When it comes to choosing the right commercial vehicle to serve your business, the choice between buying a pickup truck or a van can be a hard one. Pickup trucks are awesome and you can’t argue that they possess more style and attitude. On the other hand, cargo vans are very utilitarian and offer up many compelling reasons business owners might be on the fence about choosing a pickup truck instead.
While each segment provides different things, they are both workers at heart. But which is the better commercial vehicle? Here are three reasons pickup trucks are better than work vans.
1. They are cool enough to lead a double life
Most people out there don’t want to drive around the commercial fleet van all day on the job and then take it out to dinner, too. A pickup truck on the other hand can lead a double life. The right pickup truck will offer the utility needed for your business and then get cleaned up and go out on the town. Much like the drivers of such a truck, these pickups are only good for one thing.
A pickup truck can look great in the city and then wake up in the morning, put its hard hat on, and get down and dirty. If you are worried about having a vehicle that is designated for the business, you can always slap a sticker on the doors to lend a more professional appearance. This is one good reason that a pickup truck is better.
2. Higher payload and towing capability
While cargo vans are very robust in their abilities, there aren’t any that can haul a load over 10,000 pounds. For a Chevrolet Silverado or a Ford F-150, this is just another day in the life. If you will be consistently heavy hauling and towing 10,000 pounds or more, get a pickup truck.
Each configuration offers different capabilities, just like the cargo vans. However, pickup trucks are undeniably stronger and more adept at handling a heavy load. While pickup trucks and work vans share DNA, they each evolved quite differently. Trucks are more capable in terms of hauling and towing and there’s just no getting around it.
3. More widely available 4×4
Another reason many turn to the pickup truck over a work van is there are many more with 4×4 capability. For many people, getting to the job means driving on a dirt or gravel road. While a couple of the vans offer available 4×4, every pickup truck offers 4×4 on at least one or more trim.
If you need a commercial vehicle with more off-pavement or off-road capability, a pickup truck is better than a commercial van. Properly equipped, pickup trucks offer the cargo utility plus the rugged capability of an all-terrain vehicle. If your business needs a vehicle to haul people and gear off the paved road, you’ll definitely want to choose a pickup truck instead of a cargo van. There are few things more counterproductive than getting stuck with your tires spinning in the dirt, your commercial vehicle loaded down with equipment for a job you can’t even get to.
Work van or pickup truck?
While both options are compelling in their own right, pickup trucks drive a strong argument in their case as commercial vehicles. We love cargo vans, but sometimes there are jobs that need the capability of a pickup truck. If you want something with more capability for heavy hauling or travel off-pavement, a pickup truck is the better choice. Plus, pickup trucks can double as both your commercial companion and a personal family vehicle.
The first decision is the easiest one – new cargo van, or a used cargo van? Although many advocate that if you want quality, you have to buy new. Used is off limits, as you can never be sure of what you’re going to get. And this opinion does have its merits, that much we can agree on.
However, there are also many advantages of buying used cargo vans for sale. The market is overflowing with them, and, although it does require a bit of searching, inquiring, testing, and inspecting, you can be sure you can find one in pristine condition at a fraction of the cost of a new one. You just need to find a reliable dealer, take a look at the stock, and do all the necessary inspections.
Don’t shy away from a used cargo van as it can prove an invaluable companion.So, now that you know better than to limit yourself to expensive, brand new machines, you have more options, and can, therefore, make your decision a sound one. It is now time to give you tips on how to find the best cargo van on the market for you, be it a new one or a used one, and be quick on the road to professional success.
Know Your Cargo
Think about what you’re going to use a cargo van for, think about what you’re going to be transporting, and think about what it is you need it for. No commercial van can be considered perfect unless they’re perfect for your business.So, the first step in deciding which cargo van to buy is to think about what it is you’ll be transporting. Although they all seem quite similar in appearance, they are actually quite different.
They come in all shapes and sizes, and they are meant to serve different purposes.You can go for a shorter van if you plan on driving in cities a lot. They are more maneuverable, easier to drive, and are quite nimble in narrow streets. If you regularly haul long objects, consider a long-wheelbase model, as they are longer and offer more cargo space. And, depending on the actual size and height of the objects you transport, there are various models with tall roofs, low roofs, and roofs of a regular, normal size. You really can make your pick.
Mind the Doors
Doors are a matter often overlooked when you’re looking to buy a cargo van, and it is a travesty let us tell you. Much of the accessibility to the cargo area and the overall ease of use of a cargo van rests upon the weary shoulders of the doors. They are an underappreciated part, and we’re here to fix that mistake.There are many different door types installed on cargo vans, and they are all equally different in terms of how they function.
Some vans come with dual-side doors, meaning there is a single door on every side. Others have doors only on the one side. There are also Dutch doors for the back, that open on one side, allowing you complete access to the area where you store your cargo. Finally, there is the complicated mechanism of a lift gate for the rear that is quite similar to a tailgate of a minivan or an SUV. Again, it’s up to you to find the door type that you want.
Just the Right Size
Yes, we’ve come to one of the most important aspects every person interested in purchasing a cargo van could consider, and that’s the size of it. Some people need bigger cargo vans, since they haul objects of great size and weight, while others will find the smaller commercial vans for sale quite sufficient for their business intentions.We have divided our size category into two subcategories – interior size and exterior size. One affects the other, and the question you should ask yourself is are you willing to sacrifice maneuverability and nimbleness for that couple of cubic feet of interior space?
Cargo vans that offer most interior space are, by far, the largest ones in the market. That makes the job of a driver all the more difficult, as it is a demanding task to get such a behemoth through the narrow maze that are streets in most cities.On the other hand, you cannot pick one that is too small for your needs just because you want it to be as quick scampering about as possible.
Our advice is to just not go too big, thinking “Well someday I might need that extra space”. Pick the van that is just the right size with just enough space for your current desires. If, in the future, you do actually end up craving space, you can sell it buy a new one easily. The cargo van market is constantly expanding, and they are not a tough sell.
Money is Always a Consideration
We are going to keep it brief with this one, as we are all very aware of the monetary aspect that every purchase carries with it. We have only one thing to tell you – don’t break the bank. Nobody says you need to pay top dollar for a new cargo van that you think is suitable for you. If you’re a bit strapped for cash at the moment, or if you just don’t want to spend a large sum of money, try the used cargo van market. There are incredible bargains to be discovered. You will save money, but also end up with an excellent vehicle for your company.
Already mentioned during our “powertrain” paragraph, fuel economy is a vital aspect for anyone looking to buy a quality cargo van. Simply put, think about how many miles each day you plan on putting behind your vehicle. If the locations you frequently visit are not that far away from each other, and if you don’t have any specific towing requirements, is it really necessary to buy the most powerful model available? We don’t think so.The trick is similar to the van size consideration, buy a van that is as economical as you can afford.
Although buyers don’t look at it that way, they really should. Customers often think that the added fuel costs of a more powerful cargo van are not that steep in the long run. But they would be wrong. Fuel costs tend to add up, especially for business vehicles being driven every day. Why put yourself through monetary strain if you don’t need to? Take a hard think, do the math, and see what fuel economy you can live with.
