Valkyrie the Van

We get a lot of questions about our van. Here are some answers!

Creeksite Campground
Camping along the river in Hungry Mother State Park, Virginia

What kind of van is it?

The van itself is a 2017 4×4 Mercedes Benz Sprinter. We had the conversion done through Sportsmobile. After bringing it home, we had the driver & passenger windows tinted, the hood wrapped, the rocker panels Line-X’d, and replaced the stock wheels & tires with Black Rhino Barstow wheels and Falken Wildpeak All Terrain 3W tires. In 2021, we had the entire body Line-X’d and had an Aluminess back bumper put on with a gear box & spare tire.

Back Bumper Bling
The back bumper with spare tire & gear box, an addition we debated for a while but are very glad we got!

How long have you owned the van?

We became very excited, proud owners of it on August 24, 2018.

Finished Beast
Parked to take a quick photo by Lake Winnebago after getting the new tires & wheels on.  The wind chill was 25 below that day, but in true Viking fashion, Valkyrie handled the cold like a beast!

How long did it take to have the conversion done?

We ordered the van through Sportsmobile and it had to be made to order in Germany first. After it was shipped to Sportsmobile, it was about five months before it was ready for pick up. From the time we ordered it to the day we picked it up took a little over a year. It was well worth the wait, though!

Union Bay
Camping along Lake Superior in Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park (Upper Michigan).  It was the last few days of the year for the campground to be open and was blissfully quiet.  

Do you live in it?

No, we don’t, and we do not have any plans to. We purchased it to use for the next several decades (as long as all goes well, of course) for our road trips. We’re lucky enough to work at the same place and can usually get by with one car, but also use the van for a second vehicle when needed. All that being said, we’ve learned that life can change suddenly and drastically, so it’s always a possibility that we could live in it at some time (or, sadly, sell it).

The Enchanted Highway
Along the Enchanted Highway in North Dakota.

Why did you purchase it and not some other camper van or RV?

We’ve been taking road trips together since 2001 and in that time, we’ve stayed at many different accomodations. We also owned an Airstream 16′ Bambi for a few years and went tent camping a bit. After all of that, a camper van felt like the best fit for us because we found we wanted something small, comfortable, and simple that we didn’t have to tow and was easy to set up. We didn’t like anything that was on the RV lots because they were either too large, had much more than we wanted in them, or were just too cheaply made. We love that it’s capable of going off road and able to fit in a regular parking space. We’re also quite thrilled that we no longer have to stay in questionable lodgings with uncomfortable mattresses that may or may not have bed bugs in them (amongst other nasty stuff).

Valkyrie to Valhalla
Valkyrie brought us to Valhalla (recreation area) and all was right in the world.

What did it cost?

We get this question more than most and Mike usually answers “a lot of overtime”. If you’re seriously considering getting one, what the cost of it will be can vary greatly depending on what you want. There are quite a few different options for both the van and conversion. Sportsmobile has also raised their prices since we purchased ours, so even if you wanted the same options we have, it won’t cost the same as what we paid.

Campfire Bliss
Enjoying a beautiful night at Bear Head Lake State Park, Minnesota.

Can I see inside it?

Sure, have a peek! All of these photos were taken a few days after bringing it home.

View From Back
View from the head of the bed with the top popped.
Swivel Seats
Both seats swivel and the van came with a table that folds up (not pictured). 
View From The Front
We added two mattress toppers to the bed, making it extremely comfortable.  There are bug screens on the back and side sliding door, which we’re quite thankful we chose to get.
Beer Holder
The galley consists of a small fridge, sink, and microwave.  We also bring along a Jetboil and propane cooktop.

You don’t have a bathroom? How does that work??

Well, we don’t have a toilet, but we do have a sink and an outdoor shower. When we had the Airstream, we rarely used the bathroom and have never had problems finding a bathroom when on any road trip. We both grew up in nature and have no qualms about going outdoors (responsibly, of course) if there’s no other choice.

Open Wide!
The outdoor shower is below the bed on the right (the silver panel).

How much water does the tank hold?

The fresh water tank is 27 gallons and we also bring along several 2.5 gallon jugs of water (up to 8 of them, depending on where we’re going and for how long). The jug water we use for eating & drinking and the tank water we use for everything else.

A Lake Lunch
Parked by Trinidad Lake (Colorado) for lunch with a view.

How is everything powered?

There are two batteries that power everything, which work really well for quite a while as long as we don’t use the microwave.

Colorado Night
A peaceful night in Rifle Gap State Park, Colorado.

Can you sit on top of the van?

Absolutely! Getting a ladder and roof rack we could comfortably sit/lay on were one of the options we chose. It’s great for taking photos, stargazing, and being able to see more of our surroundings. We also use it to carry our recovery boards and other things that we don’t want inside the van.

Top of Van View
A great view of Valley of the Gods in Utah from the top of the van.

How does it handle the mountains?

It handles mountains like a dream! We even took it to Pike’s Peak and had no problems at all with it.

Feeling Secure
Coming back down from a cold day on Pike’s Peak.  Visibility was only a few feet and it started snowing at the top.  Valkyrie handled the entire drive so well and we only had the stock tires on at the time.

Do you feel cramped in it?

We really, truly do not. When we pack for a week-long trip, we have storage space left over. When we get ready in the morning or at night, we’re both able to do things without bumping elbows. Even with the top down, Mike can stand up in it (he’s six feet tall). We have absolutely no complaints about the storage or room in it.

Seeing things from a different perspective along the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway in Wisconsin.

You don’t have a TV? How do you deal with that?

The time we spend watching TV when we’re at home is pretty limited and we have no desire to travel with one. When we’re on our road trips, we stay unplugged with the exception of using our phones as tools when needed (navigating, taking photos, etc.). We would much rather spend the time enjoying the outdoors, playing games, relaxing, and reading. At most, we’ll bring a tablet along if the weather is going to be questionable and will watch a few downloaded shows or a movie on it.

We played a game of Scrabble outside at Cheyenne State Park in Colorado one night.  Quite relaxing!

Does it have heat or air conditioning?

The van has both, but it needs to be running for either to work (just like any vehicle). We decided against getting a separate heat or air conditioner unit and so far, things have worked out well. If it gets too hot, we move on to somewhere else or tough it out. For the cold, we have several blankets and two small heaters (electric and propane). We’ve camped when the temps dropped to below freezing and stayed comfortable inside.

You can see more photos of Valkyrie and our adVANtures here. For more information about any photo in this post, just click on it and it’ll take you to the original posting on Flickr.