This is the winter when having a van to park at the base of the ski hill will be clutch. With capacity limits inside base lodges, skiers will be grabbing food and drink to go or packing a cooler and posting up in camp chairs in the parking lot or on the tailgates of their trucks. It’s not a bad life at all, and for a lot of van-dwelling skiers, it’s one they’ve been living well before COVID-19 struck.
Here at Flylow, we love vans of all shapes and sizes (for proof, just take a look at our Instagram feed, which has nearly as many vehicle shots as it does ski imagery). Years ago, we bought a Chevy Express van for the company, painted it reminiscent of the ’80s TV show The A-Team, and we’ve been using it to haul gear to trade shows and events ever since. Many of Flylow’s athletes drive and live in vans, too. For more van inspiration, we rounded up some of our favorite skiers and their vans on Instagram. Enjoy.
The Photographer: Brett Wilhelm
Brett Wilhelm is a talented Boulder, Colorado-based photographer and passionate skier. He’s the guy behind the lens capturing X Games champions in the halfpipe and downhill mountain bikers at the Red Bull Rampage, as well as beautiful mountain imagery from his many adventures around the world. His rig? An imported-from-Japan diesel 4x4 1992 pop-top Toyota TownAce camper van.
The Naturalist: Sophia Rouches
Flylow athlete and all-around badass skier Sophia Rouches was the star of the recent film The Falcon, where viewers get a chance to go inside Rouches’ full-time home, a 1990 rear-wheel-drive Ford conversion camper van that she’s been living in off and on for years around her home mountain of Mt. Baker, Washington. Rouches has spent her summers working as a sea kayak guide and naturalist in Washington’s San Juan Islands.
The Musician: Chi McLean
If you’ve ever listened to a long-haired, bearded guitarist play music at a bar at the base of Squaw Valley, California, after a powder day, then you’ve probably heard the musical renderings of none other than Chi McLean. This die-hard skier and surfer splits his time between Tahoe and Nashville, playing music for a living. To pull that off, he lives full-time in a Sprinter converted by Outside Van, which magically stores everything from his ski gear to his music equipment.
The Storyteller: Mike Rogge
A former Powder Magazine editor, Mike Rogge later worked as the editor of The Ski Journal before buying and relaunching the beloved Mountain Gazette, an original publication in the outdoor industry that will be printed again this winter for the first time since it closed up shop in 2012. Rogge, a Tahoe-area resident and the founder of media production company Verb Cabin, recently acquired a Dave & Matt Van built on a RAM Promaster chassis, which he and his family use as an adventure basecamp. (You can rent or buy one just like his here.)
The Filmmaker: Bjarne Salén
Swedish-born filmmaker Bjarne Salén is the mastermind cameraman behind pro skier Cody Townsend’s popular YouTube series, The Fifty, documenting his attempt to climb and ski the 50 classic ski descents in North America. Salén is not only capturing this massive undertaking, but he’s also climbing and skiing all the peaks, too, which, if the duo finish the project, could make him the second person behind Townsend to ski them all. Salén, who lives in Portland, Oregon, when he’s not on the road with Townsend, rebuilt the interior of a Dodge Ram ProMaster 2500 himself. “This is my biggest passion outside of work and the mountains,” he says. You can get a video tour of that van on a recent episode of The Fifty project.
The Artist: Chris Benchetler
You likely know Chris Benchetler as the prolific and pioneering pro skier. But he’s also a talented artist—a painter and muralist who creates trippy, free-spirited works of art. Benchetler’s film, Fire on the Mountain, combined his love of skiing with his love of the Grateful Dead’s music. Another place you can find his art? On the side of his Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 4x4 van, named the Stealthy Marmot, where Benchetler and his wife, pro snowboarder Kimmy Fasani, and their young son can often be found adventuring in the Sierra from their home in Mammoth Lakes, California.
The Advocate: Dani Reyes-Acosta
We have no idea how Dani Reyes-Acosta makes time for all the things she does. She’s a strategist, consultant, and educator helping brands in the outdoor industry create a better, more diverse world. She’s also an adventure athlete—splitboarder, rock climber, trail runner, adaptive ski instructor, as well as an artist and advocate. As an athlete ambassador for Protect Our Winters, she’s using her voice to fight climate change. Oh, and she does it all from her home base in a really sweet Ford van. “I work crazy hours just so I can fund my passions—but more importantly, I'm putting my skills as a strategist, writer, and teacher to make this world a better place,” she says.
The Dreamer: The Emilia Wint
A former elite slopestyle skier on the U.S. Freeskiing team, Colorado native Emilia Wint decided to ditch the life of competitive skier and become a vagabonding vanlifer instead. She was diagnosed with a genetic disorder of the eyes that can cause blindness—so, she figured, there’s no time in life to waste. Now, Wint writes, rock climbs, teaches wilderness medicine, and has lived full time in a 2005 Dodge Sprinter van named Goose for about a year now. “I can fit my climbing gear, bikes, ski gear, camping stuff and everyday school clothes and access everything from inside the van,” Wint has said.
The Van Builder: Adam Sauerwein
Flylow athlete and telemark skier Adam Sauerwein loved building his own Dodge Ram ProMaster van so much that he’s now converting vans for others as a side business and passion project. Sauerwein, who’s from Buffalo, New York, also works as a photographer who shoots weddings, lifestyle, and action photos.