Check the Payload
Another vital aspect… You might be thinking, at this point, is there any aspect to buying a new or used cargo van that is not vital? Well, we’re sorry to say that there isn’t. You have to take a long, hard look into everything if you plan on finding a cargo van that you are going to be happy with.So, payload. Again, it all depends on your business and your everyday hauling requirements.
The smaller cargo vans, like Transit Connect, can haul just 1,600 pounds. Not to say that it’s a bad cargo van, far from it. It makes up its low payload capacity in other areas. But, if you’re planning on hauling heavier loads, than you should definitely look in the direction of a full size cargo van. Their payload capacity can be as big as 5,500 pounds. So, there are options for everybody, the question is only how big your requirements are.
Can it Maneuver Like a Rampant Rabbit?
Maneuverability is essential in an urban environment. You can find out if the van you’re interested in is on the more maneuverable side by looking into the turning radius. A rule of thumb is that smaller vans have a smaller turning circle, making them easier to drive in an urban setting.However, this doesn’t have to be true for every van. Some bigger vans also boast a small turning radius, making it, in theory at least, quite easy to turn tight corners with them. But, those are all just numbers.
There is only one way of making sure that the van of your choice is agile enough for you, and that’s to take it for a test drive. Take a seat, put your seat belt on, and drive it about the streets you usually frequent. Or, if you’re a bit farther away from your regular stomping ground, try to find some similar streets to test the van on. Only then will you be able to tell if the cargo van is how you’d want it.
Cargo Van Rental is Also an Option Worth Considering
Finally, nobody says you have to buy a van as soon as your business demands it. You can never be sure of whether your current business is going to expand, or if you’re going to spend some time doing it, only to change it for a more fruitful one. The market can be fickle, and if you’re unsure about the future prospects of your company, maybe you should hold off the purchase for now.
Cargo van rental services exists for quite that reason. If you’re going to need a van for just a couple of quick jobs, nobody says you have to run off and buy one. Or, if you need it for a move, or to help a friend or family member, the best possible scenario for you is to rent one for the task that needs doing. Cargo van rental can save you a lot of money, so, think well on how much you will be using it, and if it’s less frequently than a couple of times a week, you should definitely consider renting one from a reliable dealer.
We’ve gathered a list of the top 10 selling points cargo vans have to offer, followed by a brief introduction to three of our favorite models and some different businesses that have all used cargo vans to meet their business needs in unique ways. We’re sure after reading, you’ll understand how much cargo vans have to offer:
As the trend of placing more of an emphasis on fuel efficiency for vehicles, cargo vans reap the benefits. The cargo vans on the market today are more efficient — many can even be compared to driving a big sedan.
Even the least fuel-efficient cargo vans are leaps and bounds ahead of RVs and box trucks. The amount of money you can save in fuel alone compared to these other options is significant.
There are several different brands of cargo vans — Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Ford — all of them reputable and well-known. While the safety features vary from model to model, a lot of thought has been put into the design and standard features in these cargo vans. Therefore, you can rest assured that they are safe and reliable — as long as you do your part in keeping up with maintenance service, they are sure to keep you moving from point A to point B.
While an empty rectangular box of space may be attractive to some, the beauty of a cargo van is that the interior can be completely transformed into whatever you want — some people choose to make it into a mobile home. We know a mobile home probably isn’t what you have in mind for your business, but that’s just an example of the possibilities.
Include seating for 12, six, four or none at all. Add interior roof racks, partitions to create separate areas, and/or shelves, bins, drawers or lockers for storage. You can also add interior liners if you’re worried about dents from sharp edges of equipment or liquid splashing onto the floor and walls. Need to make sure things on the floor stay in place? There are options to add a non-stick mat. Your options are endless. You get the picture.
The options for exterior customizations are almost as extensive as the interior. You have the opportunity to add ladders on the sides of the cargo van, solar panels, custom bumpers, roof racks, different windows, bigger tires, an exterior awning and more.
This one may seem like a no-brainer, but let’s not forget that selecting a cargo van for your business makes you completely mobile. While many businesses investing in cargo vans may be mobile by nature, this isn’t always the case.
This is an especially important selling point for vets and groomers, for example, as it gives you the ability to go directly to your customers and meet them where they are. Adding a mobile component to your business can open doors to an entirely new group of clients.
When you choose a cargo van for your business, you immediately have the opportunity to be a moving billboard for your business. Get a designer and a promotional products company that prints and applies car wraps — and you’re all set.
Choose a simple design, or a design that encompasses the majority of the car. Go for a larger version of your logo, or a creative representation of your industry or brand. Regardless of what you choose, an investment in a cargo van doubles as an investment in permanent outdoor advertising.
The total amount of space you get depends on the model you choose, but overall, full-size cargo vans are spacious. You’ll have an estimated 120-200 cubic feet of space plus the interior customization options we mentioned — giving you the opportunity to maximize the space you have and work more efficiently. Who doesn’t like to have a spacious place of their own to organize their supplies the way they want?
Driving a commercial vehicle for business isn’t always comfortable. It can actually be quite uncomfortable. Fortunately, full-size cargo vans have the comfort level of an SUV or minivan with the storage and hauling potential of a commercial vehicle.
It’s easy to focus on the endless opportunities to create a unique cargo van completely tailored to your business — but you shouldn’t lose sight of comfort. If you’re going to be spending a lot of time driving it, you want it to be comfortable.
If you aren’t sold on the space you have, as a caterer, food delivery service or a florist, the ability to turn the cargo van into one big refrigerator will certainly be a selling point for you. This takes temperature to a whole new level — now you can be sure your food and floral arrangements are preserved.
Perfecting your food and flower deliveries so they arrive in mint condition is a big part of getting repeat customers. A refrigerated cargo van allows you to do just that.
At the end of 2014, when the rest of the used vehicle market fell 12.4%, the category of full-size vans was the only vehicle category to see an increase in residual value — an impressive feat. While we can’t confirm that the residual value is still on the rise, we can say that cargo vans have some of the best residual values on the market.
If you’re just starting to consider purchasing a cargo van, chances are you aren’t thinking ahead to selling it. However, you can be confident that purchasing a cargo van for your business will be a worthwhile investment.
Best Cargo Vans for Business
There are a variety of cargo vans on the market, and the category of cargo vans is broad. It includes models tall and short, long and compact, powerful and fuel-efficient — there’s something at every end of the spectrum.
So how do you know which ones are the best for you? We’ve featured an introduction to three of our picks for the best cargo vans for business on the market today. Everyone’s needs are different, but this is a great place to learn a bit about these three frontrunners and see which one sounds like it might be the best fit for you.
Judging by the prestigious company name, it’s no surprise that the Sprinter has been recognized as one of the top cargo vans for business for a long time. Despite the market becoming increasingly more competitive over time, it continues to be a favorite among consumers.
Choose from two different wheelbases — 144 inches or 170 inches — and two different roof sizes — standard or tall. The tall roof gives you 76.4 inches of height. Get it fully loaded, and you’ll get that extra height, plus nearly 190 cubic feet of cargo space and impressive payload and towing capacity — 3,000 pounds and 5,000 pounds respectively.
