Vans versus Pickup trucks with camper shell

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tioga

Mountain climber
pac northwest
Topic Author's Original Post - May 4, 2013 - 03:41pm PT
What's a better choice for someone who wants to live in a vehicle full time (in a warm climate)?
Trucks with camper shell seem to have the following Pros:
    easier to maneuver/less likely to get stuck than 4WD van (I do not plan to go off paved roads, though)
    easier to use as daily commute to work vehicle
    can be more stealth than a van (if the right shell is chosen, same color as truck, etc, making it all look like one unit

The benefit of vans seems to be:
    much more space--more comfortable, can be converted into a little RV basically, with sink, restroom, even small shower

I thought (may be I'm wrong) that trucks and vans eat about the same amount of gas. It appears from looking at used car ads that it's easier and cheaper to buy a pickup with small mileage than a van--I have no car repair skills and would have to pay for them. Camper vans seems to be very expensive and few so I was just looking into cargo vans... So, seems lik,e overall, pickup with shell is more of a win for a outdoor-loving person who doesn't want to live in apartment....(apartments in Bay area costing $2-$3K....one can buy a camper van after one year of paying these rents)
So, what's a winning vehicle?
tioga

Mountain climber
pac northwest
Topic Author's Reply - May 4, 2013 - 04:21pm PT
I see...well, I've been living in a tent during warm months and living in any car would be much better (tired to get rained upon and dealing with condensation/dragging around the wet rainfly and finding a place for my tent)...the damn laws in CA always persecute landowners who let people stay in a tent, so anything more stealth is better. Don't think this is getting old for me yet...spent last several months in 4 walls and can't wait to live without apartment again, like I used to...

I lived in South Lake Tahoe this winter--yes, I've seen that, 4wd trucks flying around hwy during the storm...I plan to stay in Bay area now tho,so snow isn't an issue--BUT there're plenty of roads in Santa Cruz mountains where even my sedan was almost stuck and raised truck would be great....to think of it I might be on unpaved roads quite a bit if I head out to stay on some ranches...

Recently, had seen a pickup with small camper shell--they painted the shell same color as truck so I thought it was a "wagon" type of vehicle until I realized it was a strategically painted shell on a pickup....it was pretty damn stealth-looking....Regular shell, yes, less stealth....Just don't want the locals to call the cops on my white van if I sleep in Los Alos etc some nights. So, stealth is a big consideration...You see I'll possibly be stuck in engineering job in South Bay area for a while and paying a fortune for some 4-wall place isn't exciting....I could do Airbnb 2 days a week and then be out in a truck or van....Few campgrounds that are out there will be all booked and full of tourists all summer.
If you say vans eat less gas though, it's a big plus.
Dapper Dan

Trad climber
Menlo Park
May 4, 2013 - 04:34pm PT
http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=1897580&msg=1897901#msg1897901

So many opinions and pros and cons , search and sift through them, it's been hashed out on numerous threads.

I've said it before , there's no worse feeling than getting your rig stuck somewhere desperate. Not that it can't happen in a 4x4 , but seems more likely to happen in a van...
tioga

Mountain climber
pac northwest
Topic Author's Reply - May 4, 2013 - 04:42pm PT
I see, lots of info :))
Yeah, this year I went to see a place to camp on private property but my sedan was scraping and was one step from being stuck...
Perhaps, start with a truck and later "upgrade" to a van...these shells seems to be tiny, but I guess there're ones that can be popped up tall like a tent.
Had seen people tow a flat, low platform into a campground recently....before I knew it, they popped it up and it started to look like a 4-person rv. All effort was to spin a handle.
enjoimx

Trad climber
SLO
May 4, 2013 - 04:48pm PT
I deleted my post but IMHO living out of the back of a pickup is in no way stealthy or convenient. Getting in and out of a tailgate is a major PITA.

