Budget-conscious camper gets you van life for $60K

The current popularity of camper vans can’t be understated. There are months-long waiting lists for popular models like the 4×4 Mercedes Sprinter, and new van conversion companies popping up every week.

But two factors make fancy adventure vans out of reach for some people: price and the fact that most conversion companies are located in the west. Love campers and trailers? Come join our new community group.

Based out of Maryland, Off Grid Adventure Vans is hoping to fill these gaps. Founder Aaron Fensterheim lived on the road as a sound engineer for almost four years, practicing van life in a Sprinter, a Nissan, and then a Promaster. His experience prompted him to start Off Grid Adventure Vans, a new company that aims to produce a more environmentally sustainable, budget-conscious van.

Let’s start with the most important information first. Whereas many van conversion companies are selling builds that run over $100,000, Fensterheim jokes that he would have to work hard to get a client to spend $80,000. He wants to sell vans for around $60,000 total, breaking down to $30,000 for the vehicle and $30,000 for the conversion.

For the money you’ll get a van with a Murphy-style full size bed, a spacious dining and living room area in the rear with bench seats and a removable table that can seat six, and a fully functioning bathroom with shower and optional toilet. A full kitchen uses solid wood butcher-block countertops, a dual burner stove, sink, and an 80-liter refrigerator/freezer combo. Other amenities come standard, like loads of storage cabinets, hardwood floors, a roof vent, wood panel walls, and 200 watts of solar panel for power.

A look at the interior from the rear doors, with the Murphy Bed in the closed position to the right.

Courtesy of Off Grid Adventure Vans

Off Grid Adventure Vans are primarily built on the Ram Promaster chassis, a decision Fensterheim made because the Promaster’s front-wheel drive makes it better for winter driving and because they are substantially less expensive than the popular Sprinter models. Budget-conscious buyers can stick to the well-equipped standard package, or opt for more expensive upgrades like higher-end flooring and walls, hot water on demand, more solar and batteries, a microwave, roof rack, swivel seats, heater, and WiFi and cell boosters.

Sticking to one floor plan for the majority of builds will help Off Grid Adventure Vans keep costs down and work more quickly, and the company is also big on sustainability, powering vans with solar and using only composting toilets to avoid heavy sanitation chemicals. All of the van’s wood is harvested within about 150 miles, says Fensterheim, it’s “all local, there’s nothing that’s currently in disease or endangered.” The goal is to produce something that’s “sustainable in the environment and also provides quality at a reasonable price.”

Perhaps one of the most advantageous aspects of buying with Off Grid Adventure Vans is that they’ve partnered with a nearby dealership to offer bundled financing options for both the van purchasing and the conversion. Fensterheim wants to get vans into the hands of people like him, an avid climber and kayaker, “people who can’t afford to shell out a bunch of money all at once.” That also means that an Off Grid Adventure Van conversion won’t negate the original manufacturer’s warranty, and the company matches the warranty on the vehicle.

The kitchen, bathroom, and storage areas.

Fensterheim hopes that all of these factors will help make his venture a success. Instead of moving to Utah, he chose to promote van life in the relatively untapped market of the east coast. “A lot of what is pushed is the beautiful west coast,” Fensterheim adds, “People ignore the mountains in North Carolina or the gorgeous parks in Maine. We can have van life, too.”

That being said, Off Grid Adventure Vans will also sell the vans nationally, and they are willing to work with clients who want a more custom build than their standard plan. The best part? The company is currently taking orders and looking at a build time of two months, meaning that you could be enjoying #VanLife in time for Labor Day. Head over here for more.

Upper cabinets provide plenty of room for clothes, and the Murphy bed means that your bed is ready to go every night.

The front cabin of the van.

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