To find the best option

Making the transition to some sort of traveling “home” so I can pursue my nature photography serious hobby (addiction!) and hiking so as to have the ability to sh*t, shower, download and play in the comfort of a place on wheels. But so many variables on what to choose. I need to be able to travel on BLM, Forest Service and wildlife refuge roads so a van sounds good. But too small for my taste and desired road lifestyle. Then the idea of a small RV seems possible, but they tend to be too wide and no so good “off road”. Or perhaps a small RV with a tow behind vehicle…I’ll be looking to see what others have done with these yin/yang choices.


Classic questions.

After debating the “yin/yang” for a while, my partner and I realized that no option would meet all our wants and needs (….unless we bought one of each type of vehicle we were considering, which wasn’t really an option). So we focused on finding a vehicle type that would meet our most important requirements, most of the time. Then we got offline, talked to some owners and started test driving vehicles.

You might want to go to a vanlife-type gathering or similar meet up, if you haven’t already, to see a variety of options up close. Not sure where you’re located, but here’s a link to some in the U.S. and Australia:




Maybe look into B-class RVs? They are very van like, but bigger than most conversions.

VantasticMedia & MinnieMay…that is exactly where I have been. No option meets all my needs so I am doing the focus-my-mind dance to try and get to the best starting point. I am torn between the idea of a trailer pulled by a 4x4 so I can drop and go, versus finding a Class-B that is built on the rugged side. I rented a standard 23 footer with a slide out and loved the livability, but found it a bit dicey on some of the off roads I took it on. But my chats with trailer folks said unless I go with a 3/4 ton pick-up, I should forget pulling a trailer with an SUV unless it is less than 17 feet and 3,000 pounds.

I checked out the gatherings link and sadly none were near my residence in Washington state.



As a general reference point, what do you think about Outside Van’s 4x4 conversions?

They’re near Portland, OR.


In my personal experience, you don’t drop your trailer as much as you want to. I use to travel/live out of a truck and pulled a trailer on it. But we were always soooo worried about: “are we going to get a ticket if we drop our trailer here” “how long is it going to be allowed here” “is this a safe part of town?” “is this going to cause problems for someone else?” etc.
One time we actually got a warning once saying something along the lines of “you’re not allowed to keep trailers here, you have 12 hours to move it before being ticketed” And thankfully we only had it dropped for a few hours, and went back and checked on it, but it definitely had us worried because what if we never went and checked?
Just my experience on it though. I’m sure other people are more confident in their trailer leaving skills, but it always induced anxiety for me because I was constantly worried about it if it wasn’t in my sight.


Good to have that insight! I was wondering about the whole security thing. Most of the time I would imagine leaving the trailer for the day while I was out behind the camera. But still, the idea of not having my stuff with me, or deciding I wanted to NOT drive back to the trailer and instead wished I could just go over the next hill and camp, etc left me wondering about the trailer thing. I thought maybe I would adapt to a slower pace and feel OK about having a longer term base camp. More to ponder.


My mechanic and a few Sprinter owners have cautioned about the whole Mercedes repair-in-the-boonies issue. Not all repair shops in the outlying areas are comfortable with that brand. And parts are usually not on the shelf or easy to get quick. If they did conversions on Chevy/Dodge/Ford vans I might be more inclined. I do like the higher wheelbase of the 4x4 but still don’t see any slide outs. Those make a huge difference, in my opinion, with the feeling of usable space on the inside.

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There are some small trailers that are built 4x4 that are pretty gnarly - a little harder to find, but gnarly nonetheless if you can find them. We are obsessed with the 4x4 Toyota Sunraders! We also like the fact that they are built on a Toyota chassis so almost any mechanic can work on it. Best of luck in your search!

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I have seen small 4x4 skoolies for sale in some rural areas. Maybe that would be a good option for you.