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Climber's best vehicle?

Original Post
Leo Gokovski · · SLC, UT · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 25

Hello all!

I recently flipped my truck driving out of Cochise Stronghold... ( Everybody is fine, including the dog who refused to wear a seatbelt...) The search for the ultimate climber's vehicle begins...
The truck I destroyed was a full size 4x4 ford with a flip-pack camper, so I'm quite used to the extra space...
My thoughts are:
1. A smaller truck with camper (tacoma and the likes)
2. Full size diesel truck (to improve mpg and still have lots of space) with a pop up camper
3. A westfalia eurovan (full camper)

Well reasoned opinions are appreciated!!!



My work here is done!

Whittlesticks Whitley · · Glenwood Springs, co · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 95

livin in a van will change your life! get a redone vanagon syncro though. awd in this thing beats any truck out there

Evan1984 · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2007 · Points: 30

Does this have to serve double duty as a daily driver?

If so, I'd get something like a subaru. MY GF has an element, which gets about 25MPG and you can sleep in it.

If not, I'd get an older work van. They are cheap and easy to fix.


Umph! · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2004 · Points: 180

Dude, quit crying! A little elbow grease, and some various patchwork will keep your rig going for another 10 years!!

If I desired to spend the money (sounds like you do), I'd buy a new Chevy Express AWD (van). Power, comfort, space, awd. . . .
Buy a stripped down version (utility van), build the inside how you want, and put the money saved into a good tire package, tinted windows, roof rack, and a 2-4" lift (google: Overland Vans,Express). Nothing beats a 4wd van for enjoying the motorized travels of life.

Leo Gokovski · · SLC, UT · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 25

Definitely leaning towards the synchro...- heard a lot about it... How's the driving/mpg/etc?

Darren Mabe · · Flagstaff, AZ · Joined Dec 2002 · Points: 3,565

climbers best vehicle is the one he/she is in. provided it runs and can get you to where you want to climb.

for example, my current rig is not practical for some stuff, but it gets me where i need to go. hardly a "climber's vehicle", unless its parked in Rifle.

four rings
Umph! · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2004 · Points: 180
leo wrote:Definitely leaning towards the synchro...- heard a lot about it... How's the driving/mpg/etc?
You'll probably be spending as much on a used Synchro than a new Express - and the MPG will probably be better in the Express. Don't forget, they stopped making the Synchro in the early 90's I believe - good luck finding one in acceptable condition. And, they're stupid slow and gutless - the Westfalia camper is sweet though!

Hell, you could pull the 'Horse's Audi behind the Express.
tenpins · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2007 · Points: 30

seriously, I like the small fuel efficient car. always have money for gas and can bivvy whereever.

Leo Gokovski · · SLC, UT · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 25

Thx, guys... Appreciate your two cents...
I do want a vehicle that I can bivy IN... but appreciate all input..

Daryl Allan · · Sierra Vista, AZ · Joined Sep 2006 · Points: 1,065

Hey Leo, it was great meeting you both the other day but regretful to have to do so given the circumstances. We were, and still are, so happy all three of you walked away with just a minor finger abrasion.

For what it's worth, i'm in the market for either a Grand Cherokee (2000-2005) or a 4dr Tacoma for my next climbing vehicle.

Again, it was great to see you both intact, and in good spirits.

Best wishes!

Leo Gokovski · · SLC, UT · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 25

Brother Daryl!

Good hearing from you.... Thx for the support, brother, I truly appreciate it... I was thinking about a Eurovan westy or something of the like... any thoughts?
Hope to see you again at the stronghold...
How was your day?


Jay Knower · · Campton, NH · Joined Jul 2001 · Points: 5,333
nick serrano · · Albuquerque, NM · Joined Dec 2009 · Points: 10

i've been pretty happy with my 4x4 1994 toyota pickup (this was pre-taco). got a basic camper shell on it and gets arouncd 24 mpg if i drive at 70 mph or below (drops to 20 mpg at 75 mph, but hey, i got nowhere to go real fast).

anthony weidner · · Madison, WI · Joined Feb 2010 · Points: 5

i just bought a 92 toyota pickup. it hasn't seen much action since i at school, but so long as i have money to put gas in it, ill be living in the back of it(under the topper) this summer. The only problem i have with it is a little bit of frame rust to take care of.

Timmamok Murphy · · Durango, CO · Joined Sep 2008 · Points: 100

If you decide on a small truck I am considering selling my pop top camper. Send a message if you are interested.

Bob Dobalina · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2009 · Points: 140
Tyson Anderson · · SLC, UT · Joined May 2007 · Points: 120

If you want to get technical, most eurovans in the US are Winnebago not Westfalia. One thing to think about with a eurovan is that they have a lot less ground clearance than the 80's era Vanagons. I just bought an 85 Vanagon earlier this year and have loved it so far. It's not a reliable car though so you should be comfortable with basic mechanics if you don't want to spend a fortune on repairs. They are generally easy to work on though.

You can more info about both eurovans and vanagons at

try here:…

GoWesty is also a good place for info. They also sell fully restored vanagons if you have the money.

Colonel Mustard · · Sacramento, CA · Joined Sep 2005 · Points: 1,180

The autobahn of dirt roads claims another victim?

I'm with the opinion that whatever car gets you to the crag is best. Although, Toyotas run forever (as long as you don't crash them).

Chris D · · the couch · Joined Apr 2009 · Points: 2,230

Get a ford ranger 4X4 or Mazda b-series 4X4. Go anywhere with no fear. Put a camper shell, topper, cap, (whatever you call it) on it. Sleep in the bed.

DO NOT waste your time on under-powered, weak-ass, junk, broken down VWs of any era.

I've had a number of VWs. They are a lot of fun if you want to work on your car all the time, and they make merging onto modern Eisenhower-era interstates an exciting epic.

If you want to save some coin, climb, and sleep in a reliable vehicle that will get to crag to crag (and can be repaired anywhere with the cheap-ass parts that come with owning a vehicle of which 95-zillion were made) buy a ford ranger (or Mazda clone, or toyota, etc.) with a cap (or get the cap on craig's list) for cheap.

If you are looking to pick up hippie chicks in Hidden Valley campground, by all means - buy the VW.


kirra · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 530

My taco-shell set-up is GREAT but lately been a bit bored, your loss (sorry btw) inspired me to look around and here are some things I found. Some might be a bit xtreme ~but it's fun to dream no?

Element with a pop-top sleeper

1978 TOYOTA HI ACE Pop-Top Camper

Don't forget the CHINOOK Poptop

I'm thinkin' about adding one of these ~

kirra · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 530

Just dreamin...

great on Fuel ~

EarthRoamer XV-LT

4WD VW Westfalia Syncro camper

Bet you can't flip this -Unimog Diesel

Have fun --hope to see you on the road again soon ~k

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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