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Boulder, CO

A guide to the wilderness of the West.

A New Home

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A New Home

Derek Bartz

I BOUGHT A NEW VAN!

After living out of our Ford Econoline for the past 8 months and loving it, we went all in and invested in a real rig.  The idea was mentioned casually a couple times over the summer, Michele never quite took me serious; but I kept saying it and sometime in late October her response turned to a resonant, "Yea!  Why not."  I already knew what I wanted, and began searching the interweb.  I was willing to travel anywhere to save some cash, but in the end found a good deal right down the road here in Boulder.  I never thought it would actually happen.

THE OPTIONS

When considering a new van to convert into a camper there are four options you commonly see.  The Mercedes Benz Sprinter is everyone's first choice and with the 4x4 option these are seriously awesome vans, but out of my price range.  The Ford Transit is the newest option and is a huge improvement from the Econoline, but still has rear wheel drive.  The Nissan NV Cargo is becoming more popular, I have seen a couple at the local climbing gym; but they too have rear wheel drive the appearance isn't my style.  Lastly, there is the Dodge Ram Promaster which is considered the new sprinter in camper van world.

WHICH VAN TO BUY?

I knew all along that I wanted the Dodge Ram Promaster 2500 159' wheel base for the new build.  The Promaster is modeled off the tried and trued Italian made Fiat Ducati.  It's boxy shape leads to a best in class cargo capacity (aka living space) and the near 90 degree walls will be easier to build off of compared to the other options.  The real factor behind the decision though was the drive train.  The Promaster is the only option with front wheel drive.  With our previous rear wheel drive van it didn't take us more than one winter storm to figure out that I was not comfortable driving it in any amount of snow.  Kind of a big deal when there is snow in the mountains 6 months out of the year here in Colorado.  Driving the new van around town the last couple weeks I can tell a huge difference in the way it handles snow.  Throw in the added bonus that we practically doubled our gas mileage and the fact that I can STAND UP in the van and we are super psyched to get this thing livable.  

THE VAN PLAN

I am fortunate enough to have done this once already, and I have tons of ideas to improve on this time around.  Here are a few key design elements I hope to include:

  • A real skylight (last time I used a piece of plexi-glass)
  • Auxillary batteries mounted underneath
  • Running water
  • Kitchen
  • Heater
  • Table
  • Bigger Solar Panel
  • Better Storage
  • Better air flow

I'll be posting about the build over the next couple months so stay tuned.

Also...
Way late on this, but last year was a good one for music.  Here were some of my favorite albums:

COURTNEY BARNETT, 'Sometime I Sit and Think, And Sometime I Just Sit'

SUFJAN STEVENS, 'Carrie & Lowell'

EL VY, 'Return to the Moon'

HOUNDMOUTH, 'Little Neon Limelight'

LORD HURON, 'Strange Trails'

OLAFUR ARNOLDS & ALICE SARA OTT, 'The Chopin Project'

LAND LINES, 'The Natural World'

CHRIS STAPLETON, 'The Traveller'

KURT VILE, 'b'lieve i'm going down...'

NILS FRAHM, 'Solo'