Our next customer story is about Michael Jacobs, a man that owns local business The Sierra Mule in Reno, Nevada which is where our headquarters are located as well. Our batteries have helped Michael’s business and on his personal outdoor adventures in a Sprinter van of his own. Battle Born Batteries enjoys offering our expertise and knowledge to those who need it. We offer nothing but the best customer service and hope our team can help you with any questions.

The Sierra Mule: Name Origin

Michael Jacobs is the owner of The Sierra Mule. According to Michael, it’s a company that started out as a fun way to build some adventure vans and rent them out to people who wanted to get away but needed a more capable rig than they could find otherwise. These vans also accommodate people who want a good alternative for hotels where they can save money and have convenience. Jacob’s fun idea turned into a mission to help people desperate for a simple no frills adventure, and to be able to have one at an affordable price. Being an outdoor enthusiast himself, he grew up competing as a mountain bike racer and branched out to other activities like climbing, skiing, and cycling. Eventually, his outdoor spirit lead him to The Sierra Mule.

The Sierra Mule gets LiFePO4 batteries for Sprinter Vans

The “Sierra Mule” name derived from Jacob’s wife who named their first personal van, Pepe, from a reference in the 1980’s movie, Romancing The Stone. Pepe is the first Mercedes Sprinter 4×4 offered in the country. Michael can drive it anywhere and in any weather, as it is set up for work and adventure.

Michael elaborated on the story about The Sierra Mule, “it was meant as a joke but then I started looking for a good name for the adventure van business. I started googling Pepe, mules, etc. I wanted to find something that tied it to the awesome Sierra Nevada Lifestyle brand. After a little free form Googling, I ran across a book written about the mule train operators who for 100 years, provided reliable, economical and sure-footed access to the Sierra Nevada mountain range. This paved the way before anything was paved for national and state parks to thrive and an economy to develop in the mountain towns we know.”

He also learned that many passes, lakes, high country trails and pack stations were named after the mule train operators who ran them. The research he had done also demonstrated that recorded documents informed readers that there was respect and admiration that the robust mules garnered from their operators. “So, that was that,” he continued, “I would celebrate this key historical lore of the mule trains by naming the business The Sierra Mule and by naming each rig after an actual mule with some documented history of their personality.”

Why Sprinter Vans?

In general, old sprinter vans were chosen because new vans are expensive. Jacobs tells us, “I decided to use older vans which had much life left in them. You know what they say about green vehicles, the greenest vehicle you will ever own is the one that has already been manufactured ten years ago.” The sprinter vans he rents out to outdoor lovers are named Bess and Gus.

Both of the 2005-2006 Mercedes sprinter vans are named after real mules who operated in the Owens Valley area 50 years ago. Michael informed us, “Gus was a massive mule who crawled on his knees with his pack to get under overhangs on narrow trails. As for Bess, she has an innate ability to sense snakes. She would blow hard to warn her mule train operators about snakes. Mules got a reputation of being stubborn but that is because they sensed danger and refused to go further. They saved a lot of lives.”

The Sierra Mule has brought its owners lots of enjoyment and stories. Michael explained that he loves having people come back super happy from an awesome trip. He even had a couple who got married on one of the vans and went on a 30-day trip across the United States!

Jacobs likes to go out on adventures of his own: “my favorite memory on the road so far has to be that hot spring I went to last March all by myself to just chill out. It was great being all by myself after a fresh snow storm, in a warm and comfy van with plenty of power.”

Lithium Vs. AGM

Currently he is running two 100 Ah 12 volt Battle Born Batteries on Bess, and is hoping to implement them onto all the vans. The batteries give Bess twice the power from the previous lead acid batteries.

Michael explained to us that he got interested in lithium because regular AGMs don’t do well when they get drawn down really low. If they do get drawn down really low, they don’t recharge fully after. If you can manage them then you are fine, but people renting the vans that are newbies and blow it, causes him to pay the price. So, lithium can be drawn all the way down thousands of times before they won’t recharge fully. A huge benefit for him and his business.

Introduced to our company by a friend on a ski trip, he is thoroughly impressed with our product. The Battle Born LiFePO4 batteries provide The Sierra Mule vans with double the power of a similar AGM configuration, as well as quality and performance. He is now able to teach customers how to be efficient and doesn’t have to worry about the van’s battery reliability.


The Sierra Mule is currently present on Instagram and Facebook. If you check out their website, you can also read their Tumblr blog and follow them on their adventures. This is Michael’s second summer and he’s excited to see what type of stories he will hear and people he will meet. He knows a lot of amazing places and can recommend you to the right overnight locations, great restaurants, or killer sunset spots!

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