Sprinter Van Conversion: Tour my 4×4 Outside Van

Tour Bearfoot Theory’s Outside Van Sprinter Van conversion. This 4x4 170” Sprinter camper has everything you need for off-the-grid vanlife adventures.

*Updated January 2021* Back in 2017, I worked with Outside Van, a Portland-based company to build the custom Sprinter Van conversion that I’ve been living and traveling in for the last few years. In this van, I’ve driven over 14,000 foot passes in Colorado, chased powder, camped with my family, leaf peeped in New England, and more. Sprinter van life has been an incredible adventure, and this van has proved itself to be one incredible beast. In this blog post, I give the full tour and also share some updates on the few minor things I’d do differently.

This is actually my second Sprinter Van conversion. I joined the Sprinter Van community back in 2015 when I purchased my first 144” Sprinter Van. I had this first Sprinter Van converted into an awesome mobile tiny home, and traveled from California to Canada in it. During those two years, I learned a lot about how I was using the space. My last Sprinter had a full indoor bathroom, an open aisle all the way to the back doors, and a convertible sofa bed across from the slider door (you can check out the video tour of my first Sprinter Van here). In some cases, it worked – particularly when I was solo on shorter trips. However, I found myself never using the bathroom, wanting a more dedicated workspace, and needing more indoor storage for camping gear and bikes. In addition, I learned a lot about materials, the importance of building light, and having weight properly balanced across the van.

With the knowledge I gained, I decided to sell my first Sprinter and put what I learned into Sprinter Van #2. This time around, I went longer with a 4×4 170” wheelbase (read my comparison with the 144″ here) and hired a Portland-based Sprinter Van conversion company that you may have heard of called Outside Van.

50,000 miles in, I’m still absolutely loving my Outside Van Sprinter Van. Keep on reading for  the full tour of my Outside Van Sprinter Van conversion, a review of my experience, and more details about why I decided to switch up my floor plan.

**Make sure to check out my free online course all about van life – The Van Life Roadmap – where I share everything I’ve learned over the last 4 years.

Take a tour of my Outside Van Sprinter Van conversion.


Outside Van YouTube Tour

First, watch this video and get the full inside tour of my 4×4 170″ Mercedes Sprinter camper van.


Sprinter Van Galley

Starting at the slider door when you walk in, Outside Van installed their medium sized galley. I wanted to leave the space open near the door and the galley so Ryan (my boyfriend and I) could be cooking together or brushing our teeth at the same time without having to sneak around each other. The open space by the slide door also leaves room for our dog Charlie so we aren’t tip toeing around him.

Sprinter Van galley // Tour Bearfoot Theory’s Outside Van Sprinter Van conversion. This 4x4 170” Sprinter camper has everything you need for off-the-grid vanlife adventures.

>> Read Next: Kitchen Ideas for your Van Conversion

Galley Materials

Outside Van’s galley is made of marine grade plywood which is treated so it won’t expand in heat or distort over time. Marine grade plywood is the standard used in boats and is made to withstand a bumpy ride. Outside Van builds their drawers using dovetail construction and are made of bamboo, which is antimicrobial and eco-friendly. All of the drawers have a slow closing mechanism to prevent them from slamming shut.

Overhead cabinet and drawer faces are covered using a high-quality laminate, which gives all of the wood in the van a nice finish while protecting the marine grade plywood underneath. Laminate is lightweight and way more durable than regular wood. I chose a reclaimed look for the overhead cabinets and a deep blue for the galley.

The white galley counter-top is made of a material called avonite. Avonite is an acrylic material, which is lighter than granite and quartz and more durable than corion – the other materials you can make a white counter-top from. The avonite is also very easy to clean, and I love the modern look it gives the van.

The Avonite counter top has held up really well. There is one minor chip on one of the edges, but otherwise, it’s proven to be pretty scratch resistant and very easy to clean. Sometimes I do wish that it wasn’t white as it requires constant wipe down to look clean.

Stove

In my last Sprinter Van conversion, I had a permanent two burner propane stove inside the van. In my current van, I opted for an induction instead. The gas stove was a huge pain to clean and it took up a ton of counter space that was otherwise unusable.

I loved being able to cook in the van when the weather was crummy, but as long as the weather is tolerable, I now prefer to do a majority of my cooking outside. In my new Sprinter, I have a one-burner induction stove for morning coffee, very simple meals, and bad weather days. The rest of my cooking, I’m doing outside with a two burner, portable camp stove.

While you need a powerful battery bank and inverter to run an induction stove, they have a lot of benefits. The induction stove in my Sprinter Van heats up and cool down fast, so you aren’t likely to burn yourself. Induction stoves are also easy to clean and safer since you aren’t combusting gas inside the van. One other thing Outside Van did is made the induction stove completely flush with the countertop, so when the stove isn’t on, it basically serves as normal counter space for chopping, etc.

We use this stove way more than we expected, and I’m so glad we installed it. It’s especially useful to be able to cook inside in winter without having to set anything up or when we are stealth camping.

