Storyteller Overland MODE Van Review: The Ultimate Adventure Vehicle

Storyteller Overland MODE Van Review: The Ultimate Adventure Vehicle

If you’re an outdoor enthusiast who wants to get outside more and hit the open road, the Storyteller Overland MODE van might just be the perfect ready-to-go adventure vehicle for you. This versatile, capable van is designed to get you off the beaten path and allow you to experience the outdoors in a whole new way. In this full Storyteller Overland MODE van review, I share exactly why.

I took a 2023 Storyteller Overland Classic MODE AWD Van for a spin around Southern Utah, exploring dirt roads and secluded campsites, and I was blown away by how adventure-ready it is. It’s easy to see that Storyteller Overland has absolutely perfected their design over the years – every little detail is impressively thought out. It comes equipped with everything you need so you can hit the road right away.

To give you a little background, I’ve toured many different camper vans, truck campers, and other adventure vehicles over the years. My husband and I have road tripped and camped in our Volkswagen Vanagon all around the Western U.S., driven the Baja California peninsula many times, and even lived out of it for more than a year when we drove from San Diego to Patagonia. From meeting other travelers on the road to checking out adventure rigs at events, we’ve seen vehicles that have spanned the gamut from budget DIY to luxury RVs to insanely capable Earth Cruisers.

I first saw Storyteller Overland’s MODE vans in person at Open Roads Fest, Bearfoot Theory’s van life event, and was impressed by their well-thought-out versatile layout, rugged design, and the way they maximized the use of space. However, getting to experience a MODE van on the road was next level and gave me a tremendous appreciation for how amazing these vans really are.

After 10 days and nearly 1,500 miles exploring the backroads of Southern Utah in a Storyteller Overland MODE Van, here is my full review and why I think this might be the ultimate adventure vehicle for outdoor enthusiasts who want a van that’s ready to hit the road.

Made Possible by Storyteller Overland

This review is made possible with the support of Storyteller Overland. A big thank you to them for handing over the keys to one of their brand new 2023 MODE vans without hesitation and letting us take it for a spin. All words and opinions are our own and we strive to share honest, helpful information.


The Van: 2023 AWD Mercedes-Benz Sprinter

We were lucky enough to take out a brand new 2023 Storyteller Overland Classic MODE AWD van built on a 2023 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. As with all Storyteller Sprinter vans, it’s a 144” wheelbase, high-roof Sprinter.

A man holding his toddler standing in front of a Storyteller Classic AWD MODE van with the Grand Canyon in the background
We tested Storyteller Overland’s new 2023 Classic MODE AWD van over 10 days and 1,500 miles

The first thing we noticed was how easy it was to drive compared to other camper vans and large vehicles we’ve driven. It handled more like an SUV than a 9,000 lb camper van, zipping through towns and sliding into normal parking spots.

360-degree cameras make every aspect of driving a breeze whether you’re turning a tight corner, parallel parking, or backing up. The front dashboard has a big touch screen that displays the camera view when needed and makes it easy to control lane assist and other automated driving features.

The van comes with all the other modern amenities you’d expect in a brand-new Sprinter van including LED high-performance headlamps, heated swiveling driver and passenger seats, satellite radio, a navigation system, driving assist, Bluetooth, and more. You can view the full specs of the Storyteller Overland Classic 2023 MODE AWD Sprinter here.

View out the front windshield of the Storyteller Overland Classic MODE AWD van showing the front cab, touchscreen display, and a snowy forested road
The front cab is spacious and comfortable with a large touchscreen display and plenty of storage

Storyteller Overland Classic MODE Van Interior

Step inside the Storyteller Overland MODE van and you’ll be greeted by a cozy, functional living space that’s designed to add comfort and convenience to your adventures. The interior layout is well-thought-out, with a variety of cleverly designed features that maximize space and functionality.

Seating

One of the things we loved most about the Storyteller Overland MODE van was the seating and sleeping setup. The van comfortably seats and sleeps up to four people, that’s why the STO makes our list of the best campervans for families.

There’s seating with seatbelts for two behind the driver’s seat. Even better, this seat – also known as Storyteller Overland’s patented GrooveLounge™ – folds down into a bed.

We traveled with our one-year-old so this setup was perfect for us. In seat mode, we were able to safely secure her car seat for the long drives. The seat next to her came in handy so one of us could sit with her when she got restless and needed entertainment and snacks.

