Before he decided on his Airstream Rangeline Touring Coach, Scott Fortnum knew as much about its capabilities, specs, and features as anyone.
In fact, he’d likely be a wildly successful Rangeline salesperson, should he ever decide to leave his role as CEO of a major foundation.
Scott and his wife have always been outdoors people. Their daughter, too — in fact, she worked at a campground this summer before returning to the University of Western Ontario to begin her master’s in biology. The Fortnums have done everything from backcountry camping to towing a travel trailer, so they had enough experience to know that they wanted a van.
They just weren’t sure what kind.
"We decided we wanted to do some more traveling,” Scott says, “so before we invested heavily into a van, we bought an old one — a vintage van — and loved it. We got our money out of it and started really looking in earnest for a new van.”
Scott spent all winter engaging in Facebook groups for all of the possible brands — even smaller manufacturers that offer custom builds — listening to owners and learning from their feedback.
First on the checklist: a Dodge chassis, because where Scott and his wife frequently travel in northern Ontario is a long way from a Mercedes mechanic. They liked the layout and storage they found in vans from other brands, but nothing was compelling enough to prompt a purchase. The Rangeline – built on the Dodge ProMaster 3500 chassis – fit that particular bill, though.
Next on their must-have list: They wanted a van that utilized a single fuel source. Having experienced difficulty finding propane with their previous van, Scott and his wife liked the idea of being able to power their systems with gasoline. The Rangeline fit that bill, too, with the heating and hot water systems both drawing from the van's gasoline fuel tank.
Also on his list: proximity to service. While other brands had dealerships that were hours – or days – away, there was an Airstream dealer not far from where they lived. Another check in the Rangeline box.
Perhaps most importantly, the van needed a back seat for Fergus, their Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. "So he would have a place to sit – unless he could arm wrestle for the front seat and ride shotgun!” Scott jokes. Again, the Rangeline's floor plan and built-in pet-friendly features fit the bill.
Scott went to an RV show and spotted a Rangeline. He took the opportunity to go in, around, on top of, and even underneath the van. It was enough to compel him to pay a visit to his local dealer where he took a Rangeline for a test drive.
Value for the price? Check.
Three-year warranty? Check.
And that was that. “We basically fell in love,” Scott says.
Though Scott still works full time as president and CEO of Children's Health Foundation and his wife is only semi-retired, they’ve put their new Airstream through its paces.
“We've stopped in truck stops, Walmart parking lots, roadside service centers, and provincial campgrounds,” Scott says, “so we've done a little bit of everything. And that's one of the reasons I wanted a van: Because you can just go, and if you can't find a campsite, you can go on.”
They spent time this summer at the campground where their daughter was working, which was without hookups. “So having the generator was fantastic,” Scott says. “Every couple of days we'd run the generator to bring the batteries back up and then we'd be good, so it worked out very, very well — super comfortable.”
The couple has traveled extensively throughout eastern Canada and northern Ontario, so next summer they’re planning a trip through western Canada. Scott anticipates that the flexibility of a van will be especially welcome then. Rather than having to push through when weary or cut short a smooth drive to get to a reservation during the peak summer season, Scott and Carol can stop when they want to.
“For me, the real win on this is, Hey, I’m tired. Let’s pull over here and call it a night,” Scott says. “That’s what I love — just being able to go. And we stop when we want to stop, and eat when we want to eat … we could even pull over and have a nap if we wanted to.”
They travel with e-bikes strapped to the back, both to ride for the sake of riding as well as to run into town and pick up supplies. Carol likes to rent a kayak when they find one, and Scott likes to fish or, as he puts it, stand at the side of the water. They’re both avid hikers as well. So, more camping trips are definitely on the agenda — especially if they get a cell signal booster so Scott can take his work on the road.
But they’re also looking at parking their Airstream for a while. Their extended family recently sold the remote cabin up north that had been their refuge for many years.
“Now that we don't have that, we’re thinking maybe we'll buy a small lot up north, not to build on, but just to be able to take the van up and park it for a few days and have our own campsite and build our own trails,” Scott says. “We've got this self-contained unit. I just need somewhere I can drive into a bunch of trees and park it for three or four days, and then take off. The best of all worlds.”
So, Scott is preparing to head north to look at a handful of properties, with Fergus riding shotgun. Of course, wherever he ultimately decides to park the Rangeline, you can be sure he’s done his research.
Dive into the details that make Rangeline an exciting addition to Airstream's lineup of motorized camper vans.
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