Sunday, June 16, 2024

5 Useful Ideas for Your Camper Van Conversion, from a Vanlifer

When you have goals of touring and tenting in a photoshoot-worthy campervan, you’re not alone. A lot of persons are impressed by the attractive campervan conversions they see on social media. However do you really want your camper to appear to be one thing out of a list? Or do you merely wish to dwell and camp comfortably whereas touring?

The truth of changing a van right into a campervan is that all the things you add has the potential to create extra work and extra points while you’re on the highway—to not point out the upfront money and time you’ll want to put in each fancy characteristic you discover on Pinterest.

Once I purchased my GMC Vandura and began dwelling in it part-time, simplicity was my focus. I wished to noticeably downsize my life, so I didn’t wish to fill my van with too many extras.

The Key to a Profitable Campervan Conversion? Hold it Easy.

The “van life” motion is rooted in minimalism. The VW van-dwellers of the 60’s didn’t have Pinterest to supply concepts from. They lived and camped of their camper vans as a technique to escape the confines of too many possessions. And the current resurgence of van-love, now replete with a hashtag (#vanlife), grew in tandem with the tiny home obsession, together with the concept that much less is extra. Folks wished to reinvent the “American Dream,” with out costly mortgages and dealing their lives away to pay the payments. They wished to get outdoors extra. Cell dwelling (together with tiny houses, vans, RVs and so on.) supplied a less complicated model of consolation, together with mobility, freedom, and low-cost dwelling.

inside a camper van conversion

Kelly S. is conserving it easy along with her 2002 Chevrolet Categorical camper van conversion.

However as this different life-style has became mainstream clickbait, the “minimalism” is typically overshadowed by costly Sprinter van build-outs and elaborate rigs.

Now, don’t get me mistaken. I really like a gorgeously curated inside. I wager you do, too. However the actuality is I don’t have the funds or the time for all of the bells and whistles. And once I’m sleeping at campgrounds, I actually don’t want them. In the event you’re seeking to flip your van right into a camper van, you won’t have an interest within the fancy build-outs both.

Whether or not you’re parking at campgrounds or boondocking, you don’t must spend tens of hundreds of {dollars} in changing a van right into a camper van.

Let’s break down the belongings you do want in your easy camper van conversion…

5 Issues to Concentrate on for a Less complicated Campervan Conversion

I spoke to some fellow vanlifers — a few of them dwell of their vans full-time, others camp of their vans on weekends — to spherical out my very own recommendation on what you want for a easy van conversion.

M personal camper van conversion is a 1986 GMC Vandura. It’s previous and creaky and barely unreliable, however (more often than not) I adore it, and it’s good for tenting.

gmc camper van conversion

A Mattress

The mattress is the foundational distinction between a van and a campervan. (Associated: upon getting a mattress in your van, it’s formally an RV, based on AAA, and also you’ll want their RV protection when you ever desire a tow. I found that on the aspect of the freeway in Seattle.)

I’ve seen vans with the backseats eliminated and a mattress thrown in. I’ve even seen a hammock strung up inside a van, which will be simply eliminated to maximise dwelling area while you’re not sleeping.

My van got here with a mattress that folds into itself to create a bench seat. It’s much like this one, constructed by @gnomad_home:

However I preserve mine out like a mattress on a regular basis, and discover the mattress works positive for sitting and sometimes engaged on my laptop computer. If I did a camper van conversion myself, I wouldn’t hassle with the fold-up characteristic.

The vanlifers behind Two Wandering Soles constructed an excellent easy platform mattress behind their Chevy, and so they provide detailed directions on the right way to make your personal.

On the subject of bedding, I’m a giant fan of an extreme variety of pillows. And I’m sort of in love with my Pendleton wool blanket. However now that the climate is warming up, it’s a lot too scorching. I really like the idea of the Rumpl blanket — it’s made out of sleeping bag materials which stays good and funky, but in addition retains you heat. Plus, my canine’s hair gained’t persist with it, prefer it does with the wool blanket. I don’t have one but, however it’s on my record for summertime van tenting.

Energy + Mild

power in a camper van conversion

There’s one thing particular about being within the van at evening. I drove miles up into the coastal mountains of Oregon to achieve Horse Creek Campground on my first van tenting journey. The darkish tunnel of grime highway was eery, as I drove additional and additional away from civilization. However then I reached the almost empty campground, turned on my assortment of Christmas lights, strung across the van’s ceiling, turned off the headlights, and felt proper at house.

The factor is, if you wish to do something in your van at evening, you’re going to want gentle. I’ve amassed increasingly Christmas lights, which I plug in to The Lycan Powerbox from Renogy. If I wish to learn, I additionally activate slightly lantern I’ve hanging over the mattress.

inside a camper van conversion

My lights, pc, and fan can all run without delay from The Lycan Powerbox. So I’ve energy for tenting or working in a Starbucks car parking zone (as I’m doing, right here).

I’ve a foldable lantern within the storage compartment over the driving force’s seat in my camper van conversion, so I can see to seek out my garments. And some smaller lights scattered across the van, so there’s at all times one in arm’s attain once I climb in and have to see earlier than I by accident step in my canine’s water bowl.

The UCO Gear Sitka Lantern is one other interesting possibility. The extendable arm can provide you gentle from above, which is particularly helpful when cooking or studying.