With all of these options and remarkable numbers, what could possibly be a reason not to purchase the favorite? The price tag. With the luxury brand comes a price tag starting at $36,000. If you can afford the investment, this cargo van is built to last (and built to impress), but if you have a tight budget, this may not be the best cargo van option for you.
The Ford Transit is the newest addition to the full-size cargo van market. It was introduced in 2015, replacing the E-Series and has already been recognized among the best cargo vans for business. You have your choice between two versions — a regular wheelbase and a long wheelbase. If you choose the long wheelbase, you have the additional option of getting a standard or extended length. In addition to having the option to extend the length of the Transit, you also have the option to get a high roof, which boasts 81.5 inches of height — the highest of all cargo vans on the market.
In addition to the option you have in the body height and length, you also have a few choices of engines — a 3.2 turbodiesel 5-cylinder, a turbocharged EcoBoost V6 and a 3.7-liter V6 with 266 horsepower. Obviously, the cost depends on the options you choose, but the price usually begins around $30,000 with shipping.
If your business is in the city or you just place more of an emphasis on fuel economy and easy navigation, there’s another model, the Ford Transit Connect, that’s worth checking out. While it doesn’t offer the same capacity, it has a simpler design and a smaller price tag.
If you like the Nissan Titan pickup, you’re sure the love the Nissan NV full-size cargo van. This cargo van was based on the Titan and comes with a very reasonable price tag, starting at $26,000 with shipping. The maximum capacity of the van and the amount it can tow are impressive (it gets that from its pickup truck base) — an impressive 9,500 pounds towing capacity (V8) and almost 4,000 pounds of payload capacity. If you anticipate hauling, this is the best cargo van for your business.
Under the hood, you can choose from a 4.0-liter V6 or a 5.6-liter V8. In the back, the standard model only comes with a height of 55.8 inches, but the high roof models give you an extended height of 76.9 inches.
If you’re in the market for a cargo van but don’t need something near as big, the Nissan NV200 might be a better option. Don’t be fooled — just because the name is similar doesn’t mean it’s closely related to the Nissan NV — it has its own model, options and set of features, making it more like a distant cousin, but a cargo van nevertheless.
Top Businesses for Cargo Vans
The size, capacity, fuel efficiency, residual value, reliability and extensive customization options make cargo vans the best vehicles for a variety of businesses. We’ve included a list of some of the businesses we think are the best fit for cargo vans, along with some of the customization options that make them ideal for that particular business. This isn’t an all-inclusive list — this is just a sample of some of the best we’ve seen:
As a florist, you don’t have the opportunity to store your floral arrangements the same way others store equipment. There’s a certain level of temperature control you need to have to keep your flowers and greens cool and in optimum shape for the occasion.
In addition to maintaining control over the temperature, you also need to have storage options that can accommodate both large and bulky displays, as well as securely transporting smaller, more intricate arrangements. All are possible with a cargo van. The interior height will give you flexibility with taller arrangements, and interior storage customizations can offer a solution that helps you securely transport those smaller pieces. You could even add a non-slip cargo mat to make sure nothing slips when you’re delivering.
Whether you’re a plumber, HVAC technician or an electrical contractor, one thing remains the same — every job is different. When you go on a maintenance call, time is money, and you can’t afford to be digging through your vehicle searching for a part or a tool or running back to the shop or your home to pick it up.
A cargo van is the best solution for your business because you can completely customize to the tools and parts you need. Install partitions to keep things organized. Get an interior ladder rack to keep your ladder out of the weather and your van looking streamlined and modern. Mix and match shelves, drawers, bins and other storage solutions to make sure everything has a place, and you can work efficiently.
If you have a doggie daycare business, you need a way to carefully transport your precious fur-baby cargo. A cargo van is the perfect solution.
Interior customization options for storage aren’t just for equipment — there are options for transporting pets, too. With a spacious cargo van, there’s plenty of room for cages large and small. Transporting your fur-baby clients to a nearby park or other location? There’s plenty of room to store leashes and pet toys to take with you.
If you’re in the catering business, you need a vehicle that’s going to be big enough to store all of the food and serving equipment but that will also have a smooth ride — easily navigating those tight city turns. This balance is possible with a cargo van.
Interior customization options give you the opportunity to add refrigeration equipment and transform the interior of your van with the shelving and other storage accessories you need to make loading and unloading your food and serving equipment a breeze. Despite having the capacity to handle everything you need, it doesn’t drive like a truck — making it, dare we say, enjoyable to drive and manageable to park and navigate tight spaces in loading and unloading zones.
Long ladders, countless paint cans and various sizes of brushes can be tough to accommodate, but a cargo van is up for the challenge. Cargo van customization options give you the opportunity to protect the entire interior with a liner that resists paint stains and dings from moving equipment in and out of the van.
Interior ladder racks ensure you have a place to store your ladders without exposing them to outside elements. Customizable partitions give you the opportunity to organize supplies and make sure paint cans are stored securely and separately from other supplies. Of course, you can also add shelves, bins and drawers to store the variety of paint brushes, drop cloths, rollers and other supplies you have to take with you.
Whether you’re helping people get back into their car or their home, you need to have everything organized and at your fingertips while you’re on the job. By maximizing the space in a cargo van, you’ll have the opportunity to customize storage for all of your small parts and tools on shelves as well as in drawers, bins and lockers.
A cargo van is the best solution for your keeping your business organized and securely stored so you can work efficiently without having to worry about the safety of your parts and tools.
Mobile Vets and Groomers
As a mobile vet or mobile groomer, you need much more than storage. You need sinks, tables, temperature and technology. Believe it or not, there are a variety of cargo van packages that offer everything you need to provide medical treatment or grooming services on the road and keep you comfortable as your van truly becomes your office.
Plumbing, water heaters and air conditioning give you the environment and a few of the basic essentials you need for business. From there, it’s all about customizing it for your business — add a large sink, grooming table and a vacuum grooming tool. Not a groomer? You can get a table with an overhead X-ray machine, a scale, a medicine cabinet, anesthesia and a fridge. A cargo van is the best option for taking your business on the road.
If you’re going to be traveling on the road for extended periods of time, doing a few shows at a time, you need to have the space to store your luggage, instruments and accessories — not to mention you and the other band members.
A cargo van is the best solution for your business because it gives you the opportunity to customize the ratio of space you need for band members and storage. In addition to being able to create your own travel space, cargo vans are comfortable and affordable to travel in. Their fuel efficiency is a big perk, especially for bands that spend a lot of time on the road.
If you’re currently transporting people to a tourist destination, a cargo-passenger van is the perfect addition to your business. You can fit up to 12 people in a cargo van if your goal is to maximize the number of passengers you can transport. Taking people on a weekend getaway? No problem — just remove a row or two of the seats, and you have the option to take less people with plenty of room for luggage. Despite having a lot of space, cargo-passenger vans don’t drive like RVs — they’re much shorter and have a higher clearance. You don’t have to worry about parking and navigating tight roads as you travel. In addition to tour companies, a cargo-passenger van is also a great option for hotels and airports that offer shuttle services.
