When Michael and I first embarked on the process of searching for the best camper van and custom van buildout for our needs and budget, our love for all things rock climbing swayed many of our key decision points.
For years, we hit the road on the weekends in our Jeep and drove anywhere from 4-10 hours to seek out our next adventure in the vertical realm.
Our routine was:
- Leave the office and pull a late night to get to the “crag” (aka the climbing area of our choice)
- Move all of our gear from the back of the jeep to the front seats (or if we ran out of room, on top of the Jeep)
- Lay down the back seats, blow up our sleeping pads, and go to sleep
- Reverse process in the morning
- Spend the day climbing
This routine suited us just fine for a long time, but eventually we wanted a rig that made our weekend warrioring a little simpler. We wanted to fall into bed after a long drive so we could wake up fresh and ready to go the next day. We wanted a shelter from the elements that we could relax in the mornings before our climbing day began, and a place to kick off our shoes and relax from the chill of evening after a long day on the rock.
We wanted a camper van.
But more importantly we wanted a van that suited our stoke and needs for outdoor climbing.
- For us that meant we needed a camper van that had:
- A lot of garage space so we could fit gear like crash pads for bouldering and trad/sport gear for rope climbing
- A bed we didn’t need to break down and set up all the time, because we like to fall into bed after a long day
- Plenty of nooks-and-crannies to stuff down jackets and blankets for those climbing areas that get extra cold at nights
- Space to chill, hang out, and drink a beer with friends in the evenings
We definitely didn’t want a set-up that was overly complicated, and were really looking for something simple that we could adjust weekend to weekend depending on where we were headed and the style of climbing we were taking on.
The Wayfarer van was perfect for us, and as we’ve transitioned to traveling and climbing full-time, the camper van continues to be our safe haven from the elements and our basecamp into the vertical realm.
HOW WE SORT OUR CLIMBING GEAR IN THE VAN
Over the last year, we’ve been road tripping all across the Western US & Canada largely in pursuit of climbing in areas we’ve always wanted to go to, and so you could say we have more or less perfected the art of organizing our gear in the van.
Since we like to boulder, trad climb, and sport climb (though admittedly we tend to boulder the most), we had to get creative with how we fit our gear into the “garage space” of our van, but we ended up working out a super-simple system that makes hitting the crag quick and easy.
For starters, we have 2 dedicated bins (as seen in the left-hand side of the photo below).
Our larger bin holds all of our important trad and sport climbing gear (like ropes, cams, quickdraws, etc.). If we know we will be climbing a big route the next day we just pull this bin out and sort our gear ahead of time (either onto our harnesses or inside one of our backpacks) so all we have to do is grab it and go the next morning.
We have a smaller bin that sits on top of the larger bin and is usually left open. It holds gear that we use often (i.e. sometimes we even go to indoor gyms when weather is bad), and we can grab our chalk bags easily when we are ready to go. Also, when we go bouldering, we don’t typically need more than our chalk bags, crash pads, and shoes so this keeps us from having to open up our big bin and dig around for gear.
Next to our bins we keep 2 Asana Hero Bouldering Crash Pads. We bought these because they were a bit smaller and didn’t take up as much space inside of our van as larger crash pads might. So far, we are super happy with our decision to go with these crash pads.
Lastly, we keep our climbing shoes inside of the shoe-bins we installed onto the back door of our van. We found these awesome shoe bin holders on Amazon and they were the perfect solution to our shoe organization inside the Wayfarer Van.
Our next big project for the Wayfarer Van is to install a hangboard for finger-strength training on the inside, but we are still figuring out how we want to do that. We’ll save that project for another blog post.
USING THE CAMPER VAN AS A BASECAMP TO OUR CLIMBING ADVENTURES
Having the Wayfarer Van to come back to at the end of a long day is honestly a dream come true, and we feel like we are living the good life.
As I mentioned before, we’ve been using this camper van as our basecamp to so many amazing climbing adventures all across North America. It’s been our refuge from the elements, a place where we can invite friends in to grab a beer and play cards at night, and a lunch spot for climbing areas that have easy drive-up access.
Every climbing crag is different. Access and camping vary. Some places we can drive right up to the climbing area, sleep at the trailhead parking lot and be only minutes away from world class climbing (like in Bishop, California).
Other areas, like Hueco Tanks State Park, have more monitored access. Climbers are required to get permits before entering the park, and camping is only allowed in designated areas, or outside of the park.
When we spent time in Squamish, B.C. in Canada we slept at the local Walmart, and drove to climbing crag in the morning.
But luckily most climbing areas also have strong climbing communities. Often when we roll into new towns we first go to a local outdoor gear and climbing store or a local climbing gym and ask for advice on where to camp, where the best climbs are, and other need-to-know items (like where the best local brewery is).
Most recently we drove our van up to Hueco Tanks in El Paso, TX for a few weeks of bouldering and to also attend a huge bouldering competition and community event that the American Alpine Club holds every year called the Hueco Rock Rodeo.
One of our favorite parts about climbing is the community and friendships we’ve been able to develop from getting outside, and attending events like these to hang out with other climbers. The van gets us there, helps us rest, and allows us to invite our new friends over to hang out and get away from the elements after a long day on the rock.
Living simply and making friends at its finest.