I’m additionally a giant fan of battery operated twinkle lights. They’re not nice for studying, however they offer my van a comfy vibe for nighttime leisure.

jackson hanging out inside a camper van conversion

My canine, Jackson, likes the twinkle gentle vibe. He doesn’t prefer it once I shine my headlamp in his face to take a photograph.

As a result of you may by no means have sufficient choices relating to your potential to see in the dead of night, I additionally preserve a headlamp available. Ledlenser Headlamps are a lot brighter than most headlamps I’ve tried. Stick one behind your gallon of water for a makeshift lantern when it’s not in your head.

Fellow van camper Kelly S. additionally retains it easy relating to lights: “I didn’t wish to fiddle with wiring a van, storing an additional battery, determining the right way to cost an additional battery, and so on, so I’ve hooks on the ceiling for battery powered LED lanterns. This manner, they’re transportable too, and you need to use them outdoors of the van!”

Econoline-dweller Rachel loves her LED lights for conserving issues easy, too: “For lights I’ve an LED strip that plugs into USB and I simply use these little backup cellphone batteries and swap them out and cost them via my lighter whereas I’m driving.”

Shelly S. is hooked on LUMINAID. “I get the Cairn subscription field, which is how I obtained the preliminary run of this superior little lantern and have been caught to it ever since.”


Rule quantity #1 with any kind of tenting: Deliver extra water than you suppose you’ll want. This isn’t exhausting while you’re van tenting — there’s loads of room! However you’ve a bunch of choices relating to water storage.

Kelly S. shares how she sourced her finest van concepts from conventional tent tenting, together with water.

“For water I’ve a 7-gallon aquatainer. In the event you want ingesting water? There’s a spout proper there! Coupled with a bathtub on the ground beneath the cut up, you’ve a sink to clean your fingers, too! Having it bungee corded in place for transport works nice, after which if you wish to unfold out someplace you cease, you may take it out!”

Associated Studying:

This Household is Constructing a Fashionable Camper Out of Free Supplies Discovered on Craigslist

On the subject of water storage, you actually can’t beat the basic large blue jug. The Reliance Aqua-Tainer 7 Gallon holds loads of water for a summer time weekend of water ingesting, dish washing, and the occasional foot rinse after a barefoot stroll across the campground. Simply ensure you have a technique to safe it to the ground while you’re bouncing down grime roads.

As for showers, in case your van is strictly for tenting, then you may normally depend on campground loos for bathing — or just embrace the grime when you’re on the market.

If you wish to get slightly artful, you may add a makeshift outside bathe to the roof of your van with ABS piping and a hose.

Since I generally spend a number of weeks in my van, I wished to have a spot to clean my face and brush my enamel. I relied on disposable face wipes and health club loos for the primary few months. However then my pals at Wooden Intimations constructed a beautiful sink that’s tremendous easy and appears nice — and it’s been a recreation changer.

sink inside of a camper van conversion

The pump faucet attracts water from a 4 gallon jug beneath the sink, and grey water drains down right into a gap within the van flooring, so I don’t must empty something.

It additionally offers some a lot wanted counter area, and slightly shelf for storing these tiny issues that at all times get misplaced within the van, just like the distant to my twinkle lights and my chapstick!


Group is so essential in your sanity when dwelling or tenting in a camper van conversion. Even when you’re a minimalist guru who wears one outfit and lives off protein bars, you’re going to handle to gather extra stuff than you suppose.

And in case your lighting isn’t nice, it’s going to be much more tough to seek out that stuff.

Staying organized will make you’re feeling like you’ve a deal with on the entire #vanlife factor. Group will be so simple as a couple of plastic bins that may slide underneath your mattress. Simply ensure you know precisely what you’re storing in every of them. (Clear storage containers are excellent so you may see what’s in there while you inevitably overlook.)

Shelly S. camps in her 4Runner. “It’s not a van, however the identical ideas apply,” she tells me. Group is essential for her, too. “Mountainsmith has some good storage cubes — gentle sided and stuffable. That being mentioned, you are able to do about the identical with these free material procuring totes, saved in both a cardboard field or a plastic bin.”

Leah W. recommends as few belongings as doable for staying organized. “My greatest suggestion is admittedly paring issues right down to what you NEED. I had one set of primary utensils, one pot, plate, and bowl, a one burner range, and so on. A small toiletry bag, one duffel bag of summer time clothes, one duffel bag of winter clothes.” She agrees with Shelly about utilizing luggage for group. “Whereas most individuals are followers of making packing containers for group, we discovered that sturdy-ish luggage labored finest.”

I went to the Container Retailer and acquired a few gentle containers with hooked up lids. As a result of the construction of the containers is cloth, they’re simple to stay into locations the place they barely match, just like the storage space above the driving force and passenger seats of my GMC Vandura.

Hooks have additionally been a sanity saver for me in my generally not so organized camper van conversion. I preserve a jacket and a few shirts that I don’t wish to be all wrinkly, hanging on a hook by the door. I at all times know the place they’re, and I can attain additional layers if I get chilly at evening. I even have a hook for my headlamp, as a result of that’s one thing that at all times will get misplaced.

On the subject of meals storage, you’ll want to consider uninvited home guests.

“Retailer your meals in closed containers or bins, ” advises Leah W. “We began our journey with our meals in an open crate, and shortly had mouse pals additionally having fun with our snacks.”

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