Sprinter Van galley // Tour Bearfoot Theory’s Outside Van Sprinter Van conversion. This 4x4 170” Sprinter camper has everything you need for off-the-grid vanlife adventures.

Refrigerator

The fridge in my first Sprinter Van conversion was way too small for our needs. In this van, I wanted a larger fridge with enough room to carry a weeks worth of fresh food. I chose a 4.6 cubic foot fridge by Isotherm. Isotherm is one of the premier marine and RV fridge companies, and their fridges are designed to survive shaking, vibration, and rigid movements that you have in vans and boats.

We love the size of our fridge and it functions quite well. My only complaint about this fridge is after about 6 weeks, the freezer starts to ice up and the entire fridge has to be turned off and defrosted. I’m not sure if other fridge styles – like drawer fridges – have the same issue.

Sink

For the sink, we have a nice pull-down faucet and a large, round stainless steel under-mount sink. I wanted a sink large enough that would make doing dishes very easy. Outside Van also created a cover that sits flush with the sink and creates a flat surface for additional prep space.

Sprinter Van sink // Tour Bearfoot Theory’s Outside Van Sprinter Van conversion. This 4x4 170” Sprinter camper has everything you need for off-the-grid vanlife adventures.

Drawers and Storage

The push locks keep the drawers and cabinets from opening while I’m driving, and Outside Van used a custom powder coat so the push locks match the other metal features in the van.

Lastly, for storage near the galley, there is a large 5’ long overhead cabinet for food and other essentials. I also opted for Outside Van’s overhead cab shelf which adds a lot of additional storage for oddly shaped items.

Sprinter Van push lock buttons
Sprinter Van galley storage
Sprinter Van galley storage

Sprinter Van Dinette

In my last Sprinter van conversion, my sofa converted to a bed. That meant when the bed was out, I couldn’t set my table up. This became a problem for my working productivity because Ryan and I have slightly different sleeping habits sometimes. I’m an early riser, and it’s the time of day I get most of my work done. Therefore I wanted a dedicated workspace that was always ready to go and didn’t have to be set up and taken down every day.

Seating

Behind the galley, Outside Van built me a custom dinette that comfortably seats two people. In my last van, Ryan and I had to sit next to each other on the sofa if we wanted to play a game or eat dinner. In this van, the dinette allows us to sit across from each other, which I prefer and feels more comfortable on my back.

I wanted the bench seats to add a pop of color to the van, so I choose fun fabric made by Sunbrella, which Outside Van uses as it’s stain and fade resistant. The two bench seats have ample storage in them and the bench seats also pull out to make a full lounge that spans the width of the van. It’s very easy to set up and could easily sleep a child or a Great Dane.

The dinette has worked out fabulous for both working, eating, and hanging out. We have never used the lounge and since there isn’t a seatbelt for an extra passenger, I’m not sure it was necessary to have this additional sleeping area. For the upholstery, we’ve removed the covers a few times and washed them in our washing machine. They clean up nice, but we do keep the bottom half covered with a towel since we step on it in order to get up in the bed. Next time, I might use a vinyl type material that wipes clean instead.

Sprinter Van dinette built by Outside Van
Sprinter Van dinette built by Outside Van

Table

The table in the middle is on a Lagun swivel mount and serves as a desk and dining table. It’s 30” long and can be used width or lengthwise. The Lagun mount allows the table to be pushed all the way to one side, making it easier to access the storage underneath the bed. If I want to pull the bench seats out, I can remove the whole table from its mount and place it in a second mount next to the galley.

The table was constructed in-house by Outside Van. I had the idea to have a US map placed on the table top, and not only did they pull it off, but it looks fantastic and is one of my favorite parts of the van.

This Lagun table is awesome. We drive with it in place and have never removed it.

Awesome map dining table in a Sprinter Van
Tour Bearfoot Theory’s Outside Van Sprinter Van conversion. This 4x4 170” Sprinter camper has everything you need for off-the-grid vanlife adventures.

>> Read Next: Get Tips for Planning your Van Layout


Outside Van Sprinter Three-Panel Bed

Next at the rear of the van is Outside Van’s standard three-panel aluminum platform bed that goes all the way to the back doors with Outside Van’s exoskeleton cabinet for clothing storage. The bed has a capacity of 500 pounds and is almost a king-sized bed (we sleep the long way down the van even though the pillow placement suggests otherwise). All three panels are secured to the bed rails via a spring-loaded threaded fastener. The bed panels can also be removed if I was moving, for example, and needed to be able to store bigger things in the back of the van.

Tour Bearfoot Theory’s Outside Van Sprinter Van conversion. This 4x4 170” Sprinter camper has everything you need for off-the-grid vanlife adventures.

Mattress and Bedding

I chose the medium firm mattress with memory foam and added a latex topper for additional comfort. Outside Van’s mattress cover is made from Sunbrella, which is stain resistant, tear resistant, and easy to clean. While we keep ours protected with an additional waterproof mattress cover, I can even take their cover off and throw it in the washing machine.

My comforter for those who are curious is made by Rumpl.

Discover my top 17 must have van life gear essentials.

