The Rack – The Awning – The Ladder

I’m designing a van that can allow us to expand our loads as needed. Aside from overhead storage and under seat storage, I wanted rooftop storage. I may later add a box up there, or just use straps.  I also wanted a higher vantage point that I could use for photography. In combination, these three products can create a couple interesting areas around the van.

The awning was pretty straightforward to install. Fiamma makes a great product. The instructions barely had written words and mainly relied on images to convey proper technique.  Simply, the wide mounting brackets bolt onto the rails, and their back legs are sealed to the roof.  The awning is then mounted on it, and fixed in place with a few locking screws that keep it from shifting on the road.

The platform rack came from RhinoRack and was made to fit the van. However, the awning and platform were not made to fit together on the van. I looked to Cole from CaveVan to drop some wisdom, and he came up with a set of custom brackets that could inset the mountpoints on the platform feet, just enough to clear the awning. The downside is that the install was made ever more ‘finicky’ by this complication.

Jason and Irik rolled up one afternoon and with some good ol’ fashioned midwestern farm sense, a decent set of spanners and ratchets, we all contorted ourselves in order to lock in the install.

The ladder was from Vantek and it’s a basic aluminum bolt-on ladder. I liked the degree to which the kit come equipped to do a solid install. Rubber gaskets, washers, and other stainless fasteners made the ladder a solid attachment ready for the rigors of the road.

In the end I’m really happy with all of the exterior components. It came out better than I had hoped.  I look forward to sitting up almost 15′ to gain an interesting vantage point on the world. The awning can extend the full length of the van creating another room with its shade.

On to the next phase, the interior.