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rv:build

Words of Wisdom:

Step 1 in any design is to really understand your use.– jracca1)

The Build

The “build” is the creation of your campervan from whatever condition it is currently in. Regardless of the eventual type of build, you may find benefit in using a standardized order of events.

Builds range from bare essentials to technical wonderlands to luxurious. There are no fixed lists of “Must Have's” or “Most Avoids”, because the whole point of building a van is that it has what you want. How fancy you get is up to you, from the most basic usage of a “metal tent” with nothing but a sleeping bag and a camping pad in the back, up to the $200k+ pre-made luxo-barges.

Here's some very rough estimations of build types, from the simple to the complex. Everyone can freely pick and choose the level of complexity of any sub-system that they want; there exist plain metal tents with multi-thousand dollar lithium battery setups, or finely crafted artisanal woodworking builds that have no more electricity than a few AA battery powered tap lights. It's completely up to you.

Note: These builds are targeted at people who are van-dwelling by choice. If your situation is different, please see Involuntary vandwelling.

The Metal Tent

Fast and simple, this is as minimal as it gets. You're in a metal box that keeps the elements off of you, and everything else is done in a similar way to backpacking. Also see frugal camper builds.

  • Interior
    • None, or Factory interior
  • Sleeping equipment
    • Foam sleeping pads
    • Sleeping bag
    • Stuff some clothes into a plastic bag for a pillow
  • Food Storage
    • None, or a plastic bag of dry goods
  • Cooking
    • Jet-boil or similar minimal stove to heat up hot water
  • Clothing & Storage
    • A backpack or few.
  • Electricity
    • Vehicle battery
  • Internet
    • Cell phone

The Glamper

Good for casual overnights or weekends in campground near services, you're likely not making too many permanent modifications to the vehicle. You're still looking to be simple and efficient, but now you may take a few more of life's luxuries with you.

  • Interior
    • None, or Factory interior
  • Sleeping equipment
    • “Car Camping” inflatable sleeping pads or air mattress
    • blankets or sleeping bag
    • Maybe a proper pillow at this point
  • Food Storage
    • $30 Wal-Mart cooler with ice
  • Cooking
    • Jet-boil, or upgrade to a Whisper-lite type stove for a wider cooking ability
  • Clothing & Storage
    • Still duffle bags, or potentially clear totes
  • Electricity
    • USB Power bank
  • Internet
    • Cell phone, maybe hotspotting it to a laptop for a couple hours.

The Weekender

By now you're started to think you might like this whole van-life thing. You're going to spend multiple nights in it, maybe go a little farther and try your hand at the occasional boondock. You're going to start the built and have some tools, and abilities to make more permanent modifications.

  • Interior
    • Basic Plywood on the walls, rubber mats for the floor (or Factory interior)
  • Sleeping equipment
    • Folding cot or basic platform to get yourself off the floor (this helps a LOT with storage, and having someplace to sit)
    • Thicker camping pad and blankets, or sleeping bag.
    • A real pillow
  • Food Storage
    • Higher quality & larger cooler with ice
  • Cooking
    • Whisper-lite type stove, maybe a second pot and some dollar-store cooking utensils.
  • Clothing & Storage
    • Plastic furniture, clear totes, or hanging closet organizers can be a very useful way to utilize vertical space
  • Electricity
    • Larger USB power bank
  • Internet
    • Cell phone, maybe hotspotting it to a laptop for a couple hours.

Similarly, there's no “Right” way to plan. Various methods are used for planning:

  • pen and paper
  • sketchup or other design/CAD programs
  • Cardboard Aided Design2), 1:1 modeling the van space in the real world
  • the “sit/stand in the van and think” model recommended by secessus :-)

example builds

rv/build.txt · Last modified: 2022/01/15 20:40 by princess_fluffypants