in Overlanding / by Nick Jaynes

Three years ago, Malcolm Judd received an assignment from his employer, the Utah Office of Tourism, that involved capturing video footage for The Mighty Five campaign. A dream job that took him on the road and into some of Utah’s most treasured landscapes also, unfortunately, took him away from his wife and kids. Without a safe, comfortable way for the family to join, they would often be left behind while Malcolm explored and photographed spectacular Utah scenery.

Not happy with this arrangement, they began researching campers. 

This posed a new challenge: What would allow the Judd family to accompany Malcolm on backroads but also provide the electrical power needed to charge film gear, support a full kitchen, shower, and provide room for toys and gear storage?

In their exhaustive research, they concluded that camper trucks were too small and too vulnerable to break-ins. Trailers were simply too big, and pop-top vehicles were unreliable in bad weather, as well as too much work to set up and take down.

Ultimately, they needed something that was always ready-to-go without much setup, and small enough to make exploring backroads possible. Most importantly, it needed to be secure to protect Malcolm’s film gear — regardless of elevation, terrain, or environment.

When researching Sprinter van builds, it became clear that no one was designing them with families in mind. So, they decided to DIY their own. 

From the outset, the Judds knew they wanted to utilize the van’s roof. After all, if it has a load-bearing roof the size of a small apartment, why not use it? 

Sprinter Van Roof

However, they quickly discovered the roof didn’t provide enough real estate for both an AC Solar Panel as well as a place to hang out. So, they got creative. 

The Roofnest Falcon XL was the solution. Its flat top shell created a place for solar panels, And still left enough room where Malcolm was able to fabricate an extended mounting bracket that elevated the tent over the top of the air conditioner. 

By adding an electrically retractable skylight the rooftop deck became accessible from inside the van while the exterior doors were locked. This provides a measure of security and allows the family to lock the van at night while they sleep in the rooftop tent. They also got the outdoor camping experience without tracking dirt in and out of the van. 

Sprinter Van

“It was perfect!” said Malcolm Todd. “We kept the screen shut on the sides and my whole family could now sleep up top together. I wont say that we all got the best night’s sleep. But nothing beats that camping feeling.”

It wasn’t long after Malcolm finished his family’s personal van that he started receiving requests to build vans for others. The Todds weren’t alone; other families wanted to get out and explore as well. Those families found, just as the Todds had, that no one was building vans for families.

Thus, Adventure Family Van (AFV) was born. Malcolm quit his video production career and took his family’s experiences to craft custom vans so that more families could enjoy the outdoors.

AFV’s clients love their Roofnest rooftop tents. Malcolm and his clients report that the Falcon XL makes the van look complete. What’s more, the Falcon XL provides better views than one might get from inside the van. And having a roof top tent atop the van creates an entire extra level of living/playing space.

“Roofnest’s Falcon XL is so awesome!” Malcolm added.

To see more of Malcom’s services, visit: afvbuilds.com

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