Vans, will I get stuck in a muddy camping field?

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  • Vans, will I get stuck in a muddy camping field?
  • lotto
    Member

    For years my set up has been 4×4 and trailer. Time has come to replace my 18 year old 4×4. To help with house renovations I’m thinking of investing in a van. The ease of transporting all the family camping gear appeals too. We do a lot of camping and some places  we have visited the tent pitches have been nothing more than an undrained field with the grass cut. With a 4×4 this was never an issue and indeed on a few occasions I helped tow stranded campers off the grass after heavy down pours .Is the reality of having a van is that you just accept that on occasion you may become stuck? What do people do for prior planning? I’m thinking some rubber mats just stored in the back till the time comes I get stuck, throw them under the wheels and hopefully inch out? I’m leaning towards Transit Custom and Vito. VW 4 motion is out due to affordability. What are people experiences?

    IHN
    Member

    We’ve never been stuck in our T5, and I can remember one Easter on a site where the ground was reeeeaaaaally wet and quite a few cars were being pushed out. We just engaged the Power Of Chug (i.e. use the low end grunt to just pull away slowly and steadily on the tickover without touching the throttle) and, well, happily chugged off the field to the road.

    Premier Icon mikewsmith
    Subscriber

    Park pointing the right way, have someone there to give you a shove. The FWD modern vans are much better as you have weight on the driven wheels

    Premier Icon jam bo
    Subscriber

    i’ve got winter tyres on my t5. seems pretty robust at getting out of muddy fields.

    Premier Icon Northwind
    Subscriber

    I think one reason you see a lot of “lifestyle” vans getting stuck in mud is that people put daft wheels and tyres on them tbh.

    My snow mat things are just as good at mud, it’s bloody slow unless you’ve got someone driving and 2 people sorting the mats but it works, we’ve moved some seriously stuck things including a transit with a stuck-on handbrake.

    IHN
    Member

    Stuff tends to get stuck when it’s pulling off (oo-err), not when it’s moving, so another good tip is to park with the front wheels on ramps, even if only just. That way, when you need to set off you back off the ramp, which will always give grip, especially when you need to lift the rear wheels out of the dint they’ll probably have made for themselves.

    Then you reverse back three or four feet feet, which will be fine, as you’re reversing the driven wheels over dry-ish ground as it’s been under your van.

    You then get the ramps out of the way and pull off forwards, again over dry-ish ground, which gives you the start you need to then keep going.

    trail_rat
    Member

    look at a van tire – note its uni directional tread designed for maximum economy and least road noise while battering up and down the motorway daily.

    then wonder why they get stuck

    AS for modern FWD vans being better because of weight – thats only true if you dont have any weight in the back – plenty of modern FWD campers have issues because of all the weight over the back.

    i have RWD that was scared of wet roads never mind wet grass – it once got stuck in my own drive way ffs …..

    So my top tip would be fit decent tires fit for purpose – maybe dont need to go as silly as i did  – because im going to look really daft when i eventually find the limits of BFG ATs on a RWD van….. maybe toyo H09s , spooky had some luck with them on his old van – they are alot more road orientated but are a winter rated M+S tire with non uni directional tread.- as for economy . i went from conti vancos at 31mpg brim to brim on 56mph A road on cruise control to 29mpg on same conditions – im willing to accept that to park where i want at events/not have to wait for a tow/not have to bother a farmer when ive strayed slightly too far to the side of a layby and got stuck in the mud ……

    pretty much at the top of the fire road at the top of strathpuffer this year – no run ups required , stopping for other people who were stuck no issue – even at 3.5 tonne there was no worry about getting going again – just carry on as normal . Watched the exact same van on regular van tires not even get beyond the first hill before sliding backwards uncontrollably – im not professing to be a driving got like some people just the tires work.

    and for balance earlier in the year on this nothing more than a dusting of icing sugar the van was sliding uncontrolably at the slightest touch of brake or throttle all the way back into Balater…. – even trying to turn it and climb up that slight slope onto the road was a challenge. this was using continental vanco tires.