Perhaps you aren’t transporting people to the tourist destination, but you are a part of the tourist destination. Whether you’re renting bikes, kayaks, surfboards, skis, snowboards or something completely different, a cargo van has the spacious transportation you need to deliver.
Customize the interior with storage racks for equipment and add window coverings so you can travel without worrying about others eyeing your expensive equipment. Need to travel off the smooth pavement for your adventure? Get a cargo van with a more powerful engine and four-wheel drive, so you can take your business off road without having to worry if it’s tough enough to handle it.
We hope this information on cargo vans and what they have to offer — not just overall, but also in several specific industries — helps you determine which cargo van is best for your business.
Gone are the days when you had to choose between blitzing through the backcountry in a cramped off-road SUV and taking to the perfectly paved roads in an massive recreational vehicle. That is to say, you can certainly still do both of those things, but you can also combine them in the form of an adventure van.
These killer hybrids are perhaps the best way to enjoy the amenities of an RV with the capabilities of something a bit more rugged – if you know which one to choose.
Luckily, even within such a seemingly small sample space, there are a bevy of different options for adventure vans to cater to your specific needs. If you want a small-scale luxury camper – it’s already been built. If you need a movable basecamp on a 4×4 off-road chassis – well, you’re certainly not the first.
The point is, adventure vans are one of the best ways to get out into the wilder parts of the world without giving up all modern amenities across the board. So, if you’re looking to hit the road and you want to buy an all-inclusive vehicle, convert one you already own, or just rent one for a few days, the following 15 options are the best adventure sprinter commercial van out there.
Fiat Ducato Base Camper Van
Here in the states, we know Fiat mostly as a Mini competitor that builds small, european-looking vehicles. But, as you can see in their Ducato Base Camper Van, they’re a lot more versatile than that. They’re capacious, spatially efficient, and loaded with amenities.
And those amenities include things like multi-country roadside assistance, a 5-language user app, a network of service shops, and a mess of creature comforts and modern technology. These vans are also Bluetooth and navigation-enabled, feature rotating captain-style driver and passenger chairs, and have plenty of onboard storage.
Hymercar Camper Vans
If the Fiat van option seems nice, but you’d rather go with something a little more luxurious, you should have a look at the offerings from Hymercar. These after-market adventure vans feature an expandable layout for more sleeping comfort, room for anywhere from 2-4 full-grown people, and even come with the option for a built-in onboard bathroom.
And if you’re not fond of Fiat, you can always roll with their Mercedes-Benz Grand Canyon S chassis. They even have a refrigerator and freezer, so you can keep all your food and drink for the trip cold and better kept.
Tiger Adventure Vehicles
It might be a little bit of a stretch to call the offerings from Tiger “adventure vans,” but they don’t quite fit into the RV category either. A part of that is their size, but it’s also because of their sheer capabilities.
Honestly, these vehicles are more rugged than most factory-built SUVs or even the donor pickup trucks from which they are built. And that bodes very well for anyone looking to get off-road with their adventure van. Available in three formats – the Bengal, the Mayan, and the Siberian – each a bit bigger and more rugged than the one before it, these monstrous mobile homes are all hand-built in South Carolina and feature a full galley, bathroom amenities, spacious floor plans, and more.
Mercedes-Benz Marco Polo
As any car enthusiast might tell you, buying from a third party modification shop can be a risky endeavor – even if they’ve got good reviews or a long history. If you need absolute confidence in the quality of your adventure van, you might want to buy direct from a brand – like Mercedes-Benz.
Their luxury camper, called the Marco Polo, isn’t the most rugged or spacious option, but it’s comfortable, looks good, and still boasts plenty of onboard tech and amenities. They include generous seating, a kitchenette with a functional two-burner gas stove, a sink, a refrigerator, and a number of power outlets so everyone onboard can keep their high-tech gear charged fully.
And, of course, if you want a little bit more out of the performance of your Benz, you can opt for an AMG-tuned package.
Outside Van Core Van
One of the coolest things about the offerings from Outside Van is their versatility in their options. Their packages all start with a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van – which is a spacious and capable vehicle in its own right – and then they offer a multitude of different packages from there, including a long list of optional customizations.
But, if you’re just looking for the basics, you don’t even have to bother with the list; you can just opt for one of their Core Van offerings and get all the necessities you need to get you and your companions out on the road. Just keep in mind that, with the price of the van itself included, these packages run near the $100,000 threshold.
Outside Van Custom
If you’ve got the cash and you’re not in a hurry, Outside Van also offers completely bespoke custom options when it comes to adventure vans. That means you can get one built to your exact specifications (having chose the options from their long-list of available upgrades, of course) that’s unlike any other on the road right now.
If you can afford it, but you’re not feeling all that creative – you can still get a super unique one by picking and choosing from their collection of one-off vans they’ve already built. Hell, they’ll probably even surprise you with a completely singular vehicle that you don’t have to design at all, if you throw enough scratch at them.
RB Components Sawtooth Adventure Van
There’s no rule dictating that interior luxury and external fortitude are mutually exclusive – as evidenced by this offering from RB Components. Called the Sawtooth, this beefed-up adventure van is built upon a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Van (the obvious most-popular donor vehicle for adventure conversions), but the similarities to the original vehicle stop at the silhouette.
This upgraded version features a 3,000-watt power system, solar panels, a 69-gallon fresh water system, a custom stainless steel enclosed shower with hot water, an electric awning, bamboo wood tables and a BBQ exterior mount – and that’s the short list. It also comes with beefy Toyo off-road tires, an air spring kit, and a water-fording-friendly snorkel intake.
My boyfriend Aaron and I have lived the “vanlife” lifestyle by traveling in our converted school commercial van for nearly two years now. In that time we have learned what is truly necessary and important to have with us on the road. We have made several adjustments over the years, purging things we don’t use and adding new items as the need arises.
I’ve put together a list of what we consider the most critical items, both for actual survival and for enjoyment and comfort — equally important in my opinion!
Here’s our list of 25 items you’ll need for vanlife:
1. Camp Stove
We have cooked one, two, or even three meals a day on our Coleman camp stove, nearly every single day that we’ve been on the road. We do not have an oven in our bus (something I covet but that we simply didn’t have room for) but we get along just fine with our two-burner camp stove.
It is quite efficient with propane and still works just as well today as it did the day we got it over two years ago, and there is nothing quite so satisfying as a hot meal on a cold day.
2. Refrigerator or Cooler
Having cold storage for food opens up a ton more menu options. If you are going to be traveling in a van for any length of time or outright living it, it is crucial to be able to have fresh fruit and vegetables, safely store leftover cooked food, and keep your beer cold (okay, maybe cold beer isn’t crucial but it’s definitely more enjoyable!).
We have a chest freezer from Home Depot that we converted into a fridge with a Johnson Controls thermostat. It works great and was a small fraction of the cost of marine, truck, or Dometic-type refrigerators.
3. Non-Stick or Cast Iron Frying Pan
The main criteria when choosing what food to prepare includes…
How many pots/pans are necessary?
How much propane will it use?