Clothing Storage

On the passenger side of the van, I have what Outside Van calls an exoskeleton cabinet which is open with no cabinet face. They put it on the opposite wall as the galley overhead cabinet to help balance out the van’s weight.  This style of cabinet is stuffable, removable, modular and more lightweight than traditional cabinets. We use this exoskeleton cabinet to store packing cubes containing all of our clothes.

The open style cabinet has its pros and cons. I like that it’s easy to stuff a jacket in there or quickly grab something. At the same time, unless you are super diligent about putting your clothes away in your packing cubes, it can quickly look messy and unorganized.

Packing cube Clothing storage in a Sprinter Van

Sprinter Van Garage

Underneath the bed is a ton of storage. Right now we have room for two Specialized e-mountain bikes, all of our camping, and outdoor gear, shoes, and even a couple of inflatable stand-up-paddle boards. There is also 25 gallons of water, a Webasto Dual Top Evo 6 for heat and hot water, and a very powerful battery bank.

Everything gets secured in the garage using Mac’s Versatile Tie Down System – basically a version of L Track. Using Mac’s tie-down rings, we cinch all of our bins up using straps so nothing moves while we are driving. The bikes use the same system. We simply take the front wheel off of our bikes, put the bikes in facing the opposite direction so we can get them as tight as possible together, and then mount them to the Mac System using fork mounts. It takes a few minutes to unpack and restore the bikes, but I’m very happy being able to store our electric bikes inside the van to prevent them from getting stolen and to minimize the number of things that are hanging off of the van and causing drag.

Bike storage in Sprinter Van

We can access the garage via the back doors or from the inside of the van. Outside Van makes a softwall that attaches to the front of the bed frame and drops down to the floor. The middle of the softball has a zippered doorway that you can leave open to get in and out of the garage without having to go outside. We typically just leave this up since we store our shoes right behind the soft wall.

Tour Bearfoot Theory’s Outside Van Sprinter Van conversion. This 4x4 170” Sprinter camper has everything you need for off-the-grid vanlife adventures.
Tour Bearfoot Theory’s Outside Van Sprinter Van conversion. This 4x4 170” Sprinter camper has everything you need for off-the-grid vanlife adventures.

You may be wondering how easy it is to stay organized in here without a robust drawer system. In my Outside Van Sprinter, I opted to keep storage simple. A big drawer system, especially if it’s made of wood, is very heavy and is just another component of the van that you have to worry about breaking if you like to drive off-road. Instead, I wanted to store my gear in lightweight plastic bins and duffel bags. That way it’s easy to pull everything out of the van together in the bins/bags, rather than having to take each individual item out of drawers to transport my stuff in and out of a house. It would be cool to have the bikes on some sort of slider system, but you end up losing a few inches vertically, and we didn’t want our bed any higher.

Sprinter Van garage // Tour Bearfoot Theory’s Outside Van Sprinter Van conversion. This 4x4 170” Sprinter camper has everything you need for off-the-grid vanlife adventures.

>> Read Next: How to Fit your Stuff into 100 Square Feet


Sprinter Van Electrical System

My last Sprinter Van had high performing electrical components, and in this van, I opted for many of those same components but a beefier system overall. Running low on power is stressful, and if you drop below a certain point, it can damage your batteries to the point of needing to replace them. We plan on living in the van full-time for 6 months a year, and with electric bikes, my computer, camera, induction stove, the heater, and other electronics, I wanted to never have to worry about running out of power – especially in the winter.

We’ve spent almost two years living full time in this Sprinter van, and we’ve never had to plug in. I’m so happy I went with a robust system that I never have to worry about. Occasionally in winter if we are using the induction stove a lot, we might turn on the van so the alternator sends some additional juice to the batteries. But other than that, this power system has performed great. The technology has changed since my van was built, so next time I might consider Lithium. However, I’ve never had any issues with my AGM batteries, and they are still holding charge as if they were brand new.

Battery Bank

I almost doubled my battery bank in my new Sprinter. In my last van, I had 375 amp hours of batteries. In this van, I have 660 amp hours. I opted for AGM batteries because they perform better in cold weather than Lithium Ion, and they are also more cost-effective. The batteries are stored in a cabinet in the garage. The batteries charge off of the solar on the roof, and they are also hooked up to my engine’s alternator, so the batteries are constantly charging while I’m driving.

Solar Panels

On the roof, I have 445 watts of solar panels made by Zamp Solar. They are the same brand I had on my last van, and Outside Van uses Zamp because their panels are made right here in the US, and out of the companies they’ve tried, they’ve found their panels to be the highest performing. I have four 80 watt panels and one 125 watt panel. One of my single 80-watt solar panels should cover the consumption rate of the fridge, while the rest run the other things in the van.

>> Read Next: Planning your electrical system for your van conversion

Roof Rack

My solar setup on the roof is secured to a custom-made Outside Van roof rack. The rack is very low profile, so you can barely see it from the ground, and it has a walkway down the center of the van that I use to hang out or access the solar panels for cleaning. It’s worked out great as a platform for taking photos too.

