You see it again and again, uber-expensive campervan builds with prices upward of six figures. And while they are beautiful, and we’ve all probably fantasized about owning one, some of us have very real financial limitations in our lives. But faced with the prospect of taking on a DIY campervan build to save money, many of us run into other challenges, like limited knowledge of building techniques or limited free time outside of our work and families. It’s quite a dilemma for people who want to add an affordable recreational vehicle to their lives.
This is where Van Lab is attempting to change the narrative that campervans are only for those of us with ample disposable income or tons of free time. Van Lab’s baltic birch van upfitting kits come flat-packed and pre-finished. They claim that even a novice tinkerer can assemble these jigsaw-esque frameworks with the included instructions and a screwdriver in as little as three hours (3-6 hours for assembly is typical). Additionally, all of their kits can be optioned with pre-built wiring looms to add electrical infrastructure, which generally takes an additional day to install.
The Van Lab Design
Every campervan kit, whether it’s made for a compact or an extended-wheel-base vehicle, is designed to create a self-contained storage space for everything that you’ll need on the road. This includes your personal belongings, kitchen, and utilities (batteries, wiring, water tanks, etc.).
No matter which vehicle you are upfitting (more on that below), your Van Lab kit is designed around a multipurpose bed platform that sets up and breaks down in as little as 30 seconds without the need to exit the vehicle. The elevated bed platform creates ample storage space underneath.
Depending on which kit you are working with, an indoor/outdoor kitchen will be located at the side or rear of the vehicle. The height of the kitchen’s countertop and cooking surfaces were designed to be accessible from inside or outside the vehicle, making this space functional in fair or foul weather conditions. The kitchen module of the Van Lab kit can be customized at the time of purchase with cutouts for a sink and fridge/cooler or with a no cutout option for customers who prefer to maximize their counter space.
Van Lab campervan upfitting kits are offered in three sizes: small, medium, and large. Size small fits the Nissan NV 200 and Chevy City Express. Size medium is currently in development, and size large will fit a Ford Transit LWB.
Size small starts at $3,999. Customization of the kitchen with specific cutouts for a sink, refrigerator, or cooler does not incur any additional costs. Adding a pre-built wiring loom that fits the kit costs an additional $800.
The size large kit fits the Ford Transit LWB and starts at $7,995. Similar to the small kit, the kitchen in the large kit can be customized at no additional cost. Adding a wiring loom increases the final kit price by $800.
What’s not included: There are some additional pieces of the puzzle that most users will want to add, including a house battery and an AC inverter. Both of these items can be supplied by Van Lab when purchasing an upfitting kit for an additional fee.
Learn more about Van Lab’s range of DIY upfitting kits on their website.
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