Adventure Projects is hiring an Android engineer to join us in Boulder, CO
Mountain Project Logo

Climber's best vehicle?

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

After my first weekend out in my camper-shell equipped Mazda B4000 (with custom platform/"loft") I can vouch for the setup, despite what truck's bed you put it in. So you can enjoy this rig and maintain whatever pickup brand loyalty you already have.

Also, if you're more than 5'10" you're gonna find it cramped in a short-bed. That's how tall I am and I had to sleep a little sideways (bed is 71 inches long) Also, if you can do without the "loft," you might be able to sit up inside instead of just sleep in there.

It started raining on Saturday night, and rained right through Sunday. I smiled all the while thinking about the sopping wet tent and damp gear that I wouldn't have to deal with when the time came to pack up and move on. Worked out great. Picked up the shell on Craig's list for about the cost of a decent backpacking tent. Rest of materials cost me about $80 (wood, carpet, glue)


Oh yeah, and the dogs get to sleep in the cab of the truck, just an opening of a vent-window away from me checking on them...way better than having them in the tent, even the giant-ass REI Camp Hut 4 I usually car-camp in.
Chris Hillios · · Newburyport, MA · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 405
John Korfmacher · · Fort Collins, CO · Joined Jul 2004 · Points: 110

I drive a Dodge 3/4-ton Cummins at work--it's an excellent truck. It'll get 20 mpg on the highway unloaded, has ridiculous power. Only problem is that it's way more truck than most people need to go climbing. They're not real cheap either. If Dodge ever offered a small Cummins in a 1/2-ton, I'd think about buying one myself.

Avoid early Ford PowerStroke diesels. They had major engineering and durability issues.

Westys are great, but buy a good set of tools if you get one. It's possible to convert a Westy to Subaru power and also to VW turbodiesel power, both of which are considerable improvements.

Or, I'll sell you my '98 Jetta TDI, cheap. Only 204,000 miles! At 50 mpg, you'll save enough money to stay in hotels every night.

Pete Elliott · · Co Spgs CO · Joined Jul 2006 · Points: 95

I have a perfectly running 96 doge pickup with extended cab i'll lay on ya for 3 grand. Not diesel, not 4x4, but I only got it stuck once in 160,000 miles (sand dunes) (oh... and shitty driving). Slap a cap or camper on it and you're golden. Colorado Springs.

SYNCRO.ORG · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2011 · Points: 0

Syncros are great vehicles for anyone who spends a lot of time outdoors and loves camping/exploring.

There is no other vehicle that has the versatility and character/charm of a syncro westy.

All you have to do is talk to owners and check out how they care for and cherish their vans!

For more info, see

GR Johnson · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2010 · Points: 115

Dodge Sprinter for life on the road. If you really want to spill some chedder go sportsmobile.

Toyota Tacoma or the like for weekend warrior/holiday climbing.

The Sprinter is great on mileage, it is tall. If you are stuck in the wind or rain you can hang out inside and actually have people over, so it's not just you and your smelly ass dog hoping your lap top holds out so you can finally see the end of "The Warriors."

J. Albers · · Colorado · Joined Jul 2008 · Points: 1,791
johnL wrote:The ground looks awfully level in your photo's. How exactly did you manage to roll over?
Leo, any chance you are willing to answer johnL's question? I'm also pretty curious....
Lee Wilson · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Jan 2006 · Points: 5

Chevy Malibu...gets you where you need to go!

Connor.Donahue · · Portland OR · Joined Dec 2009 · Points: 0

Honda Civic! (or any other domestic, foreign, everyman sedan on the road)

1) Gas Mileage (Usually 40-44 on the highway = more money for food, beer, and gear)
2) Reliability! My Civic is way more reliable than 99% of my climbing partners.
3) Off Road Style. I've never been unable to get somewhere I wanted to go. Granted, I can't always get as far as a truck or SUV can, but with slow, careful driving, experience has shown that I can usually drive within a 10 minute walk to the crag or wherever I'm headed. I'll trade 10 minutes hiking for double the gas mileage any day.
4) Hold lots o' stuff. Seriously. With a rack on top and a full trunk, I've carried gear (including , firewood and crashpads) for a weeklong trip for three people.

