Man in a Van: Rob Heule’s Mobile Lodge

Rob HeuleThe stir crazy soul dreams of leaving the hum of office space behind in exchange for the whir of passing asphalt. Some actually make the move to a mobile lifestyle, packing anything & everything needed to log adventures in between the click of the odometer and now, #Vanlife seems to be all the rage nowadays. But before it was in vogue to criss cross the country in an #adventuremobile, curated Instagram account in tow, some were already out & ahead of the curve.

One such wanderer is FT’s Rob Heule. No stranger to living in a van (Examples here, here, & there), we check in with him about his own comfort cruiser & favorite mode of transportation to & from the mountain, “Terry.”

Rob Heule

Why a van?

My Van is my home on wheels, with room for all my gear for all the activities I love to do. It’s just convenient, enjoyable, and affordable.

What is it like living mobile?

The best. I find myself being more spontaneous, living in the moment, and going with the flow. If something comes up that you really want to do, it’s pretty easy just to pack up camp, and go do it right then and there, not just talk about it.

"Terry"

How many pairs of skis can you fit in the van?

I try and keep my skis and wet gear in my roof box, out of the way, so the inside of my van doesn’t get wet. I’d say at any given time there’s 4 pairs, but you could probably squeeze 8 pairs in there. 

Did you name your van?

Terry. Still don’t know whether it’s a girl Terry, or a boy Terry.

What mountain and/or resort has Terry been parked at the longest?

I spend a lot of time parked in Whistler during the Summer, skiing up on the glacier during the day, and rock climbing in the evenings. 

How many miles are racked up on the odometer?

260,000 and runnin’. We use Kilometres in Canada.

What are some challenges of living out of a van for an extended period of time?

Finding mellow places to park for the night. Drying gear when the weather’s shitty. I don’t have a pop top, or fibreglass roof, so my neck gets a little sore.

Rob HeuleWhat are five things you can’t live without on the road?

1.Maple syrup.
2.Surf rock.
3.Coffee making kit (Aeropress, Jet Boil, hand grinder, thermal cup, and good beans).
4.Wool blanket.
5.Boot dryer.

What is the craziest thing you’ve ever witnessed while traveling in the van?

A Bald Eagle fighting an Osprey for a fish. Guess who won? You wouldn’t think it, but the Osprey stole the fish from the Eagle. It was unreal.

What advice would you give to other skibums looking to make their own lodge on wheels?

It’s a lot of trail and error. The roof box is pretty key. Elevate your bed, so that you have storage underneath. If you know how to operate a sewing machine, you should be able to make your self some curtains. Invest in a good cooler, and camping stove. Having a little kitchen box or setup will save you lots of money on eating meals out. You need to be efficient and organized because you’ve got a small space to work with, so everything needs a home, and to have a purpose. 

How long have you and Terry been together?

I bought my van when I was 18 years old. I’m 24 now, and it’s the only vehicle I’ve ever owned. Before Terry came into my life, he/she belonged to my friends parents, and was their family ski van, for weekend trips to the mountains. Now full time adventure mobile. 

What is your favorite van addition (built-ins or anything custom you added to the van that you’re proud of)?

My front plate is an XL park feature sign. You know the orange ones? I have a lift kit especially for safari/astro vans, that lets you put larger tires on to give you more clearance on back roads, and in the snow, thus the XL sign.