Interior of the Storyteller Overland Classic MODE van showing the galley/kitchen, bed, cabinets, and seating
Storyteller Overland’s vans seat and sleep up to four people

The seating area also includes a table that can move, swivel, and be removed and stowed if not needed. It’s perfect as a work station by day and dining table at night. We stowed it for the duration of our trip since we used the GrooveLounge as a sleeping area and also needed space for our toddler to roam around, but it’s nice to have the option.

Finally, the front seats were luxurious and comfortable and both the driver and front passenger seats swivel around for extra hangout seating and space when camped.

Interior of the Storyteller Overland Classic MODE van showing the front seats swiveled to create more seating space when camped
The front driver and passenger seats swivel for extra seating when camped | Photo: Storyteller Overland

Sleeping

As mentioned above, one of our favorite features of the Storyteller van is the GrooveLounge – the rear seats that turn into an additional bed. It takes less than a minute to fold down and it’s wide enough to comfortably sleep one adult or two small children.

When camped, we’d fold the GrooveLounge down and put our little one’s Pack’n’Play right on top (it felt sturdy as is but we secured it with paracord so there was no chance of her knocking it over). Even with the Pack’n’Play setup, we were able to move around the van like normal and access the kitchen area, the bed, and the garage. There was even enough space inside the van for us to fit our toddler’s high chair inside for dinner on cold evenings.

Interior of the Storyteller Overland Classic MODE van showing the sleeping area with a Pack n Play set up for a toddler
Our little one’s Pack’n’Play fit perfectly on the Groove Lounge

The main bed at the back of the van is comfortable and spacious enough for two adults. The flares provide that little bit of extra space needed to be able to sleep sideways and maximize the space in the van. My husband is 6’ and was able to fit comfortably on the bed from head to foot. If you’re larger than 6’ tall you would need to use a little diagonal space (which there’s room for) if you wanted to stretch out and sleep with your legs straight.

The bed is another one of Storyteller’s unique patented features (known as the Dreamweaver™ Bed/Convertible Work Surface) and is made up of two parts which makes the back area of the van very versatile. You can fold up one side of the bed to make more standing room and use the other side as a platform for cooking or working. Or you can fold both sides of the bed up to give yourself even more standing room in the back.

The main bed inside the Storyteller Overland Classic MODE van set up with pillows and a sleeping bag
The main bed is spacious and comfortable and can fold up when not in use

We traveled with the main bed in place the whole time since there was enough space in the cabin for us that we didn’t need to access the back much. We loved that there was no need to move things around or make up the bed at night, it was ready to go. We found the bed to be comfortable as is (no extra padding needed) and slept really well. We used a comfy double REI sleeping bag and pillows from home as our bedding and it worked out great.

Kitchen/Galley

The kitchen in the Storyteller van, like everything else, is perfectly thought out (in fact, it makes our list of best camper van kitchens). It utilizes the slider door space for maximum efficiency and looks out so you can enjoy the views while cooking and cleaning. We found the counter space to be plenty, and when the stainless steel sink is not in use, the faucet folds down and the sink lid sits flush on the counter creating additional counter space as well.

The refrigerator/freezer was spacious and held enough food for the three of us for our entire 10-day trip. The van even comes with a stainless steel microwave oven which came in handy for reheating leftovers and quickly heating up dinner for our little one.

The top drawer of the galley holds the single burner portable induction cooktop that comes with the van. This stove was easy to cook on and really came in handy. We brought our double burner camp stove thinking we’d want to use it to cook more elaborate meals but didn’t use it once – we found the single burner induction stove to be all we needed.

The three drawers below provided a good amount of storage space for pans, dishes, cookware, utensils, Tupperware, etc, and made it convenient to cook and easy to clean up afterward.

The galley also comes with a handy exterior fold-down table on the outside that you can use with the slider door open. There’s even an outlet right above the table (I’m telling you – they’ve thought of everything) so you can plug in the induction stove and cook outside. That table was really all we needed for outdoor cooking and dining and it was nice to not have to rely on an additional camp table to set up and pack away.

A family camped off-grid near Sedona in the Storyteller Overland Classic MODE van showing the galley/kitchen and outdoor patio area
The exterior fold-down table was perfect for cooking outdoors

Shower/Bath

There are two showers on board the Storyteller van – both an indoor and an outdoor shower. The indoor shower is unique to Storyteller in that it stows away when not in use. Like the Groove Lounge, this is another one of their ingenious patented designs. You can see a video of it in action in our roundup of the best camper van bathrooms.

