Live from the 2023 Adventure Van Expo in Evergreen, CO – RVE 304

If you’re into the van life this episode is for you! If not, you’ll still enjoy hearing from vendors at the 2023 Adventure Van Expo in Evergreen Colorado. Jim hosts this live report on location during the expo. He gets the scoop on cool new products and services for loving the RV Life, including:

  • New Electric Dirt Bikes from Terra Bikes
  • Pyurify Compact UV Water Purification System
  • Custom Fairings for any Vehicle
  • Orthopedic Mattresses to fit any Van or RV
  • Window Coverings & Storage Solutions
  • And more…

You’ll also meet a few van conversion companies and outfitters, each unique in their own special way.

Recorded live on location in Evergreen Colorado, July 8 & 9, 2023.

Adventure Van Expo

Live from the 2023 Adventure Van Expo

in Evergreen, Colorado – July 8 & 9, 2023

Your Host: Jim Nelson

Resources Mentioned:

Listen to The RV Entrepreneur Episode #304

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The RV Entrepreneur #304 Full Episode Transcript

Live Report: 2023 Adventure Van Expo – Evergreen, Colorado

RV LIFE: Welcome to the RV Entrepreneur podcast. The weekly show for Nomads, Work campers, RV ers and entrepreneurs looking to earn a living or build a business while enjoying the RV lifestyle. This week’s host is Jim Nelson. Let’s settle in and enjoy the RV Entrepreneur podcast brought to you by RV Life.

Jim Nelson: Hello and welcome back. This is the RV Entrepreneur podcast. I’m Jim with RV Life and I’ve got a little something special for this episode. I recently had the chance to attend the 2023 Adventure Van Expo in Evergreen, Colorado. Four wheel campers invited Renee and I to come show off our new project truck Topper Camper and the work in progress that is our current build out. We’re going to be living in the rig for a while, so I put in some cabinets and built a small galley and we had lots of folks stopping by to check out the recycled plastic sheeting I’m using to skin the frames I built. But, you know, there was a lot more interest in what we’re going to be using for a toilet. That may be because because I’d say 98.7% of all the vendors at RV built van conversions or they made products for folks living the van life. We were surrounded by vans of all sorts. But I did find some interesting new gadgets and the people who love to talk about them. If you’re into Vans, this show is for you and if not, you’ll enjoy hearing about some pretty cool mattresses and awesome water purification system, some slick storage solutions and other accessories and some pretty bitchin brand new electric dirt bikes. Oh, and a few builders doing some cool stuff for vans and overland rigs. So join me now for my live report from the 2023 Adventure Van Expo in Evergreen, Colorado. I’m sure you’ll agree it’s fantastic. See what I did there?

Jim Nelson: So, this is Jim with the Entrepreneur podcast and am live at the Adventure Van Expo, Evergreen, Colorado 2023. Jack, can you tell me what Adventure Van Expo is all about?

Jack, AVE: Hey there, the Adventure Van Expo is all about the community that we’ve created. So what it is, is it’s actually an RV slash van community meetup where it’s a chance for people to get exposed to the van world. Every city we go to, we typically bring the van builders from that area to expose that population to it. But at the same time, we have camping, live music and food trucks.

Jim Nelson: That’s fantastic. It has been fun and I’ve been enjoying the wide variety of builders. The vast majority are people build now vans, but there are accessories and such here. It sounds like you do these a number of times.

Jack, AVE: Like, Yeah, so this is our fourth show into our ten show season. We typically tour from April to October. Our next show is actually in Topsfield, Mass. So we got to do a long drive out there. And yeah, I think this is our fourth year in Colorado.

Jim Nelson: How long have you been doing the Adventure Van Expo?

Jack, AVE: I believe this is our our sixth or seventh year.

Jim Nelson: All right. And where can people learn more? Where’s the where’s the calendar?

Jack, AVE: Check us out on Adventure Van or Adventure Van Expo on Instagram to see more about our show.

Jim Nelson: Thanks so much for putting this on. I really appreciate.

Jack, AVE: It.

Jim Nelson: So let’s start here with my neighbor, Dylan. You’re here in your project as well, but you get a lot of traffic here because we’re looking at a couple sweet looking bikes, the Terra bikes. Tell me about that.

Dylan, Terra Bikes: Yeah. So we brought two Terra bike primes. This is our first production model made here in Colorado, in Carbondale. So we like to say born in Colorado and tested in Utah. So they’re primarily used for off road travel. So they’re long travel, six inches in the rear and eight inches in the front. But of course, if you’re going to build a new bike, you want to make it look slick for city people like myself for commuting, getting around town, going to the grocery store at the office. But, you know, ultimately we want to have fun in the mountains. That’s why we have these rigs, the affordable campers and also the bikes. So we want to be able to make sure we rip single track. Well. A really cool thing about these bikes is they’re a low powered scooter by the eyes of many state laws. So here in Colorado, I can register it as a low powered scooter, which means I don’t need to get it plated. I just get a little bit of a sticker and then I can ride it on Road Street Legal. But of course, that’s again, what what we’re not about. I like to hit the trails and go rooster tail and hit single track and double track and get further out than my truck can take me while also coming back home safely.

