June 12, 2018

Get out, stay cool and embrace the summer spirit of exploration. Whether you’re preparing for an extended road trip or simply planning a weekend getaway, summer is the perfect time to get in on the fun and embark upon an epic adventure.


Marketing & Ecomm Director


What’s your favorite thing about your van?

2 things: First, my bed. It’s a queen size mattress! The bed is also elevated enough to fit some tubs and my crash pad underneath. Second, the shagadelic carpet, however, I don’t think my wife likes it as much as I do.

What would you recommend to someone looking to build out their vehicle?

Don’t go newer than the 90’s, anything newer just isn’t hipster enough.


Marketing Coordinator


What’s your favorite thing about your bus?

My favorite thing about Van Gogh (my bus) is the inexplicable aura it has. I wish I could pinpoint what it is, but it defies words; life is simpler, slower, and more enjoyable when hanging out in Van Gogh. Whenever I get into a new car, I notice how bad traffic is, or how long a drive feels, but in Van Gogh these things seem to disappear.

What would you recommend to someone looking to build out their vehicle?

My theory has always been the more time you spend building out your vehicle, the less time you’re actually climbing. Keep it simple. I’ve lived in Van Gogh for 5-6 years and all I have done with him is put a little desk in there.


Inventory Analyst


What’s your favorite thing about your Prius?

What I love is that I can leave my AC or heater on ALL night! I do this all the time! Basically, if it’s cold out and I don’t have my warm sleeping bag, I’ll just leave my car on all night with the heater on (or AC during the summer) and the car will only turn on 15 minutes every hour. I’m always comfortable no matter how hot or cold the night is.

What would you recommend to someone looking to build out their vehicle?

Wait, people build out their vehicles?

Tess & Justin

Associate Category Manager & Data Analyst


What’s your favorite thing about your truck?

Our awning is amazing. Since we built out our truck instead of a van, we don’t have a space to hang out in while it’s raining outside. The awning has been a life-saver because now we can chill outside even during inclement weather. Staying dry and having a shaded place to relax keeps us from experiencing claustrophobia in our truck.

What would you recommend to someone looking to build out their vehicle?

Think about storage and ways to improve efficiency. Our drawers go all the way to the front of the bed of the truck meaning there is no wasted space. At the same time, we had to focus on the size of the drawers and what exactly we would want to go in them; planning and prioritizing storage ensured we didn’t have any dead space.

Megan & Zach

Assistant Category Manager & Catalog Manager


What’s your favorite thing about your van?

Well we just got it, to be honest, but just look at the paint. Doesn’t that just throw you back? This thing is definitely a blast from the past!

What would you recommend to someone looking to build out their vehicle?

I’m actually looking for recommendations myself! We have yet to do anything to the van, so if you have any ideas, feel free to throw them my way, it’s a blank canvas.

Ariel & Zac

Graphic Product Designer & Numismatist


What’s your favorite thing about your truck?

    • She cruises dirt roads. There’s plenty of clearance for overlanding, allowing us to get wherever we want to go.
    • Our solar setup is clutch, keeping us off the grid and deep in adventure.
    • She’s pretty incognito to sleep in. Keeping a low profile is key to undisturbed sleeping.

What would you recommend to someone looking to build out their vehicle?

Building out a vehicle is a money pit. Save up, do your research, and plan accordingly.

Christine & Seth

Inventory Analyst


What’s your favorite feature of your van?

That’s a tough one; I have a few favorites, and Christine has hers. In the summer, our dual ceiling fans are crucial, keeping us cool even when it’s hot outside. The forward-fan in the common area is on remote, which allows for different blade speeds and direction of airflow. We are able to leave this fan open or running without checking the weather forecast thanks to a self-closing moisture sensor. Of course, during the winter, my favorite feature is our cubic wood-burning stove.


What would you recommend to someone looking to build out their own van?

First, be aware that each van has its own advantages and drawbacks, especially in the build-out process. For example, the modern Promaster makes insulating easy, while it measures smaller when compared to its counterparts and also has poor road clearance. The Transit is tallest and has ample living space, yet insulating the walls is a nightmare. Make sure you research and prioritize what is most important to you.

