Our Bliss Mobil / LMTV RV – What We’d Do Differently Next Time

We’ve been full-time digital nomads in our Bliss Mobil / LMTV rig since April 2018, a little over four months as I write this. Time for a “What we’d do differently” post. I get this question often from others either building something similar or at least thinking about it. So this is for you…Please reach out to me if I didn’t answer your question and I’ll add it, or answer your question in the comments.

Disclaimer: As full-time RV digital nomads, our needs are different from someone who would use their rig on weekends and holidays. Just because we decide against a feature doesn’t mean there’s really anything wrong with it – I really love what we’ve done with the LMTV, Bliss Mobil box and trailer – it’s just not what we need or want at this point. Your mileage will, most definitely, vary.

I’ll start this post with the “Life” section first as it’s food for thought for anyone thinking of going full-time in an RV, whether it’s a rig like ours or not.

And I’ll end the post noting that we are selling our awesome adventure trailer! Contact me if you’re interested.

Life

Take time off to adjust! We leapt from living/working at home, to living/working in the RV – no break and very little change in routine. We should have taken at least a month off from working to get adjusted to the new #rvlife – this might be the single most important piece of advice if you are planning to live full-time and work as a digital nomad.

It’s the journey, not the destination! We’re living examples of this. We spent a lot of time telling people where we were hoping to go and only some of that has come to pass. Alaska: no, all over the Western U.S.: yes! We are slow travelers and typically don’t know where we’ll be tomorrow, and definitely not next week or next month. So what I’d do differently is spend less time discussing maps and destinations and more time shrugging.

You may already know what kind of full-time traveler you are, but if not, you’ll figure it out pretty quickly!

Bliss Mobil

The Bliss box is awesome! Not only is it a high quality design and build, but the support from Bliss has been outstanding. We would still choose this as our living quarters, but we’d consider the following changes:

  • Three of us in the 15’ Standard unit is tight – we often find ourselves doing a little do-si-do dance to get around each other. I’d probably go with the 18′ Standard on a 6×6 M1083 FMTV truck. However, one disadvantage of the 6×6 is less space around the frame for storage boxes but, believe it or not, the extra three feet of living space would probably make a big difference.
  • Choose a “high bed” model – this wasn’t offered when we purchased ours but it basically has a bed in the ceiling that drops down over the dining table area. In our case, we make a bed for our son every night at the table – it only takes a few mins but when we’re tired it would be nice to just drop a pre-made bed and he could flop in.
  • No roof-top terrace – we haven’t used it.
  • We have three 120v outlets: one under dining table – good; one in entrance-way – ok; and one in toilet – no! I’d like a 120v in the main bed area, a second outlet in the dining area and one in the garage (storage area). I’d probably also request a 12v outlet in the garage for good measure.
  • Composting toilet – dumping black water is no fun – AFAIK, Bliss Mobil doesn’t offer this option but they should!
  • Storage boxes in garage – the boxes are cool but take up space and are not dust-proof. I’d rather stack some compact dust-proof storage boxes in the same space.
  • More BTU’s for the A/C! It struggles in really hot weather (90 degrees F). This is purely a comfort feature but would be a “nice to have”.

Truck

Our LMTV truck platform has been stable, reliable and easy to drive. I still believe it’s the best choice to carry the Bliss Mobil box. I really love the features of our truck, like the storage boxes and roof rack. That said, I’d probably make some changes:

  • 6×6 FMTV (see above). As noted above, with the 6×6 you sacrifice space for storage boxes.
  • No winch (probably) – haven’t really needed it and hope not to. Maybe I’ll backtrack on this if/when we use it.
  • More sound-proofing, insulation, instrumentation and creature comforts in cab (e.g. what Acela is doing with their truck cabs).
  • An RV generator installed in the subframe area – there’s so much room there and I do end up using our portable Honda 2000 when we camp in the trees for extended periods.
  • Dakar style lights. They look cool but we decided early on not to drive at night and don’t require that much lighting. The LED light bars on top are good enough.
  • I just installed an awesome Cradlepoint cellular/wifi system (post coming!) – I should have spent some time researching this before we took off and we could have started with it. Might have solved some of our “crappy cell” situations and subsequent argument…

Trailer

The short answer is “it’s not you, it’s me”. The trailer by itself is super cool and would make a great adventure trailer behind a truck, jeep or similar. But it has turned out to be more trouble than it’s worth – the “cons” list in my original M1102 post were dead on. The time I backed this giant rig down a narrow, curvy forest road for 1/2 mile or so was when I realized we could probably do without it! I don’t want to talk about what we were doing on that road in the first place…maybe that’s a future post.

But probably most importantly, the trailer encourages us to carry way more “stuff” than we really need. We’re trying to “simplify”…

All that said, it’s still really cool and capable! But we are in the process of unloading the trailer and it will be for sale soon. Contact me if interested!

17 comments

  1. I love my cradlepoint. If you need any networking help I am a network engineer. You may want to reclaim some of that rooftop space for more solar panels to avoid needing the generator so often.