Jim Nelson: So that looks obvious. It’s definitely got some beefy off road tires on it, but it’s got a steampunk kind of leather with aluminum and some kind of cafe racer look. So it’s definitely sweet looking. But tell me about the fabrication. You guys are making this all out of aluminum.

Dylan, Terra Bikes: Yeah. So we have aluminum boxes which hold the battery controller and wiring harness, so that’s mostly waterproof. You have some communication ports, and that’s really the only inlet for water or dust or anything. But the frame is actually made out of one inch tubing, chromoly tubing. So very, very robust. You can really beat it up, smash it on rocks, throw it down on the ground and pick it right back. And it still works.

Jim Nelson: And you got some, you know, disc brakes on it. What kind of components did those come from?

Dylan, Terra Bikes: Yeah. So we wanted to keep the bike as lightweight as possible. With electric, any £8 kind of reduces your range. So we actually are using mountain bike, four piston brakes, downhill bike brakes, uh, keeping the weight down. So it allows us to use a mount. Front fork. But we also knew that it was gonna be a heavier bike. So we beefed up the front fork with a heavier duty spring and we have a motorcycle specific spring in the back as well.

Jim Nelson: So speaking of weight, you know, our viewers are going to be interested in that. They look really lightweight. How much do they weigh and how might you mount this if you’re hitting the road?

Dylan, Terra Bikes: Yeah. So this actually surprises a lot of people. These actually weigh only £160. So walking up to them, you know, it’s clear that it’s tube framing. It’s clear that it’s sheet metal. It’s no plastic on the whole bike, we like to say made of metal, not plastic. So the 160 weight is actually really primarily the motor and the battery.

Jim Nelson: So let’s talk about the performance there. What type of motor, what kind of lasting battery, what kind of performance do you get?

Dylan, Terra Bikes: Yeah. So our battery is a 72 volt, three kilowatt, about 3.4. The peak output is about 12kW and then sustained peak is about eight.

Jim Nelson: So translate that into speed.

Dylan, Terra Bikes: Yeah. So it rides like a 125 two stroke speed. Top speed will be about 55 to 60 depending on rider weight. Your acceleration is pretty quick, about 3 to 4 seconds from about 5 to 45 miles an hour.

Jim Nelson: And there’s no gears. But I heard you talking about three levels or modes there. What does that get you?

Dylan, Terra Bikes: So mode one is eco mode. It rides very much like a pedal assist bike. It tops you out of about 28 miles an hour. I ride that in kind of neighborhood situations around camp if I’m trying to be safe and not really get on the throttle. And then Mode two takes you to like city mode. So that tops you out at about 38 miles an hour. The acceleration curves quite a bit quicker than mode one and then mode three is is off road or highway mode and that tops you out about 55.

Jim Nelson: And then what kind of distance do you get in those modes?

Dylan, Terra Bikes: Yeah, Mode one will get you about 60 miles. The mode three will get you about 35. If you’re really hard on the throttle and everywhere in between, just kind of really again, rider weight dependent and also elevation gain.

Jim Nelson: And I saw you pull up, you had two of these bikes mounted on your hitch on what kind of truck you have there.

Dylan, Terra Bikes: Yeah. So we have a Ford F-150 and so we put the project and camper shell on here so we could fit two bikes inside by themselves. Or if we’re going camping, we’re going to go to like an expo like this. We’ll have all our camping gear, our cooler and everything, and I’ll put one bike inside and one bike on the on the tray rack.

Jim Nelson: And you mentioned, you know, not prototypes, but, you know, kind of first edition models here. Is this a brand new project for you?

Dylan, Terra Bikes: It’s a brand new project, yeah. So we’ve had two working prototypes, the second working prototype we have here in front of me. And then our production model is also right behind it here as well.

Jim Nelson: But I bet you’re taking pre-orders.

Dylan, Terra Bikes: We’re taking pre-orders. We’re we’re booked up until about January. So we take 250 fully refundable deposit to hold your spot in the build queue. And then when start ordering the batteries, which are custom made in Chicago, it takes about three, three months for them to build those batteries and source all the cells from repeatable places and then get the motors and we start the fab work and then call you up. We talked about color schemes and kind of your end use if you’re going to use mostly for Street. If we say you’re in Manhattan or if you’re out here in Colorado, you want a dual sport like I have mine set up. Or we’ve even sold a couple bikes to ranchers who want to go run fence line. And so we put proper dirt bike tires on it.

Jim Nelson: Fantastic. So where would people learn more.

Dylan, Terra Bikes: Terror or Instagram at terabytes underscore bikes.

Jim Nelson: All right. Thanks for sharing. Good luck with this. Appreciate it.

Jim Nelson: So now we’re here with Darren from Wilderness Vans. And what brought me over here is this amazing grid truck out. When did wilderness vans start and what are you guys doing here?

Darren, Wilderness Vans: So wilderness Vans started about 6 or 7 years ago, and we started doing van conversions on econo lines for our personal use. And then we saw that there was a gap in the Canadian market, and that’s when we started producing floor plans for other vans in Canada and then realized there was a market in the US because of the US exchange rate as well. So that’s kind of what got us into building vehicles. But we don’t just do vans. So we got into the truck market. We also have slide in campers, we do K’Nex, we do a lot of different different builds based on platforms, budgets, where you’re going, what you’re doing. One of the things about the grid that makes it a little more unique is people that want to utilize a van don’t have the same kind of towing capacity. So if you’re doing this as a toy hauler and you want to be able to camp, you can’t do that typically with a van. So that’s where we used a truck chassis and built a fixed camper on it that still has a 20 000 plus towing capacity where it’s tailored to a market that isn’t looking to necessarily pull with an RV, even though an RV has the ability and pulling capacity. But you’re pretty confined to staying on pavement.

