As camping becomes an increasingly popular hobby for many outdoor lovers out there, building a camper conversion van has simply evolved into a bucket-list item for many people around the world.
The level of comfort you want in your van is a very personal preference that makes every single build unique and inspiring. For example, a fixed bed with storage underneath is a must for some people to watch the sunset from their bed with open back doors. In contrast, others might prefer to use that space for a big flip-down desk by making a bed that simply folds out of their way.
There are, however, some features you really will need in your van when you are overlanding. Therefore, we want to take you through our list of conversion van features that you will want in your setup.
Solar Panels on a Conversion Van
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Adding solar panels to your list of conversion van features is a must. It will help you make your vehicle more self-sustainable and ensure you won’t kill your car battery by using an electrical device.
A solar panel for a conversion van typically consists of solar cells that convert sunlight into electricity. A good set of solar panels – efficient ones – will generate power as soon as sunlight falls on it. The generated power is then stored directly in the battery of your conversion van through a controller. This circulation happens automatically and continues until the battery is fully charged.
Make sure to invest in a reasonable battery management system that prevents your battery from overcharging and that no current can end up flowing back to the solar panels (I have a REDARC Manager 30 in my Turtleback Expedition Trailer specifically for this purpose). These two things ensure a better life span for your conversion van’s battery.
A bonus feature would be adding a power grid system throughout your van that allows you to place outlets throughout your van for your laptop and camera. And if you want to be inventive about it, a phone charging USB socket near a flat surface next to your bed turns your conversion van into a next-level vehicle.
Conversion Van Features: The Bathroom
Adding a bathroom to your van build may not seem realistic, but as our friends at TrueVan have shown us with their fully equipped expandable bathroom inside their Vision C Mercedes conversion van, it very much can be a reality. It’s one of the best conversion van interior features there is!
You have to get creative with your space to be able to include a bathroom in your conversion van. If you can manage that, however, you can have a toilet and a shower all in the comfort of your van. Trust me; you will appreciate that the next time you have to go outside in the middle of the night to go number two in the pitch-black woods.
Having a shower and a toilet onboard means you need bigger fresh and grey tanks in your conversion van, so keep that in mind when planning your build and making a list of conversion van features.
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But let’s say you don’t want that indoor bathroom. Maybe you just want that big bed in the back of your truck. I mean, rear beds that don’t fold are an aesthetic we can’t get around on social media. So what is a decent alternative then?
Well, you can still create a small space to hang an outdoor shower connected to your fresh and grey water tank if you make sure you have a lengthy hose available as a showerhead. In addition, there are different types of privacy tents available that allow you to have a private and comfortable shower right outside your van.
As a bathroom, there are simple foldable toilets that simply use bags you can unfold and take a seat on, either in the bushes or in that tent we just mentioned for that little bit of added privacy. Since not every public camping spot will have toilets open at night, they might come in handy.
Don’t Forget the Kitchen Area on Your Conversion Van Features List
When it comes to the kitchen, you want to bring the comfort of home cooking into a tiny and limited area. There are several ways of doing this, but we want to cover the top two for you today.
TrueVan’s Sprinter conversion van kitchen setup would be my first choice. Their kitchen comes with a 4.2 CU FT fridge, microwave, induction stove and a fully operational sink. With that kind of setup, the kitchen is nothing short of inspiring.
The second type of kitchen is a little less straightforward than the first one. It is a slide-out kitchen where a cabinet slides out of the open side door, revealing both storage space and a tabletop for your gas burner or induction plate. These setups can contain a sink, but the faucet for your conversion van kitchen should be stowable in the sink itself, which means you can’t use them on the move.
Awnings for Your Camper
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There are several types of awnings on the market that will fit your vehicle, whether you have a rugged 4×4 off-road overlanding setup or a camper conversion van. These awnings vary from straightforward square tarp setups to full-on umbrella-style 270-degree angle awnings that will curve around the back of your vehicle.
You can also consider an awning tent setup. These too come in all shapes and sizes that are simple to put together and take apart or simply consist of a blow-up structure. In addition, an awning tent provides the bonus of functioning as a windshield and will give you some extra seating space outside of your van, safe from most weather influences.
At the very least, you should consider adding screens to the doors of your conversion van. You can do this with our example from TrueVan to give you some fresh air flow through the cabin without having to worry about bugs joining you inside.
A Workspace in a Conversion Van
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Not everyone plans on working during an overlanding trip in their conversion van, but if you do a lot of work while on the road, you may want to opt for something more comfortable than working in your front seat.
You can use a rotating driver and front passenger seat like TrueVan will do in your conversion van setup. If you build a table behind it, you now have a dinner table and desk all-in-one that is good to go for both eating and working.
The other option is to add either a solid desk or a desk chair somewhere in your conversion van. But this requires a spacious setup.
A desk surface that flips up (like the example shown above inside a TrueVan Vision) can be a great alternative if you do not have that space. Add a folding chair to sit on or place it close to your bed and use that as a chair. If you work full-time while overlanding don’t opt for the option of always working from your bed. This can lead to serious back pain and ruin your trip. You certainly don’t want that!