Photo: Roamerica/Facebook

The Best 4x4 Camper Vans for Your Winter #Vanlife Escape

Ski and Snow Road Trips
by Tim Wenger Sep 16, 2020

If you really dig into it, #vanlife can be challenging — in those parts of the country that experience all four seasons. Waking up to an open door overlooking a towering peak is one thing in the summer, but it’s a whole different story when there’s a foot of snow on the ground. A campervan worthy of winter exploration needs to be more than just cozy and warm, and all night long at that. It must also actually be able to traverse the highway in the first place. That’s where these 4×4 camper vans come in, and you can rent them in plenty of mountain states.

1. 4WD Ford Econoline

Available from Roamerica in Portland, Oregon

White 4x4 Ford Econoline camper van

Photo: Roamerica

The Ford Econoline practically invented #vanlife back when garage rock bands first decided they were at a level that required incessant touring. Back then, traveling around in a van was anything but glorious. Most folks would probably have described it as foul, hectic, and not for the faint of heart. This van is the polar opposite of those early days. Bench seats are swapped for two comfortable beds and five belted seats, raised ceiling, and even lifted suspension to make traversing winter roads easier.

Because of the four-wheel drive, you’ll easily make it into the parking lot of your favorite ski resort and actually be able to make it out again if it snows all day. Renting from Roamerica offers the bonus of a significantly cheaper rate in winter. This van goes for $228 per night from September through May.

2. 2015 Ram Promaster Sprinter Van

Available from Outdoorsy in Silverthrone, Colorado

Interior of a 2015 Ram Promaster Sprinter camper van

Photo: Outdoorsy

In the #vanlife world, one word is synonymous with luxurious epicness: Sprinter. No matter the model, a Sprinter van offers top-tier performance and technology in an adventure van that’s sure to be both hardy and comfortable. This Ram Promaster is both of those things, plus all-terrain tires for ripping through the Rocky Mountain highways to wherever the powder might be.

For $170 per night, you’ll have everything you need to get to the slopes and remain toasty from aprés hour through the night. The owner even added a “tall person extension” to the bed setup, along with solar power, and an inverter and the CD player ensures that those stuck in the ’90s can jam out without any pesky algorithms picking up on that “Blink-182 on repeat” habit.

3. Ram ProMaster 1500 high roof

Available from AlaskaVans in Anchorage, Alaska

A white Ram ProMaster 1500 high roof 4x4 camper van at sunset

Photo: AlaskaVans/Facebook

Winter travel in Alaska requires a badass vehicle. AlaskaVans rents out fully equipped 4×4 camper vans in Anchorage for ski season in February and March, and for spring as well, which is at the least on par with winter in most other places. Each Ram ProMaster1500 comes with cooking and camping gear, an awning, and the price is equally appealing at just $135 per day during the non-peak season.

Because Alaska is massive and remote, all vans come with GPS navigation and allow for up to 350 miles of travel per day, where many companies only allow 150 to 200 miles per day.

4. 4×4 Rooftop Jeep Camper Rental with winter bedding upgrade

Available from Escape Campervans in Denver, Salt Lake City, and Las Vegas

Ok, so it’s not technically a van, but there’s a reason why the term “Jeeping” exists — and it’s not because of the movie Clueless. Jeep Wranglers are among the hardiest of off-road rippers, and the advantage it has over larger vehicles in the snow is that its weight is more centered and therefore less likely to tip on slippery roads.

This Jeep specifically is retrofitted perfectly for cold-weather outdoor adventures, right down to the rooftop camper that keeps you elevated from the cold ground below. Opt for the “winter bedding upgrade” and stay warm while staying close to the lifts or trailhead. The Jeeps are designed for off-road driving, even in winter, and can include an optional bike rack hitch should you be covering extra ground.

5. 2019 4×4 Mercedes Sprinter Vans

Available from Cascade Adventure Vans in Seattle, Washington

Washington has the most vibrant parking lot camping scene of anywhere in American ski-country. Cascade Adventure Vans knows this and has designed a fleet of Mercedes Sprinter vans to get you there and keep you comfortable during the cold nights. The vans come with two Moab elevator beds, bench seating, a roof rack and side ladder, and insulated curtains (yes, that’s a thing).

These 4×4 vans also have auxiliary power to keep your laptop and phone charged even when the van’s parked, and plenty of storage for boards, skis, and other tools of the winter sports trade. And your dog can come along for the ride, all for $230 night.

6. 2019 4×4 Mercedes Sprinter Vans (Montana style)

Available from Explore Campervans in Bozeman, Montana

A line of 2019 4x4 Mercedes Sprinter Vans for rent in Montana

Photo: Explore

The Sprinter goodness spreads further east to Bozeman, where Explore Rentals offers a fleet of 4×4 Mercedes Sprinter Vans in Bozeman. These will get you to Big Sky, Lost Trail Ski Area, and the limited sections of Glacier National Park or even further afield across the mountain west in style without the need to fly into a major city first.

The majority of its vans are high-roofed and all have room underneath the seats for ski and gear storage. Tires are dedicated snow, and you’ll stay warm next to the 24,000-BTU fuel-powered heater. Many have room for up to 12 people to sit in as well, meaning your whole crew can stop by for an aprés-ski toast.

7. The “Black Bear” 4×4 Mercedes Benz Sprinter

Available from Vermont Adventure Vans in South Burlington, Vermont

Photo: Outdoorsy

You likely grasp the theme here — Sprinter vans rock, and Mercedes builds them top-of-the-line. For your Northeast winter road trip, Vermont Adventure Vans has you covered with a 4×4 Sprinter equipped with a full kitchen setup and room to bring a small family. The van comes with a ski and bike rack as well as an outdoor shower, although that might be ambitious in the winter.

TV is included, and additional outfitting options are available if you need specific gear or gadgets for the road. The inside of the Black Bear looks kind of like a car audio store — sleek, modern, and ready to rock your face off, should that be necessary. Rates start at $250 per night.

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