Jim Nelson: So this grid we’re looking at, it’s pretty impressive. Tell me exactly what are what what is this built on and what kind of amenities does it offer?

Darren, Wilderness Vans: So this one here, we’ve we’ve got a few different floor plans. This one is our our crew cab on a 550 chassis. It’s got a conversion with it. And then total length with this is is 25 foot, but we do build them on a 550 chassis with a regular cab and they do a slightly smaller camper that. It puts you at 18 foot and you still have the conversion for handling all the additional weight. Off road capabilities. And you’re sitting on 42 inch tires with beadlock rims. You do have the pass through from the cab to the the camper as well as well as the door. But the thing that makes us a little more unique than other units in this realm is that we actually maximize underbody storage for storing tools and gear. And our water system is not underbody. It’s all within the the camper itself, so that it’s a true four season use. So you and the.

Jim Nelson: Grid is more of a newer offering with. Yeah.

Darren, Wilderness Vans: Yeah. So this is our our third unit that we that we have built. We’re in the process of building four more right now that are on a Ford chassis. And then we also have four others that we’re building on a Ram chassis.

Jim Nelson: And you’ve grown the company traditionally on the vans, wilderness vans. Do people tend to bring a van and build it or do you sell them or both? Yeah.

Darren, Wilderness Vans: So we we have built spec vans that then we sell as like a full unit with a van. But in order to work both in Canada and the US and avoid importing vehicles back and forth, we have clients bring their van to us and then we do the build. And, and what works is when people are on our website, you can select any kind of make and model of van that you have or that you want to own. And then you can see all the variety of different floor plans that are available. And then within those floor plans, you can start mixing and matching different things and choosing the components you want, whether you want, you know, marble countertop or bamboo, choose your finishes. Yes. Want upper cabinets? No, I don’t. And it all gives the the the pricing in real time both Canadian and us. Awesome.

Jim Nelson: So it sounds like it’s more of a custom solution and people kind of pick and choose what they want and then what kind of lead times or does that vary depending on the vehicle.

Darren, Wilderness Vans: So we just to back up on the custom, we’re we’re custom within the floor plans that do exist and we do provide further customization. But then it’s outside of the the price point that that’s quoted for that. But lead times, we’re we’re not here to pump them out. So we do a build times usually 4 to 6 months depending on what kind of unit it is and what floor plan. And then we’re booked out into spring of next year. So somebody’s booking right now and brings us their their vehicle in the spring. They’d have it ready to go for summer of 2024.

Jim Nelson: Right on. It looks busy over here. So have a great show. Where can people find out.

Darren, Wilderness Vans: More so you can find us at Wilderness And then we’re also on Facebook, TikTok and Instagram, all under wilderness fans. All right.

Jim Nelson: Thanks for your time.

Darren, Wilderness Vans: Yes, thank you.

Jim Nelson: So now we’re here with TJ from VenturHaus and you’ve been building vans for a few years now.

TJ, VentureHaus: Yes. Seven years ago it started in San Diego and moved out to Colorado to pursue a degree in industrial design as I wanted to improve the quality of the products we’re making and really bring my business to a professional level.

Jim Nelson: So talk to me about those products. What are you doing for the van life here?

TJ, VentureHaus: So we’ve been building custom vans seven years. We’ve been getting more into our standardized builds. We now have four standardized models that you can purchase with short lead times and reliable build construction that we warranty as well. And on top of that, we’re growing into other market segments such as the small SUV in car camping area. I’ve been working on a unique drop in solution. We’re calling it TruckHaus and it’s going to be a compact kitchen and sleeping solution with some power. Integration that fits inside of your small SUV allows you to use it as you would regularly your back seats up, and you can use it to organize your gear in the trunk. You can use it to keep track of your climbing equipment, your skateboards, your skis, whatever you need. You can store it in back with the seats up. You can fold those seats down. Then the whole contraption will open up and allow you to have a full size bed in the back of your SUV. You can still use that kitchen when the bed is out. You can still store all your gear and it’s really a win win. You don’t sacrifice anything from your vehicle. It’s not permanent. It doesn’t interfere with the vehicle’s functionality. And yeah, we’re really excited to get that TruckHaus kit going. And so the.

Jim Nelson: TruckHaus, it sounds kind of like a plug and play kit where we’d come to you and say, I’ve got this type of vehicle and you kind of have an off the shelf thing that you know will fit that vehicle. Yep.

TJ, VentureHaus: So we’re starting with just four very popular models in the compact SUV segment. It’s going to be the Subaru Forester, Subaru Outback, the Honda CRV and the Toyota Rav4. And if you have another vehicle, send us an inquiry on our website and that we’re getting data on, see what other vehicles we might want to support in the future. This is going to be a custom fit for each vehicle. But we are seeing. Seeing it and able to ship it flat packed. So you have two options. You can come to our warehouse here in Evergreen, Colorado, 20 miles west of Denver. We’ll install it for you on site. It takes less than three minutes or we can ship it to your house flat pack and you can assemble it yourself. And then we’ll also have a freight shipped, fully assembled version. That is more expensive, though, on the shipping side.