While an indoor shower is usually stationary and takes up valuable real estate inside the van, Storyteller’s Halo Interior Shower™ System is built into one of the overhead cabinets. Simply open the cabinet, pull out the shower curtain, and open the FlexSpace™ Concealed Shower Pan built into the floor (which serves as a step up to the bed and storage space when not in use) and you’re ready to clean up after a long day of adventure.

Storyteller Overland's patented HALO hidden shower system stows in the overhead cabinet when not in use
The Halo hidden shower system stows away in a cabinet | Photo: Storyteller Overland

The shower head has a handy on/off button so you can easily stop the water flow while you soap up, then turn the flow back on when you’re ready to rinse – a helpful way to save water so you can make your water supply last as long as possible.

Storyteller Overland's patented hidden shower pan doubles as storage space and a step up to the bed when not in use
The shower floor pan serves as storage space and a step up to the bed when not in use | Photo: Storyteller Overland

The outdoor shower is located in the garage on the water control panel. It’s perfect for quickly hosing off yourself, your gear, and your pets when you don’t need to take a full indoor shower.

Of course, if you’re going to shower you’re going to want hot water, and Storyteller Overland’s vans come with a diesel-fired water heating system. You can have warm water when doing the dishes (the best when camping in cold temps) and for a hot shower anytime. The water heater works seemingly instantaneously when you already have the cabin heater running, and if you don’t already have the heater running it takes just a few minutes.

The Storyteller Overland van also comes with a portable toilet that fits neatly inside the shower pan. For obvious reasons, this was not included in the demo van so we don’t have any personal input on this, but having a portable toilet or other system for going to the bathroom onboard is essential when traveling away from bathroom facilities.

Water Storage

The Storyteller van has an in-cabin 21-gallon freshwater tank and a 24-gallon grey water tank – plenty of water storage space for a week of adventure without having to worry about refilling. With all the onboard conveniences, we were pretty liberal with our water use at first and went through most of our water supply during the first 3 days of our trip (quicker than we normally would). After realizing that, we started using water more conservatively and were able to make it last longer. You could easily make 21 gallons of water last for a week if you’re being conservative and not showering in the van.

The freshwater tank can easily be filled by attaching the included hose to a spigot. It can also be filled via siphon which is a really cool feature. The Storyteller can siphon water when a spigot can’t be found or if you simply prefer to fill from a bucket or a 5-gallon jug.

For example, in Sedona, rather than searching for a potable water spigot to refill the van’s water tanks, we found it easier to fill a 5-gallon jug with water at a refill outside of a grocery store and siphon it into the van. It took 4 rounds to fill the fresh water tank but it was quick and easy and is a great option to have on hand for when you can’t find an available water spigot (which can be more difficult in the winter months).

Filling up the water tank in the back garage of the Storyteller Overland Classic MODE van using the siphon feature
Filling the fresh water tank using the siphon feature in Sedona

Climate Control

The van comes with a special Storyteller touchscreen control panel that allows you to monitor and control various systems, such as the lighting, heating, and water, from one centralized location. You can open the vent and turn the fan on, control the heating and air conditioning, check your freshwater and greywater levels, and more. We found this system to be extremely easy to use and it was so nice to be able to turn on the heater with a tap after coming back from a cold snowy hike.

A man holding his toddler sitting inside the Storyteller Overland Classic MODE van with the control panel above
You can see the Storyteller Control Panel and the power control center at the top of the photo
Close up of the Storyteller Control Panel and the power control center inside the van
Storyteller Control Panel on the left and power control center on the right | Photo: Storyteller Overland

To start, the Storyteller van is insulated with all-natural sheep’s wool which provides a more comfortable interior temperature right off the bat. For example, we stopped at an REI in Phoenix on a hot 80-degree day and decided to make lunch in the parking lot before hitting the road again. We comfortably hung out in the van in peak afternoon heat in full sun in a parking lot with just the vent open and the slider door ajar – that was pretty impressive.

In addition, the window on the slider door and the window opposite (behind the driver seat) both open to vent, and the window in the back of the van by the bed slides open as well creating multiple ventilation options combined with the roof vent and fan.

The high-powered ceiling intake/exhaust fan was handy for venting the van when we were cooking and for creating a little airflow during the day when our one-year-old was inside napping. The vent has a rain sensor and will automatically close if it starts to rain – very handy in case you’re away from the van with the vent open and the weather turns.

Between the window vents, the ceiling vent, and the fan, you can be comfortable in the van even on a hot day. We never used the cabin air conditioning but it’s available in case you find yourself camping in really hot temperatures and need a little midday escape.