How easy the cleanup will be?
With non-stick or cast iron pans, you can usually get away with simply wiping out the pan immediately after use (especially if you aren’t cooking anything pathogen-y, like eggs or meat), which saves cleanup time as well as precious water, which, particularly in a van, is usually limited in quantity.
4. Non-Breakable Plates, Bowls, and Cups
We started out with several ceramic soup bowls, and have shattered or cracked a couple of them by bouncing over potholes or along gnarly dirt roads. Now we use Corelle plates, plastic bowls, and aluminum cups which are all quite hardy and easy to clean. Walmart and Target sell some of our favorite extremely cheap reusable plastic dishware.
5. Dish Washing Spray Bottle
This is a helpful tip we learned from a friend: purchase a cheap spray bottle, give it a hefty squirt of whatever soap you use to clean dishes, and fill it the rest of the way with water. This saves water when you go to wash dishes, because instead of running your water to wet each dish individually, you can simply spritz it with the soap spray, scrub, and rinse.
6. Water Bottles and Jugs
We always have several water bottles in the bus, for going on adventures as well as just to remind ourselves to drink water daily. They are also handy in case you run into a weird-tasting water source, because you can use that water for washing and cooking and fill your drinking bottles and jugs from a filtered source, like a gas station soda fountain or at a Starbucks.
We also occasionally purchase water from stores when there are not fill stations available nearby, so we just take our 7-gallon Aquatainer into the store, fill it, and haul it back to the bus in a shopping cart, where we can then fill our main fresh water tank.
7. Water Filter
As I mentioned, sometimes you run into questionable or strange-tasting water. It’s always a good idea to have an in-line water filter for when you are filling your fresh water tank or jug, so you can ensure that all of the water entering your plumbing system is clean and particle-free.
It would be quite difficult to remove our fresh water tank and flush our whole system, so we are extra careful with the quality of our water before it even reaches the tank.
We mostly try to stay in places where the weather is mild, but occasionally it is unavoidable to be in a super cold place, especially at night. We have several blankets in the bus so we can layer according to how cold it is and they range in weight from a thin beach blanket to heavy fleece blankets to an incredibly warm down blanket from Costco (highly recommend).
Blankets are also useful if you want to stargaze or sit at a campfire on a cold night.
9. Warm and Waterproof Clothing
Despite our best efforts to chase mild weather, there are still times when we can’t avoid the cold. We have been in Tucson in the winter where one day it was 70 degrees and the next day it was snowing! To that end, we have insulated and waterproof jackets, rain pants, winter hats, gloves, and waterproof boots just in case.
Waterproof clothing is especially important if you run into the unfortunate scenario of breaking down in a cold and wet location, and your only option is to go out in the elements to make repairs or assess the damage.
This flexible insulation is incredibly helpful for keeping your van a comfortable temperature whether it’s hot or cold outside, and it provides privacy. It’s easy to cut down to size, so we have Reflectix pieces for our driver door window and the rear windows that are not tinted, as well as a windshield screen made out of similar material.
We use small pieces of Velcro to hold it in place or slide it behind our curtains for extra insulation. It makes an immense difference in temperature when the sun is low in the sky and beating in through the windows.
11. Toilet (Or At Least Toilet Paper) and Hand Sanitizer
Some people do not have any kind of toilet facility in their vans, and while I applaud them for their boldness, a toilet was a critical element for us in our build. We have the Nature’s Head composting toilet which has been so worth the expense.
We spend a significant amount of time boondocking where there are no amenities or stealth camping in cities where you often need to be a paying customer in order to use the bathrooms and there frequently are no options at all available in the middle of the night.
While you certainly can just go outside if you are not camped in a city (following Leave No Trace principles of course), that did not appeal to me on a daily basis, so we opted to build in a bathroom. Other options include making your own composting toilet (much cheaper), having an emergency-only toilet, or using bottles and bags.
At the very least, you should always have your own supply of toilet paper and hand sanitizer (public restrooms can’t always be trusted to have these “luxuries”).
12. Important Documents
You never know when a friend might suggest an impromptu trip to Baja or into Canada, so it’s a good idea to always have your passport with you. Other important items to have include your insurance cards, ID, a voided check, a piece of mail with your name and whatever address you are using while on the road, and, if applicable, visas and other travel documents.
This way, you will be covered in nearly any situation that could arise.
It is slightly nerve-wracking to have all of your documents in a vehicle where they could potentially be stolen or lost in a crash, so leave copies of important items with family members or friends, and find a good hiding place in your van for these documents, so they aren’t readily available if someone happens to break in.
13. Cleaning Supplies
In such a small space, dust, sand, dirt, mud, and debris can accumulate quickly, especially if the weather is windy or wet and you enter and exit your van multiple times. If you have a pet, your van will get dirtier even faster.
We do most of our cleaning with a simple dustpan and broom plus Clorox wipes, which can be used to sanitize our kitchen counter, clean dirt and marks off our walls, and “mop” the floor. Conveniently, it only takes about 10 minutes to deep clean the whole bus!
14. Basic First Aid Supplies
Going to a doctor while traveling is expensive and stressful, so we keep a good stock of first aid supplies in the bus to treat minor injuries and illnesses. Important things to include in your first aid kit are bandaids, gauze, an ice pack, tweezers, antiseptic ointment, and so on.
We also always carry cold and flu medicine, ibuprofen, arnica gel for bruises and sore muscles, and various other natural remedies and supplements.
15. Fire Extinguisher and Smoke Detector
These are self-explanatory, but especially critical if you are cooking in or around your vehicle. I’ve also heard stories of people’s engines catching on fire, electrical wiring sparking, and other terrifying scenarios where these two items saved lives and vans.
16. Shower Go-Bag
We only have an outdoor shower and 20 gallons of water, so we take the vast majority of our showers at gyms, friends’ and family’s houses, or community centers. As such, we both keep shower bags ready to go, so we don’t have to elongate the process by packing up our things each time. My shower bag includes a towel, body wash, a shower poof, shampoo, conditioner, a razor, lotion, and flipflops.
I think we have a total of something like 7 backpacks in the bus which is borderline absurd, but they all serve specific functions. Uses include carrying laptops and other work gear into coffee shops, hauling home groceries when we don’t want to drive the bus, hydration packs for hiking, carrying towels and beers to hot springs, getting our climbing gear to the crag, etc. etc.
18. Portable Charger
We have solar panels and a battery bank in our bus so we can charge our devices whenever we need to, but we still find ourselves using a portable charger quite often, especially if we are away from the bus all day, or if we have several cloudy days in a row and are running low on power.
If you don’t have solar power in your van, these portable chargers are even more of a necessity so that you can charge your devices without having to stop at a Starbucks or other establishment.
19. Cell Phone Holder
We use our cell phones to navigate on a near-daily basis, so having a phone holder on the dash is super convenient and allows us to comply with hands-free laws. We did not have one of these for the first few months on the road, so I would be sitting on the couch, hollering directions at Aaron as he drove — not ideal.
20. Navigation and Camping Apps
Like the rest of the modern world, we primarily use Google Maps to find our way around and bookmark killer campsites. However, if you have spotty or no cell service, good luck trying to get Google Maps to load.