Ford Transit Connect or Honda Element bro....
tioga

Mountain climber
pac northwest
Topic Author's Reply - May 4, 2013 - 04:56pm PT
Can't you move between the shell and the front instead...
I was thinking of starting with older, low key vehicle, like Toyota pickup, or cargo van...I guess cheaper and "low key" looking not to draw attention in certain areas... Something that could pass for work vehicle. These nice looking cars you mentioned are great for Bay area... but if you end up traveling in poor parts of the country, they can draw unwanted attention I guess...So far my survival strategy was to look super-poor and low key wherever I go--this can bring cops on you in SF Bay "nice" hoods no doubt--but I better deal with them than theives...had some property stolen in campground in Oregon from me, these people were so desperate they were taking *everything*...luckily my car looking old and beat up escaped the broken windows...No doubt seeing a nice new car they can try to take it.
But DAMN 30mpg on Transit Connect NOT bad!
jaaan

Trad climber
Chamonix, France
May 4, 2013 - 05:53pm PT
Credit: jaaan
Michelle

Social climber
1187 Hunterwasser
May 4, 2013 - 06:18pm PT
My dream ride.

http://globalxvehicles.com/
Peter Haan

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, CA
May 4, 2013 - 06:35pm PT
Michelle, no. Those aren't battle-hardened; you will need that upgrade.
the Fet

climber
Tu-Tok-A-Nu-La
May 4, 2013 - 07:55pm PT
Can't really make good recommendations without an idea of your budget, are you talking full size or mini, for one person only, etc.

Full size truck or van are both going to get about 12-18 mpg. Mini pickup or mini van is going to get about 18-26.

A full size van is the go to dirt bag vehicle. Enough room to live in. Can be very stealth. Can get them cheap. Only real downsides are poor mpg and usually no 4x4.
Lynne Leichtfuss

Sport climber
moving thru
May 4, 2013 - 08:36pm PT
I love my Chevy Express All Wheel Drive Van. Not tricked out at all. It looks like an ordinary vehicle, that can be a plus. Hiway about 16-18.

I've thought about a pickup with shell. You can get kits that make the shell, driver seat accessible. I say that because I don't want to wake up by someone or some critter and not be able to start the car immediately and take off. I don't want to have to exit the back to get to the drivers seat.

I like the room in my van I can kinda stand up and I can take all my sheee to TPR with no problem and live in comfort for 4 months. That includes 2 kayaks, a bike and extras.

Red flag goes up for me when you describe living without being noticed in the city. We have people come into where I work asking for maps etc. and upset cause they can't camp just anywhere. If you want to live in the real outdoors that's one thing. If you want to just make a home in the city and it's outskirts, good luck. The establishment folk discourage that. Cheers and hope you find what your're looking for. lynne

Edit: why did you give yourself the name tioga? Just curious since I work in the area.
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
the crowd MUST BE MOCKED...Mocked I tell you.
May 4, 2013 - 08:48pm PT
once you make some hard decisions on what you "must" have, then the decision making becomes easier.

If stealth is the number one concern, Taco with shell is not really low key because of getting in and out thru the tail gate.

Vans are way more stealth for that purpose. You just draw the curtain behind the driver seat and sleep away.

If size isn't an issue, then smaller vehicles like Elements might work.

Off pavement doesn't necessarily mean 4x and high clearance, but if that is a must, you probably will know that now, or need to know that now.

It sounds like cost may be an issue, so high end VW conversions are probably out, not to mention 40k VW pop tops imported from the EU...

https://www.volkswagen-vans.co.uk/range/camper-vans/california/

Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
May 4, 2013 - 09:21pm PT
Buttoned down
Buttoned down
Credit: Dingus Milktoast

Deployed
Its reason for being
Its reason for being
Credit: Dingus Milktoast

DMT
T Hocking

Trad climber
Redding, Ca
May 4, 2013 - 11:26pm PT
DMT's rig is the shizzzle,
I'm a pickup and shell guy myself,
04 Dodge Ram 1500 4x4 <br/>
2 space kayak rack on shell.
04 Dodge Ram 1500 4x4
2 space kayak rack on shell.
Credit: T Hocking
Bed frame and futon mattress
Bed frame and futon mattress
Credit: T Hocking
Gene

climber
May 4, 2013 - 11:49pm PT
This is what you want...

