Adventuremobiles: Download Cyrus Sutton’s “Compassing” for Free

Cyrus Sutton compassing van

All photos courtesy of Cyrus Sutton.

Cyrus Sutton bought his old Econoline van with the dream of outfitting it with solar panels and a bed, a little investment in that “someday” surf trip he’d take down to Mexico. But then Reef came along and offered the surfer and filmmaker a budget to make it happen as part of their film series, Just Passing Through—suddenly “someday” was now, and Sutton was sanding, hammering and installing the customizations and hitting the road for a two-month surfari south of the boarder. His new 24-minute short film, “Compassing“, chronicles his journey through Mexico, chasing waves and soaking up the unrushed feeling that comes with an extended vacation mixed with good people. We caught up with Sutton to talk building, break downs and way too much peanut butter. 

How long have you been dreaming up this trip and what was the catalyst for it actually becoming a reality?

I’d wanted to take a trip to down there for about five years now. I’d settled into San Diego and started surfing Blacks a lot and become friends with a few of the locals who surf the heavier beach breaks in Mexico during the summer. I really wanted to get down there and spend some time getting used to the size and power of the waves. Last year Reef gave me a budget and creative freedom to make a short film so I documented a two -month trip down there. Not a bad deal!

Tell me about your van—did you do all the customizations?

I’ve had the van for eight years now. It was a simple white electrician’s van with nothing in the back but metal shelves and a piece of plywood that served as a platform for a bed. I’ve lived in it off and on since I bought it. Last fall, I decided to move out of my place and move back into the van full time but this time I wanted to turn it into a home I could be proud of. I designed every aspect of it and had help from friends Brad Begent and Glen Horn over two months this past winter.


What are some of its best features?

It’s got subfloor storage which keeps things organized, a bed up top that expands, a writing desk, a five-gallon propane compartment for my stove and a water pump. On the top I have a Yakima Skybox with three 25-watt Goal Zero solar panels which trickle charge their Yeti 400 power pack, which charges all of my cameras and laptop.

What did you do to pass the time in Mexico?

Besides surfing, just finding Wi-Fi and doing emails, eating food, and sleeping in my hammock. Not a lot really, it was really nice to just slow down for a while.


Who came with you and who inspired you along the way?

Cliff Endsley was my assistant director, he helped with a lot of the logistics and was a solid road compadre. We also met up with my long time friend Glen Horn as well as Tony Alva, Kepa Acero, Todd Glaser and Rob Machado

Best meal?

I’d be warned about getting sick from eating the food down there so I brought a lot of my own. We ended up eating almost 30 jars of peanut butter. So anything with a beer and no peanut butter at the end of the day was a special treat.

Best view?

Waking up in the upper bunk of my van and seeing perfect waves racing along a cobblestone point with no one out.

Favorite local?

Glen Horn—he’s the man down in Baja.

What did you bring with you from home that you’re extra glad you had along? Did you bring anything you’d rather have left back in the US?

I’m glad we brought a back-up generator, all of my surfboards, pretty much everything I brought I used to tell you the truth. Cliff brought too much stuff, but that won’t happen next time. I gave him a hard time about it the whole trip.


What was the highlight of the trip if you had to pinpoint one? The low point?

Getting spit out of tubes was the highlight. The low point was when our van broke down on our way to pick up our friend from the airport. But luckily a Mexican mechanic got us back on our way in a couple hours.

What’s your advice for someone who doesn’t have two months off, but is feeling that pull for an adventure?

That’s been me for most of the past 10 years. Just do a short trip, or no trip at all. Just identify what is bothering you or is lacking at home and take most time-friendly route to get that monkey off your back.


Thanks Cyrus—definitely giving me the road trip bug again! Download his film free at!