Best Van Conversion Companies To Start The #Vanlife
An increasing number of people are turning to the #vanlife. The nomad lifestyle isn’t for everyone, but for certain people — it’s life affirming. Converting your van on your own can quickly turn into a mammoth task. For most people, van conversion companies are the way to go.
They can give you insights on which camper van or vehicle to start with. They’re also backed by years of the right training that makes sure your van conversion can be lived in comfortably for years to come. For this review, we’ve taken a look at some of the most talked-about van conversion companies on the internet.
We’ll explore why they might be worth considering and how you can get in touch. To tie things up, we’ll also discuss some of the best vehicles to start with if you’re interested in van conversion.
Best Van Conversion Companies In The USA
We’ve put our researcher hats on and found the internet’s favorite companies that offer van conversions. They’re not the only ones out there, but they are some of the biggest names. Read on to find the perfect match for your van builds.
Based in Bellevue, Idaho, SYNC Vans offers semi and fully custom builds that are designed to handle the full extent of #VanLife. The majority of their conversions are for the Mercedes Sprinter, but they can also work with clients on a more bespoke basis.
At the core of a SYNC conversion is the idea that you shouldn’t let the limitations of your vehicle limit your chosen lifestyle. A broad range of layout plans, materials and storage solutions means that even more cramped vans can be transformed into incredible custom builds.
Semi-Custom Builds – How it Works
SYNC Vans offers a number of pre-configured suggestions for first-time buyers. The selection is broad enough that you should be able to find something that works for you. Your input is taken to determine the resulting build. Do you need an ultra-outside van, for example? They’ll recommend a pre-config that works.
Fully Custom Builds – How it Works
It’s also possible to come to these guys with your dream camper van in mind. You provide your specifications and your new portable home can be built entirely from scratch. Promasters and Transits are also included for the fully custom option.
SYNC Vans – What We Love
There’s plenty to love about this van conversion company:
- Comparatively speedy turnaround, even for fully custom builds
- The team has decades of relevant experience
- Builds are designed to accommodate van living
- Plenty of layout options for a variety of needs
There are a couple of things to keep in mind with this sprinter-van-centric company:
- Indoor showers and wet baths aren’t included. Outside van solutions are your only option.
- There are no financing options available
Based out of Belgrade, Montana, Beartooth Vanworks is a great choice if you need a rugged home that can stand up to the elements. The bread and butter for this van conversion company is building rugged vehicles that can withstand the harshest of conditions.
Liberation and self-sufficiency inform a great deal of this company’s ethos. Beartooth is employee-owned and focuses on empowering customers to live life on their own terms.
There is no “off-the-shelf” option here. All van conversion projects are fully custom. More than 70 years of trade experience goes into a van conversion that is built from the ground up to suit your needs. If terms like bespoke, rugged or, no compromises appeal to you, these guys are worth checking out.
Beartooth Vanworks – What We Love
It’s hard to argue with the passion on show here. We love the following:
- Great option for those who want an adventure-ready vehicle
- 70+ years of industry experience
- Helpful build survey that takes you through each step of the process
- Custom builds that accommodate your budget
- Employee-owned and operated
These won’t be dealbreakers for everyone, but they’re worth keeping in mind:
- No pre-configured options
- Mainly geared towards adventurers who need a rugged vehicle
- They can’t source a van for you
Located near Denver, TOURIG sells modular, adaptable camper van conversions to suit a wide range of needs. One thing that stands out with this van conversion company is their vendor partnership scheme. The parts and materials used for your build will be excellent quality with a high attention to detail.
Outside of the pandemic, TOURIG usually hosts and attends events all across the US. These events can be a great introduction to the world of van conversion.
The Process – How it Works
A huge positive about these guys is that they outline their general process very clearly on their website. Customers should expect the following:
- An initial consultation (in person or over the phone) establishes whether TOURIG is the right fit for your needs
- A fully refundable $3000 security deposit is sent to secure a build calendar slot
- The design phase begins and your assigned designer can make sure both your interior and exterior components are just right
- You drop off your vehicle and it’s then converted within 6-12 weeks
- A pickup date is set and your new lifestyle begins!
