Pacer: Athletic Recovery Anywhere
After its journey to Mammoth Lakes with two incredible athletes, Lindsay and Ryan, it is safe to say that Pacer is the ultimate recovery adventure vehicle. Built on a 2021 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 170 chassis as its foundation, Pacer was produced to be a sanctuary for nomadic professional athletes to prepare, rest, and recover as they travel to compete in professional endurance sports such as trail running and obstacle course racing.
Pacer began its life on a whiteboard years before production. Functional van conversions have become the norm in the world of endurance athletes as competitions stretch out into remote outdoor locations, and often begin and end with the rise and setting of the sun. By utilizing a camper van, athletes can arrive days before a competition and spend more time prepping without having to factor in lengthy and complex travel arrangements and often expensive hotel stays. We set a goal to build a vehicle that compliments this lifestyle so athletes can stay in the competitive mindset and perform at their full potential.
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The layout is core to any performance-based conversion. A primary need was to create a space that was modular, functional, and could accommodate the unique needs of athletes in recovery. We decided to incorporate our motorized Altitude Bed, allowing for the back area of the van to transform from a sleeping area to a garage space by the push of a button. The underside of the bed platform has embedded lights while the garage itself features removable MOLLE panels, durable Lonseal flooring, mesh storage pockets, and plenty of L-track to give the user lots of gear stowage options for mountain bikes, first aid kits, recovery gear and more. The functionality continues with a hot/cold water mixer, fed off the 25-gallon freshwater tank, 12v and USB power outlets, and a quick connect air compressor coupler that is connected to the 3 Gallon ARB Air Compressor.
It was important to have a balance between functionality and comfort in the living area. The galley and cabinetry are all built using durable marine grade plywood and an assembly process that has been homed in over many years to provide a squeak-free experience that is a hallmark of the craftsmanship of an Outside Van®. The passenger side of the van houses a lengthy bench that extends into the slider door opening, allowing for full-body relaxation while using recovery gear such as Hyperice Normatec Compression Leggings or Hyperice Hypervolt Percussion Massagers. Under the cushion is a full-length storage compartment with gas actuated struts that help keep the lid of the compartment open while rummaging for athletic gear. On the interior side of the bench is a deep pull-out drawer, as well a mount for a custom Lagun table. On the exterior side of the bench in the slider opening is a pocket table that can be deployed for a quick surface to rest your coffee as you warm up for a brisk morning run.
Opposite the bench on the driver’s side is a double-wide galley kitchen. This galley houses a drawer-based stainless steel combo fridge/freezer, a dual burner glass induction cooktop, a stainless-steel sink, and a robust set of push-lock latch activated bamboo drawers to store pots, pans, plates, and utensils. Above the galley is a small microwave and systems control panel housed in a solid wall mounted cabinet unit, as well as under-cabinet lighting that ensures you can cook at all hours.
Rounding out the interior, it’s hard to miss the large, custom fabricated shower located directly behind the driver’s seat. This shower is welded out of aluminum and powder coated for durability. The entrance to the shower has a custom-made waterproof curtain that when zipped up creates an insulated and fully enclosed showering experience. The floor of the shower features a CNC’d Teak floor platform, with a matching fold-out teak bench seat mounted to the wall of the shower. This seat is muti-purpose, and allows for seated washing, while also enabling a relaxation space for when using the flush-mounted red light therapy light bar. The Clearlight™ red-light therapy bar system uses a mixture of light wavelengths that help with muscle and skin rehabilitation, which is an added luxury for outdoor athletes who push their bodies to their limits in extreme environments. When not in use, the Clearlight™ system can be covered with a waterproof flap, and a collapsible water-proof shelving system can be installed via L-Track to turn the extra shower space into a functional closet. Finally, the shower enclosure features pocket cubbies which are accessed directly behind the driver that add that little bit of extra storage that is important when living in such a confined space.
Moving to the external features of Pacer, it is hard to ignore the custom vinyl wrap co-designed with Oregon Design Co and features color hints taken from the interior of the van while prominently featuring Mt. Hood as a testimony to the challenges Pacer’s occupants willingly face.
Further expanding on the performance capabilities of Pacer, the van utilizes a suspension upgrade, the Agile Off-Road RIP Kit featuring custom-tuned Fox Factory 2.5 IFP Shocks in the rear, and a fortified leaf spring to help mitigate the heavier load of the conversion. Pacer also utilizes a dual rear wheel version of the Sprinter 170 chassis which helps manage the enhanced weight and adds towing capacity.
To enhance nighttime driving and camping, there is a full Rigid Industries light package which includes a 50-inch light bar, ditch lights, bumper lights, amber SAE fog lights, scene lights, and rock lights.
There is also a robust set of metalwork, all built in house, including a full-length safari roof rack that acts as a mounting point for the 50-Inch lightbar and Dual 140-Watt Zamp Solar Panels. To access the safari rack, there are side and rear utility ladders which feature L-track mounted on the fronts of each step, as well as grimple plates for better traction in inclement weather conditions.
Pacer is an exploration into what is possible with a van conversion. As the utilitarian nature of vans evolve from cargo haulers to essential living spaces, Outside Van is proud to be the leader in innovation and push the boundaries of what van life encompasses!