Washington Fly Fishing Forum banner
  • Please post in our Community Feedback thread for help with the new forum software! If you are having trouble logging in, please Contact Us for assistance. 

1 - 20 of 32 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,688 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ok, so the latest Subaru thread got me thinking[dangerous I know] about a soon to be retirement rig with a lot better mileage than my 40+ years love affairs with 4X4's. I am a 'minimalist' camper, and while I will never come close to Ive's outrageous setups, mine have worked out really well. So here is the question: does anyone have experience with either, or preferably both, of these vehicles? Previous insane 4 wheel driving experience will be a plus. I am thinking a couple guys on 1-2 week fishing trips or solo on a 1-3 month Western states 'adventure', of sorts. Towing the pram with the Renegade strapped on top of it, loaded up with all the lighter weight fly gear and a small generator. Keep the vehicle uncluttered so the camping/cooking/sleeping is as easy as possible. Any suggestions? Smart ass reply's will be expected!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,594 Posts
Owned an 1984 VW Westfalia for 15 years and loved, loved, loved it! I camped frequently. Sold it with 260K miles on it but had replaced the motor for a VW rebuild at about 190K. It had a gas stove and fridge and pop-top and extremely good ground clearance though it was two wheel drive. Towed a 14' aluminum boat and outboard from Wisconsin to Central WA without a problem. I looked at the newer Eurovan replacements but found them wanting. The frame and ground clearance were very much lacking. I think the newer Eurovan campers might be better and I'd consider a newer one if it had a poptop and no fridge or stove which are a waste of space.

The one thing I liked the most was being able to stand up to put my pants on in the morning, simple things... I never cooked in it, always carried a coleman gas stove and large cooler (didn't use the uselessly small fridge either). I always carried a large tarp that I could attach to the sliding door side and set up a table and chairs under the canopy (tarp tied to roof and adjacent trees with bungie cords). Nice rigs for camping in my experience, not powerful, steep hills required a down-shift, and they push bunches of air while on the hiway and side winds could be surprising but that's what you get with a box. All things considered I would buy another or something very similar for sure. Would work well with two guys who didn't need a lot of amenities. Add a sun shower and your ready to go, heat the water on the coleman if needed.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
7,341 Posts
See my reply in the Subie thread, it covers some of the answers you are looking for. The downside of the vans are their limited ground clearance. I use mine on a lot of dirt roads but that's as far as it goes. Rock hoppin' ain't on the menu. For camping I have a lightweight bed frame that is about a foot high that allows a lot of storage beneath. My standard chuck box from my truck fits nicely as does a cooler chest. Then there is plenty of room left for gear, clothes and fishing equipment. The electric doors and liftgate are a huge plus when camping, the whole thing opens up with just a key fob and the outside just comes in. As mentioned gas mileage is superb for such a large commodious vehicle.

What pisses me off is that the manufacturers have never built a "Man Van" to accommodate those of us that realize a van is a much better camping platform than an SUV. Just give us 2 more inches of ground clearance, eliminate the 3rd row seats and give us a locker to store stuff in and add some real tires instead of those low rolling resistance powder puffs. Make the trailer hitch standard, they'll tow a pretty decent load. That would get you anywhere there is pavement and campgrounds and a few places off the beaten path. PM me if you want more info or pictures.
 

·
Now hanging at the other, better new place
Joined
·
3,681 Posts
I've rented Chrysler Town and Countries when I've been on work trips and taken a few days for myself. They are camping machines. The seats all fold down flat as can be with a minimum of effort. That means the inside is cavernous. Side doors both open and you have two front porches. Or if you have a couple machine guns you could do some serious damage, ha. Mileage is good. Power is adequate. Who knows about towing. Clearance is what you'd expect. Don't go crazy but it'll get you to lots of places. Grocery-getters, sure, but I don't drive vehicles to impress people. Throw a tarp in there and you could haul a lot of whatever.
 
G

·
500 hp 351w
This...kind of. I would keep your love of four-bys and look for a creampuff 1985-1990 suburban. Use it as your camping rig and forget the cost of gas. You should be able to find a 4x4 for under $8000 that will be gorgeous.

The plus is that you don't have to care about the body and everything else is dirt cheap to fix. I have friends who pay $2000 for their scheduled maintenance on their new vehicles. That buys a rebuilt motor in a small-block chevy vehicle.
 