Jim Nelson: Certainly. Yeah. But you’ve been doing this, you say like seven years, so you also do the custom build outs or some rather modular build outs for what types of vans.

TJ, VentureHaus: We commonly will work on. The three big players, the Mercedes sprinter Ram Promaster and Ford Transit. But we’re not going to limit ourselves to just those adventure vehicles. We’re an adventure vehicle outfitter. So if you come to us with another van, a truck, another SUV, we can help you get a lift kit on it, roof rack awnings, a bed platform. You come to us and we’ll offer the solutions. We separate all of our projects into either a custom project or a service project, something we can just bolt on in the shop. So you come to us, we’ll give you a quote, we’ll give you the estimates. You can see visualizations renders get an idea of what you’re purchasing before you actually put the money down on it, and then we’ll deliver the product so you can get outside.

Jim Nelson: And it sounds like you’re really customizing things. So specific power solutions, plumbing solutions to meet specific needs, different vehicles.

TJ, VentureHaus: And we generally do have a system of kits and components that we like to reuse in different platforms to keep things consistent and reliable. However, with our background being in product design, not just myself, but many of our other employees too, we’re very well equipped to design on the fly and create custom projects and products that are really going to deliver the performance that the client desires.

Jim Nelson: Sweet So that’s VenturHaus TruckHaus being the new product. Where can people find out about you?

TJ, VentureHaus: You can find us on Instagram, you can find us on YouTube, you can find us online. That’s VenturHaus. It’s contraction and TruckHaus is our car camping kit. And we’ll be out here in Evergreen at the farmers markets for the rest of the year. Got a few more festivals to go to, so look out on our website and Instagram to catch us out in the wild.

Jim Nelson: Fantastic. Thanks for sharing. Have a great show. So let’s talk to Colton from Avatar. Off Road. What brings you to the AV and how long have you been doing this stuff?

Colton, Avatar Off Road: So my family, we we have this fab shop. It’s been around for about 30 years now. And about eight years ago we started doing NV van accessories. So we started in the van world, kind of on the truck side of things. And so we build, we’ve been building roof racks and bumpers and side steps and stuff for that van for quite a while. And over the last few years we’ve been getting more and more into the sprinter and transit world. So right now we’re we’ve got roof racks and ladders, bumpers. I’ve got side steps that I call rock bodies that are incredibly unique for the industry. There’s really no visible brackets. Interesting. We offer rear door solutions so mountings for both the sprinter and the transit and the envy and boxes have six different stock sizes. We’re still a job shop custom shop, so we will build you the size box you want. So if you have a size that you’re after that, I don’t offer might be difficult to find, but if you do, I can build it.

Jim Nelson: So our listeners are a bunch of buyers and by boxes I’m seeing some pretty heavy duty hefty steel boxes here for for storing all sorts of stuff. What kind of audience are you serving with these things?

Colton, Avatar Off Road: So my boxes are actually all aluminum. Oh, great. The heaviest box I make is £100 and that’s my six pack ski locker. It’ll hold six skis of 100 underfoot on average. So if you’ve got an 80 and a 120, which is fairly common, that would fit a mix of snowboards if you need. We have a series of either drop down, lift up combination doors that drop down and lift up side swing, left, right. We we offer a little bit of everything. All of our products are designed, built and manufactured in Salt Lake City. So we’re through and through built made in USA.

Jim Nelson: It sounds like you have certain like stock solutions for certain types of vehicles. What type of, you know, van lifers are you seeing?

Colton, Avatar Off Road: So we we’ve seen mostly our experience has been large families as who we’ve dealt with the most, people who really need a lot of external storage because the van is full of people, there’s no room left. So our roof racks have almost always been built with limited vent cutouts. We build custom cutouts for people when they need them, but that’s because they need storage space. I build a four foot by five foot bag that’ll hold 12 suitcases watertight that goes on the roof. It’ll fit on either my sprinter or my roof racks. My transit roof racks, holds a bunch of suitcases. Get them up out of the weather, out of the out of the van. So we mostly have seen that. We also have the full gamut of of customers, anyone from retired couples to newlyweds who are just getting into this van life business and everyone in between.

Jim Nelson: Do people tend to like bring the van to you and you outfitted or can you ship stuff to someone and have them install it?

Colton, Avatar Off Road: Primarily, we do a mixture of both. I would say we either ship our simple to install products to people or other businesses and they have somebody install them for them or they come see us. Utah is a great place to visit. We’ve got lots of national parks. People come here, we install everything for free for people if they come visit us.

Jim Nelson: Easy highway access and that’s Avatar off road. Where can people find you most?

Colton, Avatar Off Road: You can find us. Well, the easiest way to find me is either online, my website or just give me a call.

Jim Nelson: And would that be Avatar?

Colton, Avatar Off Road: Avatar, and Avatar Off Road.

Jim Nelson: And I’m sure you’re on all the channels and see all the fancy photos. And I’m much.

Colton, Avatar Off Road: Better at building things than I am at getting on the social media of any kind. But give me a call. I’ll tell you anything you ever want to need to know about. Anything I.

