed to be easy to tow, easy to use and easy to store. They include all of the essential features that you'd expect to find in a full sized caravan, in a compact and refined package.

Most Go-Pods are used primarily on sites with mains electricity hookup & full facilities, but they're perfectly suited for short off-grid trips too - and even longer stays with the addition of a couple of option accessories.

They're compact & easy to tow

At just 4.20m long, 2.00m wide and 2.05m high, Go-Pods are one of the smallest leisure vehicles on the market and this gives them the ability to traverse routes and reach locations that larger caravans simply can't.

Go-Pods handle narrow country lanes and roads with height restrictions with ease and guarantee a smooth, comfortable towing experience, and with an MTPLM of just 750kg, they can also be towed by small cars and electric vehicles which opens up even more possibilities.

Leisure battery & 12V fridge included!

The standard specification of both the Go-Pod Classic and Go-Pod Pioneer models includes a leisure battery (85Ah version in the Classic model, 110Ah version in the Pioneer model) and a Dometic CRE50 12V compressor refrigerator unit.

Many caravan industry 'newbies' are surprised to learn that most caravans do not include a leisure battery in the specification, meaning that you'll have to find and source a suitable battery yourself after purchasing. Go-Pods are ready to go as soon as they're handed over, with everything you need to get away (though there's a wide range of optional accessories available to allow you to customise the specification of Go-Pods to suit your needs - more on that in the next section).

The Dometic CRE50 12V refrigerator runs exclusively from the on-board leisure battery, which means that your fridge will work whether you have access to mains electricity or not.

Go-Pods also include a full 12V circuit, with the lights, water pump, fridge & 12V socket all working off-grid.

Add further off-grid capabilities with optional accessories

All new Go-Pods essentially start as a "blank canvas" with the option to add accessories and upgrades to fully customise the specification to suit your needs and style of caravanning.

To enhance your Go-Pod's off-grid capabilties, you can add a solar panel (available in 100W and 120W versions), dual-fuel heating system (which runs on either gas or mains 240V electricity), a gas-powered oven & grill, external gas socket for running gas-powered BBQs, fridges or heaters and 12V-powered USB sockets for charging your devices.

Solar power

Available in either 100W or 120W versions, a semi-flexible solar panel can be mounted to the pop-top roof of your Go-Pod.

This generates power via a series of connected solar cells, charging your leisure battery and potentially (depending on the amount of available sunlight and how much power you're using) extend your off-grid stays significantly.

Solar panels are one of our most popular accessories, purchased by both Go-Pod owners who like to stay off-grid and those who don't. It should also keep your leisure battery topped up when your Go-Pod isn't in use, reducing the amount of maintenance you'll need to do to keep your battery in top shape.

Dual-fuel heating system

  • Blown Air Heating - controls
  • 1 - AWNING HEATER 2019

Our dual-fuel heating systems (powered by gas or 240V mains electricity) can significantly extend your season and makes using your Go-Pod from early Spring time into late Autumn a possibility - or even year round use if you're brave enough!

The heating system and fan element are neatly tucked away beneath the front seat, with a single vent in the footwell to pump warm air into your Go-Pod. The heating system is so efficient that owners find that running it for 5 or 10 minutes is enough to provide a comfortable temperature.

When using the heating system off-grid, you would select the "gas" setting on the control panel to run the heating element from the onboard gas bottle. When on a site with mains hookup, you would run it from 240V to save your gas for future off-grid trips.

An additional awning heater socket can be added, which is installed on the rear of the Go-Pod by the door and connects to the blown air heating system, producing a steady stream of warm air that is pumped out into your awning - perfect for taking the edge off during chilly evenings.

Gas powered oven & grill combo

The standard specification of Go-Pods includes 2 gas powered ring hobs, but if you'd like to expand your culinary capabilities while off-grid, you can add a gas powered oven & grill to your Go-Pod.

The Thetford-brand oven & grill is installed in the cupboard space beneath the hobs providing you with the facility to make home-cooked meals while away - perfect if you've been "roughing it" off-grid all day!

External gas socket

If an outdoor BBQ is an essential part of the camping experience for you or should you need extra fridge space for bevvies, an external gas socket is a worthwhile addition to your Go-Pod.

Installed at the rear right-hand side of the Go-Pod, this socket is plumbed through from the onboard gas bottle in the front box and allows you to connect gas powered BBQs, fridges and heaters giving you even more options when staying off-grid.

You could even connect a gas powered shower (like the Hottap V2) to provide an ensuite bathroom!

Extend your off-grid capabilities even further

  • Delta Eco Flo Mini plugged into Go-Pod mains socket
  • Delta Eco Flo Mini with solar panels attached
  • Delta Eco Flo Mini iPhone app

So you've well and truly caught the "off-grid bug" and at this point you can't imagine yourself ever reintegrating into society and staying at fully serviced campsites again. Your solar panel is keeping your leisure battery topped up, the heating is on keeping your Go-Pod toasty warm, a full roast is in the gas powered oven and you're about to nip outside to the extra fridge (connected to the external gas socket) to grab a nice cold beer.

At this point, what else can you add into the mix to take things a step further? Well, there is one other particularly interesting possibility.

Go-Pod owner Paul Johnson, a site assessor for Alan Rogers Travel Guides, extensively tours Europe in his Go-Pod each year reviewing campsites for the Alan Rogers website and printed guides.

At many of these sites, mains electricity hookup is not available and so Paul has taken the extra step of purchasing a Delta Eco-Flow Mini power pack to provide 240V power to his Go-Pod while away. He also purchased an extra set of solar panels (that fold flat for easy storage) to top his power pack up on sunny days.

The Eco-Flow Mini has a handy smartphone companion app that displays the charge level and capacity, as well as the input and output levels. Using this information, Paul is able to limit his power usage when the charge is running low, and use the input power readings to determine the best location and angle for his solar panels.

Paul gave a glowing review of the Delta Eco Flow Mini in our blog post here. According to his review, it does exactly what it says on the tin and could be an invaluable resource for any hardcore off-grid Go-Podders.