Traverse vans are commonly rigid and robust structures constructed from insulated panels or ISO shipping containers with the capability for mounting on traverse sleds. These structures can serve as living vans, science labs, communications centres, and as generator vans to provide power to other accommodation modules and equipment.
Traverse vans must be durable and capable of enduring prolonged periods of overland travel behind tractors and bulldozers. Container style traverse vans are commonly heavy in weight to provide long and durable service lives in rough conditions.
Many traverse vans have seen Antarctic service over the last few decades, with several undergoing refurbishment and redeployment for successive large scale traverse programs. Examples include the PCMEGA traverse in 2002–2003, and the construction of new traverse and generator vans for use at the Casey runway construction site in 2003.
- This design allows rapid deployment of a self-contained unit that can be customised to provide a sophisticated level of service for field activities.
- The structural components can be of standard size for compatibility with handling equipment etc.
- These vans are very durable structures with a long life-cycle.
- They can form modular camp structures.
- The vans can be well insulated and offer high quality working/living environment.
- They are suitable for fixed mounting of equipment such as for communications or renewable energy generators (PV, solar hot water or wind turbines).
- Accommodation structures are mobile when tractors and dozers are used.
- These traverse vans cannot be deployed by existing air operations.
- They are expensive to purchase and deploy (second-hand containers have been successfully used to reduce total costs).
- The size of the accommodation module is limited to the size of the sled deck.