Jim Nelson: Make. Fantastic. This stuff looks great. Have a great show.

Colton, Avatar Off Road: Thank you.

Jim Nelson: You are listening to the RV Entrepreneur podcast brought to you by RV Life. So let’s take a quick break for a shout out to those who help make this show possible.

RV LIFE: This episode is sponsored by wholesale warranties.

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Jim Nelson: And we’re back with my live report from the 2023 Adventure Van Expo in Evergreen, Colorado. So now we’re with Rich from Rivern Adventure Designs because I noticed the purify filter. Purify. What is this rich?

Eich, Rivern: So this is a water purifier that you can use to filter water from any surface water source. So a lake or stream a river and take that water and put it right straight into your van or into jerry cans or whatever you’re using for your overland adventures.

Jim Nelson: So I’ve have backpacked in such and I’ve used like the pumping filter and you caught my eye because you have a tagline. It says Pure safe water in the wild. No pumping, no pumping. So something’s pumping this, right? There’s an electric pump.

Eich, Rivern: Or so there’s an onboard pump and a battery. And the battery lasts about three hours. And in that three hours, it’ll it’ll pump about 40 gallons worth of water. It operates at about a liter per minute and which ends up being about 15 gallons per hour.

Jim Nelson: So you would use this this device is like literally the size of a lunch box and it’s got in and out and the pump inside it, it’s all self-contained. You would then pump straight out of whatever source you find which might have a bunch of yucky stuff. What does this get rid of? Can it get rid of everything?

Eich, Rivern: It gets rid of all the biological contaminants and viruses. So it’s not going to take care of things like a heavy metals, that kind of stuff. But anything that’s going to make you sick from a biological standpoint, I’m going to clear it all out. So Giardia E coli, any any of the viruses that are associated with water, they’re really hard to pronounce. So when did you start River? I started River in about a year ago. I’ve been working on this product for five years now. I’m trying to figure out, you know, source the pieces, design it, make them all myself, manufacture them myself from globally sourced products.

Jim Nelson: Fantastic. And where can people find you.

Eich, Rivern: and then, I guess yeah.

Jim Nelson: So And I’m sure you’re on all the social channels people can find out about your purify water filters. That’s right thanks for taking time chat thank you.

Jim Nelson: And now another neighbor here right across from us at the Avi is Trevor from Live More Campervans. What brings you here and what have you been doing?

Trevor, Live More: Hey there. So we decided to come to Colorado to show off our tiny home style vans out here. It’s a lot of adventure based vans. Our goal was to show something different. And we have vans. They’re adventure based, but they’re more like tiny homes on wheels. So it makes it more accessible. It also makes it wives want to buy it more so the guys and husbands can deck out the outside how we want, but they have a nice living space on the inside how they want. Interesting.

Jim Nelson: So I’ve been RVing for quite a while. Explain what you mean by the difference between a tiny home? Is it just more comfortable, More home?

Trevor, Live More: Like comfortable home? Like it feels like home. It looks like home. It’s comfortable. Like home. Tempurpedic mattresses. Not just like a nice little thing. You fall to the ground and step through. The finishes are real Cedar wood all sourced from Finland. They plant ten trees for every one. They cut down all butcher block, acacia countertops. We also have an outperform solid surface. It looks like a house, but it’s inside of a van and it can go anywhere you like for it to go. And you were telling.

Jim Nelson: Me that you actually kind of have a fleet of these vans that you rent out.

Trevor, Live More: Yes. Yes. So back home, we have five different ones. We rent out because we have five different layouts that we offer. They’re all customizable, too. Then the 90% of our business is building these out on the East Coast. Our goal was to not just have a business and grow a business that’s already hard enough. We want to make it harder. For some reason, we decided, we decided we had to build a community on the East Coast. West Coast has a van community. There is no community on the East Coast. So not only are they building community, we also have to make them understand that it’s not a cheap, you know, community to join. So we have an entry level van, We have a $35,000 build. You won’t find that anywhere in the country with a lithium battery package full on with solar and victron energy components. So that’s our entry level offer. We can make go way higher than that, but we want to make van life accessible to everybody or the camping life accessible to everybody. So that was our goal.

Jim Nelson: So, so being the RV Entrepreneur podcast, talk to me about your business. I was impressed. You’ve been doing this for how long and how did it start?

Trevor, Live More: We are a little over. We’re approaching five years. It started in my garage. My goal was med school, so I did a four hour.

Jim Nelson: Drive from med school.

Trevor, Live More: It is. I know. So goal was to. So what’s your engineering background as well as biochem doing that started building out these vans just for fun for ourselves started running them out They took off Covid hit took off even more, went from a garage to 1000ft² to 5000ft². Now we’re at 16,000ft² and we have a crew of 12.

Jim Nelson: So 12 in 5 years, you’ve grown this thing that big. Congratulations. Thank you. Can people learn?

Trevor, Live More: Learn more W-w-w dot Live More camper You can follow us on social media as well at Live More camper vans TikTok Instagram. And if you go on our website click on about us. You can take a tour of our whole 16,000 square foot facility just like you’re there. So fantastic.

Jim Nelson: Thanks so much. Have a great show. Yes, thank.

Trevor, Live More: You. You, too.

