Why do you drive a Rivian?

Red Canyon Rivian R1T crossing a creek
Thunderbolt Adventure Supply is based in San Francisco and as those of you who chose local pickup for your Camp Kitchen know, parking is not easy around our place. So why did we choose a Rivian as our only vehicle? 

It turns out, we do a lot of truck stuff.

Jetta with plywood on topIt all started many years ago when we were putting sheets of plywood and stacks of drywall on top of our red VW Jetta (Wolfsburg edition of course). We needed something that could haul more but weren't quite ready to go full truck, so we opted for a VW Passat Station Wagon. It was brown like the '74 LTD Matthew drove when we first met. We loved it. But it turned out that while a station wagon was a great family vehicle, we still really wanted a truck. We found a sweet used Tacoma on a local lot, only to find out that it was already sold when we got there. But there was a new four-door Tacoma on the lot. And it was red. It was the depths of the auto crisis in 2009 and Matthew loves to negotiate. We took it home that day.

Kid in Illinois t-shirt holding a burger
We drove and loved that Tacoma for many years. We used the bed as a playpen. We took it camping. We drove it to Ikea, the lumber yard, and the dump. We loaded it up with mountain bikes and pit zone equipment and drove it to high school mountain bike races. And all the time, we wished that it didn't use so much gas. We sold our other car and rode our bikes for most local trips. We even got a bike trailer that allowed us to pick up 40 pounds of dog food without burning fuel (except for the previous night's burrito). We dreamed of an EV, but we really wanted a truck. 

So when the Rivian debuted at the LA Auto Show in November of 2018 and word spread that they had purchased the old Mitsubishi plant in Normal Illinois, we were intrigued. We're from Illinois. My parents met as students in Normal in the 1960s. Matthew had toured the Mitsubishi plant with his Industrial Design classmates. And I spent my time at UIUC studying environmental protection. We wanted an electric vehicle and we wanted a pickup truck, but we didn't just want any truck.

We knew that the Tacoma would run forever. And it would take a lot of fuel savings to make up for the energy required to build a new vehicle. But Rivian was an exciting new company with a focus on conservation that intrigued me. So we placed our pre-order and configured a truck. There were some early images of a beautiful brown R1T that had Matthew pretty excited, but when the final colors were released it wasn't in the mix. We opted for the Red Canyon. And we loaded it up with a rooftop tent and a camp kitchen.

We took delivery of our gorgeous red rocket just before Mother's Day 2022. And even though Rivian could not deliver it with a Roof-Top-Tent or the integrated Camp Kitchen, we were smitten. We spent the first weekend zipping around the Bay Area and testing out the Rivian Waypoint Charges at Stinson Beach. We grew accustomed to spending an extra 15 minutes in every parking lot talking to interested strangers about our truck. We bought a rooftop tent, loaded it up with bikes, and took it camping. We took it to the dump where the staff was as astonished at its weight as its good looks. We discovered the only place where 0-60 stupid fast is pretty useful (metering lights on the Bay Bridge). And we still wished we had an integrated Camp Kitchen.

pink foam mockup of camp kitchen
In October of last year, Rivian admitted that they were not going to be delivering any Camp Kitchens any time soon. Rumors flew around about why they made the call but the most likely answer seemed that that they just needed to focus on making trucks. Whatever the reason, we grew impatient and Matthew saw a design challenge that could be fun to solve. He started with cardboard and pink foam and moved to plywood scraps. We made an Instagram page, took the various prototypes to bike races and camping trips, and got enough interest from folks that we thought it might be possible to sell them to other Rivian enthusiasts who were also looking for the ultimate EV camping experience. So that's what we're doing.

We hope you use your Rivian to explore the outdoors. We hope you take your mountain or gravel bike with you and explore a little further from the campsite. We hope you take your hiking boots with you and walk the path. We hope you take your Thunderbolt Camp Kitchen with you and nourish your body and soul.

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