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8 Questions with Jimmy Chin About His Van

We rented Jimmy Chin’s all-wheel-drive van—the one he used while shooting Free Solo—for a night in Jackson, Wyoming. But we needed to know more. So we called Jimmy for the rundown on his rig.

Video Transcript

[MUSIC PLAYING] PADDY O: Hey pals, Paddy O here for Outside. You ever heard of Van Life? Yeah, I know. I've been on Instagram too. But here's the deal. I've kind of always been a Van Life voyeur. 

I really dig adventure rigs. I've slept in my Subaru about a million times like everybody else. But I've never spent any coin or really invested at all in an adventure rig setup of my own. But that all changes today. 

There's this new online marketplace for adventure rigs, it's called Turo. Think of it kind of like Airbnb for Van Life. You go online and search out a sweet locale with a sweet rig, head there, pick up your rig. And then, you go on your adventure. 

I found this sweet retrofitted Chevy Express van. It is awesome. It's got solar, a full camp setup on the inside, this rad pop top camper. Plus, it's all-wheel drive. And fun fact, as it turns out, this is actually Jimmy Chin's van. 

This is the van that Jimmy lived in while he filmed Free Solo. 

[SNIFFING] 

Smells like creativity, Alex Honnold's climbing shoes, and an Oscar in this thing. Other than that, I don't really know a lot about this van. 

[PHONE RINGING] 

[PHONE VIBRATING] 

JIMMY CHIN: Hello. 

PADDY O: Hey Jimmy, what's going on man? It's Paddy O. 

JIMMY CHIN: Hey, what's up, Paddy? 

PADDY O: I am at your van. I have taken your van. 

JIMMY CHIN: Excellent. I'm glad you got it. 

PADDY O: Yeah, this thing is awesome. I love it. Well, I've got some questions for you. So why the Chevy? Why not like a Sprinter or a Winnebago? 

JIMMY CHIN: Well, I mainly got it because it has all-wheel drive and I live in Jackson, Wyoming. So I need all-wheel drive just to get around the mountains and snow on the ice. It actually drives really well in those conditions. 

And it's functional and it's low-key, you know? And it's a white van, so it's anonymous. 

PADDY O: Yeah, it is. It's super functional and low-key. I really dig that. So take me on like, an over the phone tour of this puppy. What are some of the details and specs? And like, what are your top five favorite things? 

JIMMY CHIN: Yeah, obviously the all-wheel drive is amazing. And some of my favorite things are the pop top for sleeping and hanging out, captain swivel chairs, so you can turn the front seats around and make it like a living room. Pop down back seat, so that's my sleeping space. 

It's got a stove. It's got solar power set up so you can run it and keep everything charged. It's a great production van, actually. 

PADDY O: That makes sense. 

JIMMY CHIN: But those are probably the top things. 

PADDY O: Yeah. Well, does it have a name? 

JIMMY CHIN: A name? No, it doesn't have a name. Maybe you can think of one. 

PADDY O: I've been calling it Yames, that's like a weird way to pronounce James. But what about like Van Halen, or Vincent van Gogh, Vanna White, or just like Steve? That's a nice name. Greg, maybe Greg? I don't know. 

JIMMY CHIN: I think I like Vincent, Vincent van Gogh. So I could be like, my van's name is Vincent, Vincent van Gogh, bro. 

PADDY O: So like, what's your favorite number one part of the van? 

JIMMY CHIN: Probably my favorite part about the van is the pop top, because it's elevated and you get kind of elevated views and it feels like a fort or like a tree house. You know, it's kind of like what every kid wants, you know? Like a tree house fort. And what's the point of having a van like this if it doesn't make you feel like a kid having a fun time outside? 

PADDY O: Yeah, it's kind of like a tree fort. I get it. Well, you lived in this thing while you filmed Free Solo. So is it like your fortress of solitude, your safe haven, your safe place, your box of anxiety? How did you use this thing? 

JIMMY CHIN: Probably all of the above. But it was the box of anxiety for a lot of that shoot. I can't tell you how many mornings I woke up in that van stressed out of my mind thinking about the project. But it's also a safe haven. I think I feel more comfortable sleeping in my van than anywhere in the world, honestly. 

PADDY O: So when you take this van out for an adventure, what's the one piece of gear that you always forget? 

JIMMY CHIN: Dude, I don't forget anything. I'm so on top of it. 

[LAUGHING] 

PADDY O: Yeah, right! 

JIMMY CHIN: No, actually I forget everything, probably everything I've ever needed at least once. In the winter, you have to take your ski boots in to get them warm, and then I always forget my ski boots. 

PADDY O: Yeah, that's like the classic move, to forget the ski boots. But how about this? What happens when you're at camp, you've got coffee beans, but no coffee grinder. What do you do? 

JIMMY CHIN: I take a big handful, throw them in my mouth, and chew on them. 

PADDY O: What? 

JIMMY CHIN: No, actually, believe it or not, I don't need coffee. 

PADDY O: Are you serious? What do you mean you don't need coffee? 

JIMMY CHIN: I pretty much wake up every morning pretty amped up. 

PADDY O: That's ridiculous. That is absolutely ridiculous. 

JIMMY CHIN: True. 

PADDY O: I am not amped in the mornings. 

JIMMY CHIN: True story. 

PADDY O: I've looked high and low in this thing and I cannot find your Oscar anywhere. Where do you keep your Oscar? 

JIMMY CHIN: I actually keep my Oscar in my gear room. But you know, sometimes I want some company when I'm driving around, so I'll bring him and put him in the passenger side seat. Put the seat belt on and I can kind of pet him when I'm driving around. 

PADDY O: OK. OK, nice and safe. So when I mentioned to my mom that I was going to be doing this, she kind of went off, like went crazy on how handsome your smile is, just how handsome you are in general. So I'm wondering if you would like to pass anything along to her? Her name is Molly, by the way. 

JIMMY CHIN: Yeah. Hi, Molly! It's Jimmy. I'm sitting here with a big smile on my face thinking about my awesome van and the fact that your son is going to have a great time in it cruising around. 

PADDY O: Yes! Thank you. Mom, Jimmy Chin says hello. It is an awesome van, man. I'm really excited to goof around in it and have some fun. Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me. And thanks for the van, man. I'll talk to you soon. 

JIMMY CHIN: For sure. No problem. Have a great time. 

PADDY O: All right, man. Later. Well, I'm pretty sure my adventure rig love is full-blown. In fact, I'm gonna steal this van. Catch me if you can, Jimmy Chin. For all things rad outdoors, keep it locked with Outside. I'm Paddy O. Peace out, Cub Scout. 

[MUSIC PLAYING]