Jim Nelson: So now we’re here with Matt from Titan Vans. What brings you to the Adventure Van Expo?

Matt, Titan Vans: We’re a Boulder-based Colorado company, so it’s in our backyard. Came out to showcase some of the different products that we offer from full production to our upgrades and service and our direct to consumer line as well.

Jim Nelson: Talk to me about your business, your business life. When did you start this and why?

Matt, Titan Vans: Yeah. So the company seven years ago, um, backgrounds applied physics, engineering and obviously avid outdoors individual. So kind of to me it, you know, it was the industry was young when I started this company, there was not even a third of the companies that are here in existence. And it really combine those the loves in my life of outdoor living alternative you know lifestyles with that engineering side of it. So the electrical design cabinetry design cad cam utilizing small space efficiently, um, designing things that are robust, easy to service, that’s kind of the tenets of engineering. And so took a lot of that experience in my formal training and you know, implemented it into, you know, into these vehicles.

Jim Nelson: So I’m looking around here, everyone’s building vans. What sets you apart?

Matt, Titan Vans: So think, you know, starting as an engineer and building these products is very different than think how a lot of companies come at them, a lot of very, very competent people, good carpenters that know how to build cabinets really well, but think, you know, where we excel is designing electrical systems. We have one of the only electrical systems that’s fully off grid recoverable, meaning that even in low temperature, low voltage situations, we have backup power supplies, trickle chargers that all integrate into the van. And all you have to do is start the engine to recover the system. So from that perspective, you know, just having a, you know, an engineered electrical system that’s been tested thoroughly and, you know, has all the documentation. So it has wiring diagrams, has operating manuals, has troubleshooting guides, a lot of the back end post-sale support that I think a lot of companies that are still getting started and don’t have a background in that, they don’t come from a technical engineering world where I expect to have wiring diagrams, know the size of the wire, the gauge, the color where it runs, where it terminates, all that stuff. We build these things to last and be extremely serviceable. So I think that’s one of the other things that really sets us apart.

Jim Nelson: Fantastic. So where can people learn more about Titan Vans?

Matt, Titan Vans: So yeah, website is always a good one. Titan Obviously our YouTube channel is actually we do a lot on there, so we have hundreds of videos, van tours, tech videos under the hood, customer spotlights, all sorts of different things on there. So just search us on YouTube. Titan vans hit that like and subscribe. And Instagram is always a fun place to to just check out kind of those like van glam shots and good spot to connect to Awesome.

Jim Nelson: Sounds great have a great show. Thank you. And here we are with Kristin from with Van Wife components at the Adventure Van Expo. What brings you here?

Kristin, Van Wife: So we are a component company. We do powder coated aluminum cabinets. We have a whole line of shower stalls, upper cabinets, base cabinets. And then in addition to that, a very popular headliner shelf. And we’ll be launching our second round of our bed very soon. And then we have our hanging bags and all of that. So we’re excited to be doing every single show this year. We love doing the full circuit. Neil has a really awesome show going on, so we’re here in Colorado and then we’ll head to Massachusetts from here and finish out the season. Awesome.

Jim Nelson: It sounds like you’re serving more of the DIY crowd that’s going to build out their own van.

Kristin, Van Wife: We’re about half and half. We do about half DIY, half van builders, so we have a lot of good dealer partners who will do installs for people that aren’t comfortable doing that on their own or maybe just don’t want to do it on their own. So we have a lot of dealers around the country that have, you know, used our product and are familiar with it. And then DIY ERs are, you know, the other half of our business and it’s an easy to install component for a lot of people that are handy.

Jim Nelson: And you started van Life. When was that and why? Why Van Wife?

Kristin, Van Wife: We started Van Wife. We built our first van back in 2016, started the company in 2018 after there was a huge demand for the cabinets. And, you know, we’re looking for kind of a catchy name. So it’s just a little bit of a play on Van Life as a female owned business. Um, you know, and things have kind of rolled from there. So this season we’re rolling with our newly redesigned cabinets. So we’ve made a ton of upgrades. There’s a lot of things that I think builders are going to like a lot better about install and people are going to find a higher quality solved. A lot of issues that were starting to crop up with our old line. And so we’re really excited to be out this season.

Jim Nelson: And where can people learn more.

Kristin, Van Wife: They can follow our Instagram at Van Wife Components where we try to keep our big updates posting there as well.

Jim Nelson: That’s great I hope you have a great show. Thanks. Thank you… So now we saw the van essential booths and this caught my eye. We’re talking to James from Van Essential. What brought you to the Adventure Van Expo. What are you doing here?

James, Van Essential: Oh, we’re here with the company. We build window covers, bug screens, and storage solutions for camper vans. We are local, so it’s a natural place to be.

Jim Nelson: That’s fantastic. So we’re here in Evergreen, Colorado. So you’re a local here?

James, Van Essential: Yeah, we are. Our business is based in Broomfield, Colorado.

Jim Nelson: But you’ll see a thing here. Your velvet hands on. You probably have a website yourself and you sell products to the van industry. Pretty much any van that people are building out or what’s the primary product line that you’re offering?

James, Van Essential: Yeah, so we build window covers, bug screens and storage solutions for the three major platforms here in North America. Ford Transit, Mercedes sprinter van and the Ram Promaster. We also supply into the UK and Europe. So all the other different variations of the same vans over there, but in the opposite trim as well, left hand and right hand drive and also reaching out into Australia and New Zealand as well. And that’s also where that’s great.

