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Video of the Week :: Living the Vanlife – Desert Overlanding

I’m sure many of you will already be familiar with Chad DeRosa’s Youtube channel Living the Vanlife; after all, his “Winter Storm in a Van” episode received over 14,500,000 views. During the pandemic, Chad transitioned from his trusty 1990 2WD Vanagon Westfalia to a Mercedes Sprinter 4WD with the goal of creating “the ultimate overlanding vehicle possible on the Sprinter platform.”

In my recent interview with Chad, he explained that “choosing the vehicle was risky. “Beforehand, I struggled to find any Sprinters online being used off-road. Sure, you see lots of jacked-up 4WD Sprinters on social media, but you rarely see them actually overlanding.”

Never one to shy away from a challenge, Chad, alongside several specialists, spent 38 weeks transforming his stock Sprinter 4WD into a one-of-a-kind all-terrain vehicle. The build was extremely time-consuming and required him to step back from Youtube temporarily. Hence, upon completion, there was no opportunity to test the new setup. “The first video on the channel with the Sprinter was my first time driving it off-road, and that was pretty scary, but that also made it real and entertaining,” he said.

Desert Overlanding is a visual masterpiece that had me sitting on the edge of my seat from start to finish. Chad made it clear that his rig is a “tool for remote exploration and not a show pony.” On its maiden voyage in Southern California, the Sprinter 4WD was certainly put to the test.

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No money in the bank, but gas in the tank. Our resident Bikepacking Editor Jack Mac is an exploration photographer and writer living full-time in his 1986 Vanagon Syncro but spends most days at the garage pondering why he didn’t buy a Land Cruiser Troopy. If he’s not watching the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, he can be found mountaineering for Berghaus, sea kayaking for Prijon, or bikepacking for Surly Bikes. Jack most recently spent two years on various assignments in the Arctic Circle but is now back in the UK preparing for his upcoming expeditions—looking at Land Cruisers. Find him on his website, Instagram, or on Facebook under Bicycle Touring Apocalypse.