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From Cargo Van to Camper Van: Steatlhy DIY Van Dwelling Conversion

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Today I wanted to show you a great example of how you can turn an existing cargo van into an inexpensive DIY camper.

If you’ve ever thought about van dwelling then you’ll probably love this van conversion.

The person who converted this van wanted to create something that she can travel with and go one or two nights without any hookups on her way to her destination.

The cool part about this one is that it has standing room thanks to the fact that it’s a high top van that she found on Craigslist.

Since it’s a high top she’s able to change clothes, shower, and even cook in there with comfort.

Here, let me show you the van:

Van Dwelling: Cargo Van to DIY Camper

Vandwelling Conversion

Images: TinyCamper

When she first got it, it looked like this on the inside (see below):



And here’s what it looked like after:



Looks pretty good, right?

Just like a fully functional RV…

Only it’s stealthy in the way that it looks nothing like one on the outside.

This allows you to be able to park for free in a lot of places without being noticed.

…unlike when you’re traveling around in a Winnebago.

Micro Kitchen


And there’s even a shower and port-a-potty set up… See below:

Shower & Port-a-potty

vandwelling-conversion-006 vandwelling-conversion-005

Images: TinyCamper

Learn more about this camper and see more pics of it at the original story/post right here.

For more like this one check out our van dwelling category.

If you enjoyed this DIY stealthy cargo van to camper conversion you’ll love our free daily tiny house newsletter with more!

This post contains affiliate links.

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Alex is a contributor and editor for TinyHouseTalk.com and the always free Tiny House Newsletter. He has a passion for exploring and sharing tiny homes (from yurts and RVs to tiny cabins and cottages) and inspiring simple living stories. We invite you to send in your story and tiny home photos too so we can re-share and inspire others towards a simple life too. Thank you!
{ 19 comments… add one }
  • Tim
    December 11, 2013, 5:46 pm

    I’m familiar with this van. It sure is a nice one.

    • Alex Pino
      December 11, 2013, 7:05 pm

      I think so too!

  • December 11, 2013, 10:26 pm

    That’s a really nice looking interior. I put together a stealthy campervan too, though it’s more minimalist than this one (http://roger-steen.squarespace.com). Would be happy to send a review copy, Alex.

  • Ralph Sly
    December 11, 2013, 10:48 pm

    This really is all you need; I have done this for years and have never had a problem. The longest trip I took was a winter trip in a GMC minivan, across Canada, around the perimeter of the US and back to western Canada 3 months, no batteries, just an inverter for a small fridge that used the power of a light bulb small buddy heater, showered at truck stops, YMCAs and shelters and it was great. Good Job on this one, enjoy and have fun.

    • Alex Pino
      December 12, 2013, 6:14 am

      Thanks Ralph!

  • Pirate
    December 12, 2013, 10:49 am

    Alex, you might want to go read the original article again, as I spotted an inconsistency between it and your write up above. You stated the van has a big battery bank, but the original article says it has no battery bank, only the engine cranking battery.


    • Alex Pino
      December 13, 2013, 3:29 pm

      Whoops! Thanks for catching that. I corrected it.

  • December 12, 2013, 3:53 pm

    Wow, this was so awesome. My neighbors have a camping fan (you know, full on van Ford purchased for six figures, etc.) and I’ve always admired it. This is a really amazing setup.

    I think some day I’d like to do a project like this. I’d need a slightly different setup though – we have two kids and need seating for four (with 2 carseats) and sleeping for four.

    I like the RV toilet too – I have a 1BA house and have been struggling for a way to get a second bathroom. Really, all I need is an RV toilet. I could put that in the laundry room for emergencies!

  • Heapie
    March 23, 2015, 11:04 am

    This is a well thought out conversaion of a van to a camper. Use of the KISS principle was used. Everything that is needed was used. The work was superior. This should be an inspiration for anybody who wants a low cost class camper. Thank you.


