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what is a conversion van? your van conversion options

conversion vans are full-sized cargo vans outfitted with equipment and amenities for road trips and camping. the term "conversion van" can also refer to full-size passenger vans converted for work or transportation purposes. however, this article will focus on vans converted for adventure.

conversion vans are trendy among van lifers who outfit their van to travel and live during short or long periods. to do so, they convert the van into a campervan where they can sleep, eat, hang out, and so on while adventuring and living the van life.

depending on its uses, there are infinite ways you can convert a van. for example, some people, especially those living in a van long-term, may add a bathroom and shower in addition to a kitchen and bed. in contrast, others may only have a bed and mini fridge.

some people use converted vans for sports like mountain biking, surfing, skiing, and other outdoor activities that require traveling with a lot of equipment or gear. these uses can require a roof rack or an ample storage space built into the van, known as a “garage.”

whatever the van’s purpose, there are many options for vehicles to choose from and many ways to do the conversion. read on to find out more. 

top conversion vans for van life

a few of the most popular vehicles for van conversions include the Mercedes Sprinter, Ford Transit, Dodge Promaster, and Chevrolet Express.

Sprinter vans are the most popular choice for camper van conversions as they are spacious, durable, and versatile. in addition, you can easily customize them with the amenities you need. more aftermarket options available for suspension, wheels, and tires. the 4wd van is lifted four inches which makes it a better option for driving on unimproved dirt roads.

Ford Transit vans come in several different models, meaning each type varies. there are three height and length options for the Transit. some are high-topped while others aren’t. 

Dodge Promaster is another popular option for van life as it’s affordable and has a spacious interior. its boxy shape gives it a lot of usable roof space to put solar panels, racks, etc.

Chevrolet Express vans have a lower roof than most conversion vans, making them an excellent option for stealth camping or parking in a standard garage. they are also widely available and affordable.

after choosing the perfect van for your conversion, it’s time to choose a van conversion method.

van conversion options

you can opt to renovate your van in many ways. do it yourself, partially do it yourself, buy a pre-converted van, or have a professional company take care of it. the cost for each method varies. on our website, you can view esplori’s prices for a Sprinter van conversion. our diy interior kits reduce build time while getting a professional look.

diy van conversion 

if you think you’re up to the task of doing a diy conversion, there are some things you’ll want to keep in mind. consider:

  • do you have the space and tools necessary to do it?
  • do you have the time and budget for it? you may need to set aside some extra money for any additions or hiccups as you build.
  • is the weather good enough to do it where you live? or do you have a covered space where you can work?

don’t worry if it’s your first time or if you haven’t done a project like this before because tons of videos on YouTube and other sites can assist you during the process.

diy van build pros

  • the money you spend on your van conversion is flexible: you can put as much or as little into it as you want
  • it saves you money on the labor
  • a fun, challenging experience that will teach you about your capabilities and skills
  • bonding time for those involved
  • your van will be unique
  • you’ll learn how everything works and be able to repair things on your own if/when they break
  • flexibility to change parts or ideas as you go
  • you can pay for it at your own pace and space out purchases to avoid an upfront expense
  • you’ll learn many valuable skills related to carpentry, plumbing, mechanics, etc

diy van build cons

  • it can be challenging to get RV insurance with a diy build (some insurance companies will insure professional van builds, but not diy).
  • it can be time-consuming and lengthy. most diy builds take 200+ hours.
  • the resale value probably won’t be as high as a professional build
  • it can sometimes be frustrating and challenging if you don’t know what you’re doing

professional van conversion

some people prefer a professional van conversion. it can be more straightforward, quicker, and a worry-free experience.

professional van conversion pros

  • it can be easier to get RV insurance
  • the final product will most likely be at a professional grade level
  • the van can maintain its value longer than a diy build
  • you can dedicate the time you’ll save to other things like family, work, and leisure activities
  • if something breaks, the company can repair it for you
  • warranty coverage

professional van conversion cons

  • it can be more expensive. additionally, it’s an upfront investment you’ll have to make at once.
  • it may be harder to make changes once the conversion is completed
  • it will take you some time to learn how everything works
  • companies may only work with certain models, so it may be hard to find one that will do it for your van’s model

regardless of the route you decide to take, you’re one step closer to your perfect adventure. at esplori, we give you options because we know some people are do-it-yourselfers while others want some assistance. contact us for expert advice if you’re unsure whether to do a diy installation or a factory installation. 

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