Sprinter Van Training Systems
My partner and I are hitting the road in our sprinter in about a month and I’m thinking of how to to adapt my training (basically a pull up bar and hangboard to the van). I haven’t really come up with any great ideas and thought you’d have some good advice. Thanks!
We also deliberated a lot about this, and the setup that we’re trying out right now is the free standing tripod that was engineered by Tom Lindner who is a genius climber person. If you build the classic Tom Tripod, you will need to have some type of rack on top of the van in order to transport the poles: in our case, we had put in roof rails already to make a hang glider rack, so we were most of the way there on this option. Putting in the roof rails is an investment of time and money, so factor that in. You can also build this tripod with telescoping poles as another genius climber-engineer person has done, which could save you doing the roof rack and honestly a lot of wrangling–we may modify ours to telescope at some point, just to get rid of the loading/unloading factor onto the roof. At the moment, we like having it on the roof because sometimes we are traveling with a motorcycle on the back, and then that makes it more of a pain to access the rear cargo. We strap the poles onto the rack with a couple of short ratchet straps, like you’d use for a motorcycle or on a trailer.
If you do want to go for a roof rack, here’s some beta for you. We purchased the Vantech Mercedes/Dodge Sprinter 170 Track (170 Wheel Base) Track, but it turns out that you only need the A and C rails, with a couple of pieces of 1×3 between them. So you can save almost $100 by only buying the A and C rails separately: the rails will be about $250, plus the lumber. If you are planning to do this, the very best thing is to install the rails before you do any insulating or interior finishing on the van. We had to disassemble the ceiling a little bit in order to drill in the screws for the rails. You also need to seal those screws with silicon and test it from the outside with a hose, to make sure it’s water tight. The nice thing about the rails is they allow you to put any sort of rack up there–I find it a little annoying they don’t come pre-installed on the van, but that’s how the world works I guess 😉
For Tom and Elke, the non-telescoping tripod is a perfect setup because they travel in a small minivan, and the roof is low so it’s a pretty easy on-off for the metal poles. If you want to use this setup with your Sprinter, it will be a little more effort to get the poles on and off your roof because it’s so high. We have this nice folding/telescoping aluminum ladder from Home Depot which cost about $50 (this was purchased on a different occasion because Ian once had to transport a hang glider from Salt Lake and had to make a temporary rack setup on someone else’s car, which he did by using this ladder as a support frame on a regular car roof rack–but the ladder has turned out to be amazing for everything!). Honestly, I find it a bit of a chore getting the poles on and off of the roof whilst also trying not to scratch the van–they are a little heavy and the roof is high. I usually make Ian set up the tripod because he doesn’t seem to find it that big of a deal.
Once the tripod is actually off the van and set up, it is amazing! You can put a pullup bar on it or rig up a hangboard, or really anything you want to pull up on or hang off of. We are using the Metolius project board, and also the Awesome Woody’s cliff board. There was an unfortunate incident on the inaugural training session where I tried to move the tripod, not realizing the Project Board was merely resting from eyehooks on the straight screws of the tripod and it fell off and hit me on the head. Those things are heavy, so perhaps I should be wearing a helmet when I train. The Cliff Board is a little less hazardous. Basically, I think the rosin boards are great for permanent installation at home, but keeping it light seems like a priority for this travel set up (for all the reasons), so keep that in mind when choosing your board/rings/bar options.
My favorite hangboard workouts at the moment are the 10 minute workouts from Metolius (these are hard to find on the site for some reason, but here are links), and the Steve Bechtel ladders, and of course Frenchies.
If you don’t have the time to do this full tripod project, I highly recommend getting the Awesome Woody’s cliff board, because you can often find somewhere to hang it and then you at least have something. I hope you do have time though, because having your own setup anywhere you want (especially in the desert) is super nice!