    We have a 3.5t motor home. We run M&S rated winter tyres all year round as the traction difference is noticable. I did get stuck on a spft grassy campsite once, without winters on, and I think that that was more naive decision making rather than purely poor grip. Essentially I put myself in a situation where I was relying on grip that didn’t exist and I could have avoided it if I’d known to think it through.

    With regard to mats. My advice might be to actually park on them. In the stuck incident, it rained so much that the van started sinking into the ground as soon as it moved off the dry patch it had sheltered when parked.

    We head up to Cairngorm quite a bit in the winter, and have had no issues with grip with the winters on, usually driving up the often snowy road to Corie Cas well after dark on Friday night.

    A few years ago I foolishly drove down to a parking spot next to the reservoir on the Ben Lawers road in the dark, in the middle of winter. As we were descending the narrow, steep, twisty, icy track it began to dawn on me that I might have bitten off more than I could chew. I considered that the van might have to stay there until spring…

    After convincing my wife not to panic, we did a 3 pointer, and slowly but surely drove straight back out. I was well impressed with the tyres. On standard van tyres we’d never have stood a chance.

    andrewh
    Member

    I get stuck in mine, but then I got stuck a lot when I had a car too, I think I park a bit over optimistically, more user error than anything to do with the van.

    I carry a tow rope and shovel and have so far always got out again. No better or worse that a car. Never got my old Landy stuck though, maybe I’m still in that mindset, and then I’m surprised when I sink. Sand ladders better than a mat.

    My t5 is shit on wet grass. Really shit. So I Try to avoid scenarios where it might get stuck . Eg choose sites near the track etc.

    trail_rat
    Member

    “I get stuck in mine, but then I got stuck a lot when I had a car too, I think I park a bit over optimistically, more user error than anything to do with the van.”

    Iirc you have a transit. On van tires they are horrifically notorious for getting stuck on wet grass so I wouldn’t be too harsh on your self.

    Premier Icon Clink
    Subscriber

    I love my Transit Custom but on standard tyres it is appalling in muddy fields. It’s made me consider something with 4×4.

    Premier Icon llama
    Member

    I got stuck in mine. Top tip. Check out that nice camp spot down by the river on foot before driving onto it. You know the one; the one where nobody is camping for some reason. Oh and attempting to park up by reversing back up the slope is also not a good idea. Turns out my van is rather effective at digging wheel shaped holes in wet clay mud.

    it was touch and go at Glastonbury the other year but we managed to keep momentum enough to avoid a tow. Lots of others were getting stuck then.

    TheBrick
    Member

    I have never done this but I have heard of people using snow chains to help in mud. Mainly it’s about planning your parking. I only camp in basic sites and it is only a rare issue. Snow and mud tyres would definitely help.

    CountZero
    Member

    Have you thought of looking at a Mercedes Sprinter 4×4 van? Power companies use them, they’re almost certainly on lease, so they’ll go for auction at the end of the lease. Mannheim Auctions have a commercial auction site near Dursley in Gloucestershire, so it might well be worth checking out those, they’re pretty cool looking vans as well.

    This one is possibly a bit over-tyred, but you get the idea…

    trail_rat
    Member

    Go look at the average price of one of them sprinter 4*4s ….even something that will need shed loads of welding as a starter goes for 7k.i wouldn’t even like to think how much one is fresh from. Lease.

    Nice wagons though and left hooker versions can be had much cheaper if your spending alot of time on continent…. Wouldn’t underestimate how much a pain in the arse a left hooker is in the UK though – well if driving my rhd on the continent is anything to go by.

    Snow chains work in mudmud s them used to great effect in claggy slick mud and shit tires. We carry a set but never had to use them in anger yet.

    Premier Icon mikewsmith
    Subscriber

    So basically if your the sort of person who gets things stuck you will get a van stuck.

    trail_rat
    Member

    Nice only a 7.5k premium over a 2wd version .

