We spent last year traveling the country out of our 2018 Ram Promaster City van with a Wayfarer kit and it’s been a blast. Recently we’ve started tossing the idea around of selling our rig and getting into a larger, stand-up van. We walk you through some of our thought process here in our post about How to Choose a Van for Van Life. The information-gathering process which was a LONG one led to a connection with David Clapper, CEO and Co-Founder of sCAMPER Van. In this post, we will take you on a tour of one of his vans as well as give you some suggestions on how to have a fun, van life kind of weekend in Asheville!
Who and what is sCAMPer Van?
But first, maybe you’re wondering, just who and what is sCAMPer? Good question. A quick look at their website will introduce you to the facts: they’re an adventure company based out of Atlanta, Georgia and they have the distinction of being the “Southeast’s first compact campervan rental company. They offer “fully loaded” camper vans for travel, festivals and exploration. They’ll literally bring the van to you. Great news if you’re flying into Atlanta or even Asheville.
sCAMPer also has a concierge service which is a fancy way of saying, they can have your van fully stocked and ready for adventure. Don’t have a kayak or a bike but want one for your trip? No worries, for a small fee they’ll have them on the van when you pick it up. Need food but don’t want to waste your valuable adventure time in the grocery store? Also not a problem. sCAMPer can get you all set up with food and drinks.
What kinds of vans do they have?
sCAMPer currently has five vans to choose from with a sixth one in the works. Each of their vans has cookware, dishes, a sink, a bike rack, a first aid kit, toiletries, seasonings,
Vans 1 and 2
Both of these vans are more compact than the van we took out and yet they both sleep four and seat four! Both vans are Nissans and are about the same size as our Ram Promaster City. They’re also great on gas. One of the things we like most about these vans is the pop top roof. It allows you to stand up when you’re inside the vehicle and it allows you to bring up to four people.
Vans 3 and 4
Both of these vans are the stand up Ram Promaster’s with a 136 inch wheelbase. They are a great size meaning that they fit in almost all parking spots and are easy to drive. They’ve both got a Wayfarer kit in them and are very similar. The main difference in them is that van 4 has a ceiling fan with it’s own individual battery which means you can have air flow when it’s warm out. We didn’t use the fan because it was in the 30’s at night when we went out and we’re happy to report that the presence of the fan did not cause an uncomfortable draft.
They’ve got tons of storage under the bed, two shelves above the bed, shelves above the sink and counter and even a built in shelf above the driver and passenger seats. There’s even a hitch on the back which means bikes can go on the back instead of inside where they take up valuable space. Some other things that are in these vans include:
Pump Sink – 5 Gal.
Bed 52″ wide x 6’2″ long
Power: Goal Zero 150
65 qt OtterBox Cooler
Outside Shower NEMO Helio LX
2 camp chairs
Small outdoor table
1 burner camp stove and fuel
Pot, pan, plates, silverware, cups, bowls, cutting board, utensils
Dish towel, soap and scrubber
Cabin and cargo lights
Small flashlight and headlamps
Tools – screwdriver, scissors, clothespins, multi-tool
Goal Zero charger with solar panels
Decorative pillows, blanket and rug
Battery operated candles
Van 5 is also a Ram Promaster. Unlike van 3 and 4, however, this van sleeps 6 and seats five. It’s got two interior beds that accordion up and down which is nice because you can maximize your interior space when you’re inside the van and then in a couple of quick steps, have the space ready for sleeping. This van also has a roof top tent, a Roof Nest, which sleeps two adults or three kids. (If you’re wondering about protection from the elements for those sleeping in the roof top tent…the Roof Nest has a rain fly.) This is the perfect vehicle for a family or a group of friends to take out on an adventure.
Coming soon! We can’t wait to see what sCAMPer does with van 6. We do know the van itself is a Ram Promaster. Stay tuned for more details…
What is it like to adventure in a sCAMPer Van?
Adventuring in a sCAMPer van is FUN.