Some talk up the ability to sleep inside their car....but when I'm on a trip, sleeping in a tent (or out in the open) is part of the experience. I commute daily in a car...why sleep in one during my days off?

phil wortmann · · Colorado Springs, Co. · Joined Feb 2005 · Points: 735

--- Invalid image id: 107011108 ---

R. Moran · · Moab , UT · Joined Mar 2009 · Points: 140

Dude, try a bigger civic no walk to the crag but a little less gas mileage..

lifted civic

civic in mud

Stucker · · Centennial, CO · Joined Aug 2006 · Points: 75
Black Owl 1 at roost outside Penitente Canyon
I don't expect to ever sell anybody on buying one of these, but mine has been excellent (though, I have maintained it well). Ugly, but incredibly functional. 24 Hwy. 21 combined. Coolest of all is it has stereo controls in the back and the tailgate has cup holders. Heads-up display on the windshield. The console is a removable ice chest. Leather, heated seats, 10-speaker, 6 disk (remember those?) changer, satelite radio, sun roof. The floor is completely flat for hauling or for sleeping on. AWD has been exceptional in the snow. Decent clearance.
habla · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 40

it hurts to see a ford in pain. in pain bronco2. that was a sad day

rolled truck

rolled truck

rolled truck

rolled truck

rolled truck

thank goodness i had my f250 to pull him out of the canyon. and they were stil able to drive it down the hill

Brandontyrrell tyrrell · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2009 · Points: 95

I've spent alot of time looking at the best rig, but I think its this

Toyota Chinook

4x4 Toyota Chinook
This one is 4x4 and it doesn't do the best on gas but will get you where you want to go

2x4 chinook
This one is a two wheel drive and it gets "29mpg" according to its add back in the day but I have one and it gets 25mpg on the highway and around 18 in town which is pretty rad

Toyota Chinooks are the super rad because you get the good gas mileage for a camper and you get to drive around a built proof toyota engine. I love westy's but the good ones cost so much money and if anything breaks down prepare for the repair shop to take all your money or get a new "hobby" and learn to how to do it yourself

my 2 cents

mycroft · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2014 · Points: 35

I had a similar need for a 4x4 climbing rig and after doing some research ended up building this rig. Average fule log over last 5,686 miles was 18.29mpg with mixed highway and mountains.

The original 1977 chinook was $600. I took the fiberglass back off and dropped it on a 88 Toyota long bed ($3000) with minimal modifications. Then sold the 1977 truck (+$500)and the 1988 bed (+$300)for combine and used the cash to gut and rebuild the interior. The expensive innards were wood and foam insulation(~$100) marine grade carpet (~$80), as-is Ikea mattress that I cut up with an electric turkey carver (~$45) and curtains from the thrift to make covers for cushions and of course curtains (~$20). So all in this guy cost $3345 +/- probably another $100. I used a Wabasto heater that runs off gasoline which I already owned from a previous rig. Used a cooler instead of a fridge as it is gentler on batteries/propane and used a Coleman style stove since I cook outside in all but the coldest weather.

After a year I did put air bags on the back of the truck for $300 but it drives much nicer now.

I’m thinking of ways to make the next truck better and recently designed a really light weight flip up hard sided camper (not unlike the wildernest, except hard sided ) that I think I can build for about $500. It should clamp on any truck, just like a regular bed capper. If I build one this summer Ill add pictures.








Kai Larson · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Jan 2006 · Points: 250

80 Series Landcruiser with roof top tent and other goodies.

Comfortable to live out of, can go pretty much anywhere.

1995 80-series Landcruiser

Jon Zucco · · Denver, CO · Joined Aug 2008 · Points: 245

If it were me, and I didn't necessarily care a ton about mpg, I would go with a Toyota Tacoma with a camper. Although as far as trucks go, they have a pretty good fuel economy.

If you just want something to get from a to b cheaply. As in pure mpg for road tripping; get a honda cvic or toyota yaris and put a thule or yakima cargo box on top.

If the 4x4 or awd is a big deciding factor; do an outback or forester for better mpg, or the toyota tacoma.

A lot of these pics of camper modded trucks and suvs are fun to look at, and would be great for longer trips (longer as in time, not distance), but realistically (for me anyway), my climbing vehicle doubles as my everything else vehicle, so they are totally impractical.

Matt N · · Santa Barbara, CA · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 287

To me it seems like most climbing areas involve a short drive to the trail/crag from where you're camping.

For all the van dwellers and similar - isn't it a pain to pack up your sleeping setup (and possibly cooking) and throw in climbing gear each day for a short drive?
I'm thinking Red Rocks, JTree, Tuolumne, IC - seems like most places I travel to climb at are setup this way.

Any trailer owners choose theirs b/c of this? I'm happy with a tent and weather forecasts for now.

Zack Novak · · North Bend, WA · Joined Jan 2008 · Points: 110

I spent most of the last year and a half living out of a honda odyssey and first of all, on all but high clearance terrain it's been an awesome and super reliable rig with pretty consistent 25mpg on the hwy.

For your question about packing up everyday, I spent a month and a half in red rocks last year and just left all of my kitchen stuff at the table and hopped in the front to drive the loop road without a problem.

Just perfect for a futon on top and most of the gear under the platform

That being said, I'm looking into getting a Taco or something similar next year.

Ryan N · · Bellingham, WA · Joined May 2009 · Points: 195

This one is pretty sick...

Under construction

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Post a Reply to "Climber's best vehicle?"
in the General Climbing

Log In to Reply