Kitting Out Your Van For An Off-Road Adventure
As we bid farewell to early sunsets and move towards the warmer months, there is only one thing on van owners’ minds… adventure! For four-wheel enthusiasts, the summer is a perfect opportunity to hit the road and have some fun. With everything you need under one roof, the sky is well and truly the limit and nowhere is off the cards. Whether you’re daydreaming of a trip to the English coast or have set your sights further afield, there is endless adventure to be had.
Once you’ve got an itch for the open road, there’s no turning back! Setting out for some proper van-based exploration is an experience like no other. Of course, to guarantee a trip to remember, you’ll need a vehicle that is up to the task. From dirt paths and muddy tracks to smooth tarmac and winding roads, a well-built van can handle it all.
If you’re considering an offroad adventure but don’t know where to start, we’re here to help. Here at Van Sales UK, we’ve put together a guide to kitting out your van. Read on to find out more.
First things first, it’s worth considering what the van will be used for; ‘driving’ isn’t a good enough answer! Think about where you plan to go and the kind of challenges your van may face. If dirt tracks and sand dunes are calling your name, a good set of off-road tyres are a must. Equally, if you’re hoping to camp at altitude, some serious insulation is well worth the investment.
We’ll cover these elements in further detail, but keep them in mind, especially if you’ve not yet bought your van!
Next, you’ll need to choose your trusty steed. This is arguably the most important part of the process, as a poor-quality van will take a lot more work to convert. If you’ve already got a van in mind, feel free to move on. If not, bear the following in mind.
Be sure to consider how many people will be joining you on your travels, as well as the length of time you plan on spending on the road. These factors will dictate the size of the van you’ll need, as well as the model that is best suited. Of course, a 4 x 4 drivetrain is best suited to off-roading, and we’d definitely recommend this.
When it comes to modifications and conversions, we thought we’d work from the outside in. First up, we’ll take a look at upgrades and alterations that can be made regarding wheels, tyres, bodywork and suspension. We’ll then discuss the many ways to improve internal comfort, practicality and functionality.
Starting from the ground, let’s talk tyres. Stock tyres are all well and good for road driving, and will usually withstand a fair bit of wear and tear. However, when it comes to offroading and challenging terrain, you’ll need something a little more substantial.
All-terrain tyres are definitely a worthwhile investment, improving safety, control, comfort and drivability. With off-road tyres, your van will breeze through tricky environments, including ice, snow, gravel, mud, dirt and snow!
It goes without saying that off-road driving is no walk in the park. There’ll be mud, dirt, water and plenty of bumps along the way. For these reasons, you’ll want to ensure that your van has appropriately fitted bodywork. We’re talking bumpers, grille guards, tow bars and, as we’ll cover shortly, raised suspension.
Additionally, it’s worth investing in some high-beam lights. These will ensure visibility at all times and make driving, camping and unloading at night much easier. What’s more, LED lighting can be installed in other parts of the van too, such as the back doors to assist with reversing.
Next on our list are roof racks. These make a practical addition to any van for so many reasons. Not only do they provide additional storage, keeping your living space clutter free, but they also keep items safe from the mud that sprays up from dirt roads.
A high-quality roof rack can be used to secure bikes, kayaks, gas canisters, tents, boxes, water and much more. To make your van’s roof rack easy to access, we’d recommend installing a ladder or step on the back door.
As we touched upon briefly, suspension is one of the most important elements of any off-road vehicle. To guarantee your van is ready for anything, it’s worth making a few changes. While it isn’t necessary to change every part of your van’s suspension, there are a few modifications we’d highly recommend.
As well as replacing factory bump stops. front struts and rear shock mounts, many van enthusiasts choose to lift the entire body. This extra few inches of height will give your van a real advantage when it comes to tackling rocky landscapes and uneven terrain.
Now that we’ve covered the outside, let’s jump inside your van and discuss a few possible changes. Shortly, we’ll cover sleeping arrangements, storage modifications, electrical additions and, of course, cooking facilities.
First up, is bedding. Whether you’re planning a week on the coast or a month cruising through the European countryside, you’ll need somewhere to sleep. After all, one of the best things about an off-road van conversion is the independence it provides. No more cheap hotels or soggy sleeping bags; with your van, you’re free to hit the hay in style.
The type of van you drive will dictate the specific changes you can make, but there are a few basics that are worth thinking about. Fold-out beds are a great choice when it comes to practicality as they take up little room during the day, while still providing comfort at night.
Don’t worry though, if you’re still hoping to camp there are plenty of van-compatible tents that are designed to extend your living space. Just be sure to invest in a good-quality sleeping bag if it’s cold!
Next, you’ll need to consider storage. Anyone who’s been on a van holiday will be well aware that they can become cluttered quickly. Fortunately, there are loads of space-saving storage options available to van drivers. What’s more, with a little creativity and DIY skills, installing cupboards and storage is easy. What better way to prepare for a holiday than giving your van some TLC?
Last but not least, you’ll need to eat! There’s nothing better than parking up after a long day of driving, opening the back doors and cooking up something delicious. Whether you’re a world-class chef or like to keep it simple, basic cooking facilities will make your life so much easier.
Start with the basics, such as a water tank, stove and toaster. With these sorted, you’ll want to invest in a few lightweight pans and utensils. Don’t go crazy though, or you’ll end up surrounded by dirty cutlery and cooking equipment.
There you have it. With the right knowledge and a bit of elbow grease, you’ll have an off-road-ready van. Before you know it you’ll be cruising down an open road with your sights set on adventure. All that is left to decide is where you’ll head first.
Of course, a good van serves as the foundation for a successful conversion. If you’re hunting for a high-quality new van, ready for anything, look no further than Van Sales UK.