Main Advantages – TOURIG
There’s plenty that stands out with this van conversion company:
- Great vendor partnerships for high-quality components
- Fully custom, modular builds
- A process that’s super easy to understand with frequent communication
- High-performance, lightweight van conversions
- 3-year limited warranty
Potential Disadvantages with TOURIG
Some of these are double-edged swords, but they’re worth noting now:
- They generally won’t work with parts you bring them to ensure their quality standards are met
- No financing is available
Based in Portland, Oregon, the folks at Outside Van have been living the van life for more than 30 years. This brings with it a perspective that leads to builds perfect for a nomadic lifestyle. Everything from the metalwork to the upholstery is made with an impressive level of detail.
These guys have been designing van builds since 2007 and have options for almost anyone.
Wishlist – How it Works
For those who already have a clear idea of what they’d like from their conversion, Outside Van can create a custom camper van to suit their needs. After filling out a contact form with the details, a designer will get in touch to get the process started.
Every aspect of van dwelling, from power to creature comforts, is covered.
One of the great things about this company is how extensive each of their “systems” packages are. In-depth, flexible packages are available for:
- Exterior panelling
- Power supply
- Heating and cooling
- Exterior accessories
- Equipment storage and handling
- Modifications and tweaks
- Sleeping and seating
If you can dream it, these guys can make it. The only thing that can hold you back here is your budget.
What We Love
The following are our favorite key aspects of this company:
- Extensive systems with tons of choice
- Entirely pre-made conversions are also for sale
- They’ve been exploring in vans for more than 30 years
- Great for Sprinter van conversions
- Their insulation systems are proprietary and therefore unavailable anywhere else
There are a few things to remember here before pulling the trigger:
- This option is best for those interested in Mercedes Sprinter builds
- Start time can be up to 10 months from initial contact
Colorado Camper Van
Working from their custom workshop in Loveland, Colorado, these guys are champions of pop tops and roof extensions. The roof of your existing vehicle can be converted into an extendable space that provides much more headroom. Pop tops are a great way to convert an existing vehicle into a liveable space.
More extensive revamps and fully custom builds are also available.
Pop Top Flexibility
One great thing about going with a pop top through Colorado Camper Van is that a much broader range of vehicles are compatible. Most of the top conversion friendly models can be converted and custom options are possible too.
If you already have the vehicle you’d like to convert and want to start with a comparatively affordable approach, this might be the right way to go.
For those who need a bit more out of their van conversion, Colorado Camper Van can build vans to your individual specifications. Interior rebuilds are available through the request form on their website. Once you’ve told them a bit more about what you’re looking for, a representative will get in touch shortly thereafter.
Things that Stand Out – Colorado Camper Van
Here’s some of the great things about this company in particular:
- They can fit a pop top on practically any vehicle
- Pop tops are generally a much more affordable option than a fully custom build
- Relatively quick turnaround times
- Tours of the space are available; just get in touch
Potential Disadvantages to Consider
It’s good to go prepared:
- Might not be the best choice for fully bespoke builds
- Deposits are non-refundable
Sportsmobile has been going since 1961 and has developed a strong reputation in the world of van conversions. For holiday vehicles, cross-country beasts, and everything in between, they’re an excellent choice if you have the money.
We love the following about Sportsmobile:
- An impressive amount of choice for builds and vehicles that cover nearly every set of requirements
- More flexibility for vehicle choice than other companies
- Over half a century’s experience converting vans
- They can provide the van for you
Keep the following in mind:
- No trade-in scheme available
- Comparatively expensive
Great Vans to Convert
The better the vehicle you start with, the better your final van build will be. This section runs through some of the most popular models people choose when making a custom van.
One of the main things about the Ram Promaster option is that it’s a super versatile vehicle. You’ll have plenty of choice when it comes to height, length, wheelbase and engine size. This make it easier to find a configuration that works for your needs and budget.
The transmission setup on this kind of van leads to a much lower floor than average. This gives you a touch more wiggle room to cram in every aspect of your new life. Most Ram Promaster models sit somewhere around the $30,000 mark, leaving more money left over for the actual conversion.
