Best 5 DIY Camper Van Conversion Kits
If you’re in the market for a new camper van, chances are you’re already frustrated with the available options. Even the premium options don’t seem to tick all the boxes.
I understand that we always have to make a few compromises here and there, but for a lifetime and sentimental investments like camper vans, I don’t think there’s a way around it. At least in my case.
See, when I started my van life, I already had a picture in mind of what I wanted in my camper van, specifically the amenities and features.
Unfortunately, most available camper vans would come short of my dream camper van.
Getting a customized camper van wasn’t an option because I was dead broke. I couldn’t DIY an existing camper van to my liking either because I suck at building stuff, and I’m a bit clumsy.
So, after weighing down my options, I decided to get a Ram Pro Master Van and convert it into a camper van.
The DIY camper van conversion kits came in handy for my project, especially considering I didn’t have the money or skill to build a custom camper van.
And today, I’ll share everything you need about DIY camper van conversion kits.
What are Campervan Conversion Kits?
Campervan conversion kits are exactly as they sound. They’re kits to convert a typical van into a camper van for camping, Overlanding, boondocking, road trips, or even permanent residence.
In my opinion, I consider them somewhere between a full DIY conversion and a custom build.
They’re ideal for those sitting between a typical DIY budget and the cash needed for a custom build. They’re also perfect for van dwellers who want at least the foundation of their build professionally done but still want the satisfaction of building it themselves.
Regarding the pricing, a campervan conversion kit serves as the middle ground between a full DIY build and a custom build.
And when it comes to skills, conversion kits make the entire camper van building process much easier and way faster.
Understand that these kits usually provide you with everything you need to get started and take the guesswork out of buying or installing components for your conversion.
Of course, different conversion kits come in different qualities, materials, and components. But in most cases, conversion kit manufacturers usually allow you to customize your kit to your needs.
The ideal van conversion kit, however, should come with everything you need to make your camper van comfier.
And the best part about using a conversion kit is it adds value to your camper van if you decide to sell it. But more importantly, conversion kits usually make your van trips more enjoyable.
What to Keep in Mind when Selecting the Ideal Campervan Kit
If you’re thinking of investing in DIY campervan kits, there’re several things to keep in mind. Usually, these factors will determine the overall experience with a particular kit.
Types of Camper Conversion Kit
Camper conversion kits come in different configurations, and you need to find an option that suits your needs.
Usually, the ideal kit depends on how you want your campervan to lay out. The possibilities are endless at this point, and planning how everything fits together in your DIY build is exciting.
Campervan conversion kit prices vary widely, depending on the quality, material, and design’s complexity.
So, shopping around to find a kit within your budget makes sense.
It’s also important to check on the compatibility of your kit with your van.
Of course, if you’ve some popular van models such as MB Sprinters, RAM Promaster, Ford Transits, Dodge Sprinters, etc., you shouldn’t have a problem.
However, for the unique and smaller van models, you need to consider compatibility; otherwise, you may need to perform significant modifications.
Ease of Installation
DIY campervan custom kits are much easier to install than DIYing, but they’re far from plug-and-play. Depending on the complexity, you’ll need some elbow grease; some can be quite challenging to install.
It’s important to check the quality of your conversion kit, especially if you’ll pay a lot for it. It also determines the longevity of your kit.
I usually start by looking at the individual reviews of the conversion kits to see the experiences of other van dwellers. It’s also worth checking more about the company and its reputation.
Campervan Conversion Kit Alternatives
If you’re a follower of @van_yacht, you know their DIY conversions are dope. It’s impressive to see one take a van and an idea and turn it into something practical and beautiful.
The other nice thing about DIYing your van is you’ve much greater control over your build. It lets you customize your van according to your specific needs. And in most cases, it’s usually much cheaper than camper conversion kits.
My concern with the DIY van build is it requires time and skills. When we were building our Pro Master, we entertained the idea of DIY van builds, but since we weren’t so comfortable with DIY carpentry, we decided to forego the idea.
