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Discussion Starter #1
Hi All,

Building out a 159" ext custom camper. The rig will be a fully self-contained camper, details below. I'd appreciate feedback from the community on the layout.

Additionally, I'm in the process of vetting builders. If anyone experience or knowledge about any of the conversion companies out there, I'd greatly appreciate any and all information. I've done my research; I know my power needs, how I want systems designed, and what components I want used; I just don't have the time right now to dedicate 4 months to building it! Looking for someone to work closely with to achieve exactly what I'm looking for.

The build is largely based on the Hymer Aktiv, but I'm building it in a 159 ext to create a more spacious feeling. Additionally, towards the front of the box I've planned a long bench seat with a removable pedestal table. The idea is to keep the aisle open forward, thus creating a more spacious feel. Overhead cabinets by the bed are going to be shallow, and the cabinet above the bench seat will be open with a net or cord to keep contents from moving. These choices are again to keep the van feeling open and not cave-like. SketchUp design is mostly to scale-so I know everything will fit.

These are my build requirements. Hoping for a 'rustic-modern' look similar to Kristen's van from BearFoot theory: https://bearfoottheory.com/4x4-mercedes-sprinter-van-conversion-tour/

Queen size bed (60 inch wide, minimum 76 inch long)
Comfortable mattress material
Easy to make the bed
Reading lights
TV/Ipad holder
Blackout blinds, divider from cab AND window shades (makes feel bigger when not heating)

‘Dry’ shower stall (either isolated or a removable portable toilet)
Vent fan (similar to airstream: pop up w/ power fan)
Place to store shower supplies while under way
Deep shower pan, keep water well isolated in shower

Gear Storage Space
Room for:
Climbing (large grey BD haul bag)
Surfboards (2 shortboards, 1 funboard)
Camping gear: backpacks, bear canister, etc.
Camera drawer/clean isolated area

Closet Storage Space
His/hers, plenty of room for xl suitcase of clothing for each person
Dedicated location for dirty clothes bags, isolated

Minimum 130 L fridge (same as truck camper)
Blender (less than 1000w)
Stove/oven (propane)
Deep/wide sink basin
Either open air or window nearby, large vent fan on roof
Pantry food storage/organization
Dedicated trash location

Minimum 400 aH battery, 360 watt solar
Hardwired 1000w inverter, switched
Mostly USB outlets, 2 (4 total) 110 receptacles: 1 in kitchen, one in sitting area
Lighting: dimmable, reading lights, zones: more comfortable at night
Monitoring system: exact, %

Minimum 40 gallon tank PLUS hot water heater, exact water tank amount
System completely usable in winter: water tanks and all piping routed in heated part of van
Grey water tank with heating pads
Sink routes to grey water tank
Shower has Y-valve, can either route to grey tank OR to exterior valve (ground)
Exact grey water tank monitor, %

Propane OR diesal
Quiet: propex heat source?

Thanks! Excited to join such an active community.



155 Posts
My only criticism of the layout would be that is doesn't look very conducive to installing swivels to utilize the unused space in the cabin. By using swivels and having at least part of your primary seating in them it adds 2-3ft to your "livable" space. Our layout is basically exactly the same as the Hymer (and many other euro models), but our dinette is narrower to open up more space.

Are you going to store the surfboards on top? Could be challenging to get 3 surfboards on top with a vent fan and 360W of solar.

With such a comprehensive build, make sure you use light materials (1/2" ply max) to keep overall weight down. Make sure some kind of minimalist cabinet design (read: very lightweight) is used for the upper cabinets in order to keep your center of gravity low, otherwise driving uneven dirt roads gets...interesting :).

In my experience, it will be very difficult to find a good builder who doesn't have a long wait and is willing to really work with you on small details. Your best bet may be looking for a skilled finish carpenter/woodworker who doesn't specialize in vans, but is interested in taking on the finish work, then do the insulation, electrical, etc yourself.

Premium Member
8,827 Posts
Talk to Morehead Design Lab (http://www.moreheaddesignlab.com)
They did Steve (Kaufman’s) “backroader" who posts here.
They are in KY I believe. Have the van delivered to them?
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