Inverter

The final piece is the inverter. I have a 2000 watt Magnum Pure-Sine Inverter which converts power from the batteries to AC power that I use to run the induction stove and other things that plug into the 110 outlets. I have 6 USB outlets and 6 regular 110 outlets, including two 110 outlets in the garage that we use to charge our e-bikes. In addition to our ebikes, we have a computer, cameras, phones, a blender, a dust buster, and a few other appliances that we charge.

Sprinter Van electrical system

Sprinter Van Temperature Control

I opted against a rear AC in my Sprinter Van conversion. They draw a ton of power, and it didn’t seem necessary. I can confirm now that we made the right decision. We don’t camp in the desert in summer, and when it gets too hot, we flock to higher elevations. Of course, if you plan on living in Florida or Arizona in summer, you may need to plan differently.

Outside Van did do a few things though to keep the interior of the van comfortable, even on hot sunny days.

Windows

First, they replaced the front side factory windows with CR Laurence Windows that vent. Next to the bed, we also have small slider windows that open up.

Ceiling Fans

I have two Maxx Fans. One above the galley and one above the bed. They each have a rain sensor and create really nice airflow in the van. Compared to my Fantastic Fan in my last Sprinter Van, the Maxx Fans seem superior.

Roof vents in a Sprinter Van

Insulating Window Shades

All of the window shades in my Sprinter van conversion are made of a ripstop nylon with a layer of closed cell foam in the middle which helps insulate the van from the heat in the summer and prevent warm air from escaping through the windows in the winter. The shades are very simple to put up and take down via the snap buttons and most of the time, we find ourselves driving with them in place to keep the sun out.

The curtain that leads to the front of the van is the same material and has a zippered walkway in the middle. This is one of my favorite things in the van. We leave it hanging up at all time, and I love how easy it is to zip is closed when we want privacy or to insulate the living area from the cab.

Insulated curtains in a Sprinter Van
Insulated curtains in a Sprinter Van

Heat

For heat in the winter, I have a Webasto Dual Top Evo 6. This equipment produces hot air and hot water and runs of the diesel in your existing diesel tank. Outside Van generally installs these Webasto units inside the van in the garage which improves their performance in the winter versus having them on the outside.

We’ve had our van down to single digits at night, and the van feels toasty warm inside.

>> Read Next: Options for Temperature Control in your Van Conversion


Sprinter Van Plumbing System

In my new Sprinter, I wanted my entire plumbing system contained inside the van, so I don’t have to worry about anything freezing in the winter. It’s a simple streamlined setup and very easy to fill up our water.

Water Tanks

I have a 25-gallon water tank inside a cabinet in the garage, alongside the Webasto Dual Top which stores an additional 3 gallons of hot water in the boiler. The BPA-free water tank is permanent, but it can easily be filled using a hose or 5-gallon jugs if I can’t find a spigot with potable water. Water that runs through lines to the sink goes through a three-stage charcoal water filter that ensures the water we are drinking is clean.

Water tanks in Sprinter Van // Tour Bearfoot Theory’s Outside Van Sprinter Van conversion. This 4x4 170” Sprinter camper has everything you need for off-the-grid vanlife adventures.

Shower

For showering, Outside Van does build lightweight indoor showers for those of you who truly need a regular indoor shower…but based my experience with my last indoor shower, I decided this wasn’t a necessity for me or worth the sacrifice in space. For showering, we can quickly hook up a shower hose to the back of the water tank, which allows us to take hot outdoor showers. When we travel in the winter, we’ll have to find other ways to shower – like gyms, community centers, campgrounds, or houses of family or friends.

>> Read Next: 7 Reasons you Don’t Need a Permanent Shower in your Van

Sprinter Van outdoor shower

Toilet

In my last Sprinter Van, I had a Thetford portable toilet.  It did the trick, but I hated using it for #2 because dumping it was gross. Plus, finding a dump every 5-7 days to empty the toilet was a hassle.

For the first year we traveled in this new Sprinter, we didn’t have a toilet. But now, with wanting to avoid public bathrooms, we carry this foldable Go Anywhere toilet that utilizes wag bags. We prefer go outside and dig a hole following Leave No Trace principles, but when it’s not possible to go outside, we use this toilet. Once you’re done, the bag just goes in the trash can. The bags do get pricey, and I’m not crazy about the plastic waste, but for the occasional use, it’s worked out great for us. The space we save by not having a normal toilet is more than worth it, and I enjoy not having the toilet-related chores

>> Read Next: Best camper van toilet options


Sprinter Van Floor

In my last Sprinter, I found that the dark wood floors looked great, but they were very hard to keep clean. Dirt shows very easily on dark colors and with our dog, all we saw was footprints. The wood also didn’t provide any traction.

The first thing Outside Van does when building their floors is to remove the factory floor. They then build a new floor out of marine grade plywood and adhere a layer of high-density vinyl to the top. This is a slightly heavier than the factory floor, but its a little thicker and way more durable, so there’s no flex in the floor when you place heavy features on it.

In my Outside Van Sprinter, I choose two different types of flooring – both made of a high-density vinyl. In the front, I wanted something that would provide a balance between durability and easiness to clean, which led me to a lighter colored vinyl weave with a hint of black that ties in with other black features in the van like the window shades. Update: The texture in the weave the floor up front actually makes. it quite difficult to clean.

