There’s a whole live-and-work-in-your-vehicle movement happening at the moment. Maybe it’s because of the sky-high rental prices, or the Millennial generation’s distaste for traditional office life, or the digitization of entire industries opening up more remote work opportunities, but whatever the reason, people are taking to the roads in a long-term way like never before.
And if you’re going to buck society’s trends by living and working out of a vehicle instead of a building, why stop the unpredictability there? Sure, you could make a comfortable home/office in an RV or a factory-built camper van, but where’s the fun and surprise in that? Whether you’re trying to live in it full-time and want something stealthy for busy city streets, or you just want a sweet camper that nobody else has, here’s a list of surprising camper conversions to inspire you.
When this YouTuber decided to take a sabbatical from his engineering career to travel North America, he wanted to do it his own way. So, he bought an 18-foot GMC Matco box truck and turn it into a veritable apartment for him and his cat. It’s kitted out with solar panels, a propane water heater, A/C and a propane fireplace, plus outdoor lights, a microwave, a wall-mounted TV screen, windows cut in the side and a liftgate that makes a pretty sweet patio up and out of the dirt. This thing is incredible! He’s even able to haul around his Kawasaki KLR 250 motorcycle on the back.
This is Sage Roddy. He has a dog, like pretty much everyone who’s ever lived in a camper conversion. Unlike most of the others, however, he did it in a Honda Element. There’s not a lot of standing room in the Element, if any at all, but Roddy has made a pretty clever accomodation for himself in what is normally used as a transporter of children and sports equipment. His Element includes a homemade shelving unit and bench/pull-out bed, both of which are oriented lengthwise to allow passage and access from the front — and because you’d have to be about four feet tall to be able to sleep width-wise in an Element.
Michael Fuehrer is properly doing #buslife. His converted school bus, named Navi, is a work of art with full wood paneling lining the 180-square-foot interior, a fresh army green exterior paint job, couch seating for eight people including heating ducts, three skylights, a bathroom with composting toilet, a pantry, a full residential oven — scones, anyone? — and a patio/dancefloor on the roof. It’s like a nice one-bedroom plus den condo, only way, way cooler
The Jeep Wrangler is a bit of a Lego brick in that it’s relatively straightforward to add onto, and Jeep fans love to do just that. This adventurer’s 2015 Wrangler has been given the full treatment with third-party add-ons like solar panels, a fridge, a deep-cycle auxiliary battery, a power winch, an LED light bar and a roof-mounted fold-down tent for sleeping in. It’s a lot less of a DIY project than the others on this list, but you’d still surprise most people if you told them you were living in a Jeep.
Mercedes-Benz Sprinter-based conversions are a dime a dozen these days — actually, they usually cost tens of thousands of dollars — but have you ever seen a converted ambulance? Now you have. CJ scooped up a Sprinter ambulance that was being retired due to a broken tail lift (a.k.a. liftgate) and turned it into a tiny home in which he and his dog explore Europe. It’s got what CJ refers to as a “shoilet,” a combo shower-toilet, plus a four-burner stove and an emergency Jack-Daniels-and-coke behind a safety glass. Cool, but how many people have died in your ambulance home, bro?
The pickup truck canopy is like the basement suite of the camper conversion world: It’s got possibly the lowest ceilings around, but is a pretty affordable option. And it works for people like YouTube’s Roadie, who has made his Toyota Tacoma’s box with camper shell his fixed address, so to speak. Even with the taller camper shell, clearance is minimal, but he manages to fit a bed frame with pull-out drawer and a simple homemade cabinet with built-in iPhone charger. It’s a clever, compact and virtually undetectable solution … that is, until you climb out of the back.
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