PORTLAND, Oregon — We're all looking for things to do during pandemic shutdowns. Summer helped a lot of us get outside, a great way to social distance. And a new Portland-based company is helping us continue that trend by asking 'How much fun can you pack in 22-feet?'
Coveted by the casual camper and weekend warriors...van life is hot right now. "We really started Wandervans knowing the Pacific Northwest is a great place to explore," said co-owner of Wandervans Gerard Lester. "These are great for families who want to travel together and don't want a giant RV. This is a great compromise for them."
Wandervans started in Boise four years ago, then expanded to Salt Lake City, Spokane and this summer, 3 friends who met working for a vacation rental company, launched it in the Rose City. What a year to start a business.
"We didn't know what was going to happen and people were like 'I want to get out and experience the world'. Vans are a great solution for that. We had a really busy summer and people are still booking to get away for the holidays in a safe way where they can still be social distancing," Lester said.
Wandervans uses three sizes of Ford Transit vans with all-wheel drive. The large, 22-feet long versions allow you to stand up inside, come with two queen beds bunk-style with memory foam, a grey water sink for washing hands, dishes or brushing your teeth, a bench back seat, and storage underneath. The two mid-range sizes have one queen bed, the sink, more storage under the mattress and no bench seat. They all have special window drapes to draw for privacy for changing clothes and sleeping.
With a camper van, the options for how to use them are endless. Throw your surfboard in for a coast trip. Slide in your skis and boots to head to the mountain or backcountry. Add on a tow hitch rack and go for a multi-day mountain bike binge. Or have Wandervans curate a national park loop for the family. These vans feel just like driving a car and have it all.
Each Wandervan also comes with a Dometic cooler that runs on AC or DC power or solar to keep your grub at a constant temperature, folding camp chairs, a camping cook stove and table. And just when you thought camping in the cold seems like a deal breaker, Wandervans have invested in auxiliary heaters so you don't run the engine or battery all night to keep warm.
There are 9 vans now available for pickup in Portland, Hood River and Bend. Eleven more are coming, plus they have a tear drop trailer that sleeps two with a pop-up kitchenette and a roof top tent for the summer. More of the trailers and tents will be added by next summer.
You can learn more about reservations here. They are priced by the night, ranging between $90-$170 and include 125 miles per day. After that, it's a per-mile charge. Dogs are allowed with a pet deposit. Wander the Pacific Northwest, in your style.