In the back, I chose a diamond plate style vinyl floor, which is one of the most durable floor types you can put in a Sprinter Van. It doesn’t scratch, so it can withstand bins and bikes sliding across it. We’ve found this to be true after years of dragging gear across it.

>> Read Next: A Guide to Floor Materials for your Van

Sprinter Van floor // Tour Bearfoot Theory’s Outside Van Sprinter Van conversion. This 4x4 170” Sprinter camper has everything you need for off-the-grid vanlife adventures.

Sprinter Van Walls

One of my favorite features of my last Sprinter Van was the white walls. It made the van feel so bright, open, and airy. Outside Van had never built a van with white walls, so my van is a completely new look for them. They found a synthetic leather product called Sileather that is eco-friendly, VOC-free, easy to clean with a damp cloth, waterproof, and fade proof. It’s perfect for people with dogs, as dog hair doesn’t stick to it. I’ve been really happy with the walls – even bloody mosquitos wipe right up.

Behind the walls, is insulation, a really powerful sound dampening material, and a custom infrastructure that Outside Van has developed to reduce the twisting and flexing of the van interior, making the build more durable. The van is incredibly quiet when I drive. There are no rattles or other noises from the cabinets or other components, making for a very peaceful ride.

>> Read Next: Best Insulation types for your Van Conversion


What questions do you have about my Outside Van Sprinter Van Conversion?  Leave a comment below and let us know!

Check out the Van Life Roadmap for all of my van life blog posts!

100 comments on “Sprinter Van Conversion: Tour my 4×4 Outside Van

  1. Your customized van is beautiful and highly functional!! It looks fabulous! My curiosity is how much did it cost to build it?

    1. Hi Beverly, Outside Van is one of the more high-end conversion companies that specializes in 4×4. The van costs about 55k and then the conversion all depends on what you want inside.

        1. Hi Yves, 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 lot of used 4x4s available 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, you should expect to pay a minimum of $30k for a basic build. Costs can be as high as $100k for the conversion if you choose a reputable company and add things like a powerful solar and battery system, an indoor shower and plumbing, and the little details (sometimes things you can’t see) that make the van better.

  2. Congratulations !!! It is perfect for that kind of life ….. that you never want to came back …!!!
    Regards

  3. I LOVE your new Sprinter van by OutsideVan and we’re considering one.
    My question is how much did it cost total?
    (Say if I wanted a new van made JUST like yours)
    ??
    Thank so much & I love your blog!

    1. Hi Lisa, it really depends on the outfitter/conversion company you select. Outside Van is one of the higher end conversion companies that specializes in 4×4, and they are very detailed in their quote process. They walk through every single option and then their program spits out a price.

  4. Thanks for sharing so many details about your new build out. Many of the features are very attractive. What did the conversion cost or what would it cost a reader to build this van with Outside van?
    Thanks!

  5. Hi Kristen,
    Beautifully written article! I love your new Van…I was lucky enough to be camping next to you in Quincy and you gave me a tour. So nice to meet you and to see this article pop up in my feed was extra special.
    Susan

  6. Very nice van. Has me thinking again before I finalize my design. Is your water pump located inside the tank? (Submerged vs centrifugal or suction? )It is very quiet.

  7. Wow! Just watched the tour and read through this entire post. I’m planning on purchasing a van soon and doing most of the conversion myself and I have to say that of the nearly hundred videos I’ve watched so far yours is just the fourth I’ve put into my YouTube ‘Camper Ideas’ playlist. The combination of aesthetics and functionality in your is exactly the type of approach I’m hoping to do. I’m most excited about the walls! Can you let me know what the exact material / product is that you used? Looking forward to learning more! Cheers and happy adventuring!

    1. Hi Don, great to hear you enjoyed the tour & the post! So great to hear you are going to be jumping into your own conversion. My vans were designed and built by Outside Van. They found a synthetic leather product that is eco-friendly, VOC-free, easy to clean with a damp cloth, waterproof, and fade proof. It’s perfect for people with dogs, as dog hair doesn’t stick to it. If you would like to inquire about buying similar material you’ll need to contact Outside Vans directly and let them know it is Kristen’s van you are modeling your walls after–Kristen was the first person to have white walls made by Outside Van so I am sure they will remember & be able to help you!

  8. Hi again Kristin, another question…
    It appears that there is not an awning on your van. Was this something you simply never wanted?
    Thanks!

    1. I was actually wondering the same thing. I noticed you had one on your original build. Did you find that you didn’t use it as much as you’d think (or cost would allow for)?

  9. This looks amazing, Kristen! I just bought a tiny Chevy Astro to start out my van life, but my dream is a Sprinter van by Outside Van. Maybe someday. Have fun and I’m looking forward to following your adventures.

