Cascade Campers Founder Zach Yeager’s love affair with VW vans (he owns at least four that we know of) began with a post-school road trip. Frequent breakdowns helped him learn how to maintain his vehicle but eventually led him to seek a more reliable platform for road tripping. Insight was gained on a journey through Iceland, where Zach rented a compact 4WD van to travel in. Seeing the value and function that the small Euro-van offered, Zach began refining his own campervan systems and builds. Ultimately, the travel experiences in the US and abroad inspired Zach to create his own campervan conversion company with his wife, Ashley, and their longtime VW-club friend Ilsa.
Together, this trio offers complete in-house campervan conversion services for 2015 and newer Ram ProMaster City cargo vans. Why the ProMaster City? It’s compact, has great fuel economy, and most importantly, it’s affordable. With a complete conversion coming in at just $8,000, a conversion by Cascade Campers might just be the most affordable campervan build we’ve come across.
Function Over Luxury
“After many years of traveling in campervans, we learned to maximize adventure by keeping things simple,” says the Cascade Campers website. They go on to point out some important facts. Their campervans are small, and you can’t stand up inside of them. But what they lack in volume, they make up for in function. The small footprint of the Ram ProMaster City allows it to go places other larger campervans can’t. Smart storage spaces have a minimal impact on the vehicle’s interior space while maintaining a comfortable open feeling. The company sums up its approach to campervan travel and its simple design with the phrase “Pack light, live heavy!”
Cascade Campers Features
As I already mentioned, Cascade Campers offers one of the most affordable campervan conversions on the market. But the bargain cost still includes many of the same amenities that much more expensive conversions offer, albeit in simpler, more utilitarian form.
A convertible couch on the driver’s side of the vehicle folds down to create a 42-inch-wide, 76-inch-long bed and is offered in either a Forest Green or Desert Tan upholstery. Double-layered privacy curtains secure over windows with magnets when it’s time for bed, and clients are encouraged to provide their own unique fabric to add some personality to this element of the build.
A stainless sink with a 5-gallon water tank is mounted in a compact kitchen cabinet/counter on the passenger side of the vehicle. The sink’s drain is routed through the rear bumper, depositing gray water outside and away from the sliding door. A Dometic CF-25 fridge/freezer can operate as either and has enough volume to hold a few days’ worth of fresh food. The lid of the CF-25 locks, maintaining temperature and keeping food secure while driving on bumpy roads. A single-burner, stowable Gas One butane cooktop rounds out the kitchen area, and a roof-mounted, discreet, 6-foot vent fan by Ventline provides ventilation for cooking or comfort.
The house battery is charged via the alternator while driving or by the roof-mounted 100-watt solar panel when parked. The vehicle comes standard with two USB charging ports, two 12-volt charging ports, and a 400-watt AC inverter with plugs for powering low-power drawing AC devices like laptops (sorry, no microwaves or hair dryers). Interior vehicle lighting is provided by LED light bars with two brightness settings. Additional red LEDs offer an alternative to bright white when a stealthier presence is required (and to preserve your night vision).
Storage bins for clothing and gear reside underneath the convertible bed and are held in place by twist locks to prevent movement during driving. Additional storage is scattered through the camper for small odds and ends. The interior is finished with 1/8-inch birch paneling, which affords a warm, natural aesthetic. It also serves to secure the closed-cell foam insulation in the ceiling, rear wall panels, and back doors. Sound dampening material is installed under a durable, Hexa Grip flooring that is finished with aluminum trim.
The Cascade Campers Conversion Process
A campervan conversion with Cascade Campers begins when you book your build date. As of this article’s publication date, there is availability starting in October and every month thereafter. A $500 deposit will lock in your build date.
Next, find your Ram ProMaster City cargo van. The Cascade team put together this convenient guide to help you select an appropriate used vehicle. If you are not located close to Northern California, they can point you to a number of NorCal dealerships that have new and used ProMaster City cargo vans available that can be delivered to their shop, saving you the hassle of shipping or dropping off a vehicle yourself. If you elect to drop off your van at Cascade’s Grass Valley, CA, workshop, they can take delivery up to a month before your scheduled conversion date.
The best and possibly most unique part of the conversion process is the timeline: one business day. Yes, that’s correct. If you drop your van off between 8-9:00 a.m., your fully converted van will be complete and ready for the road by 6:00 p.m. that evening. It’s possibly the biggest benefit of working with a single model of cargo van.