Perhaps most importantly for us, the van has a diesel-fired heating system which was a godsend on our trip in late March. It has been a wet, snowy year and it still felt like winter when we were on the road. We camped in the snow in below-freezing temperatures at the Grand Canyon and consistently had nights in the 30s throughout our trip. In the evening when the temps would drop, we would hop in the van, set the thermostat to a comfy 68 degrees, and enjoy cooking and eating dinner in comfort.

Cooking in comfort inside the Storyteller Overland Classic MODE van on a cold night
Warm and cozy cooking dinner inside on a chilly 17-degree night at the Grand Canyon

The diesel heating system is both a cabin heater and a water heater all in one. For the cabin heater, you can control the temperature and the fan level (low, medium, or high) so you can really heat things up quickly when needed or keep things at a comfortable temperature when sleeping at night. You can also use the auto setting and set the temperature to where you want it and the heater will take care of the rest. This was especially important to us with our little one-year-old so we could sleep easy knowing she was warm and cozy at night.

Storyteller Overland Classic MODE van camped in the snow at the Grand Canyon
Camping in comfort in the snow at the Grand Canyon

Lighting

Lighting has a big impact on ambiance, and the lighting in the Storyteller van was thoughtfully laid out, functional, and convenient, just like the rest of the van.

The lights are divided into different areas so that with one touch of the control panel you can turn on the cabin lights (the main lights down the center of the van), the reading lights (lights along the sides of the van beneath the cabinets that you can click on and off individually), and garage lights. All the lights are LED and fully dimmable as well. This was nice for creating the ambiance we wanted and was especially helpful for turning things down in the evening when it was time to wind down our little one for bed.

Interior of the Storyteller Overland Classic MODE van showing the well thought out lighting
Even the lighting in the Storyteller van was well thought out and convenient

Storage Space

There’s plenty of well-thought-out storage space throughout the van.

Up front there’s overhead storage for both the driver and passenger (the perfect place to store your hat, sunglasses, beanie, headlamp, etc for easy access), three storage compartments on top of the dashboard one of which has USB and Bluetooth ports, and two sets of dual cupholders. These may all be standard features of Mercedes’ 2023 Sprinter vans but they were super convenient nonetheless.

In the cabin there are overhead cabinets that line both sides and provide plenty of storage space. All have click-in button locks that are super handy – just click the button in when closing the cabinets to lock them in place for driving for a rattle-free journey and click them open when you’re stopped and need to access something.

We used the cabinet closest to the galley as a pantry for coffee, tea, oatmeal, and snacks. The cabinets above the bed were perfect for storing all our clothes which we put in packing cubes to make it easy to find what we were looking for (one packing cube for tops, one for bottoms, one for undergarments, etc). Having a place for everything really helps keep things organized so you can spend your time exploring outside, not searching high and low for your socks.

Opening the overhead cabinet storage space inside the Storyteller Overland Classic MODE van
The overhead storage cabinets made it easy to keep clothing and toiletries organized and easy to access

Garage

The garage is very spacious and makes bringing big gear items along easy. It’s a large open cargo area with a heavy-duty floor and L-track so you can store and secure bikes, paddleboards, hiking/backpacking gear, and anything else you might need. We only brought hiking gear on our road trip so we didn’t utilize the garage to its full capacity, but it was helpful to have so much space and be able to easily throw our gear back there.

In addition to all the storage space in the garage, you’ll also find an outdoor shower and the entire water control panel where you can fill water, empty water, and winterize the system when needed. It’s all very straightforward and easy to use.

View into the back of a Storyteller Overland Classic MODE van showing a mom and toddler looking out
The garage in the Storyteller houses the water control panel and outdoor shower and has plenty of space for gear storage

Additional Features

The Storyteller van comes with a full set of bug screens installed on both the side and rear doors so you can enjoy the fresh air with the doors open right off the bat. These are essential for warm months when the bugs are out. They are easy to roll down when needed and roll up when not. When in use, a magnetic strip makes it easy to go in and out of the van and close the screen behind you to keep bugs out. We only used the bug screens on the first day of our road trip before we reached colder temps where there were no bugs and we found them to be very convenient.

Another feature that I consider an absolute necessity is insulated privacy window covers. Luckily, the Storyteller van comes with a complete set of high-quality window covers for each window in the van. Each is labeled with its location and easily attaches via the magnetic lining. In addition to providing privacy, these help insulate the inside of the van from both hot and cold temperatures outside.

The included portable bluetooth speaker was a nice touch as well. It’s housed right above the galley next to the microwave where it conveniently charges so it’s ready in case you want to take it outside. This small but thoughtful feature added to our fun and made it super easy to create a fun ambiance while making dinner and hanging out without having to have the car stereo on.


