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sprinter CARGO VAN converted to a camping van

trx680
Explorer
Explorer
I visited Yellowstone last week. Flew to Denver and rested a car and drove.

Saw so many RVs... no, I don't own one...still dreaming.

I noticed a couple of Sprinter cargo work vans that had been converted over to camping vans. These were the high roof models. Both had beds, one had a sink made up of a 5 gallon holding tank a 5 gallon waste tank.

This is something I would consider if I found a decent Sprinter. Nothing fancy. Something to take to the mountains when the nights are cool. Park it at a campground and use their bathhouses.

Anyone here a converted van?
28 REPLIES 28

Moof
Explorer II
Explorer II

I have a 2006 Sprinter I got for $8k with 180k on it. No major problems at all. Not living in my van but for road trip travel it’s been absolutely bullet proof. Reliable as it gets.

If you want a nice build, bite the bullet and get a pro job. It's expensive and slow but unless you're an expert cabinet maker, electric expert, upholstery and propane installation you're gonna have a mess on your hands.

Doing a really quality build DIY can take a year, so you might want to check out van2b, they make a well-regard conversion kits: https://van2b.com/

All depends on your priorities, skills, wallet and time.

Deb_and_Ed_M
Explorer
Explorer
And again - Antoine and Isabelle created a DIY electrical system interactive "wizard" - everything you need to know about setting up your system including solar https://faroutride.com/electrical-system#wizard
Ed, Deb, and 2 dogs
Looking for a small Class C!

Deb_and_Ed_M
Explorer
Explorer
There's a new Facebook page set up for "generic" cargo van DIY (any brand is welcome) and is sponsored by my FarOutRide friends Antoine and Isabelle (both are engineers). It's a closed group - you'll have to ask to join and abide by the rules; but there will be a wealth of technical info there as people join in:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/faroutride/?ref=bookmarks
Ed, Deb, and 2 dogs
Looking for a small Class C!

Big_Katuna
Explorer II
Explorer II
You are correct. My folks in their fifties did extended runs into Mexico, all over N.America for that matter in various minimally improved vans, no toad.

Sponge baths if no shower, motel when they wanted. One pot dishes or cold dinners with good local protein.

They could have had much more expensive rigs and later did Airsteams when they got older but I agree, to each, their own.
My Kharma ran over my Dogma.

Roy_Lynne
Explorer
Explorer
Lwiddis wrote:
Midnight runs to the campground restroom aren’t fun. A five gallon water tank won’t wash many dishes. How will you cook in the rain? Limiting yourself to developed campgrounds makes you less free.

Many of them have toilets. Some are composting, some have these bags that are designed to hold human waste. It sounds disgusting but its not.
And these folks are minimalist and don't create a lot of dishes when camping. One pan you cook in and eat out of. One fork you stir with and eat with.
And they cook in the rain like you cook in the rain, in the van.
If I were a few years younger, I'd be giving it a try.

Deb_and_Ed_M
Explorer
Explorer
tatest wrote:
A mattress, camp stove, and port-a-pottie thrown into the back of a van costs almost nothing. It goes up from there to sky is the limit.


I have camped (by myself) that way many times! My Stow-and-Go Grand Caravan kept me very comfy in 25-degree weather with a cot and sleeping bag, potty, and small electric heater. It was sort of that minimalist start that led Ed and I into converting a Transit cargo van.
Ed, Deb, and 2 dogs
Looking for a small Class C!

tatest
Explorer II
Explorer II
All Sprinter B's start as high roof cargo vans, nobody starts the conversion with a passenger van. Whether professional conversion or DIY, how much it costs depends on how far you go with the conversion and how you value your time/labor. A mattress, camp stove, and port-a-pottie thrown into the back of a van costs almost nothing. It goes up from there to sky is the limit.
Tom Test
Itasca Spirit 29B

goreds2
Explorer
Explorer
Great story HuckFinn410.
See Picture In My Profile
I have a 1989 Dodge XPLORER RV Class B - Purchased 10/15/10 IN CASH
Fiance' purchased a Class C 2002 Dynamax Carri-go on 5/1/15 IN CASH
We've got the best of both worlds