    1. Hi Rand, Outside Vans put together Kristen’s water tank. Kristen has a 25-gallon water tank inside a cabinet in the garage, alongside the Webasto Dual Top which stores an additional 3 gallons of hot water in the boiler. The BPA-free water tank is permanent, but it can easily be filled using a hose or 5-gallon jugs if she can’t find a spigot with potable water. Water that runs through lines to the sink goes through a three-stage charcoal water filter that ensures the water she + Ryan are drinking is clean. If you have more questions you can contact Outside Vans directly and just let them know it’s my Sprinter Van you are trying to model after.

      1. Hey Kim, what about waste water? is there a tank for that, or does it just dump on the ground? How did you insure it’s not frozen when winter camping?

    1. Hi Norman, we recommend you reach out to Outside Van directly. Let them know you like Kristen’s van and then you can discuss your needs to create a van that is suitable for you.

  10. Beautiful Sprinter that will bring to you millions of smiles! You have incorporated some very cool features that I have never seen. I always learn something new from Bearfoot Theory. Thank you, Kristen Bor! You are so smart and sweet for sharing your knowledge with us beginners. Happy trails and summer travels to you and yours.

    1. There is no grey water tank. They do that because it’s just another thing to freeze in the winter. The clean water tank is located inside the van, which is insulated. But when I’m not using the van in the winter in Utah, I empty the tanks just to protect it. If I was using the van on a regular basis, then I’d just keep the Webasto running on low to keep the temps at a safe level.

  11. Ballpark what does a van such as this cost? We are seriously considering something similar and would love to have a number so we can start planning!

  12. Thank you for sharing (both of your vans). You have a beautiful new van. My wife and I are planning on getting ours next year. Outside van was my first choice for our build after looking at other builders, and contemplating on do it myself. Your experience with your builds is greatly appreciated.

  13. I’m in the process of building out my own van & I really like the look of your leatherette walls & ceiling. Can you tell me what that material is?

  14. Hi
    First off, Thanks for so many inspirational videos!

    I’ve never owned an RV/van, so I am gathering info. Comparing RV vs Van at the same price point, did you consider getting a MB chassis Class C based RV instead? Like the Jayco Melbourne prestige or the Winnebago View/Navion. About 3ft longer, same width, but with home-like comforts and similar price to van+custom work.

  15. Hello Kristen…

    So by the looks of your tattoo, I deduce we have the same GREAT musical tastes! lol 🙂
    …Wondering if you’ll be at the Ace Hotel for the Wolf Brothers tour? I’ll be in the front row! 😉

    In any event, had a Sprinter Sportsmobile conversion a few years back. Currently considering the Winnebago Revel 4×4 because of the head and passenger seating arrangement. (Only concern would be the many warranty issues associated with many reported deficiencies associated with conversion build and assembly) Kinda sad that so many of the production Sprinter conversions don’t account for a small family by offering any seating adjacent to the cab. That said, your Sprinter looks perfectly suited to your lifestyle and situation.

    If you ever plan a trip out to the San Juan Islands or Flagstaff, I’d love to play host.

    Happy trails and enjoy the lifestyle!

    …Cheers

  16. I am curious, the down payments, plus the monthly payments needed through the bank? I guess it depends on each individual credit?
    Nice setup you have there, I like the style.

  17. I loved the aesthetics of your last van and love this even more! I curious the width of the dinette? It looks different in each picture I look at. Thanks 🙂

  18. Hi I’m curious as to the dimensions of your galley? (Height/Width/Depth) as well as your bench seat dimensions? (Length/Depth)

    After OSV installs the insulation and walls what is the interior width of the van at the floor and the usable length from behind the front seats to the back of the van?

    Also, if you had the dimensions of your previous vans shower and toilet so u know how much space they take up.

    Thanks!
    Aaron

  19. Dear Kristen,
    I’ve been following you religiously and finally found my 4×4, 144, low top Sprinter. I’ll be starting my build in Sept and am hoping to get more information on your water filtration system; brand of BPA water tank and filtration system. Thanks for pioneering the way!
    With gratitude, Rolo

  20. Thank you for your education around your adventures with your vans. I am slowly building mine out and have enjoyed reviewing your blogs for direct insights. Im a big fan of Outside Vans work, Im builder so Ive also been enjoying my own process, although a mix of trial and error. Question on your walls, did they use marine ply for those as well, then wrap? The material you used for them have answered some of my design cross roads , Very well thought out, Thank you again for sharing!

    Michael

  21. Your new Sprinter looks great!

    What is underneath the bench seat on the driver’s side? It looks like it is vented for some kind of electrical equipment

  22. Thanks so much for posting all of the detail on this build! I just started my second conversion, this time coincidentally the same color as yours, though the baby 144wb version. Could you share the manufacturer of the high density vinyl on the forward part of the cabin? I was about to settle on Lonseal vinyl flooring, but like the pattern on yours even more!

  23. About Sileather. Love ur van. My wife white walls in our Sprinter van but we can’t find a US supplier for Sileather – not Amazon, not Ebay. Any ideas on how to buy Sileather?

    1. Hi James! I would recommend contacting Outside Vans directly and seeing if they can offer you any retailers/suppliers.

    1. No I don’t. The batteries are just charged off the regular car alternator. There is a separator though…so the alternator first charges the car battery and then once that’s full it charges the house batteries. Hope that makes sense!

