[OB1375] 2018 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 144 Cargo Van

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ovrlndr

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Alright, I told myself I was going to get my Jeep build thread caught up to present before I started another build thread here...

But, who am I kidding? I was lying to myself. Actually, I've got the next Jeep post already typed up and almost posted it, but... well, it's complicated.

THIS IS THE VAN THREAD, JASON. NO ONE CARES ABOUT YOUR JEEP.

Alright... Here we go, for real this time.

Well, I pulled the trigger and bought a new 2018 Sprinter 2500 Cargo 144WB 4x2 in Stone Grey at Mercedes-Benz of Loveland at the end of July.

Let's start with the van...

Optional equipment is as follows:
  • Active Safety Plus Package
  • F01 Swivel Seat Package
  • X13 Lighting Package
  • X22 Trailer Hitch Package
  • X27 Additional Battery Package
  • AR2 Axle Ratio 3.92
  • CF4 Suspension w/H.D. Front & Rear Stabilizers
  • CT1 Rear Spring Vibration Absorbers
  • D03 Roof - High
  • D13 Roof Rails
  • D93 Deletion of Cargo Partition (Standard)
  • ED8 Parametric Special Module (PSM) Preparation
  • EN7 Audio 15 (Standard)
  • ES2 12V Power Outlet Rear Compartment
  • E46 12V Power Outlet - Driver Seat Base
  • FJ1 I/P Hinged Lid-Center Stack Bin
  • FZ9 Keys - Two Additional Masters
  • F43 Laminated Glass Rear
  • H16 Heated Driver Seat
  • J51 Fuel Gauge, Optimized for AUX Fuel Tap
  • L65 Lamps - Cargo Compartment
  • MS1 Cruise Control
  • RF1 Continental Tires
  • RM1 Tires Mud & Snow
  • R98 Rims Painted Jet Black
  • T16 Sliding Door - Right Side (Standard)
  • T74 Assist Handle - Sliding Door
  • T75 Door Mounted Assist Handles, Driver & Passenger
  • T85 Assist Handle - Left Rear Door
  • T86 Assist Handle - Right Rear Door
  • V43 Cargo Van Wood Floor (Standard)
  • W17 Fixed Window, Right Side Front
  • W70 Tint for Rear Windows and Rear Side Windows
Sprinter build sheets are weird.

Here's a couple pictures of the van with its big (little?) brother.





 
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ovrlndr

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Now, some of you may be thinking... A van, Jason? Really? Well, if you are thinking that, you probably don't know the awesomeness that is a Sprinter van.

The reason for the van? Snowboarding, mountain biking, early morning hiking, and maybe some longer road trips, since even though the seats look like they'd be torture racks, they are literally the most comfortable things ever. I am sick of sitting in ski traffic during the winter, and I am tired of having the silt and sand of North Fruita Desert make its way through the mesh windows and doors of tents when the wind kicks up.

Besides choosing between the 144 and 170 wheelbases, to 4x4 or not to 4x4 seems to be the question. For those of you that may be looking to purchase a Sprinter and trying to make that decision for yourself, I'll provide my line of thinking. For those of you that might have 4x4 Sprinters... AWESOME! Sweet Rig! I'm sure you're loving it!

The explanation below isn't to take anything away from the 4x4, it's just an explanation of the thought process I went through when making the decision for myself, in hopes of educating others that might be confused or unclear about what the 4x4 system in the Sprinter is, and what it isn't (since most of the dealers know jack squat - my guy at Loveland was super knowledgeable though, he is awesome).

