Six Ways To Approach #Vanlife

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It’s something many of us dream of: buying a vehicle, and with a bit of creativity and a lot of fun with power tools, turning it into an adventure wagon. As the many forum threads attest, there are many different approaches to the adventure wagon: which vehicle will be the best canvas for such a project? An ambulance? A library bus maybe? Or a new(ish) van?

Having chosen your wheels, you then have to fit it out. Do you keep it simple, mudproof, even jet washer proof? Or do you kit it out with creature comforts, such as a heater, or cooker? Are you going to be using it to escape for a weekend, or a whole year? So many choices, so many decisions, and sadly, usually not so many spondulix to pay for it.

While out at the Enduro Jura by Julbo, I spotted a selection of different approaches to #vanlife. There’s probably one here to suit most budgets and circumstances – what would you choose?

Going All In

A home from home.

So this here is Tito Tomasi. If you’re not already sick with envy having seen his solo Alps trip story, then this will surely tip you over the edge. Since he spends most of his time on the road having adventures (I’m trying really hard not to hate him), his van is kitted out for the long haul. As well as holding his bikes, and having a bed, and awning for lounging around under, his van has a shower. Yes it’s a bit lo-fi duct-tape Heath Robinson, but he has a shower. Sigh. It’s just as well he’s a really nice , fun guy or I’d be forced to hate him about now.

Oh, I feel sick with envy. May I sit under your awning in the shade?

Adventure for Two

Don’t sit up suddenly in bed.

You’ve got to really love each other to live in a van together, but since the Gehrig twins shared a womb they’re probably fairly used to being in a confined space together. With the bed up high, noses not too far from the ceiling – or roof? – this looks a bit too claustrophobic for my liking. But then, if you’ve got to fit twice as much bike related stuff under you, headroom probably goes out the window (actually these two are so tall I should have checked if they have to sleep with their heads out the window). They’re still using the van, but not so much as they did before they turned pro. Privateering and living in a van paid off for them, so they’re not forced to share the restricted space quite so often as in the past.

Twice as much kit to get packed in.

A Place For Everything

If this was your life, you’d probably look this happy too.

This is a pretty nice set up: plenty of room for bikes, a whole bunch of drawers and pockets so you can keep everything just where you want it, and a double bed so you can stretch out after that long ride. If you’re taking your racing seriously and competing at the EWS, as Silvan Marfurt here is, you need to be comfortable. You also need to have a full workshop set up should you need it. Dammit. Look how happy he is. Yeah, I’m trying not to hate him too.

Drawers for all your things.

Halfway House

Where does the bike go?

With the back seat still in place, there’s still room for midweek passengers if you’re stuck with the school run or whatever. Though I do like the little rug that’s been added – it’s almost a living room. Round the back, there’s a basic storage space and a double bed. I’m not sure I could be bothered with the level of bike dismantling that this set up would probably entail. But if you need to retain passenger space, it’s a reasonable compromise.

A mini living room, or space for a bike?

Solo Minimalism

I reckon this guy is pretty good at packing.

Maybe you can’t fork out for a big van, so how about you turn the family estate car into your adventure wagon? This guy was quick to point out that the bed box comes out pretty easily for when he needs to get people in the car. With a bed for one and room for a bike and a few tools etc, this could be a good solution for those of wanting to have just a few pre race overnight stays across a season, rather than multi day adventures.

Note the folding chair – small doesn’t need to mean you leave all the comforts at home.

The Day Tripper

So many shelves. Maybe more than necessary?

No bed here, just space for bikes, and plenty of shelves. Most of which contained beer. Plus, a handy roll of paper for wiping the filth off you or your bike before you head home. Although, with so much beer in the back, I wonder who gets the short straw of driving home?

It’s basically a beer wagon as much as an adventure wagon.

Would you be happy with any of these? Do you think there’s room for improvement? Maybe you’ve already built yours, and are living the dream? Go on, share your pics and make us hate you too inspire us.


Julbo and its UK distributor Lyon Outdoor paid for travel, accommodation and race entry costs for this trip.

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