After choosing the van, your next focus should be preventing mold every step of the way! This is best accomplished by choosing a mold resistant insulation with excellent R-value such as R-Tech. Consider a sandwich construction when insulating; you want a reflector on the outer and inner walls with a great R-value in the middle. For the outer-wall, I prefer Fatmat RattleTrap and for the inside, I used classic reflectix.
Lastly, make sure all the wood is protected. From baseboards to the framing in the ceiling, preventing mold is key. 


Why live in a van? And how long have you lived in it?

My girlfriend and I already enjoyed an adventure-athlete lifestyle before the van. After so much time traveling and camping with only the bare essentials, going full-time in a van didn’t seem like a huge change. I’d be lying if I didn’t say there were moments when our hard-wired sense for social norms made us feel like we were crazy, but the benefits confirm we made the right decision.

Without a doubt, our greatest pressure for ‘vanlife’ was the cost of living in California; rent became grossly unreasonable. With compounding student debt and my costly applications to medical school, it made logical sense for my partner and me to make a change. Furthermore, the concept of our money going toward our own property as opposed to paying-off someone else’s mortgage felt good.

Now entering our 19th month of vanlife, I can confirm it’s been a great move, both financially and in the way it compliments our lifestyle: traveling, rock climbing, surfing, backpacking, fly-fishing, skiing, etc.


What does making dinner look like?

At the moment, our van lacks the Dometic marine-style stove-top/oven that we bought. Our final crux is completing the propane locker and gas piping so we can install our cooking appliance and enjoy the creature comforts of a fully functioning kitchen.

In the meantime we have been using a mobile camper stove on our countertop, occasionally featuring dualling jetboils for complicated meals. Due to this hassle, we’ve been eating-out more often than we would like. Finishing the kitchen is the last major project and will revolutionize our cooking situation.


How do you stay cool, when it’s hot af in the summer?

Since we run entirely off-grid with solar panels, our van is kept in the sun on even the hottest days. To compound the problem, we have a Dometic refrigerator/freezer that operates 24/7, so the van must be kept cool even when we are not present.

Good insulation is the first step towards combating the heat and we also have strategically located fans and windows to help keep the van reasonably cool. On hot summer nights or mid-day naps, the dual fan system continuously pulls fresh air from above the van and blows it directly on top of you; it’s a glorious experience. Following unusually hot summer days, we often park for the night among our wealthier neighbors at our favorite beach so we can enjoy the cool coastal breeze.


What’s your sleeping beta? Both for location (since you’re in a city) and in bed supplies (do you use a sleeping bag, sheet, comforter? Does it change with the seasons?)

Our sleeping arrangement is fantastic, minus the convenience of restroom amenities. The bed is a futon-style mattress that looks and feels like a cozy cloud when placed in our sleeping cabin. Our bedroom is probably most similar to the fully furnished sleeping quarters on a small sailboat. We use traditional bedding, i.e. sheets/blankets, and a stow-away comforter for the cooler nights. If it gets uncomfortably cold in winter, we will toss a block of wood in our Cubic mini-wood stove.

The greatest attribute of van-living is mobility; we can change locations to accommodate the weather, such as staying near the coast on hot days.

*When scouting for ideal overnight locations, it’s important to be aware of city ordinances and laws.


What does an average day look like in the van?

For the most part, an average day in the van is like any other from my stationary past. In the mid-week, I wake up in my favorite bed to the warm glow of morning light filtering through the curtains; I still usually get dressed for work with a toothbrush in my mouth. Before leaving with my breakfast snack, I’ll open the side window a crack and put the ceiling fan on low. If we happen to be parked near Christine’s work, I’ll take my personal car for the day. At some point in the day a decision is made regarding the evening’s sleep-spot, although it’s usually one of two locations. Just as before the van, I look forward to my evenings in bed, beside my partner, propped-up with a good book or my Mac.