Transform Your Compact Van Into the Ultimate Weekend Getaway Machine for Around $1,000

Simple Vans Conversion (Drifter) 18 photos
Photo: Simple Vans
As time moves forward, something beautiful happens, no matter the industry: we bear witness to cheaper and cheaper methods of reaching optimization. Well, Europe's Simple Vans has achieved the near-impossible; they offer campervan conversion kits for around $1,000. Time to strip out those backseats, and let's go!
Folks, while exploring the world and looking for the cheapest alternatives to get you exploring all the world has to offer, I ran across a crew dubbed Simple Vans. Here, I encountered their Weekender conversion, which takes nearly any van on the market and makes it a camper. Oh, and the cheapest setup is selling for €949. That's just $1,030 (at current exchange rates).

Now, Simple Vans seems to have been in the works for some years now, with videos of their prototypes going as far back as three years ago; maybe they've invested a tad of cash into some marketing, which is great for us, as this stuff may be the simplest way to get your hands on a campervan. All you need is to actually own a compact van. Speaking of which, Simple Vans created their kits to work with vehicles like the VW Caddy, Ford Transit Connect, and other compact vans.

So, what are we in for? To get a solid idea, let's pretend we just placed an order for one of these kits, and just like that, it's even arrived on your doorstep. Well, before you just hop into your vehicle and drive off into the wild, you'll need to rub some elbow grease into the construction and put it all together; according to Simple Vans, this process should take around eight hours. If you've ever sat around waiting for a camper to be delivered to your dealership, in the grand scheme of things, you know eight hours means absolutely nothing.

Photo: Simple Vans
Sitting with a box on your doorstep, you decide to get to work putting this thing together, and all we're told we need is some wood glue and a power drill. The reason is that these kits are completed out of multi-layer wood panels and don't need much to click together and hold their shape.

Once you've completed the main bodies of each feature, you'll be able to start dropping them into your van. While it's not clear just how you'll be securing these blocks to your van, the result is a habitat that has room for everything you'd need on your trips.

For example, the bedding module is crafted with a sliding mechanism, letting you use it as either a couch or bed, but it also includes tons of storage underneath where we can hide tools, gear, and even a portable toilet. At the head of your bed, another module extends the sleeping area, and if needed, storage space is found underneath, too. Actually, storage is one of the features that the Weekender clearly does not lack in any way.

Photo: Simple Vans
For a moment, take the time to think about what you'd bring along on your trips. Sure, food and water are a must, as is clothing, but there's also room for a portable energy generator and even portable galley features. Since this is the most basic setup Simple Vans offers, only a smart shower is thrown into your purchase. Off you go now.

Sure, the downside to all this is the fact that you'll need to scoop up any systems you need as extra. This means buying your own water tanks, pumps, cooktops, fridges, and generators, too, but once you're all done, you'll be looking at a rather complete unit. With a tent annex and shower, just wow.

All this brings me to the fact that Simple Vans has thought about all this, too, and as such, offers kits that are suitable for all the mobile living features we'd ever need to really transform our vans into full-time living machines.

Photo: Simple Vans
One of my favorite kits they offer is the Roamer. Why do I love it? Well, the image gallery reveals all. But, if you're pressed for time and attention, allow me to sum it up as a complete space, ready with a space for a fridge, pull-out galley block, hide-away table, and countless others. Be sure to check out the Nomad and Drifter models, too.

Still, the one that takes the cake and the same unit that most of us budget-conscious humans will go for is the Weekender. I don't know; there's just something about being able to get your hands on a camper for around $1,000 that just sounds so dang good!

There's just one catch to all this van conversion goodness. Simple Vans is a French crew, and as such, they currently only ship within Europe. So, in the worst-case scenario, you have a buddy over there who can pick it up for you and send you your kit overseas. If you can't, just use these conversion kits as inspiration for your very own project; it shouldn't take too long to craft your own bits and pieces in a similar fashion to what we see here today.

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Editor's note: Images in the gallery showcase an array of Simple Vans conversion kits.

About the author: Cristian Curmei
Cristian Curmei profile photo

A bit of a nomad at heart (being born in Europe and raised in several places in the USA), Cristian is enamored with travel trailers, campers and bikes. He also tests and writes about urban means of transportation like scooters, mopeds and e-bikes (when he's not busy hosting our video stories and guides).
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