For these instances, we also have Maps.me which is another free app, but one that allows you to download detailed maps for offline navigation. You can choose to download only certain areas or states, or the entire world if you really want to.
For finding free campsites, we use apps like Campedium and iOverlander and the freecampsites.net website. These resources all offer important data about each of the sites listed such as whether there are any amenities available or vehicle length limitations, and they have reviews from campers who have stayed there in the past.
Working from a cargo van lets you exercise freedom on how big you want your tool storage to be. Trust me; I literally carry a tool shed on four wheels. However, as my experience entails, working from your van can become synonymous to carrying heaps of clutter on wheels if one isn’t careful.
Like everything in life, vans to require a little maintenance and organization, which is imperative in keeping you productive and on time. There are numerous elements to a van’s interior; so many that beginning the task of organisation can be daunting. I’m usually left scratching my head after a strenuous day of work too.
A van allows minimal space to work with, which means every single item I travel with has to be orderly stacked and labelled in my mobile workspace. Otherwise, I risk the van becoming a post-apocalyptic wasteland.
I believe in the 1+1 organizing philosophy. The first 1 ensures certain elements are kept functional while the other 1 reviews and eliminates unnecessary items.
To make it simple for you, I have compiled a list of tricks to help you effectively integrate improved functionality into your van. These affordable tips will streamline the organizing process, making it quick, easy.
Here are my top 10 practical tips for when you’re organizing your commercial van’s interior. So come on, let’s get organized.
1. Tackle Filth with Cleaning Tools
Organizing starts with a little cleaning. Not a conventional car detailing but the manual removal of clutter from the inside. Start with:
Removing any tools, knick-knacks, boxes, small items, and such lying in the car.
Remove the car mats and additional seating covers.
Vacuum the floors and the seats starting from bottom to the top.
Use the narrow nozzle attachment to vacuum between tight corners
2. Bust the Dust With A Home-Made Solution
Dust can be your worst enemy on the road. Attaining a pristine right-out-of-the-showroom look of a car is easy if you make friends with your kitchen inventory, starting with vinegar.
Let it soak into the interior surfaces of your vehicle to bring out an immaculate shine to the surfaces. Whether it is wood, vinyl or plastic, vinegar is compatible with most materials. Start with:
Mixing equal parts of vinegar with water and transferring into a spray on bottle.
Turn the nozzle to maximum pressure and generously spray every surface including the dashboard and seat covers.
Let it soak for a few minutes
Wipe away with a clean microfiber cloth. Dettol wipes work well too in case a microfiber cloth is unavailable.
For the dust your vehicle receives on the exterior we always recommend using our California car wash service not only is it extremely easy to use the results are incredible.
3. Save the Sprain with a Window Cleaning Device
Cleaning the window from the inside can crank your neck and result in sprains. Most windows cleaner devices come with an ergonomic and detachable handle mounted on a microfiber cloth.
They work well in removing fog, moisture, and dust giving better results than when using hands to clean. Effectively cleaning hard to reach areas with minimal effort; all you need to do is spray the solution and wipe with the device to clean within seconds.
4. Finding Your Order In The Face Of Disorder
When you have limited space options and an increasing need to store wiring, bolts, accessories or tools, vans are more susceptible to accumulating clutter. However, certain options can save time looking when storing tools, and smaller items in your van. You may:
Use shower caddies or cloth-based shoe organisers to keep your small gears like screws and similar items organized. They are ideal to store smaller tools or extension cords as well.
Hang these organizers on the back of the seats to save additional space.
Attach a thin trash can inside the van, preferably inside a storage cabinet. This keeps waste limited to specific area hence reducing disorder.
5. Fight Storage Issues Vertically
You may run out of storage options as your business grows but having additional storage organizes your items. Installing vertical storage is a smart way to keep essentials in easy reach areas and improve productivity. Many contractors offer professional shelving options, but you can build a DIY installation at home.
Mark an area you are most likely to frequent when setting up your new installation.
Install vertical shelving units or push-button cabinets with specific dividers. This keeps things organized with fewer chances of items from falling out on the road.
Install a peg board to hang tools for better visibility. They are ideal to keep keys organised.
Install pegboards alongside the shelving for easier storage or on the door of the van.
6. Manage Paperwork With Glove Compartment
You can store important paperwork in easy access areas such as in your glove compartment. You can even use a file divider to separate paperwork according to the frequency of use. Keep the paperwork you are most frequently using on top.
7. Labelling is Life
Finding things when you need them never goes well in unorganised spaces. Having a label on everything makes work easier. Build specific slots to keep your items organised on the basis of usage and need. Structure your storage using drawers or compartments:
The items you are most likely to use must be placed at eye and hand level.
Items less frequently used can be stored at the bottom or under the seating in storage baskets
Label each compartment, for example, one for hardware, children’s toys, extension wires and even cleaning items.
8. Velcro Is Your Friend
Where there is motion there is an equal and opposite reaction. More often than not items tend to fall out, roll over, and disappear into the abyss if not placed securely. Velcro is useful when it comes to keeping your boxes, containers and even random items fixed in place.
Take Velcro strips and use adhesives to attach it to the bottom of the box.
Attach other pieces to the surface where the box will rest.
Place the box Velcro side down on the surface, your container will not budge anymore.
Use a cat slicker brush to easily clean bits of fluff to tighten the grip of your Velcro strip.
9. Strategize Tool Storage With Enclosed Boxes
Enclosed boxes assist in arranging all of your tools in an orderly manner for easy access. Tools get tossed on every bump you encounter on the road. Enclosed boxes keep tools safe and in place. Keep the tools needed for specific tasks grouped together.
Keep different coloured boxes for every specific project
Neatly store items according to the size and scope of a given project in boxes
Keep most frequently tools together in a separate box for faster access.
10. Roof Racks
For carrying larger items that may not fit in tight spaces, roof racks offer a viable option. Ideal for carrying ladders, building materials or extra loads, these come in multiple commercial varieties in the market.
Assess which items you will be loading on the roof rack before deciding on a design.
Attach your items and drive around on the road after installation to check if any items can fall off.
Use this test to fasten your items efficiently next time.
Although it may seem daunting at first, with small steps you can integrate order and functionality in your van. These tips require minimal planning and effort.
We have been researching, viewing and testing sprinter commercial van for the last two months and it’s been a rollercoaster of an ordeal.
So we’ve put together some tips on finding the right van and verifying that it is “the one” for you, as many vans will be flawed, from excessive rust to a hidden and dark history.
1. Front wheel vs. rear wheel drive
To begin your journey you’ll need to decide on the base of the van you want to convert. There are many makes out there, but the majority will either be based on rear wheel or front wheel drive. There are of course also four wheel drive options, but these are rare and expensive.