Jim Nelson: So the window coverings see screens and they kind of seam up with a zipper or a magnet. Is that how that works?

James, Van Essential: Yeah, that’s correct. Yeah. Our window covers are unique. We build everything out of recycled plastic bottles. We’re the only company that uses our type of insulation in our foam. We use a lot of robotics and laser cutting and techniques into building a quality of covers, and we supply all over the world.

Jim Nelson: And then these storage solutions, this is fascinating. It’s like a soft sided storage solution amounts to track that a lot of the vans have.

James, Van Essential: That’s correct. Yeah. We got three different sized cabinets, 36, 24 and 48 inch cabinet. These will launch in the fall season. So coming very soon, we’ll also be following up with track as well as another solution to help people with their installations and DIY projects.

Jim Nelson: And you’ve got an impressive staff here. When did you start this company and why?

James, Van Essential: Yeah, we started in 2019. I started building vans myself in the driveway, buying them off Craigslist and turning them into camper vans. And then ultimately one thing led to another. And every time I got to the end of a van build, I noticed there was nothing in my windows. And after building and manufacturing overseas for many of the outdoor companies for the last 20 years, me and my partner, we teamed up and now we have our own two factories of ourself building offshore and supplying all over the world in such.

Jim Nelson: A short time. Congratulations on that. I hope you have a great show. Where can people learn more?

James, Van Essential: Van is the best place to get all the content and information.

Jim Nelson: Thanks, James… So now we’re talking with Josh from Roam Rest at Adventure Van Expo. What brings you here and what are these fancy, cushiony, comfy looking things? Yeah. So we specialize in.

Josh, Roam Rest: Making mattresses across the board for different platforms, different models. We range from our universal fit to storytellers rebels. The company Ramirez was created as a child company from North America Mattress, who has been in business for 27 years, starting in the medical side for labor and deliveries, stretchers, gurneys and progressing on. We’ve been doing conversion van upholstery for 12 years now. Uh, working with customers, specific fabrics, our fabrics. We have honestly seen it all in this industry. And so we just want to continue to help.

Jim Nelson: So over that time you’ve kind of nailed it down to a product line offering. Do these just like fit all the specific models? Someone can just say, Hey, I have a rebel Winnebago and they get that particular model or.

Josh, Roam Rest: Yeah, yeah. So they just choose if they like to sleep firm or if they like to sleep soft. We have those two variations there for them. We have for the storyteller, we’ve got the standard models and then we have the light. And then, yeah, with our corner, cutouts are going into the custom, somebody can fill out a template, fill in the measurements and it gets sent to us. We send them a proof, they approve it goes into production.

Jim Nelson: So how long is roam rest been around.

Josh, Roam Rest: So Roam Rest was established about three and a half years ago. Just to be able to bring brand recognition to what we do for the conversion vans. Again, we have done it for 12 years. So Roam rest came to mind and we want to make sure that everybody’s set for the next day.

Jim Nelson: Fantastic. And where can people learn more?

Josh, Roam Rest: So we have our website roam. Com we’re also on Instagram follow us and we also have our number on there on our website. You can give us a call, talk with any of us.

Jim Nelson: We’ll help you out. Thanks so much. Have a great show. Yeah, thank you. Yeah, appreciate it. Now we are at the Unaka booth with Brad. What brings you to Adventure Van Expo?

Brad, Unaka: Yeah. Hey, Jim. So we came out to Expo just to kind of meet up with some other vendors and get some more exposure and kind of sell some of our products.

Jim Nelson: But tell me about those products. What are you what do you have here?

Brad, Unaka: Yeah, that’s a great question. So what we do at Unaka, so our company came about because we realized that building camper vans can be overwhelming. Yeah. So our goal is to provide our customers with the tools and resources and products that they need to get out on their adventure. So our goal is to simplify that process. So we we want to give you all that you need there.

Jim Nelson: So it sounds like you’re definitely serving the DIY crowd. You have the tools and accessories and the gadgets and the mounts and all that stuff. Tell me like your product line, what’s the pitch there?

Brad, Unaka: Yeah. So yeah, you’re right. We kind of cater to the DIY and the dealer realm, so our bread and butter is really roof racks and mounts. So we want to make sure that we can get everybody out on the road. That’s like really the first component that you need. To get your roof rack on there to get your power systems. That’s our other thing that we really like to focus on too, is our power systems. We do a lot of work with Victron and some other big names like that.

Jim Nelson: So how long has Unaka been around?

Brad, Unaka: So we are about two and a half years old now, almost almost to our third birthday.

Jim Nelson: Well, it’s impressive what you’ve done here. Where can people learn more?

Brad, Unaka: So if you go on to our website or our Instagram, it’s Unaka Gear That’s our website and our Instagrams Unaka Gear Co.

Jim Nelson: Fantastic. Have a great show. All right.

Brad, Unaka: Thanks. You, too.

Jim Nelson: So Brad from Colorado Fairing Company is here and you have some good looking fairings. Obviously, you’re building fairings for vans and trucks. What brings you to the Adventure Van Expo?