    They are popular for a good reason I’d love one but I’m not paying that much over a 2wd just for one when like normal cars the tires make more odds than the number of driven wheels 🙂

    That’s a LOT of cash for a 6 year old van. They are nice, but the difference between that and a 2wd would keep me in diesel for a good few years.

    One other point for the OP – how big is your trailer relative to the vans you’re looking at? If it’s a big trailer you might be disappointed with the capacity of a van, unless you go for a trail_rat-esque van that’s so long it was built with a slight bend in the floorpan to match the curvature of the earth.

    Premier Icon deejayen
    Subscriber

    I used to have to tow a caravan with Mercedes 208/308 vans (precursor to the Sprinter), and they would get stuck on wet ground really easily.  They weren’t my vans, so I didn’t have the option of changing tyres to ones which might have helped.  I found the experience quite stressful.  A few times site owners would say “You’ll be fine on that pitch” and insist on me crossing a wet field, only to regret it later after they’d spent an hour or two attempting to extricate the van!  On some of the more remote sites there’s often no-one around to help, or you might have to wait for help to arrive.  It’s a real hassle!  The first time I towed with a Land Rover Defender was a revelation.

    trail_rat
    Member

    its clear that the OP needs a daf truck like what mr curtain up there drives.  wont get stuck then……

    Strike fear into campsite owners across the land

    TheBrick
    Member

    2WD vs 4×4 Campervan- Considerations and Off Road Recovery Gear

    Different environment I know but interesting thoughts and ideas about using a 2wd camper off road.

    its clear that the OP needs a daf truck like what mr curtain up there drives.  wont get stuck then……

    If the OP had been asking for something massive, thirsty, and slow, I might have been able to provide some good advice…

    trail_rat
    Member

    What like a list of all your  vehicles past and present 🙂

    andrewh
    Member

    Just to go back to something TrailRat said ages ago, why are Transits so bad for getting stuck? Other than me driving them into very big holes or over tree stumps? What’s different about them compared to say a Vivaro, Vito or T5? The answer to that may point the OP in the direction of the right van for him.

    Proper winter tyres (Goodrich Activan) helps noticeably with grip on wet roads , braking and cornering, but doesn’t seem to help much in muddy fields.

    Premier Icon mikewsmith
    Subscriber

    Just to go back to something TrailRat said ages ago, why are Transits so bad for getting stuck?

    I have no idea, can’t remember anything too bad in mine

    Proper winter tyres (Goodrich Activan) helps noticeably with grip on wet roads , braking and cornering, but doesn’t seem to help much in muddy fields.

    I just had the bog standard 50quid a corner ones and drove to the conditions 😉

    Some of that was not driving into the field I wasn’t going to get out of, having seen plenty of 4×4’s mess up getting out of places it’s the same principle

    trail_rat
    Member

    our mk4  RWD one was hopeless at towing a lightweight <750kg  trailer across FLAT wet grass

    the mk6 FWD one we had was just as bad  till you pulled the fuse out the traction control Damn thing would shut down power as soon as it started to slip a wheel if you ran it with the traction control – even if you pushed the TC off button it still shut down.

    but then we were also using those for work and if the muddy field needed to be crossed then the muddy field needed to be crossed there was no just parking it at the gate and carrying bulky equipment across the field.

    even in this thread we have one t5 thats terrible on wet grass and another thats great

    Chilled76 will regale how winter in his vito let to it not moving on muddy grass on his driveway

    i didnt fancy buying a van and leaving it parked on my drive 4 months of the year or a couple miles from the event i was attending all for the sake of shit tires.

    Most 4×4 owners dont understand the laws of physics either , stick shit tires on a 4×4 and itll be as shit as any other vehicle on shit tires.

