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FRONT RUNNER ON THE MOVE – YETI THE VAN

FRONT RUNNER ON THE MOVE – YETI THE VAN

- March 01, 2024

South African couple Michael and Acacia and their cat Rusks have been exploring their home country in a Fiat Ducato van since May 2021; in that time, they’ve visited over 100 campsites. Their lives are all about prioritizing adventures and new experiences. Thanks to their cinematography and photographic skills, they work on the road as content creators and showcase their escapades on YouTube. Front Runner recently interviewed these likable digital nomads. ​

© Yeti.the.van

You live in a van. How did this come about? ​

In May 2021, we had to hit the road as the apartment we were living in was sold; we packed up only what could fit into our Suzuki Jimny. During the next six months of camping across South Africa, we encountered tricky weather, including snow, and realized we needed a vehicle upgrade. Michael had been searching Facebook marketplace for a van to suit our budget and expectations. Eventually, we found a 2016 Fiat Ducato L2H2 in our hometown of East London. It was an empty shell, and we bought it after a test drive and mechanical inspection. ​

© Yeti.the.van

Why a Fiat Ducato?​

There are several reasons: we can both stand upright inside the cargo area, the van's width allows us to sleep in a standard double bed, we can maximize the storage space, and it’s the largest vehicle you can drive on a standard driver’s license in South Africa. ​

© Yeti.the.van

How did you transform it into a mobile home? ​

It was just a shell when we got it, and we had no prior woodwork or van refitment experience, so we just watched and learned from YouTube. We decided to have a fixed bed in the back of the van; this allows us to have a lot of storage underneath it (2x electric bicycles, 1x surfboard, 2x skateboards, 100L freshwater tank, inflatable kayak, tools, traditional South African potjie pot, a pizza braai, and much more). ​

We love opening the back doors to enjoy the views from our bed. We also prioritized a workstation as we work full-time while on the road. We built a swivel table using galvanized plumbing pipes that became the perfect workstation above the bench. Our van is entirely off-grid capable with its 115WATT solar panel and three portable power stations, so there is no electricity shortage if the sun keeps shining. ​

© Yeti.the.van

Does the van ever feel claustrophobic? ​

We don’t find living in the van claustrophobic as we can open all the doors and have nature all around. To us, it’s the ultimate indoor/outdoor living concept. We spend most of our time outside, with the world as our backyard. We love that the small space is quick and easy to clean; it has also taught us that you don’t need much to be happy.​

© Yeti.the.van

Rusks, your young cat, travels with you now. Is that easy to do? ​

We recently adopted an 8-week-old rescue kitten and welcomed Rusks into our tiny home. We were initially nervous, but he instantly felt at home in the van and perfectly slotted into our lifestyle. We also need to consider Rusks when planning our day, as we like to take him adventuring during the cooler parts of the day. ​

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© Yeti.the.van

Have you had any major breakdowns?​

Since owning it, we’ve been lucky and regularly service it. In September 2022, we had our most extensive breakdown when the clutch gave up the ghost on a gravel track in a remote area. It took about a week to sort, which was inconvenient as we had work to do, but it’s been fine since.  ​

© Yeti.the.van

You went with the Slimpro Van Rack. Why? ​

We searched for a roof rack to maximize the exterior van storage space. The Front Runner Slimpro Van Rack was the best fit as it easily mounted onto the brackets of the Fiat. As the name suggests, it’s very low profile and doesn’t affect our fuel efficiency. Since the van is our full-time home, the roof is a vital space for extra storage; we have two more surfboards, a 3kg gas bottle, and 3 Wolf Pack Pro storage boxes, which have seasonal clothing, wetsuits, and more, on our rack. We also have an awning that provides shade in front of our side door. ​

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© Yeti.the.van

What other bits of Front Runner kit do you have? ​

Our Expander Chairs are so comfortable and conveniently fold away into a tiny carry bag, we use them every day. We love a traditional South African braai when the sun sets and use our BBQ/Fire Pit for that. It neatly folds away into a Wolf Pack Pro storage box. Our heavy-duty Fridge Slide can take up to 100kg, and it’s indeed stood the test of time.​

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© Yeti.the.van

What are your three favorite places visited and why? ​

Cederberg Mountains​

We love the outdoor activities of the Cederberg: hiking, mountain biking, and especially bouldering. It’s off the beaten track, and often, we’re the only people there. ​

Garden Route ​

We’ve spent much time here, taking in this precious piece of African coastline. It’s like a giant’s garden, from lush indigenous forests with trees towering overhead to rocky coastal pools to some of the world’s best point breaks for surfing. ​

The Wild Coast ​

This area is very remote and rural. The coastline is undeveloped, here humans and nature work together for the greater good. There are endless surf breaks with no crowds other than the friendly dolphins and occasional whales. ​

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© Yeti.the.van

Would you ever venture to another continent in your van? What other places are on your travel bucket list? ​

We’ve considered taking Yeti across African borders; however, South Africa keeps amazing us! Also, shipping internationally is a costly undertaking. Our South African bucket list still includes exploring the Drakensberg Mountains, the KwaZulu Natal coastline up to the Mozambique border, the Free State, and Mpumalanga. 

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