As rent skyrockets in most ski towns, and the trend of mobile tiny homes continues to proliferate, more and more disgruntled ski bums are flocking to motor vehicles as their primary living quarters. The draw of the open road, chasing pow, and cheap living is one that lures these Kerouac spirits to the asphalt rivers of the United States. With so many different motor options out there for the would-be vagabond, we at TGR put a list together to say what your car camping vehicle says about you. Enjoy and see you on the road.
The van most of us will drool over. Wikimedia Commons photo.
You are connoisseur of everything that is fine and good in this world. Your beer is craft, whiskey aged to perfection, and beard long as the California coastline you travel with earnest. Your knowledge of the road is only second to your mechanic ability, as every hundred miles and state line requires the constant tinkering of your four-wheeled work of art.
The smell of the finest recreational herb lingers in the tapestry-lined walls of your vintage dirtbag mobile. A mason jar filled with the leftover quinoa dinner from the night before rolls on the floor as you check your iPhone 6 for the latest swell. You are who we all aspire to be.
Next stop: Afghanistan... or Baja. Sportsmobile photo.
You are currently careening down a fire road with six months of food, gas, and Red Bull. The outside of your vehicle does not look unlike a Humvee ready to invade Afghanistan. You say "fuck it!" to the regular freeways and highways filled with hamsters on the way to the rat race; the bumpy, seldom-travel forest roads that you can only locate on old mining maps are your home.
Activities of choice include emasculating Prius drivers and maintaining your Instagram account. Your gateway car of choice that led you to purchasing this vehicle was a Jeep Wrangler or a lifted truck you bought for cheap off a Jeff Gordan fan.
I'm winning!! Earthroamer photo.
You just sold your start-up that you slaved over for ten years to Google for millions of fucking dollars, and with time on your hands and a thirst for all things outrageous and outdoorsy, you skip the Ferrari and drop $300,000 on a custom Earthroamer instead–basically a mobile version of a room at the St. Regis that can also drive over whatever the steering wheel is pointed at. You have to rent an entire parking garage in San Francisco to find enough parking spaces to store it, but when you're not casually starting your own venture capital fund or dropping your kid off for $16,000 pre-K at the Stratford School, you're taking up two lanes on I-80 on your way to Lake Tahoe, where you'll enjoy a home-cooked feast of rare quail and $200 chianti after bombing 30 miles up an abandoned Forest Service road.
The most common sight in a ski town. Subaruforester.org photo.
The ink on your liberal arts degree has barely dried, and you have packed up all your belongings to hit the open road. The highways are home, and Wagon Wheel the soundtrack to this new life. An old Thermarest serves as your “king size bed” and an old copy of On the Road lies, mostly unread, on your pillow.
Your diet of gas station snacks is supplemented by Ramen and Ragu cooked by the warm glowing light of your whisperlight stove. A ripped thirty of PBR spills in your backseat as you fly to your next adventure, couch, and shit job. Life is yours, and now.
Cyrus Sutton, modern day van idol. Almond Surfboards photo.
Damn it feels good to be a gangster! You are an OG–imitators beware of the original. Your inspiration comes the original dirtbags of Yosemite’s Camp 4 and now modern day vagabonds like Foster Huntington, Alex Honnold, and Cyrus Sutton.
From remote surf breaks on the coast of Baja to pow slashing in British Columbia, to roving the American West in search of adventure, you are the envy of wishful Instagram users everywhere, who envy your lifestyle and your ability to turn a beat-up rape/mechanics van into a full-time home with all the requisite amenities (except a toilet, or a shower, or headroom).
Simply but effective. Comanche Club photo.
Your version of insulation is a -20 degree down sleeping bad. Your ski jacket has more holes in it than a golf course, and is patched with almost a full roll of duct tape. You recently had to rub a little rust off your tele bindings, but you don't mind because while the rest of the world is dealing with lift lines, you are freeing your heel and mind in the backcountry.
You sport an old Carhartt jacket and can spout more engine facts about your old Tacoma than a history professor about ancient Mesopotamia. The road isn't a way to get from place to place, it is home, and diesel is your lifeblood.
Truck Top Camper
Your truck is much newer, but your camper was still built during Van Halen's first tour. Wikimedia photo.
You're that same bum who used to sleep out of your uninsulated truck top camper, but you've since upgraded to a much bigger truck (because you're a man) than your first tiny two-seater Tacoma, and you've slowly saved enough money as a carpenter to be able to afford more than just a wooden shelf to slide into your trunk to sleep on top of and slide your skis underneath. Now you can enjoy all the features of a fully-functioning standalone pickup and still mount up the camper for some off-road camper on BLM land around Moab in the off-season with your wife and lab.
RV or 5th-Wheel Camper
The most American way to camp, bar none. Wikimedia photo.
You kind of missed the memo about camping in your flyover state, and thought the wilderness experience meant towing a second home with Showtime on demand to a paved parking spot somewhere kind of near some woods so you could plug into the water, gas, and electric lines and otherwise suffer no loss of quality of life and still watch the entire college football lineup on Saturday no matter where you are.
You have no problem paying for a parking spot everywhere you go, but have significant problems with engaging in any recreational activities on your trip that don't involve some kind of motor. Hiking is for socialist liberals–better to roll around Jackson Hole on your Harley, which is strapped to the bed of your F-150, which is being towed by your 5th-wheel, which is being towed by your F-350. 'Murica!
The original car campers. They were called the Griswalds. IMBD photo.
You have had this car since you where sixteen, license hot off the printing press, and the promise of backseat promiscuity fresh in mind. Most importantly, this car has never failed to get you to the mountain. Sure it is uncomfortable to sleep in the backseat, but you would much rather use that hard-earned money from washing dishes on new gear and gas money.
Eventually, when you sell enough weed or settle down (for a couple months) you might buy another one of these vehicles on this list, but until that glorious day arrives, fresh powder turns await, and they will not be compromised by the fact that you're suffering from a bulged disc from sleeping in the fetal position in the back seat week after week.
From The Column: Base Camp
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