It seems like the Venn Diagram overlap of people with the free time and flexibility and interest to embark on incredible van-fueled adventures and those who have the financial means to afford to buy a fully built-out adventure van would be small, but the Vanlife movement apparently knows no socioeconomic bounds.
From rusted-out Vanagons to $200k 4×4 battlewagons, if you want to spend a year traveling around the country, or, hell, from Alaska to Chilé, there’s a van for you.
Beartooth Vanworks, out of Bozeman, Montana, is a new and higher-end addition to the custom build-out spectrum. And, oh, there is a spectrum. Beartooth is not the chepaest of options, nor are they in the nosebleedingly-high end though (more on that in a minute). They take a 144″ wheelbase Merc Sprinter 4×4 van—provided by you, of course—and trick it out into something you’d be proud to show off to your parents. Or use to woo a fellow vanlife enthusiast.
Have you ever built out a van yourself? Phew—it’s hard. There’s woodworking to be done, wiring to be futzed with, blueprints to draw up, fabric swatches to be consulted, and decisions about where to keep important things. Like kegerators.
Beartooth handles all that stuff. You get maple countertops (though mahogany is available), heat and sound installation, full electrical system including solar, a battery separator, and 12v, 110v, and USB outlets. You get a water system, including gray water storage. A beautiful kitchen sink and a stove. They toss in a big Yeti cooler. A toilet, among other goodies, is available. Different bed and storage configs are available depending on whether you’re envisioning weeks-long trips deep into the bush, or weekend runs to Yosemite, or winter turns in Whistler. Speaking of which, their First Tracks model is even built with ski storage, plenty of heating options, and a bumping speaker system.
What’s the cost? Depends. The most stripped-down models run about $25,000. Over the cost of buying the van, of course. The family-friendly Yellowstone edition, with lots of sitting, sleeping options, will run you about $55,000. The First Tracks, the skier’s dream, is a $69,000 upgrade.
But have you seen the cost of housing in places where these vans are likely to sell, namely the Mountain West states and in west coast beach towns? Living in a tricked-out van like this is a bargain.