Hi all, First post here
Ive been going back and forth about chronicling a build thread for my van here. It seems there are so many examples of #overland #vanlife builds out there and exhaustive, bordering on nauseating (not so much here) analysis paralysis discussions on minute details of how to accessorize your van with every last nook and cranny filled with stuff and every accessory under the sun. I think they look cool, but when it comes down to it, for my purposes, a lot of what seems to be out there is excessive. However, I know that I have benefited from the shared information of others, and i figured that maybe someone might benefit from one of my ideas, so here goes.
Over the past few years my wife and i went from sleeping in the back of our subaru, to the bed of my old ranger, to a minivan, and finally, now that life has allowed for a bit more space and a garage, we have moved to a full size van.
I was fortunate to find a great deal on an extended body high top E250 5.4 limo with 42k miles one year ago
I definitely dont consider myself an overlander. all of our adventures are human powered, and the purpose of the van is to take us and our plethora of gear to and from the trailhead and provide a comfortable place to sleep and charge phones for a weekend at a time. Based on this, when I bought the van I decided not to immediately rip it apart and build it out, but instead install a basic bed in the back of it and use it for a whole year while I figured out what i did and did not need.
I learned a lot.
Heres what I figured out i DONT need
- in the northeast the most ill do is hit a dirt road now and then. I do a lot of winter sports and jump on the chance for powder, but a good set of snow tires this past winter did not let me down in any storm. while a big tired 4wd van looks cool..i would honestly have no use for it.
- we are not good cooks, and in fact i really dont like cooking, so i dont need to worry about stoves and running water and all that jazz. If im cooking something (home or camping) it mostly just involves boiling water, and i can do that on a camp stove outside the van without issue.
standalone heater and heavy insulation
- the van has a ton of windows which you have to consider when youre thinking about insulating the van. We have been super comfortable with winter sleeping bags in the back down to temps of -15F. In the morning. i get up and start the van and warm it up so that my wife can emerge from her cocoon. its simple but it works.
A complicated house electrical system
- since im not going to be cooking, i dont need a fridge. since the van is really for weekend trips and long weekends, an all in one battery/power inverter should provide enough juice for running some interior LED lights and keeping our phones charged for a few days. this makes things a bit cheaper for me and helps with the idea of building something simple.
Heres what i figured out that i DO NEED
flexible space and a maximization of open volume
- In addition to particpating in human powered sports. I also direct adventure races and swimrun events. This requires me to load up the van with tons of race equipment, so i need free space. lots of built in cabinetry would just get in the way.
- I have found that there will be times where i will need to transport 4 or more bikes in addition to people and more gear. this means the addition of a roof rack for ski equipment and boats
A high bed and seats for 4
- ideally i want to be able to take a trip with 4 people and sleep in the back like a bunk bed. the main bed will be high enough to put plenty of gear underneath, or if i want to i can have two people sleep under there with sleeping pads and bags.
Here is where my van sits as of today. I removed the ribbon stuff (still need to get the residue off, and swapped out the stock wheels with the snow tires for some black aluminum wheels that were on sale with summer tires. There was already a lot of black on the van so i just decided to run with it and made the chrome bumpers black as well.
The interior tear down begins this week. the plan is for new flooring and a simple built in bed with some cubby space for the lithium ion battery pack and tools, with lots of free space underneath.
I hope that wasnt too long winded.