SPRINTER VAN LIFE
In 2016, I took the plunge into Sprinter Van Life. I bought a 4×4 Mercedes Sprinter Van, had it built out into the ultimate tiny home, and have been traveling around in it ever since. Over the next year, I will be expanding the van life section on Bearfoot Theory, sharing all the van life tips I learn while I’m on the road. I’ll also be sharing more about my build, including the floorplan and a list of products used in my van conversion. In the meantime, you can check out my full van tour and the other blog posts I’ve written so far about Sprinter Van Life.
SPRINTER VAN FAQS
What model of Sprinter do you have?
I have a 2016 4×4 Mercedes Sprinter, 144″ wheelbase cargo van
Are you happy with the 144″ wheelbase?
Overall, yes. I love that my Sprinter Van can fit in a normal parking space, and it’s extremely easy to maneuver. On the flip side, when I purchased my Sprinter and starting building it out I was single. Now I am in a relationship, and we have a dog Charlie. When I’m traveling alone, I find the 144″ wheelbase to be more than adequate, but with two people and a dog, long-term travel is a little tight. If I could go back would I get the longer one? I’m not sure.
Who converted your Sprinter Van?
A small company in Santa Barbara converted my Sprinter Van. While I’m not comfortable going into details, unfortunately I can’t recommend them.
How much does it cost to convert a Sprinter Van?
A brand new 4×4 Sprinter Van runs about $50k for the base price, and it goes up depending on what options you pick. There’s not a huge market for used 4x4s because Mercedes just started making them a couple of years back. If you don’t care about 4×4, you can find a used Sprinter for a lot less. The price of your conversion will depend if you do it yourself or hire someone and how complicated your floorplan and systems are. If you DIY, you can build out a Sprinter for as little as $10k. For a professional build with a solar and a bathroom, you should expect to pay somewhere in the $30-60k range depending on how experienced your builder is.
Are you happy with the 4×4?
I’m based in Salt Lake City and ski a lot in the winter. With all of the snow and ice on the roads this winter, the 4×4 has proved itself to be well worth the added cost. The 4×4 on dirt roads has also been helpful, and with 4×4, I am confident I could take the van almost anywhere I wanted. My biggest limitation with driving off roads isn’t the van itself, but all all of the stuff inside my van. When driving offroad, everything needs to be packed away extremely tight, and you should also consider the materials you use carefully if you plan to drive your van offroad.
What couldn’t you live without in your van?
The porta-potty. As a female who often travels alone, it was essential for me to not have to get dressed and go outside in the middle of the night to go pee. I try to only use it for #1, and as long as you use some good deodorizer, it doesn’t result in any odors in the van.
TOP SPRINTER VAN POSTS
- Full Tour of My 4×4 Mercedes Sprinter Van Conversion
- 10 Question To Ask Before Hiring a Sprinter Van Conversion Company
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Anything you’d change about your floor plan?
I’m still on the fence about my shower. Make sure to check out this post about the pros and cons of having a bathroom in your Sprinter Van. My layout also didn’t afford room to have all of my water stored inside the van. I’d rethink that since having a water tank outside the van complicates things in the winter.
How much solar power and battery capacity do you have, and is it enough?
I have 180 watts of solar on my roof, and my panels were made by Zamp Solar in Bend, Oregon. My battery bank is 375 amp hours, and I have a 2000 watt inverter. In addition to the solar, my battery bank is also connected to my engine’s alternator. This means my house batteries charge while I’m driving, and I generally arrive to my campsite with fully charged batteries. Finally, I have a 120 watt portable panel that I can hook up if need additional juice or want to park in the shade. So far, my setup seems adequate, at least in the summer, although I think some electrical issues I had when I first got my van may have fried one of my batteries since they don’t seem to hold charge as long as they should. The biggest draw is my refrigerator. In winter, the lack of sun and additional draw from my heater means I have to be a little bit more careful with my draw. I’m working on a full post and video on this, so please stay tuned.
What are the white walls made of?
The walls in my Sprinter Van are made of a spray coated aluminum.
Where are your water tanks located?
I have a 10 gallon freshwater tank on the inside of the van, and another 15 gallon freshwater tank underneath the van. The sink and the shower both empty into a gray water tank stored underneath the van. I don’t have a black water tank, because the porta potti has it’s own small holding tank that I pull out and empty when it’s full.
How do you heat your Sprinter Van?
I have a Webasto Dual Top EVO 6 which heats both the water and the air in the van. It runs mostly off of diesel (it siphons it from my main gas tank), and it consumes a small amount of battery power as well. I chose this because it was compact, but it comes with a pretty hefty price tag.
How do you insure your Sprinter Van?
I have an RV policy with Progressive which covers both the exterior and the interior build of my Sprinter Van, as well my personal belongings. It costs about $2000 a year.
Do you have a floor plan available?
Not yet, but I’m hoping to have some drawn up soon. Please subscribe to my newsletter to be notified when my floorplan becomes available.
How do you get internet in your van?
Right now I’m using a Verizon MiFi device. You have to have at least a 3G connection for it to work and it uses the data off of your cell phone plan. I’m looking for other options would allow me to get internet when I’m off the grid, but I haven’t found anything yet. If anyone has recommendations, please let me know.
How do you find campsites?
My van isn’t that stealth, so I try to not park too often in places I’m not supposed to, so there are a couple of different tools I use to find campsites on the go. For a bunch of tips, check out my post: The Ultimate Guide to Finding Free Campsites
Do you get scared as a solo female in your van?
Sometimes, for sure. I don’t go too far off the grid when I’m by myself and try to stick to established campgrounds, even if that means I have to pay. I have a GPS transponder that allows me to send emergency messages when I have no cell phone service. I always keep my doors locked, and I have a knife right by my bed. I’m also going to get some solar powered motion lights that hook into my rack so I can see if someone sketchy is rummaging around outside. A full post on this is coming soon as well.
FULL SPRINTER VAN TOUR VIDEO
Want more Sprinter Van videos? Head to my YouTube channel!
MY FAVORITE VAN LIFE ESSENTIALS