Ford E Series
If you’re in North America, the ubiquity of the Ford E-Series line may be of use to you. These vans are comparatively cheap to repair and tweak thanks to how common their parts are in this part of the world. The vehicles themselves are also usually quite affordable when you consider the space and body you’re getting.
As these vans dominated a huge chunk of their market for such a long time, many mechanics are very familiar with them. This makes van make conversions and upgrades simpler and easier to source parts for.
Mercedes Sprinter Van
The Mercedes Sprinter is probably the most popular van for conversions. They’re powerful, durable and come in all shapes and sizes. A ton of van conversion shops use the Mercedes Sprinter as their go-to vehicle.
A big part of the van life that people don’t consider is how many miles you can rack up in a short space of time. Not only will a sprinter van last for a comparatively huge distance, it can also prove much easier to get help for than other models.
Mercedes is an international brand with trained mechanics all over the world.
Needs to Consider
So you’re interested in a life on the road? We don’t blame you. You’ve probably realized by now that there’s a fair bit you’ll have to consider before you’ll be ready to live in a van full time. This section explores some of the most common aspects of #VanLife that some people overlook.
It’s of course possible to source ready-made food from shops and restaurants but it’s definitely worth thinking about your own cooking solution. A gas-based stovetop is a common solution used by many. Your main choices are between propane or butane setups.
Portable stoves are also available from most good camping shops. Conversion companies will also usually give you some choice over how much of a full kitchen you’d like for your van conversion. A sink, water pump, stovetop and storage options are all possible provided you have the space.
It’s not the most pleasant subject, but living in a camper van means no toilet that’s plumbed into a city’s sewage system. Fortunately, there are a few options available for waste disposal and any good van conversion company will run you through your choices.
Depending on where you are in the world, you might be close to waste facilities that can handle the contents of your portable toilet. Conversion companies in these areas can get you a van build to suit this environment.
Van conversions that are built to be lived in need some form of reliable energy source. Your three main options for power in a custom van are solar power, a split charge system and a hook-up system.
Any van conversion company you choose should be able to talk you through these choices and find a solution that works best for you.
A huge proportion of those who live in a custom camper van full-time work remotely to support their lifestyle. This means that any good van conversion needs a reliable internet connection. Your approach will vary slightly depending on which country you’re in.
Some people extend their phone contract allowance and use their smartphone’s hotspot. Others opt for a dedicated Wi-Fi dongle. Ask your chosen company what might work best for your van conversion.
If you don’t plan ahead, van life can be too hot in the summer and freezing cold in the winter. A well-planned van build can insulate slightly against the elements, but you’ll likely still need to do more work. In winter, try some of the following:
- Heated blankets
- A built-in wood stove
- Propane heating setups
- Butane heating setups
- Diesel heating setups
As always, a good company will be able to assess your vehicle and recommend the option that’s most appropriate.
If you’re committing to the van life, you’re carrying a huge chunk of your worldly possessions with you wherever you go. While packing as light as possible is the best way to go, you’ll still need space to keep the essentials. Have a think about what you’ll need to bring with you and how you’re going to store it.
Remember that your interior design for your van build should give you enough space to live comfortably.
Before we finish up, we wanted to run through some common camper van questions.
How Much Does it Cost to Convert a Van?
Anywhere from $10,000 – $70,000. It’s a very challenging question to answer generally. The following can affect your price:
- The vehicle you buy, how old it is and how durable your starting point is
- How comfortable you’d like the van to be long term
- How often you plan on using the van
- How extensive your conversion is
- How bespoke your requirements are
It’s reasonable to assume a bare minimum of $25,000 for the price of a van and some form of conversion. If you’re looking for a moving home rather than a holiday vehicle, plan to spend closer to $60,000.
Who Makes the Best Conversion Van?
Your question should really be: “what do I need from my van conversion?” This will get you much closer to the best company for you. For rugged adventure vehicles, Beartooth Vanworks is a great choice.
Does Anyone Still Make Conversion Vans?
Of course! In fact, the van life scene has exploded in popularity over the past several years. Companies vary from country to country and state to state, but you’re very likely to be able to find someone to help.
It’s possible to convert a van yourself for much less money. The trouble is, this requires a pretty high level of experience and expertise. For most of us, a good van conversion company really is the best way to go.