We're back with another edition of RUX Rides! This time we sat down with Donato Perconti of the Double Mountain Van Family from Hood River Oregon to catch up on his custom Mercedes Sprinter van that he uses for epic family adventures.
Tell us Donato, who are you? Where do you live? What makes you the happiest?
We're a family of 4 living in the Pacific Northwest in a small but magical town called Hood River. Mom & Dad are avid athletes who do just about every sport we can get our hands and feet on. Mountain biking, skiing, snowboarding, trail running, rock climbing, and kiteboarding are a few of our favorites. We also have a two and five-year-old with whom we are indoctrinating with our love of the outdoors and athletics.
Describe your vehicle: make, model, etc.
We have a 2020 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter High-Roof 2500 144 V6 that has been outfitted by El Kapitan Vans out of Huntington Beach, California. With this, we have a slew of tools and upgrades at our fingertips, including;
- Van Compass 4.3 Suspension Upgrade
- BFG KO2 Tires and Black Rhino Arsenal wheels
- Secondary Alternator
- Zamp Solar controller & dual solar panels
- Xanbus inverter controller w/ Xantrex inverter charger
- Webasto air heating system high altitude
- Exterior Aluminess nerf bars, ladder, and roof rack.
- Sink, induction stovetop, microwave, Isotherm refrigerator, cabinetry, outdoor shower, LED lights everywhere
- And much more
Give us the run-down on your favorite feature of your vehicle.
We've only had the van for about three months and are still finding features that we love. That said, the concept of having a home on wheels is incredible, especially with two young kiddos. The heater has also been surprisingly efficient, keeping our family toasty warm even when snow camping in 5-degree weather.
Best location/adventure you've ever had with your vehicle?
My wife and I brought in the new year of 2022 on top of our home mountain of Mt. Hood with a group of other van-lifers, trailers, and pop-tops. It was the perfect vibe of staying the night on the mountain in the snow, snowshoeing, skiing, and stargazing.
Most epic stuck/breakdown/wrong turn?
On our first off-grid trip, we arrived at our destination much later than we had wanted. The roads were relatively navigable, but it was pitch black, and we needed to drive down a short but steep hill with twisting ditches to get to our spot for the next few days. My wife and I deliberated over whether or not to take the route or wait until the following day. Finally, we decided to go for it, with my wife helping me navigate the path from outside. On the way down, the gutters were deep enough to cause one of the wheels to leave the ground briefly before touching back down, rocking the tall-roofed van. While Jeeps and Tacoma's do this all the time, we found it exhilarating to get a wheel off our 3-ton van on its maiden voyage.
Any advice to someone thinking of getting into a custom adventure vehicle?
Go down the rabbit hole! There are a million different outfitters, upgrades, modifications, etc. It helps a lot to know the builders, what they specialize in, and how it may aid in your adventures. In addition, there are many community events where you can ask builders and owners questions about what they prioritized in their build and how it may align with your needs. The van community has been above and beyond friendly and inclusive, which made our decisions that much easier.