You probably have a lot of questions when you’re thinking about what kind of van you should buy for your adventure trips. Should you buy new or used? Do you need all-wheel drive? Volkswagen, Sprinter, or Astrovan? Will your bicycle(s) fit inside, or will you have to figure out some sort of rack/lock situation? What would be the most aesthetically pleasing vehicle for Instagram?
Well, I have good news for you. The most affordable adventure van of 2017 is your car. That’s right, the one you currently own. “But no, my car is a total piece of shit,” you say. That’s right, it is!
And it’s perfect to get you to the trailhead this summer.
You don’t mind if it gets scratched up on a bumpy Forest Service road, or takes another pebble to the windshield, or if your friend spills coffee in it. When you reach the end of a five-day backpacking trip, you’re not worried that you and your friends’ B.O. will ruin its new-car smell.
Sure, you can’t stand up inside it. Maybe you can’t cook in it. You may not even be able to sleep in it. And if you can’t sleep in it, you probably can’t get a photo of an attractive person waking up in the back of it watching the sunrise through the back doors.
But that’s OK, because the point is having fun in the outdoors, not having the “right” vehicle. In fact, you may not even need a vehicle at all, provided you have a friend or friends who don’t mind driving, and you have worked out some arrangement where you reimburse them for gas money and/or post-trip cheeseburgers and/or beers.
Correction: The most affordable adventure van of 2017 is your friend’s car. It’s like your car, but you don’t have to pay for oil changes, repairs, or other maintenance. Your monthly payment on your friend’s car is $0, with 0% down.
At any trailhead parking lot at the end of a gnarly dirt road, for every four or five vehicles with appropriate drivetrain and ground clearance, there’s some badass who drove a 1998 Honda Civic up there. Whether or not you meet the person who drives that car, rest assured they were not spending much time sitting at home car shopping instead of going out and living.
And every once in a while, you may meet someone who biked to the damn trailhead. Which proves that the most affordable adventure van is sometimes a bicycle (if you have the time).
There’s nothing wrong with vans, or van life, or #vanlife. But that piece of shit car you have at home isn’t going to magically turn into a built-out Sprinter anytime this summer, a la Cinderella’s pumpkin-to-carriage. So load that thing up and take it to the trailhead. Or better yet, convince your friend to drive their car.
P.S.: in the event you do want to drop $70K on an adventure van, Thomas is looking to sell this one.