The Best Van For Boondocking | Off The Beaten Track

The Best Van For Boondocking | Off The Beaten Track

The best van for boondocking? Funny question you may ask.

Earlier today, while I was within “ahem” earshot of people I didn’t know, I actually discovered a new word – boondocking. Being a word I’d never heard before I thought, what in the heck is that?

Having quickly learned what boondocking actually is (thanks Google) my next thought was then of course, what would be the best van for that?

The best van for boondocking is certainly the often overlooked and hugely underrated Mitsubishi Delica L300. This Rugged little “go anywhere” 4×4 adventure wagon can handle terrain very, very few other vans can.

Let’s delve a bit though.

What Is Boondocking?

Boondocking is the practice of camping in rough, isolated country in a tent, car, van, RV, or any other movable shelter with little to no amenities. From the perspective of a “boonie”, a boondock generally refers to rural, undeveloped campground far from normal camping facilities such as water, electricity or sewer.

It’s in places often difficult to access that you might find a stray boonie and it’s for this reason, I’d say boondocking can occasionally slip out of the world of wild camping and into the realm of adventure touring.

Finding places undiscovered by the typical overnight stayer who doesn’t tread far from the beaten path will take some serious oomph though. This is why the Mitsubishi Delica L300, being the little moon tank that it is, is without question, the very best van for boondocking.

Where Did Boondocking Come From?

Of course, boondocking is another American thing that’s hitched a ride across the ocean and found a place in the hearts of adventure travellers everywhere.

When researching the topic, and as far as I’m aware, it originated with American world war II soldiers stationed in the Philippines who used the word to describe the type of remote areas that their Australian counterparts might refer to as “the bush”.

On returning home, the term boondock (which translates from the Tagalog word “Mountain”) worked it’s way into American slang from where rural, rough and isolated country then become known as “the boonies”. I’m thinking the “docking” part of the term refers to the inability to dock, or hook up to amenities, hence the term – boondocking.

Why You Need A Van For Boondocking

More than likely, it’s because you don’t want to walk.

Sorry, terrible joke but seriously though, boondocking can be done in any type of vehicle and generally is.

Boondockers use tents, cars, vans and RVs but only a small van like the Mitsubishi Delica L300 can offer the comfort and space of a tent while staying nimble enough to reach places your average car can’t. This would also extend to larger vans and RV’s.

Of course this doesn’t apply to “gentle” boondocking at the beach or forest car park but in the spirit of true off road wild adventure camping, you’ll want to boon where no man has booned before.

Only a rugged little 4×4 with room in the back to hide will keep you safe, sheltered and comfortable in places that rarely suffer the tread of a human footprint.

Why The Mitsubishi Delica L300 Is The Best Van For Boondocking

If wild camping in your vehicle is your thing and, like me, you love rough country then sooner or later you’ll run into some sort of off-road trouble.

Personally I’d rather avoid trouble than have to figure out how to get out of some which is why, in my humble opinion at least, the Mitsubishi Delica L300 is the best van for boondocking.

It’s A 4×4 AWD Van

Being a 4×4 van, you can count on being able to get out of places your average car would be screaming “save yourself”, and imploring you to press on without it.

It really doesn’t matter what it is, if what you’re doing can be categorised by any of the following scenarios – wild, off-road, adventure, camping or rough country, then you want to make sure you’re able to get yourself out of a situation.

The Vans Are Cheap As Chips

Deals, if you can find one can be had for under £3000 for a Delica L300 in good condition. They are scarce on the ground though, especially the good ones so if you find one and love boondocking, nab it.

There are of course much newer, more expensive models available, but none even close to this price range.

Ground Clearance

Ground clearance on the Delica L300 is a handy 195 mm (7.67”) which is double some cars and can get you over rocks and other minor protrusions without breaking anything.

Handy for crossing streams or uneven ground, the 4×4 functionality of this van combined with a generous ground clearance will save your bacon from time to time.

Tackling a mud trail for instance, it’s more than plausible that you drive up a dry trail only for it to start raining and you find the trail has turned to a mud bath on the way back.

This actually happened to me once while I was delivering goods in a Luton van.

It was, interesting…

Height Clearance

The Delica L300 isn’t a high van either at only 1,855–2,070 mm (73.0–81.5”).

This means that although you have plenty of room in the back of a Delica L300 van to sleep, sit, stretch, do Kung Fu and play golf, you’re still able to comfortably tackle mountain trails or forest tracks without a roof clearance issue.

Generally yes, boondocking is legal – generally.

Boondocking is all about free camping on public land and as such, you would have to check the laws, bi-laws and any regulations set by your local authority just to be absolutely sure.

What’s Legal in Scotland might be not be in Wales and a punishable offence in England so there’s no real yes or no answer to this other than recommending you check the local laws in your own area.

The quickest and easiest way to check is to simple Google, “is boondocking legal in (your area)“.

An Alternative Vehicle To The Delica L300

I stated earlier that although the Mitsubishi Delica L300 is my top pick as best van for boondocking, good ones at reasonable prices are pretty thin on the ground. So, what’s the alternative?

If you’re a tame boondocker and will only visit places that you will get in and out of easily and without issue, then a normal, bog standard day van would suit all your boondocking needs. Ford Transit? Volkswagen Transporter? Renault Trafic? All great boondocking vans.

If you’re interested in wild camping, we also did a great article on the best van for a camper conversion that might also interested you. Read it here: Choosing A Van For A Camper Project

If you like the idea of getting a little adventurous though, then a good big 4×4 vehicle such as a Mitsubishi Shogun or a Toyota Land Cruiser with the back seats removed would do everything a Delica L300 can.

The only downside to using a 4×4 car is that you lose all the fantastic interior space offered only by a van.

Are You Ready To Boondock? In A Van?

I know I am. Now that I know what boondocking is I’m on Google Earth and ready to roll.

I also know that although the best van for boondocking is still that rugged little Delica L300 4×4, but I’m also resigned to the fact that the good ones at a reasonable price are so rare, I probably won’t be getting one any time soon 🙁

Further Reading.

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