In our quest to find an adventure van that can take us to all of the National Parks, haul all of our CrossFit gear (500+ pounds), and provide us with a great working environment, we found a company called Outside Van in Troutdale Oregon.
Living in Seattle that wasn’t too far a drive to get some hands on time with a few decked out Mercedes Sprinter vans.
A few weeks before we drove down to Troutdale we contacted Outside Van via email to set up an appointment to tour their facility.
*This seems to be good practice when stopping into these custom van companies to make sure that you will get to see everything, and get all your questions answered.
Unfortunately when we showed up at Outside Van the person that we had scheduled our appointment with was busy. At first we were worried that we drove all that way to see nothing, but thankfully another employee was able to help us out.
We got a full tour of the facility where we saw Sprinter vans of all sizes, and in all stages of build out. We are talking completely stripped down with wiring starting to get installed, to finished and ready for delivery.
In this process, we learned that everything that Outside Van does is completely custom. This could be viewed as a good or bad thing…
If you have the budget, and want something super custom you’ll get exactly what you want. But if you don’t want to go through the process of picking every single material going into your van you’re still going to pay for that.
4 things that are awesome about Outside Van
– Their attention to detail is outstanding! When you are in a finished Sprinter van from Outside Van it’s beautiful. Everything feels really well thought out, and looks like it’s very durable. You can see yourself using the van for a long time. They also look great from the outside.
– You can completely customize your van. When we asked about getting a custom rack for our CrossFit workouts that would slide out of the back when you open the doors, they said “it can definitely be done”. If you decided to go with Outside Van for your van buildout it sounds similar to designing a custom house. Everything is sketched out from scratch.
– The people at the facility were very nice, and went out of their way to show us vans and answer all of our questions.
– They are really close to the Portland airport, so if driving is a bit too far you can alway grab a quick flight.
3 things that might be an obstacle
- You’re paying quite a bit extra for the completely custom van buildout. So, if you’re on a budget Outside Van might not be for you.
- They will create a bathroom for you in the van, but they don’t like to deal with black water systems. So, if you want to have a toilet they will recommend a compostable or porta-poti.
- Because they have no showroom of built vans you have to have a very creative vision for your van. You will not be able to see the van that you want before you have paid for the van. This is a major drawback if you’re a visual person who likes to see and touch something before you buy it.
When all was said and done, we decided that we loved the product that Outside Van produced, but something that we couldn’t get around was that because of the completely custom buildout for all vans, what we wanted was WAY out of our budget of $100,000 to $120,000 (including van).
So, unless you’re cool with showering and pooping outside during all of your adventures… you’re looking at spending at least $100,000 not including your van.
In the end…
After looking at vans from Outside Van, Sportsmobile, RB Components, and Winnebago we can confidently say that Outside Van makes some killer vans.
And if we had unlimited budget we would probably have gone with them to create our killer CrossFit equipped adventure vehicle, but because we want to keep the price lower than a mortgage we had to pass.
Update: Outside Van has complete redone their website, and they now have a 3 choice process for deciding which type of van you want to buy. This does seem to help explain the process a little better.
If Outside Van sounds like a fit for you their contact info is below.
To here more about our final van choice click here.