Front Wheel Drive Vans
Some FWD vans include Fiat Ducato, Peugeot Boxer, Citroen Relay and Renault Master. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons:
Higher internal height and width in cargo bay
Better fuel economy
Greater under floor space for water tanks etc
Cheaper purchase costs
Less grip in hazardous conditions
Less power under load
Shorter overall body lengths
Higher maintenance costs
Rear Wheel Drive Vans
Some RWD vans include Mercedes Sprinter, Volkswagen Crafter, Ford Transit and Iveco Daily. Again, the pros and cons:
Generally longer internal load areas
Cheaper to maintain (most of the time)
More power – generally RWD vehicles have larger engine options
Less internal height due to a higher standard floor height
Higher loading/entry height
Worse fuel economy
Higher initial cost
If you look at many specialist motorhome builders they will use FWD vans more often than RWD ones.
With that being said, we opted for a Mercedes Sprinter because I’m a really tall human being at 6’ 5” and wanted to have a full length bed parallel to the van. Also we loved the feel of the Mercedes and the enhanced build quality, even if there might be higher maintenance and initial costs from a “premium” van.
2. Checking for rust
Rusting vans are something to absolutely avoid, and looking around the outside panels of the van is not enough. You need to fully examine the van’s structure. Start your search at the back of the van and check the suspension on both the supports and joins. These should be fully intact and show no flaking. You’ll need to learn the difference between surface and structural rust.
I’ve marked two examples in the picture above.
Then move up to the wheel arches, and then get right under the centre of the van to the drive shaft and the exhaust. If at any point you see any major degradation from rust you should avoid the van.
On the inside of the van, check for rust around the ceiling joins in the cargo bay. It’s really rare not to find any signs of rust at all, especially on vans older than 3-4 years, but it’s important to understand where rust can occur and to judge its severity.
Rust is really hard to treat. If body panels are rusted you can get replacements, but if drive shafts, suspension or exhausts are rusted it’s a much more difficult and expensive job getting them replaced.
3. Checking for mechanical issues
Always always always conduct a road test. I spoke to a couple of van dealers who said they didn’t do road tests. Without testing the van, you have very little leverage in negotiations, so you really need to get behind the wheel! On your road tests you need to check the following:
Turbo charger – do this by accelerating hard uphill and listening to the engine carefully. You should hear no loud whistling/whining or knocking sounds.
Brakes – perform an emergency stop, checking that the van does not veer to the left or right.
Engine test – You can grab an OBD engine testing tool on amazon for $16 which can check all diesel engines for warning codes as long as the van is younger than 2006. This is a must for everyone to own.
Clutch – Sometimes hard to fully understand on a short road test, you should have plenty of give on the clutch when fully depressed and a short biting range preferably near the top of the release. If you’re buying an automatic van this is obviously irrelevant!
4. Lease or Private Van
Many vans are bought by lease companies who lease them to courier companies who use them for 1-3 years before taking them back in and selling them on.
Lease vans generally are not very well looked after. The drivers will push them to their limits. At this point, you need to be very thorough in your search. You need to make sure you know the history of the van, so any lease van with no service history is almost always a no go!
You’re going to get the best deals on lease vans, but could get unlucky. We’ve gone for a 2-year- old ex-lease with service history every 3000 miles so (touch wood) it should do just fine.
Changing the colour of your van after buying it is a costly exercise. A full re-spray is $4000+, whereas a wrap is around $1500-2000. So if you buy a van in a colour you hate, be wary that to change it you’ll need to spend a lot.
White vans make up 87% of listings on Autotrader, so sellers may charge a premium for a silver/black/blue etc but it may actually be more cost effective to buy up front in the colour you want!
If, like us, you’re buying a 7m long wheelbase panel van there are some critical optional extras, such as parking sensors and/or a reversing camera. I don’t know how we’d cope without a reversing camera.
Another extra to consider is air conditioning, as aftermarket air con costs a lot of money ($1500+), and if you’re going to be travelling to hot climates often, getting a van with inbuilt air con is vital for comfort on the road.
It goes without saying that newer vans have more modern conveniences. It really is worth noting the difference between the models you’re considering by year.
For instance in 2014, Mercedes Sprinters went through some big changes. They had a completely new design with a new aggressive front end, as well as major changes to the anticorrosive coatings that come as standard on mechanical parts. Crosswind and hillstart assist were also added to make tricky driving conditions that little bit easier.
Editors note: On the other hand, buying an older van with fewer sensors and a simpler engine means any maintenance and repairs can be done by anyone who is mechanically minded.This is something to consider if you’re driving into isolated places especially.
A good rule of thumb is to not buy the first van you see. Don’t buy a van that has any major rust or dodgy history. Ultimately the time you put into your research up front and combing through ads over several weeks will ensure you get the most trustworthy and suitable van for your buck.
The hours spent hunting the classifieds will be worth it, I promise! Best of luck on your van hunt, and feel free to get in touch if you need any pointers!
When your business grows up, your needs for bigger cargo, van fleet grows up too. It is time to decide what exactly you need. No matter if you have to replace your old cargo van fleet or just to expand it,cargo van would be a great opportunity for you. Thanks to it you can save a lot of money from not buying new ones and at the same time there will be no troubles and inconvenience if you buy old ones. Taking advantage of this service, you will enjoy the latest technologies, which can double your productivity and make the working process easier.
Questions to ask when choosing cargo van rental:
Is it necessary to compromise with the sizes of cargo space because of lower fuel consumption?
If you have decided to choose cargo van with small sizes, will it be enough for your needs? Don’t you think that this will affect the number of courses for delivery or the number of vehicles you need?
Is it better to rent one big cargo van instead of two small ones? Will you be able to carry the same load as if you have two cargo vans?
Answering all these questions will give you the right direction for choosing cargo van for your business.
Keep in mind that if you choose the wrong van it may cause inconvenience and problems. Overloading for example will affect the fuel consumption, the safety and may be the reason for technical issues (suspension, engine or gearbox). Heavier load will leads to issues with the brakes; this can be dangerous for the passengers and the load itself. Risk of accident gets higher when overloading!
Choosing bigger cargo van when small is enough is wrong decision too because of the price of it and the higher fuel consumption.
Choosing a new sprinter work van for your business can seem overwhelming with the amount of options that are out there. We are going to take a look at the pros and cons of the different types available and a couple of examples of each.
Before looking at what types of vans are available, we’re going to briefly discuss the definition of what a van actually is. Unfortunately, it is a little bit of a grey area. HMRC, the DVLA and the ABI all have slightly different classifications as to what can be classed as a van, for tax, licensing and Insurance purposes respectively.
Fortunately, the vehicle manufactures themselves categorise the vehicle at point of sale so you can gain clarification at this point. It will also state on the vehicles V5 what the vehicle is.
Types of vans
There is a massive variety in the types of van available from car derived vans to refrigeration vans but we are only going to take a look at the ones which will be useful for you.
Car derived vans
Ford Fiesta van photo credit | Ford Transit courier van photo credit
The clue is in the name with this type of van, its car which has been converted into a van essentially. They have a maximum loading weight that shouldn’t exceed 2 tonnes. Car derived vans are great if you work primarily in an urban area. Their smaller size makes parking and navigating narrow streets easier, and generally they are cheaper to run and purchase than a larger van.
