Sprinter Side ladders are one of the most identifiable items that make a van look like an Adventure Van. While popular, side ladders also have some major drawbacks when it comes to offroading or overlanding. That's why Owl waited until we had a completely new design that addressed those past problems and brought the side ladder into a new form
Please confirm compatibility with roof racks or side steps before ordering. The ladder takes up 13" from the opening of the wheel well to the front of the ladder
Owl Side-Ladder Innovation:
Problem - Until Owl, the biggest problem with side ladders was the potential of heavy damage to your van. When current side ladders get hung up on a stump or rock, they not only damage the ladder, but they typically do heavy amounts of damage to the bottom side and rockers of the van as well. Repairs can run into the thousands and involve cutting and resending large sections of your van…not a fun way to end a trail run… But we have a fix!
The solution from Owl is multi-fold:
Shape - When designing this new side ladder, we started by laser scanning the side of the Sprinter so we could contour our tubing to perfectly follow the side of the van. This allowed our tubing to be much tighter to the van than competitive ladders. The result is a ladder that keeps your van as narrow as possible and drastically lowers the risk of catching the ladder on an obstacle.
Large tread plate - We enlarged the top tread of the step to stick out the front of the ladder allowing a solid foot placement even with the ladder tight to the van.
Breakaway Hardware - Of course, people want a ladder to be rock solid, and with a weight limit of 400lbs the Owl Side Ladder is incredibly rugged. That said, our engineering teams had a unique and brilliant solution when it came to attaching the ladder to the bottom of the van. The top of the ladder is bolted to the roof rack rails using a steel plate with stainless steel bolts (700lbs shear strength per bolt). Conversely, the bolts we chose to hold the bottom of the ladder are purposely low in their shear strength rating. Why would we purposely add weak hardware to the bottom of the ladder? To protect your more expensive van of course!
Here are two images of rocker damage from the side ladders on the market today:
The Owl Solution:
What the team did is purposely engineer a weak point in the ladder when a force is applied laterally. When you climb the ladder the force is vertical in the downward direction. Should a heavy lateral load be applied to the ladder, such as getting hung up on a rock, the bottom aluminum bolts will sheer off. This allows the bottom of the ladder to break free from the van and limit any additional damage to the van. Mountain bikes have used this type of system for years on derailleur hangers. Derailleurs are the very expensive gear-changing systems that hang off the side of bikes. They are attached with a similar thin tab of aluminum. This way, if the bike is in an accident the small aluminum tab breaks and keeps the derailleur in one price. Most times, you simply replace the cheap aluminum tab and you’re good to go.
Modularity - Vans are wonderful for adventure because you can take them where you can’t take larger RVs. That also means vans are tight on space. That is why we build in modularity to almost every product we sell. This means a side ladder is more than a side ladder. It can become a place for additional fuel or water, maybe surfboards or traction boards? With the ability to easily mount items to the proprietary hole pattern on the ladder, we open up a world of possibilities beyond simply going put to the roof.
Two-Piece Design - Quality tubular side ladders are incredibly strong but also very difficult to ship. Shipping costs can run unto the hundreds of dollars and they are prone to damage due to their size. On the other hand, flat-pack ladders are less expensive and ship easily, but they never have that same quality feel as a tubular ladder. That’s why we used technology from roll cages to create a tubular ladder that is able to ship for a quarter the cost of a one-piece ladder. We used a CNC to machine billet joins in the ladder that look fantastic, allow for compact shipping while maintaining that solid, high-quality tubular feel. The end result is that you’re able to purchase a higher quality ladder with less expensive shipping resulting in an overall similar or less expensive all-in price.
Universal mount-ability - The Owl Side Ladder mounts to the factory roof rails already on the top of your van. It does not mount directly to the roof rack like many competitive offerings. This means the Owl Side Ladder works with the roof rack you already have. No need to build any custom mounts or buy extra parts. We include our very low-profile steel mounting plate that passes under all racks we have tested.