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=563313&msg=563313#msg563313

g
enjoimx

Trad climber
SLO
May 5, 2013 - 01:04am PT
Khanom is EXACTLY right. I lived in downtown Santa Barbara for 4 months sleeping in the back of my Hyundai Accent every single night. Only one incident, and it was drunk guys. Anyway, I would park in areas with lots of other sedans. My windows were tinted. You just have to fit in. Pickups definitely stand out. Hence my recommendation for the Honda Element with blacked out windows BEHIND a heavy tint. So it looks tinted, but if they peer through, it's blacked out. Then wake up super early, grab coffee and your set. Mix up the parking spots 3 times per week. Case Closed.
Michelle

Social climber
1187 Hunterwasser
May 5, 2013 - 10:07am PT
http://globalxvehicles.com/patagonia/

This is the one I want, The Patagonia. Although I would tolerate the UXV 550 or Turtle. And of COURSE I'd get the upgrades!
The user formerly known as stzzo

climber
Sneaking up behind you
May 5, 2013 - 06:29pm PT
Regular shell, yes, less stealth....Just don't want the locals to call the cops on my white van if I sleep in Los Alos etc some nights. So, stealth is a big consideration...You see I'll possibly be stuck in engineering job in South Bay area for a while and paying a fortune for some 4-wall place isn't exciting...

Have fun doing these while you're "camping" in the city in a truck w/ camper shell:

* Taking a dump in the morning when the nearest public restroom is "out of range".
* Relaxing in the evening & on weekend mornings comfortably over the course of several months.
* Crawling through the back window night after night to get into the sleeping area "stealthily"
* Having a "visitor" sleep over.
* Etc.

There is a reason why retirees choose RV's over pickups with shells for camping: it's simply more comfortable and convenient.

You see I'll possibly be stuck in engineering job in South Bay area for a while and paying a fortune for some 4-wall place isn't exciting...

But think about this: Is the excitement:cost ratio of living in your van (or truck) really going to be that much higher?

Maybe consider subletting a room in a house. Short-term single-room rentals do exist -- they are prolific in the Bay Area.
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
May 5, 2013 - 07:04pm PT
Vans of one, pickups of the other.
tioga

Mountain climber
pac northwest
Topic Author's Reply - May 6, 2013 - 07:38pm PT
@khanom

"Sili-Con Valley"? ahahaha....80-90hrs in a start-up...oh, man, why did you go for a startup.... "web crap", haha. Yes, all of it is crap, software engineering and all...I'd put so much of myself into this non-sense...and all of it is a waste of life trapped indoors and glued to a computer screen...and before you know, your life is wasted away and you're heading the Steve Jobs way... damn it. Yes, it's stupid to spend so much as they spend on rent in Bay area--but most tech jobs happen to be in these high-rent areas...so it's a catch-22. I almost broke my head trying to solve this little "problem" and so far the only answer seems to be: "career change".

I hear you about not getting a pickup if I want to sleep in Bay area. In Tahoe, everyone has a pick up and a shell on it, so it's normal...in fact, there's a very beat up trailer behind an old pickup with a shell, parked close to my place now, and people stay in it...no one bothers them, I think. In Bay Area, I guess they'll be thinking "dangerous drifters"...I heard of people not being rented a crap rental room cause they had a pickup and it was "weird" for Bay area! Not high end enough! So, yes, I was thinking about Astro or other cargo van, with a metal-grid door. Important thing one can install real restroom inside it, it's a big deal....

As to sleeping in Santa Cruz, I've seen a van with a sign "BEWARE OF DOG" there! One tough-looking van. I was going to put some business sign on the van but nothing to make it look like "expensive tools inside". I was hoping to find a land owner who'd let me sleep there for a fee, in Santa Cruz mountains... I've been willing to spend much more than 4K on a van, as don't want to have mechanical problems.

I'v slept in a car in rich neighborhoods like Los Altos (full of cops)--in fact slept in a car (regular, sedan) right near police station there...I found high end areas were the best in terms of safety and I'd drive in late, like 11pmm and park somewhere, where the house had tall fencing and distance from the street...or near public office on a small street, where street parking was allowed. And yes, whatever car it is, it's cheaper than rent there!

That's an awesome van setup in the picture...I wanted something like that and start putting things in, gradually...a restroom, a sink, may be an rv shower later, even...



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