Built on a new 2023 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 144 AWD, the Santa Monica is an all-in-one camping rig that comes loaded with creature comforts, including a high-end kitchen, a dinette, a bathroom, a lounging space, and sleeping space for up to five people.
Building a camper van is an exciting yet challenging venture, and the features it incorporates can truly turn it into a mobile haven for the owners. Big Bear Vans started during the pandemic when the owners, a travel-loving couple, converted an ex-ambulance and traveled all around the US and Europe with their three kids. They then started to give others advice on how to build a van, and later, it turned into a prosperous business.
Big Bear Vans has kept the exterior of the Sprinter mostly unchanged, with the only telltale sign that this is a camper conversion being the side ladder leading to the rooftop deck with a hammock and the roof rack for carrying luggage and equipment. Other notable features on the outside are an optional awning and electric step.
When opening the van's side door, you get into the cooking/dining area, with a compact kitchenette boasting custom CNC-cut plywood cabinetry, an induction cooktop, a sink, a fridge, and a built-in microwave. A flip-up counter extension allows you to look out the door while you cook, and an additional small table that flips up on the outside lets you prep your meals outdoors if you wish. A narrow wooden slat with a beautiful branch-like pattern creates some kind of separation between the kitchen and the lounging area.
Having a secondary lounging space is a great idea, especially if you are traveling with kids. During the day, you'll probably want to enjoy your meals at the large dinette with the rear doors open to take in the beautiful views. But in the evening, after a full day spent outdoors, it's nice to have a comfortable space to spend some time with your partner after you've put the kids to bed in the back of the van.
As mentioned, the Santa Monica van can sleep up to five people. This is possible thanks to the elevator bed that descends from the ceiling above the cushy lounge, which can also be converted to a full-size sleeping area when night comes. A fifth person can sleep on the extra recliner seats using a blow-up seat mattress.
A beautiful aluminum bathroom sits across from the kitchen cabinets. It offers owners complete privacy considering it hides behind a retractable door and comes with the basics, including an aluminum shower with real tile and a toilet.
What's more, this camper van is perfectly capable of supporting your off-the-grid adventures if your nomadic life takes you off the beaten path. It is equipped with 350 watts of solar power, 600 Ah lithium batteries, an advanced diesel water and air heater, air conditioning, as well as 40 gallons of fresh water and 23 gallons of grey water.
Big Bear Vans sells the Santa Monica camper van for $147,200 if it's based on an RWD Sprinter and starting at $187,700 on an AWD 144 Sprinter. While this model's main virtue is definitely its luxurious, highly functional interior, the powerful base vehicle ensures you can navigate any road in comfort and safety.