Travel | October 14, 2020 12:00 pm

Here’s Everything You Need for Your Maiden Adventure-Van Voyage

With rental outfitters popping up around the country, there's never been a better time to get your tires muddy

a-lodge boulder colorado adventure van travel

I tend to like things with the word “adventure” in the name. Six Flags Great Adventure. Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. Get the word “adventure” in there, I’m almost certainly going to be a fan.

Thus when I heard that an establishment called Adventure Lodge in Boulder, Colorado, was offering “Adventure Van” rentals for excursions through the wonderful wilds of the Centennial State, I was immediately game.

The officially dubbed A-Lodge (but we all know what that A stands for) is a charmingly rustic property nestled in the woodsy foothills just outside of Boulder — the kind of place where nature-minded folk stay when they want to be close to town but still hear the occasional mountain lion yowl as they drift off to sleep.

Recently, A-Lodge founders Asa Firestone and Kris Klauber augmented their offering with the aforementioned vans, a fleet of Mercedes sprinters kitted out for, well, whatever type of adventure the occupants are looking to have. Each van features an interior lofted bed with storage cubbies plus a kitchen with induction stove, fridge, sink/faucet and drawers full of cooking gear. Our van also featured a rooftop tent that required naught to set up but popping a couple latches and raising it up, as well as an exterior “shower” (think a kitchen sink spigot on a long tube — it’s not heated, but whatever, don’t be a wimp). There’s even a portable toilet on offer in the event that you’ll be camping away from facilities and/or are averse to pooping in a hole you’ve dug for yourself (again, though, don’t be a wimp).

Past that, the vans can be customized to the trip — my brother and I opted for interior racks to hold our mountain bikes, but A-Lodge has configurations for rock climbing, backcountry skiing, paddle boarding, etc. Regardless of what activity you plan to make the main focus of your sojourn, the A-Lodge crew is a font of information regarding the best places to do it.

We elected to strike out for the canyon-y topography of Colorado’s western slope (excellent mountain biking territory), and immediately found the Adventure Van to be very much to our liking. This publication has written at length regarding the growing trend of Americans taking to the open road as their vacation of choice in the COVID era, and a glance around at the number of motorhomes on I-70 supported that. Provided you’re not lugging around an entire family, however, the Adventure Van is a fantastic alternative to your average Winnebago. Spacious and amenity-rich enough for our needs, but significantly easier (and faster) to drive, and able to reach more remote locations than any motorhome could. Our first night out found us near the Colorado/Utah border without another soul in sight and a moon so bright it facilitated a midnight hike that didn’t even require us to turn on our headlamps.

Hotel rooms? We don’t need no stinking hotel rooms.
Danny Agnew

And this is sort of the beauty of the Adventure Van outing: the ability to unplug, get out into the great outdoors, and get away from, well, everyone. It’s freeing and also stress-relieving. You know where you can’t catch the coronavirus? In the middle of fucking nowhere.

Another unsurprising benefit? The ability to make your trip an actual adventure — making decisions on the fly and letting the occasional flight of fancy influence your itinerary is half the fun on a trip like this, and can prove an excellent conduit for discovery. A phone call from a friend resulted in an impromptu detour down to Moab, Utah, a place I had never been despite growing up in the (relative) vicinity. While breaking for some much needed water and a view of the stunning Martian landscape on our ride of the famed Slickrock Trail, I turned to my brother and said, “I don’t know that I ever would have planned a trip out here, but I am damn glad we came.” He nodded his assent and replied “adventure van, man.”

slickrock trail mountain biking moab utah
Views from the Slickrock Trail, Moab, UT
Danny Agnew

If you live anywhere in the vicinity of Colorado (or if you’ve always wanted to visit but just haven’t had the proper catalyst), I cannot recommend the A-Lodge Adventure Van experience strongly enough — it’s perfectly suited for the weird times we live in currently, but honestly would be an excellent getaway under any circumstance for those who dig any combination of nature, adventure sports, peace/quiet and drinking beer under the stars. 

And if you don’t live in Colorado, take heed: venerable rent-a-van outfitters are cropping up all over the country (especially anywhere west of the Rockies), from Oregon’s Roamerica to LA’s Vintage Surfari Wagons.

Whenever you decide to haul, consider a few of the below items we found invaluable on our adventure:

REDCAMP Military Folding Camping Shovel,High Carbon Steel Entrenching Tool Tri-fold Handle Shovel with Cover

REDCAMP Military Folding Camping Shovel

Remember that note above re: the hole? Also good for digging fire pits, shoveling ashes and fighting off cannibal savages.

GearLight LED Headlamp Flashlight S500 [2 PACK] - Running, Camping, and Outdoor Headlamps - Best Head Lamp with Red Safety Light for Adults and Kids

GearLight S500 LED Headlamp Flashlight

You’ll get a lot more accomplished without one hand tied up holding a flashlight, plus some fun spelunker vibes to boot.

Jetboil Flash Camping and Backpacking Stove Cooking System

Jetboil Flash Camping and Backpacking Stove Cooking System

In the event you don’t want to boil a whole pot of water just for a cup of tea or a french press, this baby goes from zero to the necessary 212° lickety split and packs up nicely.

Miir 12oz Alone Together Camp Cup

MiiR 12oz Alone Together Camp Cup

Whether you’re drinking coffee, whiskey or coffee with some whiskey in it, it just feels better to be drinking it out of a camp cup. And this camp cup features the very timely slogan “we are all alone in this together.”

OontZ Angle 3 (3rd Gen) - Bluetooth Portable Speaker, Louder Volume, Crystal Clear Stereo Sound, Rich Bass, 100 Ft Wireless Range, Microphone, IPX5, Bluetooth Speakers by Cambridge Sound Works (Black)

Oontz Angle 3 Bluetooth Portable Speaker

You know what else you can do in the middle of nowhere? Crank the shit out of your tunes. Plenty loud, super durable.

UST Full Tang ParaKnife FS 4.0 with 4 Inch Serrated Blade, Paracord Lanyard and Fire Starter for Hiking, Backpacking, Camping and Outdoor Survival

UST FS 4.0 Full Tang Paraknife

Probably not entirely necessary, but after this guy’s recent experience, it might not hurt to have one on hand?