    Premier Icon pictonroad
    Subscriber

    Wouldn’t underestimate how much a pain in the arse a left hooker is in the UK though –

    I’ve had 4 LHD campers and a truck. It’s not an issue in the slightest. Having lived with it for years I wouldn’t rate the side the wheel is on as anything more than a potential minor irritation.

    lotto
    Member

    Tyre wise I was going to put General Grabbers on. Run them for years with no issue on 4×4. I’m in fields a lot cutting trees for firewood and thought I could utilise a van for this too. Attach my trailer if required. (10×5) I only ever take the 4×4 in if I have scouted the ground beforehand and it is to be dry all day. Fell victim once loading up in an already wet field with rain all day. Having to unload all your logs you’ve just loaded to get home did not make me laugh. Would only take a 2wd van in if I thought it could get out.

    Premier Icon gnusmas
    Subscriber

    When me and my mates went camping a while ago, when we found a spot we parked and put a piece of ply (about 3’x2′) in front of each of the drive wheels and drove onto them. As they are rigid they generally don’t sink.

    Made it very easy to drive away once packed up on a very wet easter getaway. Easy to store and replace if they get damaged.

    Premier Icon Jon Taylor
    Subscriber

    I haven’t read all the replies, just most of them…

    I leave my snow chains in the van year-round for this reason. I also have plenty of towels, cloths or even ikea blankets that’s I’d sacrifice for snow/mud traction.

    Like the others have said, tyres are everything.  Mine came with standard road tyres,  struggled to make it over damp grass and regularly got stuck on a gravel hill nearby.

    Changed to Grabber AT’s (not the AT2’s which are the ones often fitted to Defenders) and it can now get across a fairly sloppy field, and if I air them down the flexible sidewalls give a huge increase in footprint (not needed to do that yet).

    P.S RWD is best if you expect to convert your van as it will get porky, FWD is probably better if you are just running about with a couple of bikes and a sleeping bag in an unconverted van.

    Premier Icon rockfield
    Subscriber

    We have a lwb transit custom, been offroad 3 times this year and got stuck 3 times! I’m thinking about getting some more capable tyres but struggling to find many with an appropriate load rating. I might go for bfg at ko2’s but bit worried about how noisy they will be. Not keen on using mats as dont really want filthy mats inside afterwards and don’t fancy having to fit snow chains in a muddy field. I got stuck within the first 5m when driving into the parking field at the Builth Mountain marathon last month, and caused a huge queue whilst waiting to be pulled out. I’d rather not do that again!

    General Tire seem to have better load ratings, perhaps because the Yanks have huge work trucks. Look for the Light Truck/8 ply variants, often have a deeper tread than the SUV versions as well.

    lotto
    Member

    Hmm. A lot of food for thought here. Thinking I might be better sticking to a Landcruiser. I can’t be doing with the hassle of being stuck. Towng bikes in a trailer I’m happy with now as I’ve got used to it .A van would be nice for camping though .Does n+1 apply to cars? Lol.

    Premier Icon Clink
    Subscriber

    The ne wPeugeot/Citroen vans come with a form of enhanced traction control aimed at mud/snow.  Anyone tried one of them?

    For the reasons being discussed I’m looking at the new Berlingo, coming out later this year in XL length and with the traction gizmo mentioned above.

    trail_rat
    Member

    I know in the isles they use peugeot partner trek for postie vans  which has  20cm extra ground clearnce , skid pans and a limited slip diff front axle.

    That really piques my interest…. Then it really will be better off road than a hilux 😉 *

    *cant even be assed any more but the berlingo doesnt come with a tan interior and thus wil be crap offroad

    timber
    Member

    Only van we got stuck in all the years I spent with the marquee firm, you had to climb out the windows because the doors wouldn’t open as they were buried too.

    Taken all sorts of vans a lot of places, anything to avoid carrying stuff, had sea water and river water flowing through them, been down coast paths, used carpet to glide through tight granite gateways, shooting tracks, up and down lawn terraces. Obviously, not our own personal vans and a staff of college and uni students. Heaviest load rating tyres because we were rarely less than overloaded, but otherwise cheap van tyres.

    Premier Icon branes
    Member

    +1 for snow chains. I carry them for just this (infrequent admittedly) eventuality. Modern ones are v easy to fit and will get you out of just about any low traction situation.

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