“You can move along at your own pace, without having to adhere to a schedule. During the pandemic it has

been easy to avoid crowded areas obviously…We only need to shop for groceriesabout once a week at most. We

don’t need to make reservations!  Waking up with snow up to the running boards of the van, steps away from a

chairlift is also pretty cool.”

Two Years of Adventure

Freedom Vans built out ‘Whistler’ in 2018. The owners, Charlie and Debbie, have been adventuring in ‘Whistler’, Mercedes Sprinter 170” for more than two years. They have explored and skied all over the US and in British Columbia, Canada. They have taken ‘Whistler’ to the desert, the mountains, to the water, and more and have found it to be a great way to navigate the world during the 2020 pandemic. 

We interviewed Charlie and Debbie to get perspective on how their experience in their van has been since taking it home back in 2018. It was so enjoyable to hear a bit about where they have been and what they love about their van lifestyle. 

Features of ‘Whistler’

First, here is a bit of information on ‘Whistler’ Mercedes Sprinter 170” and the features of this conversion. A great way to learn more is to watch the Youtube tour with Tom, Co-Founder and Co-Owner of Freedom Vans. In general, this conversion included some favorite Freedom Vans features, such as the ‘garage’ with space for snow gear and mountain bikes, a solar energy system a kitchenette, and high quality cabinet carpentry. This conversion has been described as simple and very efficient. It is no wonder that Charlie and Debbie have gotten out and done so much in the last two years. To see more photos and learn more about ‘Whistler’, go to our ‘Projects’ page. Here’s a short list of the van’s features.

– Solar Panel Array

– Lithium Battery Bank

– 2000 Watt pure sine power inverter 

– Shore power charger & plug-in

– Maxxair Fan

– Bluetooth sound bar 

– LED ceiling lights 

– 3 Panel queen-sized bed 

– 6’ length overhead cabinets

– 48” kitchen galley with butcher block top 

– 3.6 cu ft mini fridge & freezer

– Microwave with cabinet

– Stainless steel sink with glass lid

– Privacy window covers 

– Back-up camera with night vision

– Manual Fiamma awning

– Exterior shower

– Wall mount storage for ski/snowboards

– Floor L-track with fork mounts

– Bench seat with storage

– 30 gallon fresh water system

– 5 gallon gray water system

– 6 gallon electric water heater

– 6” foam mattress 



The Interview

What is your favorite place that you have traveled to in your van? 

We have 2: 

  1. Yellowstone National Park including surrounding Southwestern Montana.  Great places to hike, fish, paddle and ride bikes.  There are great camping places just outside the park as well.  
  2. We also love skiing in British Columbia, and just following snow storms.  Our favorite places there are red mountain and whitewater.

What do you like most about #vanlife?

The flexibility to stay longer in an area or to move on if you would rather be somewhere else. You can move along at your own pace, without having to adhere to a schedule.  During the pandemic it has been easy to avoid crowded areas obviously.  It is also great being off the grid and away from the news, especially in these turbulent times.  We only need to shop for groceries about once a week at most.  We don’t need to make reservations!  Waking up with snow up to the running boards of the van, steps away from a chairlift is also pretty cool.

What is the most difficult part of #vanlife?

In the winter, it is a small space, but the TV helps in the evening!

Tell us one of your favorite stories from a van trip!

This is not really from a trip:

A couple of years ago, our last day of skiing in British Columbia was good Friday.  We returned home that night, and by Easter Sunday afternoon ( a day and a half later) we were driving to Southwestern Utah.  By Monday, we were hiking and biking in the sunshine.


What is the most useful feature of your van? And, what feature brings the most joy?

The solar panels and lithium batteries are the most useful features.  We never need to plug in, even in the winter after two days without sunshine.

Our street legal, removable reclining rear sets are great for reading or watching a movie, especially in the winter.  The Espar heater does a great job at keeping the van nice and warm.

If you did your van conversion with Freedom Vans again, what would you change?  

Nothing except for maybe a rack to hold fishing rods on the roof. Freedom Vans was great in helping us get a build that maximized storage space, as well as the ability to be off the grid.  During the build Freedom Vans was also flexible and open to our ideas, rather than just giving us a cookie cutter type interior.  Tom and Kyleigh also gave us some great ideas that did not drive up the cost of the build.  For the last three years, we have been thrilled with our build.

Be sure to check out more photos and information on “Whistler” in our project gallery, and watch our YouTube tour while you’re at it! For questions about this van, or to fill out a form to get your own custom van from Freedom Vans, contact us!