Welcome back to Part 2 of our blog Our Minivan Camper buildout. If you have not seen Part 1 then click on this link and there will be a link back to this post at the bottom of Part 1.
Click on the picture below to go to Part 1
For the window coverings, I ended up using Reflectix. I bought a roll and cut pieces to the approximate size and trimmed them to fit the exact shape of the window. Then we took some black material and used some tacky spray from a craft store and ended up with coverings that are reflective on one side and blackout on the other. It makes the van pitch black inside at night and even with the light on inside you can’t see any light outside. The reflectix does shrink a bit or I guess it gets creases in it so it fits smaller, so I ended up putting black gorilla tape around the edges so they fit really snug.
This vehicle was designed with storage in mind. There are plenty of spots in and out of the van to store things.
In the area where the stow and go seats were in the middle I store things like tools, bungee cords, straps and the like (things you might possibly need but not every day).
I have the 2 storage bins under the bed, one for dry foods and one for clean clothes. I bought the bins that had gaskets in them so they seal really tight.
The box that I built at the head of my bed opens up and I keep miscellaneous items like extra cables for devices and usually store my dirty laundry in there.
The rooftop cargo box is a double sized one, so it fits all kinds of extra items such as a cooler, kitchen tent, another tent, air mattress, tarp with poles and guy-wires to make a canopy off the side of the van, a big folding table and my zero-gravity chair (when travelling I usually bungee it to the back of the driver’s seat since I use it daily).
Plus, there is all kinds of other nooks and crannies beside other objects and the kitchen drawers and cupboard hold quite a bit.
Power on the road
Keeping everything charged up on the road can sometimes be a bit of a challenge. When I’m driving it’s not much of a problem since I can plug 3 things into different outlets, but when parked for a few days it’s a little harder. I ended up buying 3 separate power banks, a 27,000 Mah, and 2 20,000 Mah power banks. One is solar powered and actually does charge up during the day. I’m able to keep all of my action cameras, IPad, phone and the likes all charged and also use them for running a couple of small fans that I got. For lights, I bought I bought a solar lantern and it puts off more than enough light at nighttime.
We are planning on buying a goal zero battery system and a bookcase solar panel before we take any longer trips.
Some of the things we were glad we got
The LuminAID Solar Inflatable Lantern: What a great item. I probably over paid for this at a camping store (actually I know I did because Amazon sells it for $10.00 cheaper), I can charge it on my dash during the day and usually get about 10 hour’s worth out of one charge. It has 5 light settings and a flasher, I usually use it on the lowest light setting and it provides more than enough light and the charge lasts even longer.
The Reliance portable shower: such a nice compact shower, I use it for showering off at the end of the day (just raise the back hatch and drape the tarp over it for some privacy), and I also use it for spraying of my dishes after washing them. A little pricy at $50.00 and I probably could have made my own for less, but well worth it for the convenience.
Sterilite bins with gasket: These were a great find, I got them at half price for $15.00, they keep my dry food fresh, clothes dry and keep any bugs and no odours to attract rodents to my vehicle.
I usually don’t try to sell much from amazon on this site, but if you are interested in any of these items then I will put some links below. For the bins I was only able to find them on Amazon in packages of 8. You can probably pick one up at a home building store or where I got at a business depot store.
Some things I wish I wouldn’t have gotten
Actually, there is only one, the cooler. I bought a medium sized one thinking I would use it a lot. Not the case, it was something that was always in the way. I had a small portable DC plugin cooler already so I use that now. Not a lot of space in it but it will keep stuff cold for a couple of days and I can easily plug it in when I’m driving.
Set up for 2 people
When there is 2 of us traveling, we change the whole set up of the van. We take out all of the bed frames and just leave the kitchen in, hen put the other half of the mattress in. When driving we store our things in bed area and when stopped we store everything on the front seats.
The total cost of the van
Tire Package 500
Window tint 200
Cargo Box 250
Storage boxes 30
First Aid Kit 75
Misc. (straps, tarp etc.) 300
Total Cost: Approximately : $22,340
Quite a few things I was able to get cheap because I knew I was going to build this and when I saw things on sale I would buy them. I also did some work for a Technology company and was able to get things like the safe and battery banks really cheap. So, if you already have a van and are looking to convert it then you should be able to do it for less than $2000 dollars or way cheaper if don’t need as many items that I have in the van.
I was able to get to 3 different free camping sites during the summer here in Alberta. In our next post, I will talk about these free campgrounds and show some of the great pictures and videos that I was able to get, plus their locations so if you ever get to Alberta you will be able to find some great sites to stay at.
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