So... why did I go with 4x2? Well, as awesome as the 4x4 Sprinters are, and THEY ARE AWESOME... For the rough stuff and really remote vehicle camping, I've got a well-built Jeep...
  • Even with 4x4, the Sprinter is not going to go all of the places my Jeep can go
  • The 4x4 option in a Sprinter is around $7,500...
    • You know what I could almost buy for that? The Adventure Wagon interior kit I want to put in the van
  • The 4x2 gets better gas mileage, which is nice since I think my Jeep gets something like 1.4 mpg highway with the RTT and I will be mainly using this van to drive from Denver to Buena Vista, Salida, Winter Park, Vail, Breckenridge, Fruita, and Moab, all of which are several hours of driving through the mountains, most of the time over some sort of pass
  • NCV3 Sprinters of the 4x4 variety are hard to find right now, particularly out west, and especially with the exact options you might want (and at this point, it's too late to order an NCV3 optioned how you want it)
    • Any dealer that has one wants your arm, your leg, and your first born in exchange (i.e. they are not budging off sticker, if you can even find one that's listed as low as sticker)
    • While I did find a few choice 4x4 specimens when I was searching for my van, most of them were in the northeast, and it seemed like none of them were optioned in a way that met my list of wants / must haves - for instance, I don't understand why dealers place orders for ~$60k+ 4x4 vans without the bi-xenon lighting package, especially when it's a MB van... I mean, do they think that someone coming to MB, looking to buy a $60k+ 4x4 Sprinter is going to say "no, I don't want the good headlights, I'd prefer to have the halogen headlights that work about as well as a couple of candles sitting on the front bumper"???
  • While the 4x4 nets you a little bit of lift, which means you can run oversized tires a bit easier and you gain better approach/breakover/departure angles, stock-for-stock, you don't actually gain much in the way of ground clearance due to the way the transfer case is bolted to the rear of the transmission and the addition of the front differential
    • You can still run a 265/75R16 or 265/70R17 (31.5" outside diameter) on the 4x2
    • The 4x4 and 4x2 have the same toothpick of a rear axle with the same amount of ground clearance under the pumpkin
    • If I want a little bit of lift for clearing larger tires or better angles, I can add the Agile Off-Road RIP kit which will not only improve ride quality but will net about 1" - 2" of lift
  • The 4x4 system in the Sprinter is not an "on-the-fly" type of system, like I've got in the Jeep
    • You've got to stop the van and do a little song and dance of rolling forward in Drive, pressing the 4x4 button, waiting for the button to flash, shifting to Neutral while still rolling forward and then putting it back in Drive... Uh, cool, I guess... I bet you can guess what you have to do to take it out of 4x4...
  • The 4x4 system is an open differential system that distributes 65% power to the rear and 35% power to the front
Put simply, the 4x4 system in the Sprinter, and the Sprinter itself weren't really designed for off-road driving (I'm talking serious off-roading, not just dirt roads). Do some people test the limits? Absolutely, and more power to them. But, watch some videos of guys pushing the limits, and you'll see the vans are getting on 2 or 3 wheels... Will I be taking the van off the pavement? You betcha... I already have. But, if I'm getting my 9-foot tall van on 2 wheels, chances are I should have just driven the Jeep. I also know a few things about off-road driving and recovery, but for those less experienced or those that lack the plethora of recovery gear that I own, 4x4 might help or provide peace of mind. Then again... sometimes 4x4 just gets you into more trouble.

My buddy has had a 4x2 Sprinter for 7 years out here in Colorado, which he's driven over some relatively gnarly (for the Sprinter) mountain passes, and the only issue he has getting anywhere with it is up his own driveway in the winter time when he hasn't plowed; but, he lives at 8,000 feet in the snowiest canyon in Colorado...

I go snowboarding every weekend in the winter, all over the state, and have only once engaged 4x4 in the Jeep (I was moving a little too quickly on Rabbit Ear Pass coming back from Steamboat) when driving back and forth from the ski resorts because they (mostly) keep up with the snow on the highways (every CME and Vail Resorts Sprinter shuttle van is 4x2, and they run skiers from DIA to the mountains all day erryday - I'll keep some chains in the back during the winter as a precaution).

Am I gonna put a winch on the van? Yup.
Am I gonna keep Maxtrax in the van? Yup.
Am I worried that the lack of 4x4 is going to prevent me from doing what I want to do with the van? Nope.
 
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ovrlndr

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:yum:Just completed the VW CRAFTER VERSION GOOD LUCK THINK LONG AND HARD
WHAT YOU INSTALL FIT IN HASTE REPENT AT LESURE :flushed:
True words... I've been thinking about this build for about 2 years. Going to use the KISS (keep it simple, stupid) mantra. Keeping it modular, and not going to go overboard.
 

ovrlndr

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Okay, so I'm going to layout my build plan, as it were, thus far...

