Adventure begins with the first step, and our first step was a local overnight trip to a commercial campsite in a typical New England wood. It was nothing exotic or remote, nothing extra-ordinary, but it was still a great experience which confirmed some assumptions and exposed some flaws in our initial set up.
First, the Good
Camping in the van is significantly easier than camping in a tent. There is little to no set up and it’s so much easier to keep the bed clean in the van than in a tent. Because of the raised platform, the van also comes with convenient storage, seats, and a lower level to keep shoes, backpacks, and other daily gear that is often dirty.
The van is quieter and warmer than a tent. It also doesn’t have the cold dewey floor that a tent has.
Lastly, the van is more secure then a tent. Whether you may be concerned about personal safety or security for your things when you go day-hiking from your campsite, the van is infinitely more secure then a tent.
Second, the Bad
The primary shortcoming of the Ford Econoline E-350 van is the low(er) roof height. While this is no different than a tent, it does make it more difficult to change clothes or make the bed.
That’s really the main downside. Other characteristics could be argued as better or worse depending on your personal preference.
As we camped we noticed a few improvements to be made. I will be adding handle holes in the main center section of the platform to aid in moving it forward and aft. As a process change, we will be placing my and my wife’s bin in the front seats when we are getting ready for the night. This will allow us easier access to our things should we need them. The other bins, which are even less likely to be accessed at night, can be placed toward the back of the van and accessed by opening the rear doors. Other more minor things are curtains, instead of the towels we used, and the placement of the Goal Zero Yeti 400 Solar Generator is less than ideal but will work for the short term.
After the first camping trip, I have concluded that camping in a van can be thought of simply as camping in a steel tent. It is still camping, it still gets you out of the house into new scenery, and it still isn’t as comfortable as your house or a cabin.
I am excited for our next adventure in the Adventure Van to get the family out of the house and out of our routine, making memories.
Stay tuned for reviews of the mattress and other components of our Adventure Van setup.