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Your concept is good, but none of the vans out there are designed for this. Transit / Promaster / Sprinter are all similar - Sprinter is slightly less actually.

The information is published in the body builder guides.

In addition to the roof strength, roll over is a factor.

Roof racks look cool, but do not add weight carrying capacity to these ratings.

The balancing act in general for these conversion vans is that roof space is so valuable. By the time you add enough solar panels to run the appliances and have some basics like a fan, antennae, etc, the roof is almost completely full - regardless of brand and model.

Kids don't mind sleeping in a tent on the ground. Just get one that has the 2 layer roof / fly for ventilation. In general they are safer closer to the ground than 10 ft up in the air.
CCV

HarryN has a good point here with a ground tent.

I have seen ground tents that attach to the side of the van & with the slider open & a van heater the tent might benefit from that van heat.


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In addition to upper cabinets mentioned previously, don鈥檛 forget some vans also have awnings and air conditioners up there. A/C alone is about 80 pounds more or less. Then add fans, solar, racks, luggage/cargo, etc. I鈥檇 bet many exceed the 330 pound limit without sleeping up there, and while driving.

It would be good to know what actually limits static loads. Every time an adult climbs on roof to work up there, it鈥檚 likely they exceed the 55-pound point load limit by a significant amount as they move around. Their weight is not always well distributed.

6672A25D-0774-4605-A5D9-9F5844F23BB9.jpeg
 

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Nope not to me. Sure doesn鈥檛 leave much room for solar. I specifically bought a van so I could pull into a spot, if I have to, late at night, in cold rain, with no moon and snow expected and walk between the front seats, reach up and push the go button on my Espar heater, turn on the lights, cook something warm and a cup of hot coco, sit at a comfortable table, eat, wrap my hands around the cup, read or watch a video, then relieve myself in the porta potee and go to bed. Notice I did not include any 20 minutes of set up outside in the rain, climbing up slippery ladders in the dark, storing my wet clothes and shoes, getting into a cold sleeping bag, waking up at 2 am and needing to climb down and pee. If you need room to sleep 4 or more, buy a used class A until the kids grow up. Yes I know it鈥檚 one opinion, but it is based on raising two camping kids, traveling every summer, fall, and spring for 52 years.
 

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Some of these systems are interesting but seem overly complex and expensive for what you get. If I needed more space I'd just put a nice cabin tent up near the van and call it good. In fact I keep one in the van when traveling, just in case I get the urge to get back to my roots. Also for backup in case my van gets infested with mosquitoes/no-see-ums, I can always put up the tent and sleep in it.

The bad thing about me sleeping in any kind of tent structure is that I can snore pretty loudly when tired, or after a beer or two, and it would definitely impact nearby tent campers. One time my wife and I were camping at Target Tree campground between Cortez and Durango, CO. We'd been hiking, eaten dinner, had a couple beers by the campfire that evening, then hit the sleeping bags in the tent. During the night I was woken by coyote hooting/howling/carrying on like they do, right outside the tent, and I could tell by the feel of my throat I'd been sawing some logs. They soon settled down and I got back to sleep. A short time later they woke me up again and my wife said they seemed to be attracted by my snoring and were answering my primal call. It happened at least twice more during the night and my wife said she hardly slept at all. The next morning none of the nearby campers would look at me.
 

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Nope not to me. Sure doesn鈥檛 leave much room for solar. I specifically bought a van so I could pull into a spot, if I have to, late at night, in cold rain, with no moon and snow expected and walk between the front seats, reach up and push the go button on my Espar heater, turn on the lights, cook something warm and a cup of hot coco, sit at a comfortable table, eat, wrap my hands around the cup, read or watch a video, then relieve myself in the porta potee and go to bed. Notice I did not include any 20 minutes of set up outside in the rain, climbing up slippery ladders in the dark, storing my wet clothes and shoes, getting into a cold sleeping bag, waking up at 2 am and needing to climb down and pee. If you need room to sleep 4 or more, buy a used class A until the kids grow up. Yes I know it鈥檚 one opinion, but it is based on raising two camping kids, traveling every summer, fall, and spring for 52 years.
RD

Don鈥檛 let Experience, Good Judgement, and Reasoning get in your way 馃槣

It is the same for us; way less experienced than you at the RV thing, but we really really enjoy the self contained don鈥檛 even have to get out to stop for the night system like the one you described
 

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Some of these systems are interesting but seem overly complex and expensive for what you get. If I needed more space I'd just put a nice cabin tent up near the van and call it good. In fact I keep one in the van when traveling, just in case I get the urge to get back to my roots. Also for backup in case my van gets infested with mosquitoes/no-see-ums, I can always put up the tent and sleep in it.

The bad thing about me sleeping in any kind of tent structure is that I can snore pretty loudly when tired, or after a beer or two, and it would definitely impact nearby tent campers. One time my wife and I were camping at Target Tree campground between Cortez and Durango, CO. We'd been hiking, eaten dinner, had a couple beers by the campfire that evening, then hit the sleeping bags in the tent. During the night I was woken by coyote hooting/howling/carrying on like they do, right outside the tent, and I could tell by the feel of my throat I'd been sawing some logs. They soon settled down and I got back to sleep. A short time later they woke me up again and my wife said they seemed to be attracted by my snoring and were answering my primal call. It happened at least twice more during the night and my wife said she hardly slept at all. The next morning none of the nearby campers would look at me.
Thanks for the story HikerBob 馃憤

It reminds me of when my Wife & I took a Safari in 2011 ( Kenya & Tanzania )

All the nights on our Safari we stayed in Tents. Now when I say 鈥渢ents鈥 yup they were canvas or some other material, but they palatial with full bathrooms, regular furniture, harwood floors, regular doors, etc.