Brad, CO Fairing: You know, the van life has grown and a lot of people put things on top of their roof, roof rack, solar panels and whatnot. Anything you put up there creates drag, wind noise and our fairings block that. So it deflects the wind up and over eliminates your wind noise. You can increase your mpgs. So the fairing in the end pays for itself.

Jim Nelson: And probably keeps some bugs off.

Brad, CO Fairing: Keeps bugs off the expensive equipment up there on the roof.

Jim Nelson: And it looks like you build a fairing for just about any van or truck out there, is there? Like you just tell. I just tell you the model and I get one. Or do I? How does that work.

Brad, CO Fairing: Correct. Yeah. You tell us what kind of vehicle you’re driving, what kind of roof rack you have. And then we build a fairing that’s custom to your needs rather than you settling for something that’s out on the market and any size, any shape. We’ve done it before and we can easily do something for you.

Jim Nelson: And when did you start this baby?

Brad, CO Fairing: We started it in 2015 and we’ve been growing ever since. And the Overland and Van Life community has been instrumental in the past couple of years.

Jim Nelson: Awesome. So where can people learn more?

Brad, CO Fairing: You can come to Colorado Fairing Company. We were up here in Evergreen right now, but you can also go to our website. It’s w-w-w dot Coffering

Jim Nelson: Fantastic. Have a Great show.

Jim Nelson: So now I see Explorist.Life Booth and some nifty components here. Want to talk to Stef. You started this company. When was that and why?

Stef, Yeah, we started the company in about 2017. And what we do is we teach people how to build campers. And our whole gig is about education and making it more approachable for the diyer to build their dream camper.

Jim Nelson: So your product offering is information. You’re not necessarily selling these components or are you?

Stef, We do sell the components and we sell the wiring kits to go with them. So again, it’s kind of just trying to make it more approachable for for the diyer so we can give you all of the lugs heat, shrink wire, everything that you need to wire. And we’re talking about.

Jim Nelson: Electrical here, electrical systems, electrical.

Stef, Yes.

Jim Nelson: Pretty much any van out there or. Yep, Yep. So any diyer you have a kit per se that you could then have them kind of the novice could then install. Is that how.

Stef, Yes, that is exactly our goal. Yep.

Jim Nelson: And where can people learn more.

Stef, At Explore life.

Jim Nelson: And I can’t leave without talking to Lori from four wheel campers because they helped bring us here. So tell me what brings you to the Adventure Van Expo?

Lori, 4 Wheel Campers: Hi, Jim. We we really want to come out to Colorado at the Adventure Van Expo and display our rigs out here and let people know that that we have a product that will provide them with off road access and is very simple, very durable and easy to use.

Jim Nelson: So visually, you can tell, you know, one of these things is not like the other. You’re a little different than the vast majority of vans here. For people who can’t see what we’re looking at. What has four Wheel campers been doing for, what, 45 years? It is 50 years.

Lori, 4 Wheel Campers: 50 years.

Jim Nelson: Yes. And the product offering is primarily…

Lori, 4 Wheel Campers: A slide in camper. We also have a topper and we have a flatbed camper.

Jim Nelson: So I’m now familiar with the project and that’s a chopper camper that sits on top and you build it out the way you want, but your your primary offering has been these slide in campers. And there’s a couple different versions of that, right?

Lori, 4 Wheel Campers: Yes. So we have slide in campers for midsize trucks, full size trucks, five foot beds, six foot beds. And there are different options available. You can go to the website, see all the options, price it, price it out, quote it out, and they are durable off road.

Jim Nelson: So you can put these on a four wheel drive vehicle. Think you’re now making the for a Jeep gladiator truck so you can put those get way off grid get out there up in the mountain and the top pops up. So explain the basic functionality of a four wheel camper.

Lori, 4 Wheel Campers: So it’s low profile camper with the ability to go out into off the grid, into places that you might not be able to go with other vehicles. You take it out once you’re in your location, that’s that perfect site you want to be at. You just pop the top up. It takes about five minutes. And you are you have solar, you have lithium, you’re living off the grid and you’re.

Jim Nelson: Well, I’m a fan for sure. I can attest to that. And it’s kind of opposed to putting one of those like rooftop tents where you’d have to put the tent up and then climb up on top. You actually kind of have a camper. It’s a comfy camping experience.

Lori, 4 Wheel Campers: Yes. So you have that slide in camper option or the or the topper and it actually is waterproof. If you have a slide in an element proof and provides you with everything that you need it that you would have at home.

Jim Nelson: And where can people learn more about four wheel campers.

Lori, 4 Wheel Campers: At

Jim Nelson: Thanks so much Laurie.

Lori, 4 Wheel Campers: Thank you.

Jim Nelson: And there you have it. You know, we really did have a good time at the Adventure Van Expo. I didn’t expect it to really be quite so much work, though. And people really did seem more interested in our portable potty solution than the build out I was working on. Speaking of events, have you filled out our summit survey yet? Do you know about the RV Entrepreneur Summit? Have you attended in the past? Would you go again? Why? Head on over to the RV and answer just a few questions to help us shape the future of RV life events and for your chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card. Then maybe you can pick yourself up a collapsible toilet for your truck or van for more nomadic tips and tricks and amazing stories about the RV life, be sure to check out our sister podcast at

The RV Entrepreneur is presented by RV Life – Tools that Make Camping Simple

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