This is the long and short of it. It’s fun. It’s perfect for anyone who wants to try out van life, who wants to spend some time in the outdoors, who wants to go on a road trip, who wants to have a weatherproof setup for an outdoor festival or even someone who’s looking for a variation of glamping.
Believe it or not the vans are easy to drive. Neither of us had spent much time behind the wheel of something quite so large but we found it easy to handle. The back up camera, when used in conjunction with the large side mirrors, makes getting out of parking spots and campsites stress free. The turning radius is actually quite good for something so large. We did a three point turn getting into the campsite at Lake Powhatan on our first try! This van handles a lot like our own, much smaller, van which was of great surprise to us. Even better is that you sit up fairly high and have a great view of the road and of course the scenery.
Camping in a sCAMPer van is also unique.
There are tons of cool outdoor experiences in and around the Asheville area. The variety of adventures is one of the things that makes Asheville so special. You can go car camping, backpacking, stay in a cabin or a yurt or even a vintage Airstream. Staying in a van is definitely an awesome addition to the number of options in the Asheville area and one that makes you location independent meaning you have more control of your experience.
Though we were only in this van for two nights and three days, we could easily see ourselves spending an extended amount of time in it and not wanting for a thing. Life is too short to go on vacation and be uncomfortable and stressed. (If you’ve ever gone on a trip only to come back and feel like you need a vacation from your vacation, you know what I’m talking about.) It won’t be like that with this. For starters, the bed is super comfy. It feels like a real bed rather than a makeshift setup. The padding is thick and the pillows are nice, too. Making meals was also cinch since each of us had our own space to spread out and work. We weren’t constantly navigating for space. And, it goes without saying, we were able to stand up in the vehicle!
You’ll get a lot of attention.
sCAMPer’s vans are pretty hard to miss with their bright orange, green and blue wrap. You will definitely turn heads when you pull into a parking lot and you’ll almost definitely get approached by others who want to take a peek inside. We didn’t mind the attention, in fact it felt like a great conversation starter. It was a nice way to meet people while traveling. The van itself is a conversation starter. All that said, if you’re into privacy, it’s pretty easy to achieve that with sCAMPer’s vans since they offer panels for all of the windows in each of their vans. We both have a pretty introverted streak so we enjoyed being able to put the panels in and create some privacy. At one point in the trip we went to the grocery store and I changed right there in the parking lot without anyone being any the wiser since they couldn’t see in.
Best van life adventures in Asheville
One of the first places we took our van was the River Arts District. We thought it would be a fun place to snap some photos since there’s so much color there. If you love Instagram, this might be one of the first places you visit too. It’s also the home to one of our favorite breweries…
Definitely one of the top things to do while you’ve got your sCAMPer van in Asheville is to get into the mountains. Drive the Blue Ridge Parkway, pull over at as many overlooks as you have time for and get out of the van and onto the trails.
Trails we love include Mt. Mitchell, Mt. Pisgah, Craggy Gardens and of course Catawba Falls. For a complete guide on some of the best trails in Asheville, hop on over to our friends site, Asheville Trails. They’ve got a ton of detailed information on the best places to go in western North Carolina as well as the Atlanta area.
We also recommend heading into town and exploring all of the food, beer, music and shopping that downtown and West Asheville has to offer. No trip is complete without visiting at least one or two of the amazing places to eat and drink in town. Would it be too meta to suggest going to UpCountry to get a sCAMPer IPA? It’s their best selling beer and it’s in a great part of town.
Best places to stay in your sCAMPER van in Asheville
You’ve got several options when it comes to camping in Asheville.
There’s two KOA’s in Asheville. One is on the east side of town (technically it’s Swannanoa) and one is on the west side of town (technically it’s Candler). We’ve had a good experience at the KOA’s we’ve stayed at – you pretty much know what you’re going to get ahead of time: a safe but often crowded campground with warm showers and access to firewood and snacks. It’s not for everyone but it’s perfect for some.