G

·
...or 6 months worth of gas, if you forgot to forget about that very real and never- ending expense.
Most people drive about 12k per year. That rig will get 13 with a 350. If it is only used for camping trips, I'd be surprised if it was driven 5000 miles per year. $2K buys over 7oo gallons of mid-grade fuel right now. That is over two years of fuel.

Or you can buy a new $35000 van and spend $2500 per year (based on owning it 10yrs and a generous $10k resale value) before you buy fuel. Then you can add the $2k services. Then you can add the increased repair costs. Then add the higher insurance costs since you'll have full coverage.

I'm saying that a person can be better off with an inefficient, dedicated camping rig and a fuel-efficient daily driver.

I've done A LOT of calculations on vehicle costs. I've also done a lot of research on environmental impact of vehicles. The conclusions I have come to are that the environment would be much better off if people kept their cars running well and kept them for 25% longer than is now current (8yrs). The environmental impact of building a new car is way higher than most people believe.

I have three vehicles right now. They all run VERY well, they emit emissions that are acceptable and the *average* age is 45yrs.

Justify a new vehicle however you'd like, but if it is because it saves money, I'll own that debate.
 

·
Now hanging at the other, better new place
Joined
·
3,681 Posts
If you fish and camp a lot it's a lot more than 12000 miles a year out here in the West. Enjoy all your rigs and registration and insurance and upkeep on old stuff wearing out. I don't have to justify anything to anyone and I was never trying. I don't own new vehicles either. I do know that for most of my life I could only afford older vehicles and fixing them all the time and worrying about breaking down and then actually breaking down and missing out on my hard-earned and scarce time off was a huge bummer.

Chrysler T&C is the shizz if you're looking for an incredibly practical and versatile vehicle.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,688 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for the reply's. Ive, I'll get back to you soon. I should have stated that I own a 2001 Tundra Limited, leather & power everything. Absolutely love it. Never thought I would downsize until I drove it, handles like a sports car with adequate power....just gets shitty mileage. Even so I doubt it will ever come up for sale....looks & drives like ( almost ) new. My stump jumping days or over, would never treat this baby like my trucks in the past. Thought about getting a camper for it....maybe a pop up, but that wouldn't be a lot better than what I have done with my Leer canopy. 3/4" plywood 2' deep, full width forward and another that is 31" wide by 4'. This allows me to pack my Renegade (inflated) and sleep on 3 sections of expensive foam that I store on the forward section. Lightweight folding table, chair, cooler, 5-10 gallons of water and 2 Jetboils [pot & pan] and I can rock for a week. I'm just thinking of a more leisurely style of long term camping/fishing trips. Keep it coming, any suggestions are welcome, but the goal is to standup and get double the mileage.
 

·
No longer here
Joined
·
4,034 Posts
See my reply in the Subie thread, it covers some of the answers you are looking for. The downside of the vans are their limited ground clearance. I use mine on a lot of dirt roads but that's as far as it goes. Rock hoppin' ain't on the menu. For camping I have a lightweight bed frame that is about a foot high that allows a lot of storage beneath. My standard chuck box from my truck fits nicely as does a cooler chest. Then there is plenty of room left for gear, clothes and fishing equipment. The electric doors and liftgate are a huge plus when camping, the whole thing opens up with just a key fob and the outside just comes in. As mentioned gas mileage is superb for such a large commodious vehicle.

What pisses me off is that the manufacturers have never built a "Man Van" to accommodate those of us that realize a van is a much better camping platform than an SUV. Just give us 2 more inches of ground clearance, eliminate the 3rd row seats and give us a locker to store stuff in and add some real tires instead of those low rolling resistance powder puffs. Make the trailer hitch standard, they'll tow a pretty decent load. That would get you anywhere there is pavement and campgrounds and a few places off the beaten path. PM me if you want more info or pictures.
The Chevy Astro AWD was almost a Man-Van. There are folks turning those into off-road RVs, sorta like mini Sportsmobiles. Mule Expedition Outfitters in Issaquah has done some conversions that look pretty sweet.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,688 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
The Chevy Astro AWD was almost a Man-Van. There are folks turning those into off-road RVs, sorta like mini Sportsmobiles. Mule Expedition Outfitters in Issaquah has done some conversions that look pretty sweet.
Intrigued by those, but leery of chevy's intro into that 'van man' market. Being a lifelong chevy owner, it pains me to admit that Chrysler is light years ahead with their vans.
 