  • Ralph
    March 23, 2015, 5:41 pm

    since I last commented on this van I have been living in a vanguard manufactured 1 for 11 months and it’s worked out great. I got derailed for two months and had to take a room because of and maintenance and very foul northern Canadian winters. I move back into it next week and I’m looking forward to it. I have had no problem finding parking, free parking that is, and have been fortunate to be able to plug in at work to recharge things. it’s amazing how little room you need when you get used to it but I have to admit it took some getting used to as many who know me, no too well, I carry far more than is required. anyway I’m looking forward to my next adventure in it. good job on this one though, it’s beautiful and I like the new remarks.

  • Johnnomads
    August 25, 2015, 7:57 am

    A very nice conversion, although i used a standard hightop conversion van which are more readally available. I added additional insulation in the window openings abd installed a roof vent. Casper is my fulltimer home and has been for the last 6 years, and is my 5th mobiledwelling in the 31 years I’ve been living in wheels.

  • Johnnomads
    August 25, 2015, 8:15 am

    I got mine at Camping World for $ 124 about 13 yrs ago. A thedford 365 its held up remarkably well and is quite comfortable.

  • George Jenkins
    September 15, 2015, 4:02 pm

    Just got a settlement from the VA, and cant decide what to buy. For pretty much the same price, I can purchase a 2014 Ram Promaster w-12k miles yet bare bones(ready to build) with a 4.6 Diesel or a Really nice Luxury 2003 GMC 3500 V8 5.3 Ltr W-125,000 miles, Limo interior and about 60 hi-end options. If needed I could replace the GMC engine for about the same cost as to build the interior and paint the promaster (cant deal w-white) over the years I,ve built about 8 custom vans, but always dreamed of owning a True Factory Beauty like the GMC.
    Also, I,m now in my sixties and will have to hire/pay for the buildout on the Promaster, yet I am fortunate to have the cash this time. My last problem is-ignorance, I am TOTALLY unfamiliar with durability etc. of the Dodge Ram Promaster. Any and all thoughts, opinions, concepts or anything offered would be Greatly Appreciated. Everybody says “Oh yeah, Thanks… bye.” But I promise -I really do appreciate your help, I,m not wealthy by any stretch, just a broken down old Veteran with just enough money to do one or the other… Meaning I cant afford to get it wrong and try to start over.
    [email protected] because I dont even know where to find what you offer me opinionwise..
    But Seriously Thanks So Much.
    George S. Jenkins, Viet-Nam Vet.

    • Jaye
      July 5, 2017, 7:42 am

      I wish I could offer advice – but this post is late, plus I have no expertise in this subject. I hope whichever choice you made turned out to be the perfect one for you.

      The reason for my comment, however, is simply to thank you for your service, Sir.

  • Johnnomads
    May 11, 2016, 4:13 pm

    Hi george, if I was going to drive a lot, I would pick the diesel, but since I’ve retired I only d

  • sandra
    July 13, 2016, 7:05 pm

    i made a live in camper van out of an old cargo van too. i lived in it for about a year in silicon valley avoiding the police while i worked at a big name hospital. i have pics if interested…including the build. i put in insulation, vinyl wood floor, deep cycle battery powered by solar panels, had a cartridge toilet and sink which ran to the covered bucket. i emptied these and was able to get free water at a local park. had a fantastic fan in the top (it was also a high top, so was able to stand up to dress etc etc.) I did not shower in it as i used the gym because battery power doesnt provide enough power for things like a hair dryer. however i was able to charge all my electronics and run a d/c tv and dvd player, the fantastic fan. i was also able to run a little electric fry pan. i had a mr buddy for chilly nights/morning to take the edge off when dressing, but used down comforter. i slept parked in neighborhoods and on the weekend went to camp in parks and on beaches. i do miss having a van. gives a good amount of housing security and is easier to sleep in than my suv, which i now use in a pinch.

  • sandra
    July 13, 2016, 7:08 pm

    also was able to light that van up like a christmas tree with led light strips off my solar power system. used a door/vinyl divider between front and back and black spray painted reflectivix in the windows with cling tint and additional curtains to make sure no light leaks and avoid condensation issues 🙂

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