If the KOA is not your thing, check out the Mount Pisgah Campground. It’s one of our favorite places to go. During the summer it’s often a little cooler up on the mountain than it is in the city due to it’s slightly higher elevation. It’s also a beautiful campground with trees and woods all around your for some privacy. The downside is that it’s only open during from May to the end of October.
The campground at Lake Powhatan, however, is open-year round. We visited during the government shutdown (early January of 2019) and luckily the campsite was unaffected. It was open, clean and had plenty of available spaces as well as access to hot showers and flush toilets. Each spot has a fire pit and picnic table. The campground borders Bent Creek and is located near some of the best hiking, biking and running trails in the Asheville area. We think this is one of the best places to park your van when visiting Asheville because you get the best of both worlds: close proximity to town and to the trails.
What’s new on sCAMPer’s horizon?
sCAMPer has made a name for themselves in the Atlanta area. They’ve been helping people go on van life adventures in Atlanta for a while now and starting in 2019, they will be expanding their services to the Asheville area. They have plans to park their vehicles at Upcountry Brewing Company. That means easy pickup and drop off for those of you in Western North Carolina who are looking to try out van life.
They’re also currently in the market for an intern so if you know someone who you think might be a good fit, drop ’em a line!
Asheville Adventure in a sCAMPer Van Recap
We loved our Asheville Van Life Adventure with sCAMPer Van. Their vehicle was clean, outfitted with some of the best gear available to van lifers, easy to drive and plenty big enough for two people. Though we were only in the van for two nights, we think it’s the perfect vehicle for weeklong adventures or even true van living. We had given a lot of thought to upgrading to the standup Ram Promaster with the Wayfarer Kit just like the sCAMPer van that we tried on and after just a few days in it, we’re ready to figure out what we need to do to upgrade.
If you’re looking for a fun unique adventure in the Asheville area, we highly recommend giving sCAMPer a look. If you have any questions, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you! Been on an adventure with them? We’re also interested in hearing your feedback.
Google sent us a Pixel 2XL in August of 2018 for us to test out and we loved it. When they said they’d like to send us the Pixel 3XL we were super excited. A quick trip to the Verizon store somewhere in Arizona did the trick and now we’re both using these phones full-time. In this story, we talk about why we’re proud to be a part of #teampixel.
Reasons we love the Google Pixel 2XL and the Google Pixel 3XL
- The phones work effortlessly with all things Google: Gmail, Google Docs, Google Sheets, etc. This should come as no real surprise since it’s a Google phone and yet we have to mention it because it makes shifting between your mobile device and your laptop that much easier.
- The color choices of the Pixels are cool. The Pixel 3XL comes in three choices: Just Black, Clearly White and Not Pink. We have Not Pink and a case with color accents to match it! The Pixel 2XL comes in Black & White and Just Black. We have the Just Black phones as well as a case with a beach scene on it. If you’re like us, the color of the phone matters, but it’s not a deal breaker because you’re going to be putting a more personalized case on it anyway. Still, we like the options Google is offering for those who live dangerously and don’t use a case (or go with a clear one.)
- The screens are large enough that flipping through Instagram and watching videos, not to mention reading are easy on the eyes. The colors are visually appealing (you can actually adjust the colors. Settings > Display > Colors. From there you can choose between Natural, Boosted and Adaptive.) We use the Natural setting because we think it looks the best and helps us achieve the most accuracy when editing photos. The Pixel 2XL’s screen is 6 inches and the Pixel3XL’s screen is 6.3 inches.
- Both Pixels allow you to use your Google Assistant! Basically, you can voice activate your phone to help you complete many of life’s daily activities such as checking your calendar, sending a text, show you a recipe, play a song, etc. The options are almost endless.
- One of the best features we have found so far on the Pixel 3XL is the Flip to Shh gesture. It allows us to have better boundaries with our technology. This feature disables notifications when the phone is face down. If you’re worried about missing something super important or you need to make sure notifications from certain people come through in this mode, no worries, you can customize the settings. We love technology as much as anyone but this feature helps us unplug during meals, time out with friends, etc.
