Colorado, USA. The first rays of sunlight pierce the early-morning fog in the American fall. A powerful looking Sprinter makes its way through the green wilderness in the morning stillness. The four highly motivated mountain bikers inside the vehicle eagerly await the chance to tackle a snowy pass on their bikes. Colorado's expansive landscape is a paradise for nature enthusiasts and a challenge for outdoor athletes. A robust and reliable vehicle is a must when journeying through this trackless and isolated terrain...
The wilderness has held an irresistible attraction for Erik Ekman. He runs the company Outside Van, a small company located in Troutdale/Oregon. The company’s employees are both enthusiastic outdoor athletes and all contribute their passion and skills to converting Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. The 26 employees include fitters, electricians, turners, painters and designers, who all modify every individual Sprinter to perfectly meet their sporting enthusiast customers' needs "The idea of Outside Van is to create a Sprinter which matches the athlete's lifestyle", emphasizes Erik. No matter whether the vehicle is used for outdoor excursions with mountain bikes, skis, surfboards, kayaks or even motocross machines. The Outside Van provides both enough space and also safe storage for sporting equipment – along with enough space to sleep.
The first Outside Van was built for private use 18 years ago. Every year the leisure van developed into a more and more profitable business venture and Outside Van has now been a "real" company for seven years. The van is based on a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, which is completely stripped to reduce the weight as much as possible. The vehicle is then insulated and equipped with a powerful heating system as an option. "The Outside Van should be as light as possible without compromising quality or functionality. We are very proud of our heating which utilizes a water system which even works at -17°. Our optional solar and water storage are also highly effective thanks to the long-lasting lithium ion battery systems", explains Erik Ekman.
The Outside Van's all-wheel drive system is especially popular among customers as is the powerful engine with its low fuel consumption. "That is one of the reasons why we chose the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter as the basis," adds Erik Ekman. "We wanted the best van for outdoor fans." The powerful Outside Van has delivered Erik and the bikers at the starting point of their route up the mountain. The White Clouds Idaho Trail awaits the men: a steep and adventurous competitive route for hard-core mountain bikers. Their eyes light up as the men get their bikes out of the van.
We all live outdoors together for a few days, surrounded by nature. We develop new concepts together and do sports. This gives us the chance to improve our work and enjoy nature at the same time. Life can be so simple – in an Outside Van.
The team regularly travels to various states to test and continue developing the newly equipped Outside Vans on excursions like today's mountain bike tour. The journey from Oregon to the Big Basin Redwoods State Park in Colorado takes 16 hours – a run-of-the-mill journey for true outdoor fans. For the guys from Outside Van, camping also means regularly journeying into the untouched and absolutely remote wilderness. "Part of the team's philosophy is to travel to where the van will actually be used", explains Erik Ekman.