  24. Very nice van. My wife and I are doing a van conversion with Outside Van as well. We have been thinking about going with the SiLeather for the walls. The choice of color and ease of cleaning are appealing. How have you liked the material in your van? Any feedback would be much appreciated.

    Regards,
    George

    1. Hey George – The Sil-Leather is holding up great. I love how easy it is to clean. You’re going to be so stoked on your outside van. their work is amazing. Have fun out there!

  25. Beautiful van…and well thought out. Thanks for sharing.

    Curious now that you’ve had the van a bit, what you think of the high density vinyl weave flooring in the cabin? Really like the look and thinking of using a similar approach in our upcoming build. If you still like the option, can you share specifics on the actual product/supplier?

    1. Hey there – I actually wouldn’t the do the floor in the front again. It looks great and I like the texture, but the grooves in the floor make it very difficult to clean.

  26. Beautiful van and a wonderful, detailed blog post! I’m curious what make and model your seat swivels are for the driver and passenger seats. I like that they not only swivel, but also slide forward & back. Thanks for the tour!

  27. Great build Kristen. Very similar design that my wife and I came up with that we are planning for our build. Do you find accidentally hitting your head on the overhead cabinets above the bed? Did you explore any other clothing cabinet options? Whet height is the garage and what thickness is your mattress pad. Do find you have enough head room to comfortably sit upright in the bed? Did Outside van provide you with schematics of your electrical and plumbing systems you could share? Again…great build!

    Thanks,
    Jonathan

    1. Hey there! Ryan sleeps on that side of the bed, but there is enough room that he doesn’t actually have to sleep under the cabinets. That’s where the dogs sleeps 🙂 If I could do it again, Outside Van is installing these new soft cabinets made by Adventure Wagon that look pretty cool. Headroom is a little tight. If we didn’t have bikes, I would have made the bed a few inches shorter. I don’t have a schematic.

      1. Thanks Kristin. Reviewing your build again as we are starting ours. I am building the galley and storage cabinets myself and curious of the thickness of the Marine grade plywood used. 1/2” or 3/4” I suspect? Also, do you have a bottom and back to all cabinets? We are going to utilize the hanging Mule bags in bed area and also looking at it or other options in galley area. Perhaps my wife and I just need a tour next time you guys are in Boise:)

  28. Nice write up. How was your experience moving from a 144 to a 170 in terms of drivability? Does the increased turning radius bother you or is it a negligible inconvenience? We’re looking to build a camper van for a family of 4 (2 little kids). Thanks, and keep up the great work. You’ve inspired many of us.

    1. Hi Dan, this post will help you out with all those answers–https://bearfoottheory.com/144-vs-170-sprinter-vanlife/
      It looks like you left a comment there that you found it! Glad to hear it was helpful.

  29. ive been living out the back of a ranger for a few years and am looking into buying a short school bus and having something about 80% as nice as this for a 5k budget 😀

  30. What is the name of the synthetic leather product you used on the walls and ceiling? I love the lay out of your van. You did a great job.

      1. Hi! I love the white walls and ceilings but have been told by builders that the sil-leather does not hold up to abuse. I have a really messy kid who doesn’t not like to take care of nice things and is a magnet to making white things not white. Would you still recommend doing the walls as you have done? I’ve been told that light scratches show up and dirt can build up in those scratches and ruin the easy cleaning properties of the walls. Is this a material that can handle serious abuse or is more fit for people who take great care of their things? In which case I will likely just use it on the ceiling and skip the walls.
        THANKS IN ADVANCE :)))
        @roverlife

        1. Hi Jonathan!
          Thanks for your comment. Kristen loves the Sil-leather and reports that it’s super easy to keep clean, but as you mentioned, she and her partner do take care of the van. I can’t speak on whether it would hold up to serious abuse, so it might be better for the ceiling instead of the walls. That way, you won’t have to worry much about it. When it’s done, come on out to Open Roads Fest with your family! https://openroadsfest.com

  31. Hey there, I’m designing my Outside Van conversion and have to make some final decisions. I was wondering whether you like the exoskeleton for clothes, or whether you think cabinets would keep things looking a little more organized? Basically, I know I’m a messy person. In my current van, I try to be neat, but eventually I am shoving everything into the closet and glad I have doors to close. Just wondering if you have any realistic advice. I love your van !! Thank you… Heather

    1. That’s a tough one. The exoskeleton is easy to grab stuff down from, but like you I’m messy, and that cabinet always seems to overflow. Next time I’m on the fence about which cabinets I’d go with.

  32. Hello! Great review 🙂 wondering where you got that awesome insulated cabin divider curtain? We are looking for one just like that!

    1. Hi Mary!
      Glad to hear you liked it. This is Mary Kathryn responding on Kristen’s behalf. All the curtains in Kristen’s van were made by Outside Van. They are made of ripstop nylon with a layer of closed-cell foam on the interior to insulate. They’re pretty great! In my van, I have a storebought thermal blackout curtain that works quite well. It’s simple and white with thermal properties. I imagine it’s not nearly as warm as Kristen’s custom insulated curtains but it works well for us and only cost about $30.