There used to be two main rivals when it came to the car derived vans: the Ford Fiesta Van and the Vauxhall Corsa van. Due to a number of factors, both manufacturers stopped selling the respective models. Ford, however, have done a recent u-turn and re-released the fiesta van, meaning they are now the only option if you are buying a new car van.
Ford are also offering the Transit Courier, a van smaller than their existing city van, the Transit Connect, based on the Fiesta platform but with more van like styling and practicality.
Ford Transit Connect van photo credit | Citroen Nemo photo credit
City vans are similar in size to a car sized van but with a more practical body type. Just like car derived vans, city vans can make a great choice for those that are working in a heavily built up area, whilst offering a little more flexibility in what they can carry.
When it comes to choosing a new city van, it’s important to understand that a lot of the manufactures now platform share. What this means is that the vans are essentially the same. In some cases the van may be exactly the same and essentially a badge engineering exercise has taken place, in others the vans may share the same chassis but have manufacturer specific engines in them etc.
Ford offers their Transit Connect, which quite often comes out at the top of best van lists. VW offer their Caddy which nearly always comes out on the top of owner satisfaction surveys. Away from these two popular models, alternatives consist of the Fiat Fiorino and the Citroen Nemo, which are slightly smaller or the Vauxhall Combo, the Citroen Berlingo, or the Peugeot Partner.
Ford Transit photo credit / VW T6 photo credit
The most popular type of van in the UK is panel van. This is the type of vehicle most people think of when someone says the word van. Available in arrange of different sizes, from SWB low top vans that have a similar footprint to a saloon to LWB high top vans that can rival a box van in carrying capacity.
The Transit van is iconic of panel vans in the UK as a whole, and with good reason. Having been the UKs no 1 selling van since its launch in the in 1965, it has gone from strength to strength with hundreds of varieties available.
It has been the humble panel van variant though that has kept it at the top of the charts. New Transits have become increasingly car like, both in their cab and in their driving.
In 2nd place is the VW Transporter. Commanding a premium over the cheaper Transit, Transporters, like their smaller Caddy relative consistently come out at the top of any owner satisfaction survey.
Alternatives are not to be sniffed at either, platform sharing is again common throughout the sector, with the latest Citroen Dispatch, Peugeot Expert and Vauxhall Vivaro all sharing the same underpinnings, whilst the Renault Traffic and Nissan NV300 share theirs.
Other types of vans to consider
Nissan electric van photo credit
Whilst diesel is still the fuel of choice for the overriding majority of vans, electric vans are slowly starting to make inroads.
If you work in a built up area and long distances aren’t part of your daily route, consider an electric van, you’ll benefit from lower fuel bills and VED whilst still maintaining the practically of a conventional van
4×4 vans, whilst a small segment of the overall van market, have their place for those that want to keep moving whatever the weather. Whilst not as off road capable as dedicated 4x4s, such as a pick up, if you work somewhere particularly prone to icy roads or snow they may be a sensible choice.
So here’s my story and a lesson for van owners; last Tuesday, I was transporting some supplies when I heard a loud boom followed by the sound of tins rolling around in the back of my van. This could only mean one thing – I had not secured the van load properly.
According to the Highways Agency, around 22,000 road impact incidents in the UK are caused due to objects falling off vehicles.
Add to this, the fact that businesses can take legal action on grounds of stolen goods and/or damaged assets is reason enough for you to be concerned about the safety of your cargo.
Here are a few ways you can secure your van load, eliminate the risk of damaged goods and maintain personal as well as public safety.
Last-minute preparations and rushing through-loading could lead to accidents and cargo damage.
This is why planning in advance and knowing the nature of your cargo is a good idea. In short, this information can help you prepare for your journey and arrange for the tools and security equipment you would require while loading, transportation and unloading.
You can ask yourself the following questions to plan ahead:
What is the state of the cargo? Solid or liquid?
Is the vehicle appropriate for this kind of cargo?
Is the cargo non-slip or can it topple forward or backwards?
Is my load securing equipment in immaculate condition?
Asking these basic questions can give you an idea of the equipment – or arrangements – you need in order to avoid an incident.
Line The Floor
Add a layer of wood, especially plywood, if your van doesn’t already have a floor lining. This provides a flat base for non-slip goods to sit on and adds a sturdy layer between the cargo and the van.
As an added bonus, you will be able to easily unload the cargo by sliding it off the van instead of having to pick it up.
Follow The Large Items First Rule
Ever packed a suitcase? Loading a van is the same, with perhaps a little more tact.
Start off by fixing bigger cartons, materials and items and then add the smaller articles around them.
Large items can be used to build a makeshift structure for smaller items; since the former are also usually heavier, packing them first can eliminate the risk of them rolling around and damaging the goods inside.
Similarly, keep the heavier loads at the bottom and the lighter loads at the top. This helps reduce the chances of heavier items falling on smaller packages and causing damage to the cargo.
You can also use a cargo bar, cargo net or a ratchet strap to stop heavier objects from sliding and rolling around while you’re driving. Fragile items, such as mirrors and chinaware, should be closer to the bottom of the van to avoid breakage in case of unexpected bumps.
Balance The Load
Make sure a load of your van is centred and as close to the structure as possible. The skeleton of the vehicle gives support to the cargo kept along the walls, especially heavier cargo.
Placing heavier goods on one side of the vehicle (on the right side for example) could increase the chance of it toppling over if you make a sharp turn.
This is why it is important to space out your load and store heavier packages of more or less the same weight on both sides.
Check The Weight Ratings On Your Van
Anchor points in the van can be used to hook straps in and secure objects. Make sure the gross weight (GVW) of your vehicle is enough for the goods you’re transporting – this will also help you avoid heavy penalties due to an overloaded van.
Tether items to the van in the direction of travel; if you secure the goods perpendicular, it will put extra strain on the straps to hold the contents back.
Check the quality and condition of your security straps and nets regularly – remember, even a small hole or tear could decrease its strength significantly.
Vans make up 16% of all motor vehicles in the UK which means that owners need to be even more careful while they’re on the road.
Carrying a van loaded with goods comes with its own set of driving protocols, especially since sudden movements, sharp turns or last-minute braking could damage the material you’re carrying.
Similarly, smaller items may roll over if you take a sharp turn or hit the brake pedal at the last minute. For your and the cargo’s safety, it’s better to pick a low traffic route to your destination so that you can drive slowly and carefully to the unloading point.
Lock Up Properly
Did you know a van is broken into every 23 minutes? These statistics show that it’s extremely important to use proper locks and upgraded security.
With van thefts on the rise, it might be a good idea to not leave a loaded van unattended. This may sound obvious, but make sure all the doors are locked and the windows are shut even if you’re going to grab a snack from the shop across the road.
For added security, you can opt for CatLoc – a security device installed around the vehicle’s diesel particulate filter (DPF) or catalytic converter to prevent vehicle theft or cargo tampering. With this device, any attempt to break into the vehicle will activate the alarm and notify the authorities of possible theft.
If you’re looking for cheaper security options, you can also invest in steering wheel locks, hand brake locks, lockable fuel caps and wheel nuts.
These are some of the ways you can ensure the safety of your cargo van and eliminate the risk of theft, property damage or tampering.