Skip to main content

Living in a van down by the river doesn’t sound so bad in a rig from Advanture

Housing in California is expensive and impossible to find. The Advanture Co. is a new startup that aims to set people free with its comfortable and efficient mobile campers.

Amid the worst housing crisis in California history, one innovative startup is offering a mobile solution. The Advanture Co. is a brand-new initiative to convert cargo vans into fully customized rolling homes. The startup, which is based in Santa Cruz County, is a lot more than just a van conversion company, though. These partners are promoting a lifestyle that sets people free from the beaten track.

The company is the brainchild of brothers Scott and Brandon Nelson, who work closely with co-founder and builder Shane Titus to add a host of custom amenities to these durable cargo vans including soundproofing materials, showers, stoves, bathroom facilities, heating, air-conditioning, and lighting, all powered by solar technology.

Their first project came about when Brandon Nelson was working at GoPro in infamously expensive San Mateo, California, and decided to join the other “dudes” living in the company’s parking lot. Meanwhile, Scott started an Instagram account to feature their work — and before long they were fielding requests for advice and ultimately orders for their remarkable creations.

The process is pretty straightforward, according to Scott. People bring their vans to The Advanture Co., where Scott does a long debrief on their desires, their goals, and what they want to accomplish using the van. After refining the estimate and focusing on what the customer needs and can afford, the team goes to work. The company is currently only working on one van at a time, with builds taking anywhere from three weeks to a few months. They also offer a wide range of options, ranging from a basic build for $20,000 plus to extensive appliance additions that can run north of $80,000.

The company also lovingly curates the materials used in the conversions, ranging from ordering hyper-specific products from overseas suppliers to a recent conversion where the team sourced wood from an 800-year-old redwood tree to craft a custom-built countertop.

“It’s an extremely hands-on process. I spend hours with each customer, making sure they get exactly what they want.”

“It’s an extremely hands-on process,” Scott Nelson, who uses his MBA to guide the company’s growth, told Digital Trends. “I spend hours with each customer, making sure they get exactly what they want. We even send along pictures and video updates to our customers individually as we move through the build.”

The process also forces these creators to invent solutions on the fly, because the end product is so specific.

“You’re building as you go,” says Scott. “You can draw up CAD plans and engineer the whole thing but when it comes to the build, none of that matters. No angle in these vans is plumb or flush; every single surface is angled. Then you also have to figure out the electrical and the plumbing in addition to the craftsmanship, not to mention that we’re running these vehicles completely off solar power. Every piece of the puzzle takes a lot of thought to come to life.”

It’s entirely possible to live in the vans, as well. In fact, The Advanture Co. is currently working with world-famous landscape photographer Chris Burkard to craft a comfortable yet utilitarian van for his travels. The company is also producing a series of inspirational short films about the project, which will be released over the next three to six months. It’s just one affiliation for the burgeoning company, which also fosters partnerships among companies like Prana, Red Bull, GoPro, and Polk Audio.

“This guy is the modern day Ansel Adams with 2.5 million Instagram followers,” Scott explains from the company’s base in Aptos, California. “He’s the face of any outdoor apparel brand that can afford him. We’re just about finished with the van that is going to facilitate his photography. I just sent him a video, and his response was basically that the van turned out so much better than he ever thought it would be.”

“They’re not cheap vehicles because you can drive up to a million miles in one. You’re more likely to die before it does if you do it right.”

The Advanture Co. does cater to nostalgia occasionally, converting the trusty old Westfalia and Volkswagen campers that trundle down the streets of Santa Cruz, but Scott’s recommended vans are the durable Sprinter vans produced for nearly two decades by Mercedes-Benz.

“If you’re looking for a vehicle with some real longevity that is also gas-efficient and completely functional, a Sprinter van is the way to go,” Scott says. “They’re not cheap vehicles because you can drive up to a million miles in one. You’re more likely to die before it does if you do it right.”

The company is also engaging in some interesting side projects, such as their current initiative to crowd-source a map of safe parking spots all over America.  Ultimately, The Advanture Co. wants to be much more than just another garage. They’re spreading the gospel of the van lifestyle not just to free people from their mortgages and rents but to free up their creativity.