My mantra for this build is K.I.S.S. - I hope no one out there doesn't know what that acronym means


My plans so far...

Exterior:
  • Matte black hood wrap, maybe even the side rocker panels and the front of the high roof
  • 265/75/16 BFG KO2s (if keeping the factory steelies) or 265/70/17 KO2s and Black Rhino Warlord Wheels
  • Auxiliary lighting
  • Winch
  • Dual Maxxair fans
  • Awning
  • Roof rack and ladder (maybe, I'd mainly use this as a "deck")
  • CR Lawrence Awning window behind driver door, opposite sliding door
  • Sliding "bunk windows" on both sides in the rear, mounted at the height where the bed will be most of the time. Trying to figure out what size would fit nicely between the E-Track MOAB bed rails... 10x30? 10x28?
  • MB windows in rear cargo doors
Interior:
  • Adventure Wagon RUV interior kit and MOAB bed, with a couple of Mule storage bags
  • Mountain bike fork block mounts or maybe a bike slide - trying to hold 2-3 bikes
  • Snowboard / ski rack mounted to wall
  • Chemical toilet
  • MB second row seat install (Purchased 3-person bench out of a 2017 van. Will have it added using the MB parts, and work done by DOT certified shop that will do all necessary reinforcement for safety)
  • Rubberized coin grip flooring with some additional e-track for more tiedown locations
  • Some sort of basic storage box / drawer in the rear for ease of storing and accessing helmets, pads, other recreational gear
  • Espar heater with high-altitude kit (trying to decide between under the passenger seat, or on the drivers side near the wheel well)
  • Fridge/Freezer (already own an ARB 50QT that is in the Jeep, but also looking at other options as I don't know if I really want to move the fridge back and forth between the Jeep and van)
  • USB / 12V plugs as well as some standard wall plugs for ease of charging devices
A/V & Electrical:
  • Replace factory headunit (Purchased: Alpine Halo9)
  • Replace factory speakers and add some additional speakers in rear, definitely 2 in the upper part of the rear doors, and maybe some midway through the van (Purchased: Focal PS 165 FX)
  • Speaker amplifier (Purchased: Alpine PDR-F50)
  • Compact powered subwoofer (Purchased: Alpine PWE-S8... might buy one more)
  • Adventure Wagon electrical kit for USB / 12V / Lighting / Fans
  • House battery system (at least upgrade OEM AUX battery to the AdWag twin 6V kit, if not go with something better)... Would like to be able to charge devices, run fridge and other electronics / stereo for 2-3 days without starting the van
 

blackntan

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True words... I've been thinking about this build for about 2 years. Going to use the KISS (keep it simple, stupid) mantra. Keeping it modular, and not going to go overboard.
I went for a professional build , the knowledge the lads provided was valuble they kit out for mountain bikers , snowborders etc , their use of space and material choises were honed over years of van conversion , every one has differant ideas needs etc. I am glad i listern to the lads On board water , solar, and storage , fixed bed etc Mmw base is so versatile and your 4x2 choise and reasoning is spot on they are vans and even with 4x4 have limitation that soon become very apparent
 
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blackntan

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Okay, so I'm going to layout my build plan, as it were, thus far...

My mantra for this build is K.I.S.S. - I hope no one out there doesn't know what that acronym means


My plans so far...