Custom Van Builds
Most van dwellers like the idea of a custom van build. The greatest benefit of a custom van build is it’s easy to tailor your van exactly to your wants.
But for me, what I like most about the custom van build is the finished product is usually high-quality and to my specifications. Plus, I don’t have to do any work myself-the company takes care of everything.
Unfortunately, a custom van build is expensive and may not be ideal for van dwellers on a budget.
Plus, depending on the manufacturer, you may find that the build won’t accommodate all your requests.
A dealbreaker with the custom build is that it gives me limited control over the whole process.
Why Consider a Campervan Conversion Kit: Is it Worth It?
If I were to start my van build again, I’d still for campervan conversion kits.
Converting my van using a conversion kit is just as alluring as living in one, so it’s worth it.
I like the idea that I can constantly change and modify things as I go, which is now easier because I know where I put every inch of the van.
Plus, it has helped me develop useful skills, get what I want, and give me something to be proud of.
But I won’t lie, converting a van is a difficult project, especially if it’s your first time. It will be hard and time-consuming if you want everything to line up and look nice. The hardest part for me is definitely making everything looks nice and factory.
But my biggest piece of advice is doesn’t get too fancy or anything. Keep it simple and low-risk most of the time.
The technical side may be more work than you think, but there’re many tutorials online to help you get your head around it. Wild We Roam and Eamon and Bec are some resources to get you started.
Also, I’d suggest using many pre-fab things as possible.
Campervan Conversion Kit Cost
Cost-wise, campervan conversion kits are a middle-ground between DIY and custom build.
However, as with any van build, the possibilities are usually endless, so you can build it the cheap or expensive-the way you like.
For example, I’ve seen some cheap conversion kits from van dwellers who buy used vans and free pallets for all their stuff.
However, some things cost what they cost, and you can perform a conversion kit build for over $100k, even without getting “too luxurious.” It all depends on your needs.
The answer you get from anyone will be “correct” without a boatload of questions answered.
On top of it all, the problem with an “ideal” campervan is you’ve no clue what may be ideal for you until you live it in a while.
You could even take all your time to get everything in shape and then go out and find out, “oh, I didn’t consider this or that.” Plus, you’ll realize that many peddled beliefs about campervan “needs” and what’s good or not are usually unfounded.
The trick is figuring out what’s important in your build and working on it.
From my experience and understanding, insurance generally is a hassle for a converted van. And understandably so.
It’s so bad that general coverage might not be applicable in the event of an accident or break-in.
See, the most important thing to keep in mind is that your insurance is a contract. You can kiss any reimbursement goodbye when your provider proves you breached the contract.
People saying, “just get RV insurance and don’t tell the insurer the details,” are wrong and fooling you. Doing that is a guarantee of getting homeless when you crash.
There’re specific demands for registering an RV. Just wanting to register your converted van into an RV doesn’t cut it.
So, talk to an insurance agent, and make damned sure you’re converting a van and everything that’s going on. You can get insurers who’ll cover you.
What’s the Best Campervan Conversion Kit?
There’re numerous conversion kits today, but we’ve had a positive experience with the Wayfarer Plug-N-Play conversion kit. It was made for our Ram Promaster City Van.
As with most campervan conversion kits, you can have the manufacturer install them or do them yourself. We choose the latter.
Other awesome campervan conversion kits include:
- Trail Kitchens
- Zen Vans Camper Conversion Systems
- Adventure Wagon Interior Kits
- RB Components for Camper Vans
- Flatline Van Company Conversion Kits
Q: How much does a campervan conversion kit cost?
A: The prices vary, depending on the material, quality and complexity. The price may start from $2,000 and can go all the way to $30,000
Q: Is it cheaper to covert a van?
A: Yes, converting a van is much cheaper, but it’s also time-consuming.
Q: What are some of the popular vans to convert?
A: A few popular vans are often used for converting into camper vans. They include MB Sprinter, Ram Promaster, and Ford Transit.
All of these come with plenty of space for installing conversion kits.
Campervan conversion kits are designed for a special person—someone who wants to get it together and hit the road.
The kits provide a mix of reliability and convenience for van life.