Ryan Ponto (@dasponto) is a Civil engineering designer by day, photographer by night. He's based in Edmonton, Alberta with his wife Melissa and his two goldens Finn and Tucker. He’s the proud owner of a wicked Audi Q7 that he tows an Airstream Basecamp X with. Coincidentally, he’s also the president of the Audi Club North America Western Canada (@audiclubwc). We recently sat down and dove deep on his Audi, Airstream, and how he uses it.
What makes you happiest?
For us we are happiest when we are on the road adventuring the Rockies in our Q7 with the Tin Palace (Our 2019 Airstream Basecamp X) and goldens in tow. Whether it be hiking, mountain biking, beach days with the dogs or even just lounging at whatever campsite we happen to find. Getting away from the regular day to day and away from it all really does the mind and body good.
Describe your vehicle
Our current project is out of the norm for the offroad world, it's a 2022 Q7 3.0L V6t in Daytona Grey that my wife picked up to replace her Q5 that we used to tow the basecamp with. At the moment there isn't a ton of aftermarket support for the latest Q7, but we are doing our best to take it beyond the pavement. We had the entire vehicle wrapped in Xpel to protect the body and windshield protected by Exo Shield for the countless rocks and gravel every Albertan knows oh too well for chips and cracks. From there we had our local independent shop Rivercity Motors install H&R 1" lift springs (currently the only option available for lifts... waiting on you Eurowise...). To connect us to the pavement we are running BFGoodrich K02's in 265/65R18 on a set of Black Rhino Arches (with matching set on the trailer, because well it just looks so good). The lift paired with the BFG's push the Q7 up a little over 2" over stock, which aligns better with our Basecamp given it has a factory 3" lift.
Describe your favourite feature of your vehicle
Favourite feature of the Q7... that one's actually kind of tough. There is so much we love about it. Probably the fact that we can take it a number of places offroad (obviously not the most capable not having locking diffs etc.) and go on numerous adventures (it's a great shuttle rig for downhill biking days) and at the same time, be an absolute dream on the highway. It tows the airstream like it's not even there. That German engineering pays off once and awhile.
Most epic stuck/breakdown/wrong turn?
Given we've only had the Q7 for less than a year, we've only had it into the Rockies but love heading down the David Thompson highway and finding crown land spots to camp in away from all the hustle and bustle of the touristy spots like Banff or Jasper. Next spring will be the real test, as we are set to embark on a 8,000km road trip down to Utah and through Nevada before heading back up the Oregon coast.
Knock on wood moment... but also because we are fairly conservative with the Q7 as it sits right now (really need to expand the recovery gear and equipment before we really go diving deep into some trouble)... No breakdowns or stuck moments yet... (wife is going to kill me for saying yet, her ideal would be never. But what fun is that).
Any advice to someone thinking of getting into a custom adventure vehicle?
Advice, well I will admit starting with a new vehicle is nice... no rusted bolts. Everything comes apart nicely. But being one of the first to go a different route (Most Q5 and Q7 owners lower, do the typical euro thing) is that there really isn't much support out there and you have to figure things out for yourself. But that is half the fun. Be sure to enjoy the process and know it's a dangerous path to head down because it's really hard to stop once you've started. We've already got the next 3 or 4 upgrades planned / in the works for Q7.
Cheers and happy trails!
Ryan, Mel and the Goldens.