Shine, Sanitize, Strive

In the last episode, we looked at the first two principals: “Seiri”: Straighten up – decide what you need, and “Seiton”: Store – everything in its place.

In a nutshell, you have a place for everything, and everything in its place. This time around, we’ll look at the last three S’s of Japanese business, and see how they apply to your next trip?

3. Seiso: Shine – clean it up.

Obviously “shine” has nothing to do with going through the car wash. “Clean it up” in this case has more to do with taking care of loose ends. If you’ve added accessory wiring, apply protective loom, and use cable ties to prevent rubbing. Check the torque on those lug nuts. Take care of all the cargo items that aren’t yet secured, using a net, a protective barrier, or simple straps. The more prep you do before your trip, the less time you spend adjusting, readjusting, and fixing on your way.

I’ve always found that keeping things tied down when travelling makes accessing those same things very difficult. To this end, I’ve found a great storage solution that practically ties down itself. Borrowed from the construction industry, interlocking toolboxes have been gaining traction (if you’ll forgive the pun) in overlanding. My setup is comprised of three Milwaukee packouts, which lock to each other, and clip onto a baseplate on top of my drawers. Removal requires one finger to depress a button, whereupon these plastic masterpieces slide out and away. No strings attached! I’m currently using them for tool, food, and accessory storage. So far they have been a perfect ammo box substitute…

4. Seiketsu: Sanitize – make it safe.

Sanitize? In the midst of a pandemic, we are all too familiar with this word, but let’s run away from hand sanitizer and move back to basics. I’m talking about dishes, showers, and cooking. What is the common denominator in all these things? You guessed it! Water! You need to decide how you’re going to carry it, what you’re carrying it in, and how much you plan to have onboard.

I’ve carried all manner of water container, jugs, cans, and pumps. Depending on the time of year, all of these things have their place. But for a long trip, I’ve decided to go big. Well, bigger. Water is heavy (approximately one kilogram per liter) so having it at the extreme rear end of your vehicle, where it is most accessible, definitely isn’t optimum. Storing it up high compounds this problem, so rooftop water storage, in my humble opinion, should be a temporary if not last resort. After many different trials, I’ve settled on a 50 liter tank (made by Frontrunner) that is slanted to fill that often useless void behind the rear seat. Sitting at the midline should help weight distribution, and I’ll use a 12v pump to send the water where its needed.

5. Shitsuke: Strive/self-discipline.

This brings us to the last one: “Strive”, or “sustained discipline”. In my opinion this principal is overarching, and applies to your entire trip, from the pre-trip maintenance, to the packing methods. It means keeping organized, creating and following a schedule, and looking after yourself along the way, whether this is eating right, getting enough sleep, or simply allowing yourself some downtime.

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