How to Pick the Right Adventuremobile
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Building out a good adventure rig starts with choosing the right type of vehicle for your needs. In this episode of Adventure Vehicles 101, you'll learn the pros and cons of various types of vehicles and get a better idea of what to look for in your next rig.
BRYAN ROGALA: Hey, everybody, Bryan Rogala here for Outside. This is the 101.
This series is all about adventure vehicles. So buckle up because we've got a lot to talk about. To me, driving is not just about getting from point A to point B. It's about how you get there and what you find along the way. And that is the whole point of a good adventure mobile. It's something that enables you to get outside more often and do the things you love.
We've seen a lot of different types of rigs so far in this series. But today I want to take a step back and talk about how to buy the right rig for you.
So what makes a good adventure rig? It's impossible to cover every type of vehicle out there. So I'm going to break this down into five categories-- crossovers, SUVs, trucks, vans, and trailers.
First up, crossovers. Crossovers are the most popular type of vehicle in America because they work great for 99% of people out there. There's enough space for four people and all their gear. They're a super comfortable ride. And for the most part, they're capable of getting you anywhere you need to go, especially with just a few modifications.
If you live in a city and are tight on space, you have a family, or you just want something that gets better gas mileage than a truck or SUV, a crossover like a Subaru Outback or Forester is a great choice.
It's harder to sleep inside than a truck or a van. And you might need to add some things like a roof rack, a hitch, and some all terrain tires. But it's probably the right choice for 99% of people out there. And it's the cheapest category on this list.
Next, SUVs. Just to clarify, I'm talking about truck-based SUVs here, like the Jeep Wrangler or a Toyota 4Runner.
They get worse gas mileage, and they're a lot less comfortable on the highway than a crossover. They are more capable off road. And you can usually find aftermarket parts easier than you can for a crossover. So if that's a big priority, you should look at an SUV.
I think most people, myself included, really overestimate how much off road driving they're going to do. You actually spend about 99% of your time on the pavement. Vehicles like a 4Runner also have a lot less space inside than a comparable crossover. So unless you need a really rugged vehicle with true four-wheel drive capability, this category doesn't make a lot of sense to me as an adventure rig because you're basically just paying more for gas and you've got less space.
And if you want something with more capability, you're better off buying something from the next category, trucks. Now obviously I'm a little biased, but here's my thinking.
Trucks are meant to work. And they are the most versatile adventure rig that you can buy. You can sleep in the back, tow a camping trailer, throw a bunch of mulch in the back for your yard, throw a bunch of dirty camping gear back there and not mess up your seats. You can load up a truck camper and live out of it.
Sure, it's not going to be as capable off road as a Jeep. But unless you're rock crawling, it's not going to make a difference. And it's a lot more capable than a crossover thanks to high clearance and real four-wheel drive. The best part is you can bring a lot more gear with you.
There's also a lot of options when it comes to buying a truck. You can get a full sized truck, midsize truck. There's a bunch of different cab options depending on how big your family is. You can get a diesel or a gas engine. Whatever you want to do, there's an option for you.
Next up, vans. Vans are super popular, mainly thanks to Instagram. But people love them as adventure rigs because they're self-contained campers with everything you need right there. And because you sleep inside, they give you a lot more protection from the elements than a tent.
The most popular options are Sprinter vans, Volkswagen Vanagons, Ford Transits, and then full size vans from Chevy or Ford. A van is a great choice if you're looking for a dedicated camping rig or you're going to live out of it. But it's probably not the best choice if you work a regular 9:00 to 5:00.
Vans can also be pretty pricey. A brand new fully built out Sprinter from a company like Outside Van can run you well over $100,000. That said, you can also find some older more budget friendly options. And nothing beats the comfort of a camper van if it's cold or rainy.
Finally, trailers. Now this category comes a caveat because obviously you need something to tow a trailer. But with so many different types of trailers out there, you can probably find something that your current vehicle will tow really easily, even if you drive a wagon or a small crossover.
Like everything, trailers have their pros and cons. The biggest downside is that you have to actually tow the thing. And it's kind of hard to find a parking space or navigate a tight forest service road.
The best part about a camping trailer of any kind is that you can leave it packed up with all your camping gear so you're ready to go at a moment's notice. It's also a hell of a lot more comfortable than a tent. You can get a trailer with as few or as many amenities as you want. And unlike a van, you can leave it at your base camp. And you don't have to move it every morning when you go to a trailhead.
The trailer is a great option for a weekend warrior who wants to be a little more comfortable when they're camping or for anybody who's interested in a van but wants a little more versatility. They're also a lot less expensive.
OK, so we'll look at a lot of these vehicles individually in upcoming episodes. But hopefully that gives you some food for thought if you're trying to figure out what type of rig to buy.
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