Getting your first camper van is a big decision, but there is no need for it to be a stressful one. Let’s walk through the process of selecting the perfect van and conversion to fit your adventure needs.

Is a van for you?

First, let’s do a little soul searching first to make sure a van is the best fit for you.best-vans-for-campervan-converisons-infographic

Custom Builder, DIY or Wayfarer Conversion

Alright, so you’ve decided a van is right for you - welcome to the club! Now, how should you go about converting it? Let’s look at the three main options.

Custom Builder - There are countless custom builders out there who can make your wildest dreams come true in a van. We admire the heck out of the creativity and craftsmanship from these talented guys and gals. Just be prepared that most custom builders have a six-month plus waitlist for a build, and then will need 2-4 weeks to convert your van. Conversion prices range from 20k to well over 100k.

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Photo credit © iStock by Getty

DIY - If you want a new hobby of building a van and are prepared to spend every weekend for the next six months designing, building, ripping out and re-building your van, this is the option for you. All jokes aside, it’s extremely rewarding to build a van, but it is easy to bite off more than you can chew.

Depending on the finish you are aspiring for in your van, a conversion can cost as little as $1000 with some simple pieces of lumber thrown together for your bed platform, rudimentary insulation and some camping equipment. Typically though, if you want something nicer, a DIY conversion can range between $4,000 and $20,000 in material and upwards of 600 hours of labor (according to the DIYers at FarOutRide.com). If you value your time at $20 an hour, you’re looking between a $18,000 and $32,000 investment in your conversion + the cost of the van. If you need to buy tools and access to a climate controlled space for your build, factor in additional costs.

Wayfarer Conversions - We offer camper van conversions with a turnkey process. We take the opposite approach to a custom builder and give you only the essentials to get your journey started. Our installations are done with little to no permanent alterations to the van, so you are able to easily add on customizations later on, if you’d like. We’ve done this hundreds of times before, so we’ve honed a quick and affordable method to our conversions. You will know exactly what your conversion will look like before we start, and we can get you out on the road with more time for adventures and more money in your budget for new bikes, skis, binoculars or whatever your heart desires. 

Our lead time varies, but we’ve been averaging six weeks this year. Once we get you in for your build, it takes 3-4 hours for us to complete your conversion and get you out on your maiden voyage. Our base conversions range from $5,196- 11,394.00, and include free installation.

I want a Wayfarer Van, what now?

You’ve made a great choice, now let’s look at the vans you can choose from. Keep in mind that all Wayfarer Van conversions are created specific to each van, so our builds are not compatible with other options out there like busses, Sprinters or models not listed below. View full van specs on our website.

Short or tall?

Our vans can be grouped into those that most folks can stand up inside of, and those that only offer a sitting height. 

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Shortie - The Dodge Promaster City provides a living space with a comfortable sitting height. This could be the right van for you if you plan to park it inside your garage, if you enjoy a minimal lifestyle, are using your van for weekend getaways, live in a populated area, or if you are looking for the most affordable option with both gas mileage and purchase price. 

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Tall guys - The rest of the vans in our lineup offer space for most people to stand up inside the living area. These vans include the Dodge Promaster and the Ford Transit. These could be the right van for you if you plan to have extended trips in your van, if you need to store a lot of adventure gear inside your van or if you like doing yoga inside your van. Keep in mind that these vans will not fit through most drive-thrus and can not park in most garages or parking structures.

Dodge or Ford?

If you are looking at one of the tall guys, we offer conversions for both the Dodge RAM Promaster and the Ford Transit. Let’s take a look at the primary differences between the two makes.

Price - If you are budget-conscious, the Promaster may be a better choice for you. A new Promaster tends to be around $14,000 less than a Transit.

Drivetrain - All wheel drive, front wheel drive, rear wheel drive - which is best? Well, it depends on how you plan to use it. First, let’s take a look at the landscape.

  • The Ford Transit is available in all wheel drive or rear wheel drive versions.
  • The RAM Promaster is only available with front wheel drive. 

Unless you are planning on doing a lot of remote backcountry travel, AWD is not a necessity for getting off the beaten path. Front wheel drive works great on dirt and gravel forest service roads and on snow-packed roads to our favorite ski spots. Rear wheel drive can perform well if you have a lot of weight in the back of your van, but unless you’ve packed your garage with heavy toys, keep in mind that our conversion is pretty light compared to many custom builds.

Availability - If you are looking to get out on the road in a new van soon, the Promaster or a rear wheel drive Transit are your best options. Ford recently released the AWD Transit, and it is nearly impossible to find one right now. We don’t anticipate seeing the supply of Transits catching up with demand for quite some time.

Wheelbase - Our conversions are compatible with different wheelbases:

The shorter wheelbase options offer a more nimble driving experience in the city. The longer wheelbase options offer more room for living space and storage for toys like bikes and kayaks.

Height - The Promaster and Transit offer different heights, with the Transit measuring taller both on the exterior and interior measurements. The Transit is approximately 9-1 outside, and with our conversion installed, about 6-4 on the inside. The Promaster is approximately 8-3 outside, and with our conversion installed, about 6-1 inside. If you are over 6-1, you may be more comfortable in the Transit. But keep in mind that the taller exterior height of the Transit decreases gas mileage and will not fit through spaces with a nine-foot clearance.

Personal Preference - We chose the Promaster and Transit for a reason - we believe both are fantastic vans! The last point of difference is just personal preference. Take the vans for a test drive, see what feels right to you or go with your gut.

Congrats, you’ve picked the perfect van for you! Now what?

You’ve decided on the best van for your needs, now where do you get it? If you want to find a used van, check out private party sales through the usual channels or see if you can find any through a dealership. Once you place your order for your conversion on our website, we’ll be in touch to schedule your installation date.

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Credit: Joe Kallo

If you want the peace of mind and warranty that comes with a new van, we can help you. We have dealership partners that have vans in stock that come with many of the options that we recommend for our conversions. Reach out to us at [email protected] and we’ll get you set with our dealer partners in Colorado Springs or Reno. You can also finance the van and the cost of the conversion together.

Now the only thing left to do is dream up your first adventure in your Wayfarer Van!