Dirtbag Dwellings: Gavin Elliot of Lakefield, Ontario

Dirtbag Dwellings is a mini-series in collaboration with LA-based photographer Jack Strutz, where we seek to capture the stories of climbers living on the fringe … in their vehicles. This feature was shot in spring 2016 in Joshua Tree.


Gavin Dirtbag Dwelling

Quick bites

  • Age: 19
  • Occupation: reforestation / tree planting
  • Van type: ’93 VW Euro Van Westfalia
  • Miles: 370,000
  • Time spent in van: 3 months
  • Birthplace: Lakefield, Ontario
  • Relationship status: has a girlfriend
  • Time since last shower: 7 days; 3 in the past 12 weeks
  • Average monthly expenses: $350

Gavin Dirtbag Dwelling

I’m living in a van because …

Just to be able to climb as much as possible and to have an amazing life. Relax all the time; I’m always on vacation.

What surprised you most about van life?

I’d say the ease of it and how easy it is to lose track of time, never know the day of the week, and just always be climbing—always having the climbing shoes on.

Do you have any nuisances?

I don’t think I have any major nuisances except for my partner’s dry sense of humor. He’s my Irish buddy, Colin, who’s been traveling with me and sleeps on the bottom bunk.

He’s actually hilarious …

Gavin van life

Do you have any tricks for organization?

Don’t let being overly organized bother you. It’s going to be messy no matter what.

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Tell us about your wildest van party.

We had a pretty sweet pizza party last night! We made homemade pizzas out of the back of the van with pasta and random shit, and just got pretty drunk and had a good time. I think there were about a dozen people in and out of the van.

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What’s the best feature about your setup?

Definitely the pop top.

What is the most essential item in your vehicle?

The most essential part of the van is definitely our cutlery drawer.

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If you had a magic wand and could do anything, how would you improve your vehicle?

I would put a new engine in the van because this one has a huge exhaust leak.

What books have you been reading?

I’ve been reading the Color of the Earth series, which is actually really good and everyone should read those books.

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Any last words for those living in a van? What about people not living in a van?

Just send it sometimes. Sometimes you just gotta send it. And for people not living in a van: get a van and live in it.

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Dirtbag Dwellings: Gavin Elliot of Lakefield, Ontario

Dirtbag Dwellings is a mini-series in collaboration with LA-based photographer Jack Strutz, where...
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