There’s a good chance that in the past few years you’ve seen a handful of Instagram handles of people building out a wide variety of vehicles to travel or live in. After watching others building out their own adventure mobile, it was time for me to do some research.
From my research I concluded that buying a Volkswagen Westfalia or a sprinter van wasn’t for me. And after numerous conversations with my wife, bless her, we concluded that having a recreational vehicle wasn’t the best idea for us. We both work 9-5 jobs and carpool together in our one car, so having a recreational vehicle parked at home and only used on Friday nights and Saturdays didn’t seem like the best bet.
We were in the market for something that would accommodate our needs, such as: comfortable sleeping arrangements, a kitchen to cook my awesome dinners, storage space so everything wasn’t clumped or piled on top of everything, and needed to have good gas mileage.
Sprinter vans get around 17 miles-per-gallon, but that’s not including the added weight of cabinets, water, a bed, and loads of gear. So maybe it’s actually around 13 mpg? Still wasn’t good enough for us.
Westfalia’s are easy on the eyes, but heavy on the wallets. Just from my Instagram feed alone, I’ve seen a handful of posts of broken down vans stuck somewhere far away from a mechanic. While I’m a decent handyman, I’m no rebuild a gas line and bore out the engine on the side of the road kind of guy. So my countless searches on Craigslist were wasted…
It wasn’t until after a late-night conversation with my smarter, better half that we didn’t need a second vehicle, but that we could somehow utilize what we already had or had access to. That changed everything. A few months previously my grandpa offered to sell us his 2001 Ford F-150 truck with 60,000 miles on it, but then since rescinded his offer. So there went the truck camper idea.
At the time we were driving a 2002 Subaru Forester. With a little bit more research I found out that the roof wasn’t necessarily rated to hold a roof top camper. Then it dawned on us, what if we got a little camper to pull behind the car. A quick search on Craigslist showed that we were in business. After a phone call to some people, and dropped appointment, we finally found our little tear drop camper. Then came the funny part, we didn’t have a hitch on our car. After some quick phone calls to someone with a truck, we handed over a check, and followed our tear drop home.
So why is a tear drop the best adventure mobile for us? It has allowed us to drive our car throughout the week, we didn’t have to buy another car and it was a lot cheaper than anything else we could find. Just because everyone else is building out a sprinter van or getting stuck on the side of the road because some part broke on their 40-year-old van doesn’t mean you can’t have your own version of an adventure mobile.
Sit down and get creative about what you have and what you can utilize. I read a blog about how a couple built out their Honda CR-V to have a sleeping platform, or there’s people who tough it out and sleep in their seats all the way reclined. #VanLife is cool, but #HomeIsWhereYouParkIt is a lot more relevant when it comes to adventure mobiles.
With our teardrop camper, we’ve taken it up the mountains to camp with friends, towed it all the way to Banff, and down to Moab. Yeah it’s tight sleeping inside, but having a galley to cook breakfast, lunch and dinner is super nice. It affects our gas mileage, but only a little since the camper weighs less than 500 pounds. So it really is the best adventure mobile… for us.
Don’t get fixated on having what everyone else having or doing what everyone else is doing.
Just go outside and dream on and on.
– Frank Young
Pingora Outdoors Ambassador