- The phone is great for adventures. The battery lasts all day in the field (we get more out of the battery when it is in Dark Mode) and it’s a lot easier (lighter, smaller) for us to carry on certain adventures where the weight and size of our gear is a concern. It also fits nicely into the front pocket of our running packs which means we can take photos and make lasting memories on some of our most epic runs.
- And last, but not least, we like the way the phone feels in our hands. It’s thin, fits in our back pockets and we can hold it with one hand. We also like the placement of the fingerprint sensor. It’s on the back, top half of the phone and it makes unlocking the device super easy. We’ve found that we rarely accidentally open the phone (this in turn means we’re doing far fewer accidental “butt dials” than before!)
The Google Pixel 2XL and 3XL Cameras
- The camera … Both phones have received a lot of positive press about the camera. And for good reason. We couldn’t wait to get our hands on the phones to test it out ourselves. The verdict? We love it. The camera on both phones is a 12.2 MP dual-pixel rear camera. Both cameras have auto-focus features, allow you to set it on a 3 or 10 second timer and have optical and electronic stabilization. In addition, they both offer HDR+ for low light photography. The portrait mode in both phones is stunning. We both about lost it when we saw the result the first time we shot on that mode.
- A new feature just rolled out that’s called Night Sight and it allows you to take photos in super low light. It’s incredible. You get a ton more information in your photos using Night Sight. You also still have the option to shoot in low light without it.
Both photos above were taken with the Google Pixel 3XL. The one on the left is without Night Sight and the one on the right is using Night Sight. The photos were taken a few seconds apart.
- Another thing we love about these phones is that we get unlimited storage in Google Photos for all of our pictures. It’s a really nice way for us to keep our images as well as share individual photos and albums with others. It’s sped up our workflow a bit as well since when we connect to wifi our photos automatically back up from our phone to Google Photos.
- In addition, I’ve had a lot of fun with the Playground feature in the camera. It allows you to make your videos come to life using Playmoji’s. My favorite are the dogs. You might have seen them on my Instagram stories. I’ve shown them on the National Mall in DC, on the Metro riding the train, on my birthday cake, etc. If you put a couple different Playmoji’s into the scene they’ll interact with each other. It also works in selfie mode!
- One other feature we think is pretty cool is Google Lens. Using Google Lens is a fast way to call a phone number, scan a QR code, visit a website, or even look up an object. I recently trained Google Lens on my Aunt’s dog and my Pixel 3XL told me it was a Pembroke Welsh Corgi and it was right!
Google Pixel 2XL and 3XL accessories
- If you have a phone, you’re going to need a case, right? Both Google Pixel phones have a bunch of options. To see your options, head on over to the Google Store. We recently made our own case using one of our own photos! The process was really easy. You basically have to just upload a photo and then your case will get wrapped and sent to you. You can also choose from illustrations and artwork in their collection as well as make a case that looks like a map of a favorite location. I chose a photo of Half Dome in Yosemite at sunset for my photo!
- Both phones come with a charger that is lightweight and compact. It’s a USB-C type device and delivers a fast charge. To see more of the specs on the charger, head HERE.
- In addition to the charger that comes with the phone, we also have a Google Pixel Stand which means we can charge quickly and wirelessly. It works nicely as a nightstand and as an alarm. (The Sunrise Alarm setting is cool. What happens is that your Pixel will mimic the rising of the sun with it’s own ambient lighting just before your alarm goes off.) Another cool feature is the photo album which displays when your phone is charging. It will also scroll through your photos which can be a cool way to relive some of your memories. (Just be sure you’re okay with others who may walk by while it’s charging to see the photos in your photo album!) The Google Pixel Stand works with all Qi compatible devices. In our case, this means the Pixel 3XL but not the 2XL.
Google Pixel 2XL and 3XL Recap
For all of the reasons above, we’re stoked we are to be a part of #teampixel. Are you thinking about making the switch? We’d love to answer any questions you might have! Drop us a line or comment below, we’d love to hear from you!