link original: http://www.outsideonline.com/outdoor-gear/gear-shed/pro-shop/The-Purpose-Driven-Van.html#slide-1
Essential Vanagon Gear and Other Pro Tips
As I’ve written in Outside and The New York Times, a camper-converted Vanagon, especially a 4wd Syncro, is truly the Ultimate Adventure Vehicle. Our Westy is also a mobile office, motel, and grocery-getter. It’s compact enough for town with plenty of comforts—rotating chairs and slide-out tables, kitchen, headroom for changing from wetsuit to city clothes, and enough interior length to swallow a ten-foot surfboard.
But this freedom isn’t free. To #Vanlife creator Foster Huntington, the freedom of his 27-year-old Syncro was so expensive that he upgraded to a camper-backed (and far more reliable) Toyota Tacoma. “From afar, VW vans are very romantic,” he wrote. “Living in one is a totally different story.”
Yet most of us don't cover 40,000 miles a year like Huntington, so I’ll probably drive my Westy ‘til I die. So far, I’ve learned a few things about outfitting and owning a purpose-built, affordable, reliable camper. Following are a few hard-won lessons and essential gear from 15 years behind the wheel.
Shoulder-Fired Missile Boxes
Jack Bombay’s Heavy Duty Pop Top Shocks
Tent with Side Vent Windows
Yakima Widebody Artificial Raingutters
Fold-Down Bike Rack and Hitch
ProSport Smart Charger
For plugging in at a campsite, a marine-grade six-amp ProSport Smart Charger ($60) is cheap and trouble-free. If you are a power hound, go with at least ten amps.
Some folks also put in big 120-volt power inverters for laptops and such, but big LC watt inverters are also a power drain. A Cobra model ($25) works fine for me.
Keeper Tow Rope
Rollup REI Camp Table
Heavy Duty Off-Road Tires
Bostig Engine Conversion
Need More Van Life Advice?
And finally, consider the luxuries. Some argue that they add complexity, but my van has rear heat, cold air conditioning—even campsite air conditioning via a rooftop window unit—power door locks, power windows, and power mirrors. I consider it a badge of honor that they’re all working.
To reiterate: Freedom isn’t free.
Here are the best sources I’ve found for van life advice and vehicles:
Van-Café, which offers incredible technical articles
And if you own a Vanagon, you will learn something new everyday on TheSamba’s forum.