Owner: BRIAN LAU
Photos: MATT GIRGIS
NEEDING THIS I grew up highly involved with the Boy Scouts so the outdoors was not foreign to me. I loved it and wouldn’t change a thing. However, as I grew older, I gravitated towards the car scene, especially the customizing aspects of it. As my priorities changed, so did my lifestyle. I started buying and fixing up BMWs in college and that hobby stuck with me up until I got married. I did purchase a 2006 Chevy Tahoe Z-71 in my mid-20s and my extent of off-roading was basically local fire roads and snow trips to Mammoth. I only had a 3” lift and wheels on 33” tires. I think I even put on HID headlights and fog lights. LOL. Eventually, when my kids were born, so was the hybrid and van life. It was also time to get back out in the wild and share those experiences with my family.
It all started with an Instagram group called @weekendoffroad that I started following. I joined them on one of their excursions and I was hooked after my first trip. I have a great career in finance. It’s not exciting and I have formed great relationships with my clients, but I needed more in my life. I chose the handle @more.van.ever because it was a point in time that I decided to live a little. I did not want to regret not taking my kids out on adventurous trips and camping. So we needed this, “more than ever.”
Off-roading my 4×4 Sprinter was never my intention and I didn’t even want it. I was going to sell it based on the market demand. Luckily, things didn’t go as planned and I grew to love everything about the Sprinter as an adventure rig. It was capable, different, convenient, spacious and just a badass beast of a ride with a lot of potential. I quickly became a fan of its capabilities and pushed it to its limits. The offroad/overland community had a big influence on how the Sprinter was built, and what purpose it served. Early on, I was definitely doing what a majority of Sprinter vans weren’t doing yet.
Coming from another car scene, I carried the philosophy that if there isn’t something out there you like, you make it. A lot of the exterior parts such as the roof rack, sliders, front and rear bumpers are custom from Rugged Design Concepts and CAtuned Off-road. When it comes to suspension, I went to the best, which is Agile Offroad. I relied heavily on their expertise and recommendations when it came to functionality and accessories for the van. I used to work on my cars, but now it really depends on how complicated and how much time is required when it comes to doing the mods myself. I would say for the most part the van goes to a shop. Since it’s still under warranty, the dealer takes care of the service and maintenance. Suspension and other goodies go to Agile Offroad. Installation of custom parts goes to Rugged Design Concepts and everything for the interior goes to Losthiway Customs.
The front bumper is a limited run from CAtuned Off-road which I think is the best-looking front bumper in the market, hands down. I believe only five bumpers exist, and it’s highly sought after. The rock sliders are made from DOM steel tubing and are the only set that exists for its purpose. The rear bumper is custom and modified again to fit a RIGd Supply Ultra Swing tire carrier. The roof rack is also a one-off Baja style design from Rugged Design Concepts. Everything they fabricated on the Sprinter is of the best design and craftsmanship.
As I mentioned, the suspension is the Agile Offroad RIP (Ride Improvement Package) Kit Max. It’s version 2 of their custom suspension which consists of front Bilstein struts with Fox 2.0 coilover shocks and the rear has Fox 2.0 shocks combined with a custom leaf pack. This suspension setup is a game-changer when off the road. On the inside, I needed organization and gear management and I turned to Lost Hiway Customs to customize the cabin. They built aluminum interior components for the bed and storage system which is a very clean aesthetic, durable, and most importantly, lightweight.
Powering up this massive home away from home is always key, so the 300ah setup by Renogy Solar is more than enough. It includes (3) 100ah Smart Lithium batteries, 2000w Inverter, solar controller, Bluetooth monitoring, and (3) 100W solar panels on the roof. I also run 100K Lumens of Baja Designs Lights all over the Sprinter. You can never have too many lights! Upfitting never ends until there is nothing more the market can offer. The big brake kit and diff lockers by Agile Offroad are the latest industry mod for Sprinters. I’m waiting to get those dirty soon and put them to the test! When putting together this build, or any build, I would have to say time was the biggest challenge. The van market is exploding and with the backlog of parts, it takes a long time to get a project started and to finish it. Oh, and money too. Sprinter builds are not cheap.
KEEPING UP AND THEN SOME
This rig was built to keep up with my off-road buddies that drive 4Runners, Land Rovers, Tundras, and the like. It had one purpose and that was to be able to take my kids out on adventures where my other friends went. Staying true to its purpose has opened up a lot of doors for this build by proving the capability of the Sprinter van platform. Camping is our No. 1 activity. With the amount of real estate that comes with a Sprinter, you can imagine how much more room there is to pack alternative goodies for outdoor activities.
I think we gravitated towards mountain biking which has helped my kids become more active outside of traditional sports. It’s a lot of fun for my whole family to get out there on the trails, explore and come back to our basecamp to relax. There are so many great experiences to be had in a Sprinter van. It’s the perfect platform to travel with a family, park anywhere, enjoy the outdoors, or just hang out inside like a mini RV. Deserts are always a fun place to go because of the vast openness, wide trails, and silt beds. The weather is usually unpredictable, but there’s so much to explore with wide-open views of the night sky. We’ve been to Utah to see breathtaking landscapes, in Nevada driving on dirt roads alongside wild horses and gazelles and forged water crossings 30” deep. All these moments are memorable, even the times getting stuck in mud, sand and snow.
Luckily the Sprinter has armor. I have full skid plate protection on the front, transmission, gas tank, rear diff, and rock sliders. There has only been one trail I have not been able to complete. It consisted of loose rocks, steep inclines along cliffs, and high camber in various parts of the trail. The gatekeeper mid-way through was a giant embedded boulder that I couldn’t clear with my long wheelbase. I tried for almost an hour before accepting defeat. Know your rig, and your limits. Nobody wants to be stranded on a trail, especially alone. Recovery gear is a must. The very basic items include a tow strap and/or kinetic rope, steel and soft shackles, extra tow hitch for a recovery vehicle, shovel, and traction boards.
I have all these items stored in their dedicated Roam Adventure Co cases so I can just pack them up and go. I also have mechanical fluids, tools, and gloves to fix practically anything outside of something that needs to e welded. We look at the weather forecast so we know what clothes to bring. Pack emergency food, meds, and plenty of water. For comms, we use Midland USA radios and Garmin inReach to help with communication when cell reception cuts out. We just acquired a SAT phone for our Sprinter Overland Trips thanks to Agile Offroad. Being stranded is not an option, which is why we carry virtually everything possible to get us out of a bind. We also try to travel in groups so we have recovery vehicles and as the saying goes there is safety in numbers.
2018 MERCEDES-BENZ 3500XD 4X4 SPRINTER (SUPER SINGLE)