What It’s Like To Be One Of The First Outsiders

Currently living on a vineyard in California, Ernest Culver is one of the originals. Spending his free time hauling his motorcycle in his van to meet up with his buddies for a weekend ride and camping and road tripping with his wife, Ernest is amongst the first to be able to call himself an Outsider.

Ernest is the owner of one of the first Outside Van conversions ever made. His 2009 2WD Sprinter van, Earth Romper One, has lived up to its name over the past 14 years.

After spending a whole year doing extensive research on what type of rig would best suit his needs, he chose to go with an adventure van from Outside Van. He didn’t want a massive trailer, but he needed something with a large cargo space. What made him choose in the end was a picture of Earth Romper One with the back seats flipped up and back doors wide open. He thought that this would be the perfect van to transport his motorcycle and haul gravel while still traveling in comfort.

Earth Romper One has taken Ernest everywhere he’s wanted and needed to go. Built on a 170 Chassis, and usually towing a trailer full of adventure motorcycles, Earth Romper is prepared for almost any adventure, even parking has never been a problem for Ernest, even in cities! Sure, he might have to walk and extra block or two, but the van is still much more maneuverable than a trailer or RV on small or busy roads. Ernest loves the versatility of his van. With large freshwater, gray water, and black water tanks, plenty of solar power, and rechargeable batteries, he can stay off-grid and fully self-sufficient for many weeks, before needing to re-join civilization.

Want more 170 layout inspiration? You can filter by chassis size in our van gallery!

170 Wheelbase InspO

Over the last 14 years, Ernest and Earth Romper One have grown and changed alongside Outside Van. We’ve discovered more innovative ways to build our vans, and Ernest has kept right up to speed with upfits and new products. Some products and features he’s added over the years include the slider bug screen, Aluminess boxes on the back, overhead LED lights, more battery power, and several changes to the galley area.

Some of his favorite trips with his van include day rides with his buddies in Hood River and Baker City, and long road trips with his wife. These trips typically involve camping in the van in places like Colorado and California, with some resort stays mixed in along the way. It’s confirmed that Earth Romper One has been a trusty steed on wheels!

Now a wise and experienced van lifer, Ernest shared with us some of his thoughts on the lifestyle, and steps to take if you’re interested in van life. He says, as you get into your 30s, your interest in tenting begins to wane, and interest in creature comforts begins to grow. With a van you can design your own plan and decide where you like to go, and best of all you don’t have to sleep 4 feet away from someone in a RV park.

Ernest believes that there’s nothing more important than the floorplan. The floorplan defines everything you do and how you move around in your van, so it’s imperative to spend lots of time designing it. All the other bells and whistles can be added later once your floor plan is perfected.

Feeling inspired yet?

Let’s talk vans

Earth Romper One hits all the marks for Ernest. He says the quality of his van just keeps rolling, and unless something major goes wrong (knock on wood!), he’s going to keep roaming in his Earth Romper One.

VIEW THE Full Gallery