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  • Writer's pictureGear Hut

A "Vanlife" discussion with Brian

During this COVID-19 pandemic, we realized we needed to find new ways to engage with our customer base. Seeing all the home-bound folks with their instagram live videos inspired us to create a series of our own!

Our good friend Brian was our first official guest, as a professional van dweller. We talked about building out vans and vehicles, the differences between having a van to travel vs. having a van to work and live out of, and how COVID-19 has an effect on seasonal jobs and living on the road.

Brian has been living out of vehicles since 2013 when he headed to Colorado for a summer season of raft guiding. For his first couple years, he spent the seasons tenting and living out of a tow-behind camper. Brian upgraded to building out the back of his Xterra for more adventure mobility. After 2 years of living out of the Xterra, and realizing his long term seasonal career goals, Brian made the investment of purchasing a van.

Brian spent a month building out his 2014 Ram Promaster, complete with a sink, fridge, stove and solar panel. He finished a beautiful wooden counter with an exposed living edge. He added fun touches, like cam lobe cabinet closures and color coordinated curtains. One of the niftiest features of Brian's van is his rotating front driver and passenger seats. They can be swiveled to face the living area, adding sitting room that doesn't just face the windshield.

Brian's number one tip to folks building out a van is to take the time to thoroughly plan out the van to fit your needs! For example, he doesn't need to store a bike or large gear under his bed, so he has the ability to keep it lower, giving him full head room. He also advises making sure everything is secure. His exact words were "plan as though your home is going through a constant earthquake"... making sure cabinets and drawers are lockable and all dishes are put away before driving off to your next adventure. Brian also recommends keeping your vehicle discreet and to avoid the temptation to splatter your van with rad stickers. (This is something Rusty and I did... and there was no such thing as stealth camping).

Brian also talked about the importance of a practice run for life on the road. A lot of people invest into the conceptual dream of "vanlife" only to find out it's not for them after dropping thousands of dollars. He recommends going on a long road trip to help you downsize and determine if the lifestyle change is worth the investment. For him, after several years of tenting and living out of an SUV, transitioning to the van was an upgrade.

It was fun having this conversation with Brian because between our experiences, we've covered car living in all the ways. We were able to discuss the contrast of long term travel vs. a mobile living space while working. If you have any questions about vanlife, you can reach out to Brian on Instagram. He also made a video tour of his built out Xterra! Check it out!

Here are some summary slides from our instagram live talk where we answered questions from our followers.

Remember, the best car is the one you've got. Use the stay home directives to put effort into dreaming up your next road trip and how to make your car work for your needs.

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