Storyteller Overland Classic MODE Van Exterior

Off-Road Capability

One of the major highlights of the Storyteller Overland Classic Mode AWD Sprinter camper van is its off-road capability. This van is built to tackle rough terrain and take you to remote destinations that are not accessible by regular RVs. The van is equipped with all-terrain tires that provide excellent traction and stability along with a robust AWD system and 9.5 inches of ground clearance allowing you to confidently navigate through challenging landscapes.

We took this van on many dirt roads during our road trip, many of which were muddy and rutted from major rains in the days leading up to our trip. We put it to the test and drove up the infamous Cottonwood Canyon road in Southern Utah – it handled very well and made it through some impressively deep mud.

The Storyteller Overland Classic MODE AWD van driving off-road on a muddy dirt road in Southern Utah
Driving the Storyteller Overland MODE van on Cottonwood Canyon road which had some very muddy stretches after the rain (this was a mellow section)

Energy System

The power system is set up to allow you the freedom to be stationary for multiple days and still have access to the power you need.

The van comes with a 90W solar panel on the roof along with a hefty house lithium battery that also charges while you drive via the high-output auxiliary alternator. We drove almost every day during our trip so we never had to worry about power and only took the battery down to around 70% even with using the lights, music, microwave, and charging our electronics.

Roof rack and solar panel on top of the Storyteller Overland Classic MODE van
A 90W solar panel is all you need to top off the hefty Lithium battery system when stationary

The van also comes with a 30A power cord in case you want to hook up at a campground or RV park.

The Volta touchscreen display next to the main Storyteller control panel makes it easy to turn the inverter on and off and to see how much power you’re using and how much you have left.

There are plenty of 110V and USB power outlets throughout the van, all strategically placed right where you might need them. There are also a few 12V outlets in case you need them.

Exterior Accessories

The van comes with a low-profile roof rack (complete with a wind deflector) that creates a large platform on top of the van where you can sit and enjoy the sunset with a drink in hand. This also gives you the option to easily attach gear or a rooftop tent.

Woman sitting on the roof rack on top of the Storyteller Overland Classic MODE van with Lone Rock at Lake Powell in the background
The low profile roof racks make a nice place for taking in the views and provide an easy way to secure more gear or even a rooftop tent

The roof can be easily accessed via the side ladder which has a handy nonslip grip.

Caming off-grid in the Storyteller Overland Classic MODE van at Lone Rock Beach Campground at Lake Powell
Camping at Lone Rock on Lake Powell

There’s also a hitch on the back where you can attach a bike rack (in case you don’t want to travel with bikes in the garage) or other exterior accessories like a spare tire (see our review of the additional Owl Vans accessories that Bearfoot Theory’s founder Kristen has on her custom Outside Van).

The van also comes with a powered awning that you can extend and retract with the touch of a button. It’s even lined with dimmable LED lights so you can have outdoor lighting while relaxing outside at night.

Overall, we were beyond impressed with the Storyteller Mode Sprinter van and how durable, well-built, and adventure-ready it is. So much so that we were sad when the time came to return it. We’re now dreaming of getting one for ourselves so we can continue adventuring with all the comfort and convenience it provides, especially with the little one onboard.

The Storyteller Overland Classic MODE AWD van driving off-road on a muddy dirt road through a Mars-like landscape in Southern Utah
Driving otherwordly backroads in Southern Utah

How to Get a Storyteller Overland Van

Storyteller Overland’s MODE vans are available through a variety of dealers across the U.S. You can find a local dealer near you to see one in person.

What’s really nice about Storyteller Overland’s vans is that they’re ready to go right off the lot – no big design decisions to make, no waiting for the build, no second-guessing your decisions. Just a well-thought-out, proven design that’s been perfected over the years.

If you’d like to take a Storyteller van out for a spin before taking the leap, check out GoCamp – they offer fully equipped camper van rentals by owner and have a number of Storyteller Overland vans in their fleet. Use the code GOBEARFOOT to get $50 off your rental.

I hope you found this Storyteller Overland review helpful and that you find the right off-grid-ready camper van for you.

The Storyteller Overland Classic MODE AWD van driving off-road on a dirt road in Sedona, Arizona
Exploring Sedona in Storyteller Overland’s 2023 Classic MODE AWD van

The post Storyteller Overland MODE Van Review: The Ultimate Adventure Vehicle appeared first on Bearfoot Theory.

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