    1. Thanks for the offer! I’m using the generator mostly when we are in dense forest with filtered or no sun. When I’m in full or even partial sun it has no trouble keeping the batteries charged.

  2. Does your existing solar/battery system handle the power requirements of your AC, or is the AC a shore power/generator sort of thing? And if the solar is sufficient now do you think it would still handle a bigger 10K+ BTU cooler…since you said the 6K is struggling on hot days?
    Oh, and you do want that winch. Like a life insurance policy it seems unnecessary until that one time you need it.

    1. To keep the AC on full-time would require shore power. To run it at night before bed is fine as long as we have full sun the next day.

    2. You could swap you 8 x 100ah batteries for 8 x 200ah ones. You would find they would still charge fully most of the time, but last alot longer. Cost and space could be issues here depnding on batter brand but the gain would be significant.

  3. This is a GREAT Article and can’t thank you enough for writing this as it is sometimes tough to talk about the “down sides” of your new baby/camper.

    OK that being said I was a little surprised by a few comments. The 18 foot camper is a huge difference from a 15 foot; bigger springs needed for the chassis, a 6×6 truck has to be way more pricey then what you have now? Maybe Jay couch can chime in on that. I know you all boondock a lot ( seen the pictures) , but how much 4×4 off roading are you doing? There was a camping spot you hit in MT ( in MT) that the trees made their mark. But how often are getting into really being off road? I ask that because a 6×6 is a seriously limiting vehicle when you are really off road.

    I TOTALLY AGREE about the black water tank/cassette toilet argument, and if the good folks at Bliss are reading this ( and I hope they are) Bliss not having that option maybe why I don’t build a Bliss Mobile and I go another way. I was also super surprised to read that Bliss did not provide the “plumbing/hoses” you would need to empty your BW and GW tanks? Especially because it sounded like there was some engineering needed to get them to work.

    The high bed is an interesting point, and if I recall correctly you get more fresh water and tank storage if you go that way-which is an incentive to build with that in mind.

    Could ( in your build) you have have added more solar panels?

    Thanks so much for sharing with us all. I’m learning a lot form you all every time you post.

    1. So far our off-roading has been limited to forest access roads. The roads have ranged from flat and smooth to heavily rutted, slippery, muddy and sometimes with deep sand. Many have been narrow and we have numerous “pin stripes” from branches. In a few cases I was happy to have high clearance. But in all cases I feel a 6×6 would have been fine – however, that’s speculation since I’ve never driven a 6×6!

      I believe the 15′ can only accommodate four solar panels as the big top hatch takes up most of the rear roof space, even without the terrace. I might have mis-stated the power issue – it’s not really that there’s not enough panels, it’s that we really enjoy parking in dense forest where there’s little to no sun. Over the days, we drain the batteries low enough that I’ll break out the generator. I don’t believe this problem would be solved with more panels. I would imagine we’d have the same issue with prolonged overcast skies.

      That said, we are currently boondocking in a wide-open parking lot, with good sun and the panels have no problem keeping up with our consumption.

  4. Hi guys! I may be interested in the trailer if you do consider selling—am located in the Bay Area. Shoot me a note at should you ever decide to list it!

  5. Hi Darrell. Thanks for the stories. Any possibilities of stories from your wife and son’s perspective? Being of the female persuasion and also having children of my own I am interested in how they are taking it all in.

    1. Hi Fran – I’d love to have Lily blog here but she’s currently just too busy. She does micro-blog about her experiences on Instagram @hellbentonbliss – that’s probably the best way to see her perspective. Our son is 13 and has a love/hate relationship with our RV life. He does like it enough to say he doesn’t want to stop. But he does miss friends, fast 24×7 wifi, and other contemporary teen concerns. If only I could get him to write about it…I’ll mention your comment to Lily.

  6. HEY! We saw you last night at Del Valle and my husband came back with photos! We didn’t say hi b/c we weren’t sure you guys were cool… you coulda been Armageddon preppers… but now we wish we had!!! Happy Travels! If you saw 3 little blond kids and some dude taking pictures of your rig, that was our crew.

    1. Dang! You shoulda said hi! Yeah, we’re not preppers, despite the looks of the truck. Not sure where you guys are from and where you’re headed but we’ll be in the Bay Area again soon…

  7. Darrell,

    I love your rig!

    I hear you on the 18′ with a 6×6 – it feels like you’d have a lot more room to work with. The drawback to that would be that it’s an even bigger beast to deal with tight roads, etc. Is the LMTV with the 15′ box so big that the 18′ on FMTV is not scary? In other words, do you feel like you’re in “bus” territory already, or is it still pretty maneuverable?

    Another question for you – how has the LMTV handled the extra weight? I saw in your earlier post that you are over the payload limit (probably well over?). New springs will fix the ride height, but have you had any other issues (braking, tipping, etc.)?

    Thanks!

    Jason

    1. Greetings – The rig is pretty easy to drive so I’m not sure the 6×6 would be a problem for driving. The truck has handled the weight well so far. That all said, it’s a big truck and I drive accordingly.

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