#VanLife is growing up.
Native Campervans, a Denver startup that has grown its fleet to 40 vehicles, has a new model for families with little kids, proving that van camping isn’t just for photogenic millennial couples posting on Instagram.
Enter the company’s biggest van yet: the Squad.
“It seats four and sleeps four, and we’ve never had a family version that can accommodate that large of a group,” said founder and CEO Dillon Hansen. “What’s great is the back seats have anchors for car seats. So you can take a newborn.”
The Squad has a wood cabin motif on the inside and is built on a Ram ProMaster frame. (You can watch a video tour here.)
Native Campervans started in 2015 in Denver and has outposts in Las Vegas and Salt Lake.
Business in the last three months has been as up and down as a tourist driving on Colorado mountain passes.
Bookings – the rigs cost around $1,000 a week – evaporated in March and April. Hansen said he just fielded calls for cancellations. Then the phone started ringing for a different reason.
It was Coloradans looking for an adventure close to home. The company is now sold out for July and August. And American tourists have replaced international ones, who used to account for 25 percent of Native’s business.
Hansen said Front Range customers are about 60 percent of the business in Denver now.
The biggest challenge, he said, is running the company with no physical contact with clients.
From its base near the train station at 38th and Blake, the company lets customers check in unassisted with a lock box.
“We’ll see if that concept sticks,” Hansen said, adding that the location made sense to accommodate travelers arriving at DIA and taking the train to pick up their campervan.
Native Campervans has two Squad vans and another two on order, and Hansen said he thinks he can add a total of 10 more vans next year.