Exterior:
  • Matte black hood wrap, maybe even the side rocker panels and the front of the high roof
  • 265/75/16 BFG KO2s (if keeping the factory steelies) or 265/70/17 KO2s and Black Rhino Warlord Wheels
  • Auxiliary lighting
  • Winch
  • Dual Maxxair fans
  • Awning
  • Roof rack and ladder (maybe, I'd mainly use this as a "deck")
  • CR Lawrence Awning window behind driver door, opposite sliding door
  • Sliding "bunk windows" on both sides in the rear, mounted at the height where the bed will be most of the time. Trying to figure out what size would fit nicely between the E-Track MOAB bed rails... 10x30? 10x28?
  • MB windows in rear cargo doors
Interior:
  • Adventure Wagon RUV interior kit and MOAB bed, with a couple of Mule storage bags
  • Mountain bike fork block mounts or maybe a bike slide - trying to hold 2-3 bikes
  • Snowboard / ski rack mounted to wall
  • Chemical toilet
  • MB second row seat install (Purchased 3-person bench out of a 2017 van. Will have it added using the MB parts, and work done by DOT certified shop that will do all necessary reinforcement for safety)
  • Rubberized coin grip flooring with some additional e-track for more tiedown locations
  • Some sort of basic storage box / drawer in the rear for ease of storing and accessing helmets, pads, other recreational gear
  • Espar heater with high-altitude kit (trying to decide between under the passenger seat, or on the drivers side near the wheel well)
  • Fridge/Freezer (already own an ARB 50QT that is in the Jeep, but also looking at other options as I don't know if I really want to move the fridge back and forth between the Jeep and van)
  • USB / 12V plugs as well as some standard wall plugs for ease of charging devices
A/V & Electrical:
  • Replace factory headunit (Purchased: Alpine Halo9)
  • Replace factory speakers and add some additional speakers in rear, definitely 2 in the upper part of the rear doors, and maybe some midway through the van (Purchased: Focal PS 165 FX)
  • Speaker amplifier (Purchased: Alpine PDR-F50)
  • Compact powered subwoofer (Purchased: Alpine PWE-S8... might buy one more)
  • Adventure Wagon electrical kit for USB / 12V / Lighting / Fans
  • House battery system (at least upgrade OEM AUX battery to the AdWag twin 6V kit, if not go with something better)... Would like to be able to charge devices, run fridge and other electronics / stereo for 2-3 days without starting the van
. SIDE FLARES. AMAZING THE SPACE THEY ADD
 

ovrlndr

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. SIDE FLARES. AMAZING THE SPACE THEY ADD
I’ll be passing on the side flares.

I have a buddy that’s shorter than I am that’s been in a Sprinter with them, and he said he wasn’t able to lay down on the bed across the width of the van, even with the flares. Below the bed, the added space of the flares would just be wasted.

Plan is, bunk windows in the rear for airflow near the bed, AdWag MOAB bed set as low as can be with bikes underneath and a queen size memory foam mattress so I can sleep with feet facing the windshield.
 

blackntan

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image.jpeg image.jpeg. Never put a rack on as the storage space under the fixed bed is amazing , only got one fan + a vent on the advise of the fitters
And even in the recent hot weather done the job but you have much higher temps , rapter on the hood and side pannels proving valuble through wooded areas
 

blackntan

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I’ll be passing on the side flares.

I have a buddy that’s shorter than I am that’s been in a Sprinter with them, and he said he wasn’t able to lay down on the bed across the width of the van, even with the flares. Below the bed, the added space of the flares would just be wasted.

Plan is, bunk windows in the rear for airflow near the bed, AdWag MOAB bed set as low as can be with bikes underneath and a queen size memory foam mattress so I can sleep with feet facing the windshield.
I am 6 .3" bud and can lay across with inches to spare :flushed:
 

ovrlndr

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I am 6 .3" bud and can lay across with inches to spare :flushed:
It’s also easy to lay on a queen sized mattress [emoji12]

Plus, I’ll be putting mule storage bags on the walls above the bed. Sleeping sideways with those things hanging off the walls above my head or feet would annoy me.

Glad you like your flares, but they’re not for me.
 

blackntan

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It’s also easy to lay on a queen sized mattress [emoji12]

Plus, I’ll be putting mule storage bags on the walls above the bed. Sleeping sideways with those things hanging off the walls above my head or feet would annoy me.

Glad you like your flares, but they’re not for me.
. There is so much space to utilise it soon becomes apparant as you get on with your build i got mine wighed just this week 2.5 ton at the moment and that was with a full tank of fuel I never went for under slung water tanks just two 15 lt containers. Enjoy your build i look forward to some photos
 

ovrlndr

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Wow, the thread is in dire need of an update.

Sooo, where to start? Well, the first weekend I had the van, I did a pretty epic maiden voyage...

I went from Denver up just north of Fort Collins and west over to the Red Feather Lakes area and camped with some friends, and got some dirt under the tires for the first time...