·
No longer here
Joined
·
4,034 Posts
Intrigued by those, but leery of chevy's intro into that 'van man' market. Being a lifelong chevy owner, it pains me to admit that Chrysler is light years ahead with their vans.
Seems the Chevy Astro gets pretty decent marks for longevity, especially with the 4.3 motor. Of course, finding one without high miles would probably be tough since they haven't made them for a few years.

I see the problem with the Chrysler vans being two-fold:

1. They don't have a very tall profile, so interior room for use as an "RV" would be less than ideal (unless you cut a hole in the roof and added a pop-up penthouse).

2. My mother-in-law drives one.
 

·
Triploid, Humpy & Seaplane Hater....Know Grizzler
Joined
·
14,853 Posts
Have you considered something like a Ford Transit, Nissan NV 1500 or the like?
It seems every company is now offering a more "work" type vans that come in different sizes and configurations.
If you could get something like that configured with just front seats, you could have a lot of space for what you are trying to acccomplish for your camping.
SF
 

·
No longer here
Joined
·
4,034 Posts
What stonefish said ^. Ford Transit or the Dodge Promaster Cargo Van. Both have high roof options, and the Dodge has the 3.0 diesel option. You could have a lot of fun outfitting the cargo space to suit your needs.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,100 Posts
Wouldn't touch a Chrysler minivan. The transmissions are way too frail, and the electrical systems are typical Chrysler suspect.

The Astro AWD is pretty respectable and reliable for what they are. The downside to almost all vans, is the ability to work on them easily.

The Promaster's have some of the worst reviews for cargo vans I've seen. For cargo rigs I would get a Transit, Nissan NV, or Sprinter. Factory 4x4 Sprinters are available in NA starting this year I believe.

I'm kinda in the same boat, but I'm going to go the DIY route. I want an actual 4WD robust arrangement though. I'm gonna buy a regular cab small pickup and build a camper to put in place of the bed.

Like a Maltec conversion.

Automotive tire Motor vehicle Automotive exterior Trunk Bumper





A really good resource to look at vehicle types would be expedition portal dot com.
 

·
Love da little fishies
Joined
·
1,678 Posts
The newer Volkswagen Vans are just rebadged Chrysler vans.

I drove the a brand new dodge van at work for one year and loved it. Adequate power output from the surprisingly small V6. Since it was unibody front wheel drive he handled more like a modern midsize car than a truck. And the seats were comfortable as heck was the seating position was perfect with excellent vision. I could see taken this long long Scenic road trips and enjoying every minute. Here is the downside and it's a big one. Fiat builds these Vans for Chrysler. The quality is not great just like the Fiats from the seventies. I was in and out of the van all day in the back door locks screwed up on me requiring a four-hour visit every time to the dealer about 1 time per month. Of the fleet of three vans and my company two of the three have required automatic transaxle replacement at 60000 miles. So as much as I would love to own a van like that I will never by 1.

I saw a really great setup in Oakridge Oregon last August while on a mountain bike vacation. A family from California had a sprinter van with big tires/increased ground clearance 4 wheel drive and the interior converted into a camping van. Because these things are tall there's no need for artificial top and they could stand up inside. To me that would be the ideal off road camping vehicle. I believe the owner told me it was about $65,000 to purchase. Most all the Workman I speak withwho own Sprinter vans are very happy with the quality build and maintenance. This is not surprising since Mercedes-Benz builds the Sprinter vans
 

·
Love da little fishies
Joined
·
1,678 Posts
Oh yeah that's for the Astro Vans I think they Rock. I had a Ford version of that the Aerostar all wheel drive. I love that vehicle for camping in fly fishing mountain biking. It had limited ground clearance so rAmps with bid rocks or deep ruts were off limits, but I was able to pull out of the umtanum drift bost ramp on the yak without spinning a tire. Did that every year for 10 plus years. I saw a professional rock crawler as in a crazy human who was sponsored put his human body in treacherous Rick cliffs. He travelled all over the us with a modified astrovan. It had a body lift kit that allowed tall tires for better ground clearance. He loved it and took it off road often to reach remote climbing areas
 

·
No longer here
Joined
·
4,034 Posts
1 - 20 of 32 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top