“We want to build vehicles that are insane that help people accomplish things,” Scott says.  “It’s a lifestyle company that promotes the freedom of not being tied down. We enable people to pursue their dreams. Getting out of a rental is as easy as snapping your fingers. You can live completely off the grid and life very efficiently, and save a lot of money doing it. You can pull it off if you just try.”

Clayton Moore
Clayton Moore’s interest in technology is deeply rooted in the work of writers like Warren Ellis, Cory Doctorow and Neal…
Best vacuum deals: Cordless to corded, Dyson to Bissell
LG CordZero all in one stick vacuum with auto empty dock.

You can’t keep a house clean without a good vacuum, and while adding one of the best robot vacuums to your smart home can keep things tidy most of the time, it can still be helpful to have a more traditional vacuum on-hand. The best vacuums are going to offer more power and more control, and right now you can get one with some pretty impressive savings. There are a lot of vacuum deals going on, and they include top names like Dyson and Bissell and popular styles like corded and cordless. Below you’ll find all of the best vacuum deals you can shop right now, as well as some information on how each goes about getting the job done.
Black + Decker 3-in-1 corded vacuum — $30, was $40

This 3-in-1 corded vacuum by Black + Decker is a great entry-level vacuuming option. It’s something to consider if you have hardwood floors or small spaces to keep clean, such as dorm rooms and apartments. Still it can handle things like area rugs, low-pie carpeting, stairs, upholstery, and car interiors. It has an ultra-light design that makes it easy to move around, as well as easy-glide wheels that make vacuuming easy as well.

Read more
Best air purifier deals: Save big on Dyson, Shark, TCL and more
A Germ Guardian purifier placed on a living room floor.

While dust, debris, and pet dander are almost always in the air, with the warmer seasons come all sorts of allergens to be concerned about as well. You don’t have to go after one of the best air purifiers to keep the air in your home clean, as even more affordable air purifiers work well enough to make them worth your while. This is especially true when you factor in some savings, and there’s a lot of air purifier deals taking place right now. We’ve rounded up all of the best air purifier deals below. They include the likes of Dyson, Shark, and other brands making the top smart home devices right now, so read onward for more information on how to save on a new air purifier.
Alrocket HEPA Air Purifier -- $39, was $70

Excellent for a nightstand, the counter, or an end table. this relatively small air purifier offers cleaning for up to 215 square feet. H13 level HEPA filtration ensures that most odors and contaminants are eliminated, with microscopic particles captured, to provide relief to asthma sufferers and beyond. It is relatively simple, so there are no smart features or serious programmable modes, but that's okay. A touch-based control panel on the top, with LED indicators, allows you to adjust the system's timer, indicator lights, and power. You can add your essential oils or fragrances to the top to help disperse a more aromatic scent.

Read more
Best air conditioner deals: Portable and window units on sale
The GE 10,000 BTU portable air conditioner cools a living room while a woman reads.

With the rising temperatures of spring and summer can come the frustrations of tossing and turning at night, sweating in the late afternoons, and simply trying to keep cool during the dog days of summer. Both portable air conditioners and windows units are great options if you don’t have central air, and they’re particularly attractive for apartments, dorms, offices, and if you just have a room or two to cool off. Right now you can land some good savings on air conditioners of all kinds from top air conditioner brands like Frigidaire and GE. We’ve rounded up all of the best air conditioner deals currently taking place, so read onward for more details.
Evapolar evaCHILL — $85, was $99

The Evapolar evaCHILL provides personal comfort on a small scale. At just 6.77 x 6.69 x 6.69 inches, it is highly portable and perfect for taking with you on camping trips or other excursions. To use it, just fill up its 800mL tank, which provides about 8 hours of continuous use (though customers report lower times for high-heat scenarios). This makes it perfect for getting to sleep. Plus, since it uses water as a source of chill, it can double as a humidifier. The Evapolar evaCHILL charges via USB cable and consumes less than 10W of power.

Read more