From there, I drove down to Cameron Pass and went over the pass and down into Walden, but first I stopped at the Lake Agnes trailhead for a hike in State Forest State Park. I got out to pay the park fee and getting a sticker for the windshield, but when I returned to the van, it would not start. It had about 300 miles on the ODO. I flagged down a hiker at the trailhead that was leaving and he drove me to the ranger station about 5 miles down the road. The ranger got some jumper cables, even though I told him I didn't think it was a battery issue, and he drove me back to the van. Before we hooked up any jumper cables, I decided to try to start the van... and it fired right up...

I drove the road down to the trailhead, and hiked up to Lake Agnes, which is positively gorgeous.









I hiked back down to the van, fired it up and got on my way. I came down Cameron pass to Walden, and then took off toward Buena Vista to meet a buddy of mine and his wife for a little vannin'!




Leadville, the highest incorporated municipality in the U.S.







In the morning, I headed back to Denver. All-in-all, I think it was about a 600 mile maiden voyage in the van and it was perfect! Except for the non-start issue...

 

T.Shack

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Kewl there is a company here in Red Bluff Ca that Builds 4X4 & 6X6 camp type Van's. White Feather I thing their name is I should stop & get some info.
 
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ovrlndr

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Kewl there is a company here in Red Bluff Ca that Builds 4X4 & 6X6 camp type Van's. White Feather I thing their name is I should stop & get some info.
Yeah, we have a bunch in the Rockies, too.
TouRig is in Golden, White River Overland is in Aspen, In•Spired Van is in the Teton Valley, VanWorks is in Fort Collins, etc... everyone is getting into the upfitting biz.
 
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Alright, now that I have caught up the Jeep build thread, it's time to focus on the "Overland Van" build.

Between the last update and now, some BIG things have happened.

First things first, I took the van on another adventure. I went mountain biking with some buddies (Rainbow Trail... the Rainbow Trail that is part of the Monarch Crest trail system, not the other Rainbow Trail), and we ended up camping in the exact same spot near Buena Vista that we camped on my second night during the inaugural van weekend adventure. Despite Rainbow Trail's seemingly innocent name, it really should be called the Rainbow Trail of Death. I went over the bars twice. The first time, I landed on my feet and caught my bike behind me, keeping it off the ground (who knew I had some Keanu-Matrix-level-shit going on with my reflexes). The second time, I went flying 15 feet down the trail, Superman style, somehow managing to land sitting upright on the edge of a section of the trail that is only about as wide as a tire.

Those of you that are in the Sprinter community and are on the Sprinter-Source forums, or in the Adventure Rider (ADVRider) community may recognize that green van :sunglasses:

Here's some pictures:







 
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ovrlndr

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I also got a little better at organization, thanks to a couple of Sterilite boxes and a buddy who donated some bungee cords to the van...





A nice improvement over this...

 

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Next, it was time to ditch that horrible factory stereo system.

I made some decisions on the in-van-entertainment side of things.

After looking at the various in-dash units available, I decided to go with the Alpine iLX-F309 Halo9 unit.

Alpine Halo9

Ultimately, I decided that I would probably never use the built-in navigation offered on other units that I was considering (Apple CarPlay and Android Auto both provide better and more up-to-date navigation experiences, and I own both iOS- and Android-based phones; also, Apple is FINALLY allowing 3rd party mapping applications like Google Maps and Waze via CarPlay with iOS 12). I've also got satellite imagery of the entire state of Colorado at very high zoom levels downloaded to my iPad (and many areas of the same downloaded to my phone).

Also, I like how the Halo9 unit fills up the giant Sprinter dash.

For power, I'm went with the Alpine PDR-F50 4-channel amplifier. I used to run Alpines v12 digital amplifiers and they were rock solid, and clean without spending a fortune. This will push 85-90 watts of RMS power to the speakers.

For speakers, I went with two sets of Focal PS 165 FX 2-Way Component Speakers. I listened to these locally, powered similarly as to what the Alpine PDR-F50 will give them, and I loved the natural, balanced, neutral sound of them. These take about 80 watts of RMS power, but can handle a little more.

