Dirtbag Van recommendations


Original Post
David Pagel · · Mequon · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 70

I am looking to build a dirtbag van or truck to take cross country and had a few questions as to what kind of set up to build. Anyone have any experience with getting a truck with a canopy over going with a cargo van set it? If i were to go with a cargo van my options are increased if I go for RWD over AWD. Does anyone have any experience taking RWD with proper tires around instead or AWD. Any recommendations on models of pickup trucks to go with that are regular cab with a normal or extended cabs? Im really not looking to spend more than $5000 on the vehicle itself.

Eli · · Lives in a truck · Joined Nov 2010 · Points: 2,619

There are a lot of threads on this up right now.
That said, I get really far with RWD and good tires.

Search "Cruxing out on van purchase"

Ice4life · · US · Joined Nov 2010 · Points: 335

I currently have a tacoma, camper shell, and platform.

I love and hate it...

Pro's
-easier to stealth in my area since vans kinda stick out, again I guess it depends on where you're parking.
-better off road capability, higher clearance, and 4WD without costing a ton mainly
-when you stop being a dirtbag you can take the camper shell off and have a normal truck
-easier to get chicks since they don't look at your back and be like, "you live in here?" ;-),

Con's
-not being able to crawl to the front without squeezing through a tiny ass window.... Some trucks are different, my Tacoma is not... When it's raining, snowing, or you finally get into bed and forget you left something in front and have to get out to go get it....FML.
-less storage, storage bins not as easy to access
-harder to insulate, although I spent the winter in SLC in mine, lowest it got was -8F and wasn't to bad with a WM Puma bag.
-You get van envy EVERY TIME you see a built out van, EVERY TIME...
-Not being able to stand up.

I've also driven a ton of 15 passenger vans for various outfits with good tires / chains, and they do fairly well for most conditions, but still doesn't beat a truck. 4WD typically did better than RWD in snow and muddy conditions. I think everything else was about 6's

ClimbBaja · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 25

David,
If you are thinking about getting a rear wheel drive van, such as, a Ford Econoline, then do some research on locking differentials. Adding an aftermarket locker to the rear axle will more than double your traction offroad in most situations (vs. a conventional "open diff"). You'd want a selectable (part time) locking differential. My preference is the Eaton E-Locker. Engages with the push of a button. Another option is ARB Air Locker, but it requires an on-board air compressor (more expense).
When adding a locker, it is a convenient time to change axle gear ratios for more pulling power/taller tires.
Do not cheap out and buy a "lunchbox locker." It is initially cheaper and easier to install. When it grenades (notice I wrote "when, not "if") it will cost you triple to rebuild the entire axle.
There are numerous threads here and on Supertopo about vans and locking diffs.

David Pagel · · Mequon · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 70

My mail issue with getting a van is really the lack of AWD without paying an arm and a leg. Coming from WI and knowing that for the most part you can get away with cautious driving and RWD with good tires, but there is usually 2 times a year when it's nice to have AWD.
As far as a truck is concerned, it almost seems more expensive to pick up a used truck that's 4x4 with needing to purchase a canopy than it would be just to get a van to begin with!

Nick Goldsmith · · Pomfret VT · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 440

even when you have a van you get van envy when you see a tricked out sprinter or promaster......

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Post a Reply

Log In to Reply