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Thread: How deep can 4x4 vans get you? Beginner questions...

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
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    Bellingham, WA
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    7

    Default How deep can 4x4 vans get you? Beginner questions...

    Greetings!

    I'm a long time lurker and I think this is my first post. I have wanted an overland vehicle since I was 7 (turning 40 soon, gulp) and am getting serious about it now. My challenge is that I have no experience other than having owned a 4Runner in my 20's that i drove on Washington forest service roads. I find myself with a boot strapping problem in that I need a rig to get started exploring to know what kind of rig I want.

    My goal is to be able to explore the back roads in grand staircase escalante, the white rum trail, that place in Colorado I can never remember, the rubicon trail, the white rum trail and even rough forest service roads in Washington (is gold Meyer hot springs still a thing?). Maybe even travel the world. I have a wife and two daughters. I like mountain biking, snowboarding and climbing (that's where I've spent my recreation $$$ in the past). The seven year old in me would love a rock crawler but that's not what I'm going for now.

    So I'm curious- how far can a 4x4 van get me? Sports mobile, NW quadvan, UJOR or quigley? The fords seem to have the most off-road prowess but sprinters seem cool too. I'm thinking 33-35" tires and 4-6" lift kind of deal. Am I giving up much compared to a land cruiser? Also, I plan for minimal RV conversions. I just an indoor space for when the weather really sucks but prefer to cook and be outside when I'm adventuring.

    Thanks in advance to anyone willing to share their thoughts!
    Bill

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
    Location
    Washington
    Posts
    2
    Hey Bill! Man I'm in the exact same spot. A few years ahead of you in age. Wife, 2 young girls, dog....I've gone back-and-forth between sprinter 4x4, Sportsmobile, pick up with canopy, plain old van with 4x4 conversion....not sure there is the perfect rig. Looking forward to some insight. Finally at a point in my life where I can do something financially and I feel paralyzed on what to do.

    Long time lurker here too. May be my first post.

    Eric

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Germany
    Posts
    338
    My advice? Don't get too caught up in what you are driving....focus on what you want to do. Also, don't get hung up on the "offloading" part of it....unless rock crawling and mud bogging are your goal (if they are, I would advise against a van).

    Most vehicles, driven sanely, will get you to 99% of the places you might want to visit... I know people that have literally driven off the beat path, all over the world in a simple VW van. I have seen folks in 2wd pick-ups follow 4wd "expedition" vehicles over some fairly interesting terrain.

    Skillful driving is more important that vehicle specs....
    Deeds, not Words

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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Posts
    202
    Old off-road proverb: four wheel drive just gets you more stuck.

    I rarely use 4wd in my van except in snow. Solo off-road I only use it to back out of somewhere I shouldn't be.


    "Talk is cheap. Whiskey costs money."

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Tijeras, NM
    Posts
    120
    Here's a story about a Subaru Legacy and a Crown Victoria making their ways through Moab:
    http://sirchrischin.kinja.com/this-c...=1475209060996

    The driver is more important than the vehicle. I'd call 4x4 a necessary safety along with reasonable recovery points and equipment, but by and large you can get just about anywhere in just about anything if you're willing to wait out bad weather and smart about wheel placement.
    Stock '16 F150 HD
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  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Scottsdale, AZ
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    2,484
    A 4wd van can do a LOT in skillful hands.

    Van on Hole in the Rock trail

    Having run the trail more than once prior to seeing it first hand I would of considered Hole in the rock NOT van friendly at all. Many times its the archer and not the arrow.
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    "Knowledge without experience is just information"--Mark Twain

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  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    PNW USA
    Posts
    1,597
    Based on your descriptions of where you want to go - a Ford van with u joint type conversion would be best. Give up on the Rubicon trail though - that's more in the rock crawling arena...

    The sprinter's suspension doesn't flex enough and is a bit fragile compared to a straight axle ford 4wd conversion. Also, the sprinter is too expensive to risk damage off road.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Location
    Bellingham, WA
    Posts
    7
    Thanks for the thoughts everyone. It seems like a Van will take me where I want to go.
    I've gotten the impression that most vehicles can get up most trails, it's just a matter of the style. Similar to how most cars get to the ski area, just some have to stop and put on chains.

    @EricStein - that's great. Hope to see you on the trail someday!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
    Location
    Washington
    Posts
    2
    A thought...couple operators rent Sportsmobiles out in Colorado/Utah. They'll give you back country itineraries as well. Would be a good way to see if it would fit what you want. You can find them on the Sortsmobile website.

    E

  10. #10
    ^^ same thing I was thinking. This company is in Portland. I haven't rented from them, but found them when I was going through the same thought process.
    http://www.roamrentals.com

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