As rock climbers, we don’t need much, but one thing we definitely desire is a means of getting to the rocks we incessantly dream about. When planning your next adventure, use this guide to know the best vehicles for rock climbing trips.

Do you borrow your mom’s minivan? Fly there? Or do you spend your entire savings account on a built-out Sprinter Van? It can be a hard choice, but hopefully, this will aid in your climbing trip decisions.

Let’s go backward, because why not … Automobiles, Planes, Trains…



The basis of most climbing trips. 90% of the time this is what will get you to the crag and back. Road trips let you see all the geography and also provide a unique mixture of incredible frustration and memorable moments. I once drove 5 people, a dog, and 1000lbs of gear 19 hours through Mexico in a 2-door Toyota Tacoma. That was memorable, but I would not jump at the chance to repeat it.

truck in Mexico

Truckin’ along to Mexico. Photo: Kevin Boyko

Let’s take a look at your (or your friends) vehicle and why it’s rad:

Camper van

The epitome of luxury, and the top scorer. If you drive a van, you are pretty much climbing royalty and everyone wants to be your friend. You’re living the vansion life.

Campervan the best vehicle for climbing

Top picks:

Sprinter Van, Volkswagen Vanagon, Ford Econoline, Westfalia Eurovan, Sportsmobile Van

Volkswagen Vanagon campervan

Photo: Marius Strom

Sportsmobile campervan

Sportsmobile. Photo: Steve Mestdagh

Check out Alex Honnold’s van set up:


Definitely a step down in comfort from the sought after van, but will go pretty much anywhere. Having a truck says you’re a little rough around the edges and you don’t take no for an answer.

Trucks are the second best vehicle for climbing trips

Top Pick:

Toyota Tacoma (aka, the gold standard in climber trucks)

toyota tacoma climber truck

Toyota Tacoma rock climber truck

Toyota Tacoma. Photo: CJ Crosby


Great for commuting to the crag or to the Grateful Dead concert. I’ve also seen vans get to some gnarly places. Just make sure you clean it before returning it to your mom …

minivan's are a good option for dirt bagging.

Top Picks:

Toyota Previa, Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna, Chrysler Town & Country, Dodge Grand Caravan

minivan vanlife

Photo: Steve Schroeder

minvan Camper van

Photo: Laurel F


Similar to the crag truck, but for people with more friends.

SUV's are an okay choice for dirt bagging

Top Picks:

Honda Element (aka, the Hotelement), Honda CR-V, Toyota 4-Runner, Jeep Grand Cherokee

Honda Element dirt bagging vehicle

Photo: Maria Ly

Vanlife in the Jeep Grand Cherokee

Jeep Grand Cherokee. Photo: TJ Flex.

Sedan/compact car

Great for commuters and efficient. Nothing wrong with a normal car.

Cars are a cramped vehicle for rock climbing trips

Top Picks:

Subaru Outback, Toyota Matrix, Honda Fit, Toyota Prius

Subaru Outback is a good choice for rock climbing trips

Subaru Outback.


Some next level stuff! Let me just say, if you travel around on a motorcycle, you’re a badass. Kerouac would be proud! Motorcycles NOT the best vehicle for climbing

motorcycle on a rock climbing trip

Photo: Nicolas Mirguet

Chart of the best vehicles for rock climbing

Trains & Buses

Great if you’re in Europe, not so great if you’re not … I like the idea of train travel but it tends to be slow, inconvenient, and more expensive than you would think. Buses are similar: I have a friend that took various Greyhound buses from Boston to Smith Rock for about $40. Which sounds great right? Cheap ride and see the country! But it took over a week of nonstop buses, a lot of backtracking and going out of the way, waiting in sketchy stations with sketchy people for transfers, and sitting next to a few meth-heads that couldn’t control their bowels. I’ll just leave it at that …



Obviously, when flying to a climbing destination one needs to take the minimalist approach. The bottom of the bag holds the essentials: rope, gear, sleeping bag, bivy sack, a little pot. You can get by without utensils, but you are going to need a little pot, something which can be used to cook over an open fire. As for the “utensils issue,” a nut tool is a climbers best friend. Nut tools—apart from the obvious—double as a fork, knife, can opener, shank, spatula, emergency tent stake, shank, and bottle opener  … among other things. Rarely is your carry-on checked for weight; so if you carry your bag as if it’s not heavy, you can get away with having a lot of stuff. If you think you will have to explain what an object is to the TSA, stash it under the plane. But remember to keep it under 50lbs.


So, what’s the best vehicle for your rock climbing?

Climbing trips are hard to plan and harder to execute. Sometimes you may find yourself using a combination of these options. Being flexible is key, and whenever a difficult or inconvenient situation arises, it’s usually what is going to make for a good story. You’ll be well on your way to having an adventure.

A photo posted by Kevin Boyko (@thundercling) on


Now to you

Are you the proud owner of a badass rig? Share your setup and preferred way to travel in the comments below!

Additional contributions have been made to this article by: Natalie Siddique