Van Tours: John Jackson’s Beast-of-a-Rig, the ‘Riff Raff’

When it comes to living the “vanlife,” not many people would be better suited for the lifestyle than professional snowboarder John Jackson.

Jackson’s ethos hinges on the motto of “life first, money second,” putting material possessions on the back-burner and prioritizing living a life outdoors, dressed in many disciplines.

He’s certainly made a name for himself in professional snowboarding, landing covers on both SNOWBOARDER Magazine and TransWorld SNOWboarding, also earning SNOWBOARDER’s Rider of the Year (twice) and scoring a gold medal in X Games Real Snow Backcountry – just to name just a few of his many impressive accomplishments.

His ability to huck himself off some of the world’s biggest, steepest mountains with effortless style – complemented by one heck of a gregarious personality – has brought him in front of the camera in major snowboarding films such as Forum Snowboard’s “Forever,” as well as starring in Travis Rice’s third film “The Art of Flight”.

But all of that aside, his passion for the outdoors transcends just the snowboarding world. When he’s not shredding powder, he’s climbing, surfing, fishing, hiking, playing the mandolin, guitar, and simply relishing a life that’s lived in the moment.

Photo: Katie Rodriguez

And his upbringing had much influence on leading him to where he is now. Jackson’s love for the outdoors was cultivated by a childhood spent camping and skating during the summer months at Crowley Lake, California, and snowboarding during the winter in neighboring mountains at Mammoth.

“We were a family of six in a pretty small house, but beautiful environment,” Jackson tells ASN. “I give it up to my parents for raising us in such an awesome environment in Crowley Lake without a lot of money. Four kids, one room, bunk beds – we’re happy.”

In 2012, Jackson and his brother Eric set out on the beacon of road trips known as “Brother’s on the Run,” a series sponsored by Red Bull chronicling a 12,000-mile trek surfing and snowboarding their way from Alaska down to the southern tip of Chile. It was during this trip that the “Riff Raff,” a custom-built Ford F-350 beast-of-a-rig, was born.

Since this trip, Jackson has adopted the Riff Raff as his own, transforming it into his personalized home-on-wheels. The vehicle is kitted out to meet all of his needs: it’s got plenty of storage in the back and on the roof, housing for a bike, a BBQ, misc items and still has plenty of room for a rooftop yoga session.

Photo: Katie Rodriguez

The inside embodies Jackson’s fun-spirited character – with wrap-around red lights, features from TransWorld SNOWboarding and SNOWBOARDER Magazines, a fridge disguised as a chalk board, and a modular couch/dining area that converts to a spare bed for plenty of friends to crash. If there’s one thing this rig doesn’t lack, it’s space.

For Jackson, living out of a van allows him the freedom to fully experience the culture, people and outdoor spaces he thrives off of.

“It’s really enabled these magical experiences,” he tells ASN. “Every time I pull over, it’s like a cool little chapter in the book. Whether it’s someone you meet, or a beautiful location you find, it’s all about exploration, it’s all about simplicity.”

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