  33. This is so inspiring. Do you have any information or links to how to DYI a van conversion as I have plenty of time on my hands

    1. Hi there, Joanne!
      Thanks for your comment. We’re so glad to hear you feel inspired and are interested in DIYing a van conversion! I built out my van three years ago and had so much fun in the process, so I definitely recommend it. Our Bearfoot Theory team recently created a comprehensive FREE van life course that includes extensive information on everything that goes into a camper van conversion. It will be really helpful in your process. We’ll be releasing it soon, so jump on the email list and you’ll be notified when we launch it. https://bearfoottheory.com/van-life-roadmap-waitlist/

  34. Hi there! Love all your information, I am digging through it slowly, does it say anywhere what something like this costs? Thank you so much, I’m trying to go from the idea of a four-wheel-drive truck with a camper that I’ve always thought I wanted To realizing I may be more into this style..

    1. Hey there Jeanine,
      Thanks for your comment. Kristen’s conversion was around 50 or 55K, not including the vehicle. There are so many awesome options out there depending on your lifestyle, priorities, needs, and budgets. Soon, we’ll be launching our comprehensive FREE van life course where we discuss everything from choosing a vehicle, converting one, and living on the road. Add your email to the list to be notified when we release it! https://bearfoottheory.com/van-life-roadmap-waitlist/

  35. Not having a toilet for a woman is just downright nasty. I am a truck driver and I know personally that you have to always stay at a truck stop or a gas station because you can have a bm any time. However, those bathrooms can be extremely gross. Many Truck stops have a shower room and decent bathroom facilities but there are those depending on the part of the country you are that is just disgusting. Many of these women who camp ride bikes and hike and you think after those activities you shouldn’t take a shower? Not to mention when you’ve been with a man or your monthly cycle.

    1. Hi Marie! Thanks for sharing your experience here. Many van lifers prefer not to have a toilet or shower and they make it work, while others do need one. Everyone is different, so it all depends on personal needs and priorities. 🙂

  36. What is the name of the leather-like materials used on your walls. It appears that it was also used on the fronts of the open cabinets in the back over the bed. Please let me know what that is.

    Thanks, JJ

    1. Hi, Jon!
      Thanks for your comment. In Kristen’s van, Outside Van used 3M Thinsulate for insulation and Mahogany luan panels for the walls. Then they covered it with a material called Sil-Leather, made of silicon. Sil-Leather is eco-friendly, non-toxic, waterproof, and highly durable.

  37. Hi, love your van. I love the folks at Outside Vans and have toured their shop. I am curious if you could share more pictures on your dinette to bed set up. The bottom slides out, but how is the “back” supported? Can you access the space under the cushion? Thanks!

      1. Thanks, but the photos do not show how the back cushion is attached and supported. Do you have any more information or pictures on this? Thanks! Hopefully she is healthy and happy.

  38. Hello. I’ve been having a hard time deciding between LiPo and AGM batteries but love the idea of having such a big bank. That being said:
    1) How many NorthStar batteries do you have and what is the name?
    2) How heavy are they?
    3) Is that useable 660AH (meaning you actually have about 1320AH, seeing that AGMs can only be drained 50%) ?

    Sorry if that was a bit of a question-overload . Thank you in advance for your time and answer.

  39. Hello Kristen,
    Could you tell me what the brand of single burner induction cooktop you used? It is hard to tell in the photo. Maybe Thermador or Frigidaire?
    Thanks so much

  40. Regarding the dinette, how large is the table top? Is it big enough for three or four people to dine? If not, could you envision a way to have two lagoon tables in the dinette so that you could have three or four people dine at the table? I know it would be a tight squeeze. We’re in the process of building a dinette in our van with the intention of mirroring Kristen’s dinette, but it seems the weight limitation for the lagoon table top prevents us from having a size large enough to really have a restaurant bench-seat style experience.

  41. I have been enjoying your newsletter and blog. I am learning so many new things about life in a van and it is so inspiring. My sister has a small van that she is converting herself and taking some small trips. I have been designing and scrap-booking all her Van Adventures so far. I hope I can join her on one but would love to some day have something bigger and more comfortable like yours. Thank you for sharing all this wonderful info. Artgal Style

  42. Your clear, concise explanations of everything you liked/disliked in your first van, and the changes you made in your new one are wonderful! I’ve been looking for good information about converting a van, and I’ll probably use a lot of your suggestions. THANK YOU. I do wonder, however, about the AC. We will probably be traveling a lot in the southwest, and it gets pretty warm. I’ll ask our outfitters about the difference between the fans and the AC. Appreciate it

  43. Hi Kristen, I am curious about your opinion of the flush mount induction cooktop in your galley. I am working on a build with OSV and I like the idea of the flush mount cooktop, but am concerned that the interface between the countertop and the cooktop will collect grime, especially with the white countertop (is it avonite?) Have you found this to be an issue, or over time has it remained as nice as in the pic in this blog post? I assume it is caulked with silicone or something similar, but is it holding up over time? do you have any other options on the flush mount cooktop to share? