Ben Bilocq’s cus­tom campers

Transworld Snowboarding - - CONTENTS -

We may have reached peak “ad­ven­ture­mo­bile” sat­u­ra­tion. The liv­able ve­hi­cle con­cept is in­grained in pop­u­lar cul­ture like never be­fore, with the rich and fa­mous and In­sta­gram in­flu­encers read­ily adopt­ing the trend. Whether it’s to truly ex­pe­ri­ence all the vagabond lifestyle has to of­fer, some­times it’s hard to know for sure.

That said, no­madism has been an in­te­gral part of snow­board­ing from the be­gin­ning. There’s some­thing about life on the road that is ap­peal­ing to our kind: chas­ing snow with the free­dom to come and go as you please. Sleep­ing in a camper is one thing; build­ing it your­self is an­other, and Ben Bilocq has been do­ing both for quite some time now. His in­ter­est was piqued when he went on a spring camp­ing trip in a big RV. “I re­ally liked it, but those things rely too much on gen­er­a­tors and fuel,” he re­mem­bers. “So as soon as I got home, I started search­ing for a beat-up camper-trailer to cus­tomize. It turned out to be way more work than ex­pected, but I’m now work­ing on my third per­sonal camper and have helped out on a few oth­ers.”

Bilocq moved to Whistler in 2006, and the sin­gle sea­son he in­tended to stay for turned into over a decade. Now re­sid­ing in Squamish, BC, he works a day job as a tile set­ter, with his re­main­ing free time be­ing di­vided be­tween rid­ing, surfing, skat­ing, and his camper restora­tion projects. “The campers usu­ally win,” he re­marks.

“Start­ing a new project is the best. My brain just won’t stop think­ing about it, and it’s the best feel­ing,” says Bilocq. He stresses the ease of un­der­es­ti­mat­ing the amount of time the process will take. “Usu­ally about ten times the amount of time you might ex­pect.” Typ­i­cally the first step is to ac­quire an old rig with po­ten­tial. Then all the rot­ten wood needs to be re­moved—of­ten the whole floor and large chunks of the walls. Spend­ing ex­tra time on this step is worth it, as do­ing it right the first time will negate hav­ing to gut the thing again. “Af­ter that, you can build it back up as fancy or as rough as you want it; that’s the beauty,” Ben says. “I pre­fer reusing ma­te­ri­als as much as pos­si­ble to keep costs down. It also cuts down the amount of waste as well.” And the best part about a cus­tom rig? “Mak­ing it your own, cus­tomiz­ing the de­tails you add, and then get­ting to put it to use!” Of course, there’s also the po­ten­tial for the process to be­come all-con­sum­ing. Ul­ti­mately, for Bilocq, the end goal is a rig that is self-suf­fi­cient and able to be off the grid with­out a gen­er­a­tor and us­ing lit­tle propane.

Adding cus­tomiza­tions like his own wood­stove, and work­ing with friends on their campers, Ben has an im­pres­sive and di­verse list of projects un­der his belt. Long­time friend Louif Par­adis planned to spend a month on the West Coast last spring and de­cided to buy a camper on his way out. “There were a few things that needed at­ten­tion, so I in­vited him up to Squamish and helped him get ev­ery­thing in or­der just in time to get to Holy Bowly,” says Bilocq. Ben also spent last sum­mer com­pletely re­fur­bish­ing a Big­foot truck camper for Jess Kimura that she drove down to Baja. “It prob­a­bly took a month and a half of work­ing on it ev­ery day, but it’s hold­ing up and she’s been liv­ing it in all sum­mer.” With work and camper projects oc­cu­py­ing much of his time, while liv­ing fur­ther from the hill, Ben’s rid­ing days are cho­sen more care­fully. He stays in con­tact with the Déjà Vu crew he grew up with, though time spent to­gether is more lim­ited, as many have kids and also hold down full­time jobs.

This sea­son, Bilocq filmed with Bren­don Hupp for an up­com­ing Di­nosaurs Will Die video and spent time in Ja­pan. He also put in con­sid­er­able time be­hind the lens with Jess Kimura and help­ing her with The Un­in­vited project as a creative di­rec­tor and pro­ducer, be­com­ing heav­ily in­volved with the edit­ing process, mu­sic se­lec­tion, and much more.

It’s un­der­stand­able that new­found out­side in­ter­est in some­thing snow­board­ers have been do­ing out of ne­ces­sity for years can draw skep­ti­cism. “About ten years ago, I had a “Day in the Life” video with Thir­tyTwo, when I was liv­ing in my truck up at Mount Hood. Some peo­ple were judg­men­tal, say­ing that I must stink and that I was a gypsy,” Ben re­mem­bers. “Now it’s all about hot yoga chicks on In­sta­gram tak­ing self­ies in their Sprinter vans.” It’s in­ter­est­ing how cul­tural par­a­digms can shift. Ac­cord­ing to Ben, there are a wide range of peo­ple that own cus­tom rigs. “It goes from the out­door per­son who uses the shit out of their rigs and doesn’t care whether or not the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion knows, to the Pin­ter­est-type who seems to worry more about the color of their cur­tains and the geo-tag on their pho­tos. One kind doesn’t usu­ally want to be mis­taken for the other.”

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