They were all like this with the exception of where we were actually in basic tents camping of the Serengeti. We had 2 nights there & due to my Wife鈥檚 zealous nature for danger, she offered another couple our assigned tent which was in the middle of the campsite for the worse outer edge tent they were assigned. So we had 2 nights in what I felt was the danger tent. But that is ok, cause they gave us a whistle to blow if we ran into problems 馃お馃

So the first night I lay awake straining my ears, and must have drifted off to sleep. I awoke later in paralyzing fear to the sounds of all I know was a big cat with a very low slow sounding crackle ( at least I only know of cats that make that noise ). I thought at 1st it was right outside our tent, but later realized it could have been 100鈥檚 of feet away as the dead silent night even light sounds can carry. So I laid there for about 2 or 3 minutes, hearing the big cat respond to my sleeping wife鈥檚 light occasional snoring. She would snore every 20 to 30 seconds & that cat would respond with in 5 to 10 seconds. I finally got up the courage to nudge my wife and quietly tell her what was happening & it would ge good if she could knock it off. The cat stopped & I assume went away. I fell back to sleep

In the morning, we found so many animal footprints throughout our group campsite, I was in disbelief. What an amazing 鈥渟cary鈥 but really amazing experience.

My take away from that tent experience, is camping in tents is 鈥渨ell鈥 intense
 

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Yeah, it's usually the animals on the edge of the herd that get eaten. ;-)

Have had a few scares like that too, once a bear, a few coyote concerns (especially regarding pets), etc but I'm just as worried about a rabid raccoon, squirrel, big @ss spider, snake, scorpion, or any kind of skunk!
 

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Often in the desert backpacking my friends and I try to get out of the inevitable night cold and wind by sleeping down in the side of a wash. Just snuggle into your sleeping bag on the soft sand. Yes the coyotes always come around to investigate, but it is usually a bit cool for the tarantulas, scorpions and snakes, even the desert recluse spiders. Since you may be the warmest thing around they do all tend to have an interest and we find evidence of them most mornings. None of us have ever suffered any harm. Shake out your clothes and shoes before dressing. The danger is much less than the squeamish think. Relax.
 

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Worried may be too strong a term, let's say 'cautious' as nature seems pretty much indifferent to my safety. ;-) A greater danger in the Sonoran desert may be the javlena rooting around at night but there's no shortage of wild things most places. Last week in SE Georgia (after a good nights sleep in the safety of my steel van) I walked over a rise on the trail to find this big guy soaking up some rays. They can burst up to 40 mph on a warm day but it was around 50F, plus he looked well fed so figured I had time to take a few shots. It comes to mind that seeing critters like this might make a good argument for putting that tent up on top of the van after all! ;-)

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Often in the desert backpacking my friends and I try to get out of the inevitable night cold and wind by sleeping down in the side of a wash. Just snuggle into your sleeping bag on the soft sand. Yes the coyotes always come around to investigate, but it is usually a bit cool for the tarantulas, scorpions and snakes, even the desert recluse spiders. Since you may be the warmest thing around they do all tend to have an interest and we find evidence of them most mornings. None of us have ever suffered any harm. Shake out your clothes and shoes before dressing. The danger is much less than the squeamish think. Relax.
Relax 馃お, that鈥檚 what my wife says

The other thing she asks me is, 鈥渄id you get a little bit of nature on ya鈥 馃榿
 

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Nope not to me. Sure doesn鈥檛 leave much room for solar. I specifically bought a van so I could pull into a spot, if I have to, late at night, in cold rain, with no moon and snow expected and walk between the front seats, reach up and push the go button on my Espar heater, turn on the lights, cook something warm and a cup of hot coco, sit at a comfortable table, eat, wrap my hands around the cup, read or watch a video, then relieve myself in the porta potee and go to bed. Notice I did not include any 20 minutes of set up outside in the rain, climbing up slippery ladders in the dark, storing my wet clothes and shoes, getting into a cold sleeping bag, waking up at 2 am and needing to climb down and pee. If you need room to sleep 4 or more, buy a used class A until the kids grow up. Yes I know it鈥檚 one opinion, but it is based on raising two camping kids, traveling every summer, fall, and spring for 52 years.
Exactly how we feel, and why we would not buy a trailer or pickup slide-in camper. Having to get out to access food, toilet, bed, etc. is a deal breaker.

We had a small Class C when kids were in high school, and traded down in size to a van after they moved away. I wish I could have purchased when they were younger, but it wasn鈥檛 possible.

Some large vans like the Travato do have a second bed that could sleep a couple of small children. Or if building a van, providing floor space for pad and sleeping bags may work also. I personally would never let my kids stay in a tent on ground or on van roof unless it鈥檚 a pop-up accessible from inside van.
 

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I have a Pleasure Way Tofino which has a pop top that will only accommodate 200 lbs. This is per the conversion. The whole roof was cut away from just behind the drivers seat to just in front of the rear doors. This conversion is based on the 1500 136 WB.
Off topic but if you have a chance to post your impressions/short review of the Tofino, I'd be interested.
 
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