For the subwoofer, I'm went with the Alpine PWE-S8 8" powered 8-inch subwoofer. The reason I'm went with a powered subwoofer is to reduce the overall installation footprint of the audio system (not having to run a physically larger 5-channel amplifier or separate mono / 2-channel amplifier for the subwoofer and not needing a larger subwoofer enclosure required for non-powered subwoofers). I've been there and done that with audio systems that have had bone crunching, nose tickling, heart arrhythmia-inducing bass, and I'm just past that point in my life. You'd be hard pressed to find a subwoofer with a smaller total footprint than the PWE-S8.

I also ordered this for the powered subwoofer. Alpine PWE-S8 mounting panel for NCV3 Sprinter. The PWE-S8 will fit upright neatly behind the driver's seat, but I was having trouble with where I would then locate the 4-channel amplifier for the speakers. While the PDR-F50 is very small, there isn't room under the driver's seat with all of the electrical that is already there, and I'll be putting an Espar D2 heater under the passenger seat. So, having this mounting option allows me to put the PDR-F50 up against the back of the driver's seat and run the PWE-S8 in the wall of the van discreetly.

Lastly, I ordered some spalted maple speaker panels for the rear doors from Lindarets.

All the electrical was run to the factory auxiliary battery, including power for the in-dash unit. Toggle switch on and off, so no need for the van to be on for the stereo to have power. Toggling the in-dash unit on turns on the amplifier and subwoofer as well. Also, a pulse ground (e-brake bypass) was installed to allow use of certain features (e.g. settings menu access) while the vehicle is moving. I'm not watching movies or anything while the vehicle is moving, but I cannot stand "nanny features" that disable use of things like sound settings, etc. while the vehicle is in motion.

A PAC adapter was used to maintain use of steering wheel controls, factory USB port, and factory backup camera (which comes on when the van is put in reverse, or on demand from the in-dash unit).

Here's some pictures of the final product. Clean.









 
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ovrlndr

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And, one more adventure before the really big changes... The Overland Van's first trip to Fruita. This. This is why I bought this van.


To Fruita we go!


Was meeting the guys at camp in the wash, so I picked up some pizza from Hot Tomato in Fruita.


Camp at sunrise the next morning. Ready to ride!


An elevated view of camp...


First ride of the day! Up Prime Cut and Down PBR!


Prime Cut - earning our turns!


Cruising down PBR!


Probably the most dangerous thing we did all weekend.


Coming down Kessel.


Riding over to Mo' Joe


Pre-dawn ride the next morning... 5:30am wakeup call!


The early wake up call was worth it for this view. Sneffels Range of the San Juans out in the distance.




Zipping down Down Uppity, headed back to camp!

One thing I realized on this trip... When the temps drop, sleeping on an air mattress is like sleeping on an ice cube. It got down to around 35 degrees at night, and even in a 0 degree bag I was uncomfortable the first night. I added more blankets on top of the air mattress the second night which helped a lot, but I realized that it was time for a real bed, and some ventilation / fans / insulation.
 
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The next addition was minor. I exchanged my Thule Apex Swing 4 for a RockyMounts BackStage.

Why?

A few reasons:
  • I hate the fact that the Thule Apex Swing 4 has to touch the frame of the bike - the two bikes that I travel with are both carbon, and that is not good for the frame or the paint
  • The straps that hold the bike to the rack break - I almost lost my Yeti on I-25 coming home from a ride when the straps broke while the rack was on the back of the Jeep - that was the last and final straw
  • The Thule did not open wide enough, even with a hitch receiver to clear the Jeep's tailgate enough with oversized spare tire mounted to open the rear lift glass and access the cargo area of the Jeep - super annoying
  • The Thule was not about to clear the barn doors on the Sprinter
  • With the hitch extender, the Thule wobbled to and fro with the bikes on it - not good for the racks or bikes
The BackStage addresses all of these problems. It doesn't touch the frames, the hitch and hitch extender by RockyMounts remove all play in the hitch. It is perfectly compatible with both the sprinter and the Jeep, allowing clearance of the doors on both vehicles. Plus, RockyMounts is a Colorado company, so that is awesome.