Storyteller Overland vs. Thor Rize camper van comparison
Sean and Pia said the Thor Rize made a great starter camper van, but the Storyteller Overland van has better power, a better layout, and better drivability.
MARCH 10, 2023 | BY INGRID SCHNADER
Sean and Pia travel in their Storyteller MODE LT with their four chihuahuas: Yoda, Jabba, Chewbacca and BobaFett. Storyteller vans have all-day heat or air conditioner, making the MODE LT a much more comfortable van for the dogs and for Sean and Pia.
Temperatures were up to 120 degrees on the day Sean and Pia realized it was time to upgrade their Thor Rize camper van.
They were visiting with family at Joshua Tree National Park over Labor Day weekend in 2022. Since Sean says the Thor Rize is more of a “fair weather” camper van, they booked an AirBNB to fight the heat wave.
But when they checked into their AirBNB, the air conditioner wouldn’t turn on.
They called the host, but since it was a holiday weekend, the host wasn’t able to get a technician to look at the unit that night. At this point, it’s 10 p.m. and “about a hundred degrees” in the house, Sean said.
“We have dogs that are elderly – one has a heart condition, and he was really feeling the heat,” Sean said. “We were worried about him and our other family members.”
They decided to sleep in the Thor Rize that night. They had to turn on the generator since the house didn’t have a 30A shore power connection. Around 3 a.m., they finally got some shuteye.
“If we’d had a Storyteller, we wouldn’t have had any of those problems,” Sean said.
The Thor Rize was a great starter van, Sean said, and it helped them get into vanlife and make lots of great memories, but they learned over time that it didn’t meet all of their needs. They decided to upgrade to a Storyteller Overland adventure van on the Ford Transit chassis at the end of 2022. They listed three reasons why they decided to make the switch.
1. Storyteller Overland vans have enough power so that you don’t need to connect to RV hookups or run the generator.
Sean and Pia have four chihuahuas: Yoda, Jabba, Chewbacca and BobaFett.
“We learned how important it is to have a house battery with climate control, both hot and cold, for the dogs and for us,” Sean said. “Sometimes you want to go do something that’s not dog-friendly, and you want to leave them in a safe, secure environment.”
“The fact that you can charge the Storyteller as you drive and explore, you never have to worry about plugs,” he said. “If you want to get off grid, you need this type of van.”
The Thor Rize is more of an RV park van, Sean said, whereas the Storyteller is made to go off-grid, thanks to its M-Power Energy Storage System.
“Ever since we pulled the Storyteller off of the dealer lot, we haven’t plugged it in once,” he said. “We don’t prefer to stay in RV parks, but we stayed in one in Sedona over Christmas, and we didn’t plug in the entire time we were there. The fact that you can charge the Storyteller as you drive and explore, you never have to worry about plugs. If you want to get off grid, you need this type of van.”
Although they said the Thor Rize was a great starter van, if you want to do off-grid van life, then Storyteller Overland is the way to go, Sean said.
2. Even though the Thor Rize has a larger footprint, the Storyteller Overland layout allows you to maximize your space.
Sean and Pia’s Thor Rize van had a wet bath in the back of the van. They initially thought this was a huge benefit, plus they could also use the space for storage.
“It became a moot point very quickly because it became just a storage space, where we tossed chairs and campfire wood instead of using it as a wet bath,” Sean said. “We never used the shower in that van once. That was a learning curve there.”
In contrast, Storyteller Overland vans have hidden bathroom spaces. The shower folds away into a cabinet, and the cassette toilet stows away underneath the Groovelounge sleeper sofa.
The Thor Rize didn’t have a usable roof space, so now Sean and Penn can store their extra gear on the roof space of their MODE LT.
The bed in the Thor van was a pull-out couch, and Sean discovered that he needed to break the bed down every time he wanted to walk around or cook in the van. He said he never has to break down the Murphy bed in his Storyteller Overland van, plus he loves the extra storage space underneath the bed.
3. The Ford Transit chassis drove better than the Ram Promaster in Sean and Pia’s experience.
The Thor Rize is built on the Ram Promaster chassis. When traveling through Yosemite National Park, Sean and Pia held up a line of traffic while trying to drive uphill in the Thor van.
“We felt horrible, but this thing just couldn’t get up the hill,” Sean said. “We would have to get a running start basically to get up a hill.”
Once they got their Ford Transit Storyteller van, they went back to Yosemite. The van handled the hills without any issues.
“It was completely powerful,” Sean said. “A totally different driving experience.”
He also loves that both the Thor Rize and the Storyteller Overland MODE LT run on regular gasoline.
“We like that regular gasoline has a lot more options when you need gas vs. diesel,” he said. “We also chose the Ford Transit chassis for its plentiful support and service.”