HuckFinn410
Explorer
Explorer
I sold my TT last year and bought a well used 05 Sprinter Cargo High roof last year (200k miles, no DEF). My son and I made it a fun project. Now it's a fully outfitted rig that is perfect for weekend trips boon docking or staying in a campground. We take it to the Ozarks for some trout fishing in the boonies or we hook up our boat and take it to local lakes for some overnight bass fishing trips.

We discovered that we spend 95% of our waking time outside of a camper, so a big camper is not important to us. A couple of 8" memory foam bunks make sleeping fantastic. A DIY awning helps too. Solar, LEDS, Porta Potty, good beds, small kitchen, fantastic fan, perfect! 21 MPG!

It was a ton of work but worth it. If you have the time, space and money I think that it's a great project. I would do it again.

I am sold on the conversion platform. Totally versatile, economical, stealthy and fun. I love it! Fell free to PM me with any questions.
Homesick for a place that I've never been

ctilsie242
Explorer
Explorer
I see two types of YouTube channels about converting vans. One is, as mentioned above, dopey kids, who tend to vlog for a few months then drop out when summer or winter hit since both tend to be not doable in a DIY conversion. What usually kills their dreams is the fact that they jumped into full-timing it without much thought, and no budgets, especially if/when emergencies happen.

The other are people who are doing it as their own home hobbyist projects, or are retired and are full-timing it. There are some truly ingenious designers systems out there, from one person who made a slide in his van for the A/C unit, so it can be inside the van when on the road, then pushed out when parked. Other items have been custom storage additions, clever use of "chest" refrigerators, etc.

I personally am not a good craftsperson. I wouldn't want to build out an empty van. I rather just go for an entry level "B" with everything I need like a Winnebago Travato, and go from there.

goreds2
Explorer
Explorer
Here is a nice van build. It is a Promaster which is less expensive than Sprinter. Promaster Van Build
See Picture In My Profile
I have a 1989 Dodge XPLORER RV Class B - Purchased 10/15/10 IN CASH
Fiance' purchased a Class C 2002 Dynamax Carri-go on 5/1/15 IN CASH
We've got the best of both worlds

goreds2
Explorer
Explorer
Look up Campervan Kevin on YouTube. He is currently in the middle of this type of project.
See Picture In My Profile
I have a 1989 Dodge XPLORER RV Class B - Purchased 10/15/10 IN CASH
Fiance' purchased a Class C 2002 Dynamax Carri-go on 5/1/15 IN CASH
We've got the best of both worlds

Deb_and_Ed_M
Explorer
Explorer
One of the advantages to a converted cargo van is "stealthiness". I would love an awning on mine, but the minute I put on a nice Fiamma, my van will be perceived as an "RV". as it stands now, it's a "station wagon" and as such, doesn't violate my condo's regulations. And if I remember correctly, the only place I could find a long enough bed for Ed, was by having a special build done by Sportsmobile?

Building my own solved that problem - and probably cost an extra thousand dollars or so. Plus, it still functions as a cargo van - I have hauled massive dining room furniture in it, for example. Of course, there's a tradeoff - my "stove" is a hotplate; and my bathroom is a Luggable Loo. Not luxurious, but it works great for us 🙂
Ed, Deb, and 2 dogs
Looking for a small Class C!

trx680
Explorer
Explorer
Chris Bryant wrote:
I'm getting ready to do one for a friend, he bought a new hi top long wheel base 4 wheel drive with all of the up fitter options for $64k, which is the total cost including 4 year financing.
He is most interested in off grid, so solar, lithium batteries, may go 24-48 volt system.

Show us some pics when you get done.