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5 Steps In The Evolution Of The Campervan

A soulful revolution has been happening for some time, and it’s extremely encouraging.

By: Sean Guidera + Save to a List

People are bucking the standards of a “normal life” and leaving behind nine­-to-­fives for a myriad of alternative careers and lifestyles. The rat race is seemingly dwindling because people are finding their cheese elsewhere. I myself started out with the stereotypical corporate experience and am now a brewer and a writer.

People earn money from garnering a large social media following, families have YouTube channels with subscribers who aren’t actually related to them, and the idea of a perfect home has evolved from opulence to how small you can make a cozy and functional living space. I firmly believe that this return to simplicity is a good thing and one of the great ways people are simplifying is by combining their homes with their means of transportation. The campervan is one of the main symbols of this collective return to ourselves and the outdoor community has become one of its main proponents. Here are five steps the campervan has taken to arrive where it is today.

Photo: Bo Baumgartner

Photo: Bo Baumgartner

1. Birth

Debuting in 1950, the iconic VW bus was the first­ ever minivan and is still a welcome sight on the open road. The VW was our gateway into four­ wheeled living with its large cabin space and simple engine design. Wanderers were given space to sleep and eat, surfers had a mobile quiver for their boards, and the easy­-to­-maintain engine fostered an intimate relationship with the van while keeping all travelers moving down the road.

2. Enabling the Lifestyle Through Music

Free­spirits of all kinds are what made the van a social mainstay. Campervans graced the album covers of Bob Dylan and The Beach Boys, Deadheads used the vans to follow Grateful Dead tours from stop to stop, and the endless summer was sought after behind the wheel of a VW. The unique qualities of these individuals were made evident by the tradition of re­painting the outside of the van to show what journey its inhabitants were on.

3. #VanLife and the Mobilization of the Nomads

Foster Huntington (check out his epic backyard) coined the term and today's outdoor enthusiasts are bringing forth a resurgence of this freely­ moving lifestyle, but campervans are very different from extremely short, extremely frayed jean shorts. The campervan movement is not about a fad, it is all about functionality and a feeling. It's here to stay.

Photo: Bo Baumgartner

Photo: Bo Baumgartner

4. A Large ­Scale Shift in Values

Living life out of a van allows us to ­prioritize experiences and connections over abundance and materialism. Campervans provide the opportunity to simplify and play a more active role in how we live our everyday lives, taking control over how we experience life in general.

If you choose to live the van life, you are choosing to limit the possessions you will have access to on a daily basis. You have to make decisions based on what is necessary and what you really want to share your space with everyday. Born from the necessity forced upon us by living out of a van comes the natural shift in what we truly value. And although becoming a campervan enthusiast allows you the space to live as the individual you are, a desire to spread the love is natural.

5. Spreading the Love

Dillon Tyler Hansen took a page from his father’s book and bucked the traditional corporate experience for more control over his time, and a van. With four­-legged friend Harper in tow, Dillon has found more trails under his feet and more fish on his line. Realizing the value this shift had returned to his life, Dillon looked for ways to share this with others. After returning from a campervan trip around New Zealand with good friend, Jon Moran, the pair wanted to provide an affordable way for people to experience the serenity of the wilderness and freedom of the open road, and thus, Native Campervans was born. Based at the doorstep of the Rockies in Denver, Colorado, Native Campervans allows people to experience the #vanlife even if they are not ready to purchase their own ride.

People say “home is where you make it,” but that has evolved; life is what you make of it and home is where you take it. Feeling free and spreading love. That may sound like a song­ title from the mid­-sixties, but it is a way to live life that is timeless.

Photo: Bo Baumgartner

Photo: Bo Baumgartner

Evolution of the Campervan was an article originally written for Get Outfitted and has been adapted for The Outbound Collective.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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