Thoughts, stories and ideas.

About the Build

About the Build

I wanted, for both me and you, to sit down and write out what the goals in the first build out were. I talked briefly in Buying the Van about how the idea is to be a starter van to find out what I need and don’t need in a build.

What is the use case for the van?

I really enjoy being outside and in nature, but I have a moderate sun allergy. Yes, that’s really a thing. No, it’s not a sunburn. That means, in practice, during the middle of the day I need to be in the shade. Most hiking trails this isn’t really an issue as they go through the woods, but the problem comes when I want to break for food and a rest or if a work thing comes up and I need to camp out on my laptop for an hour or two.

My first priority with the van is for it to be a trailhead basecamp when I go hiking. I expect this to be most of my usage of the van. To serve this role it needs to have the following features:

  • A comfortable place to sit inside, with a table to eat and work from
  • Enough of a kitchen to make a solid high protein lunch and/or dinner
  • A place to lay down and rest after a long hike or drive

Secondarily, I would like the van to support longer road trips. I’m closing in on hitting all 48 continental US states, and I’d like to have it done before I’m 35. This is only another 2–3 1–3 week long trips, but again the needs handily overlap with what I need for a trailhead basecamp.

  • A comfortable place to sit inside, with a table to eat and work from
  • Enough of a kitchen to make at least one meal a day, with storage for 2–3 days' worth of meals and snacks
  • A comfortable place to sleep for the night, with ventilation and a method of keeping warm
  • Emergency restroom facilities, and basic hygiene facilities to stay fresh between access to full shower facilities
  • Infrastructure for charging laptops, phones, and tablets
  • Internet facilities

Tertiarily, I would like the van to serve as a support vehicle for larger camping/picnic trips where we’d expect to have supporting facilities but it’s convenient to know the basics are covered if any of the facility items are unavailable.

  • A comfortable place to sit inside, with a table to eat and work from
  • Kitchen facilities viable for cooking a normal meal for up to 6 people

As important as deciding what the van is for, I needed to decide what it isn’t for.

  • Living in full time
  • Multi-week off-grid trips
  • RV Park Glamping
  • Extreme weather camping

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Jamie Larson
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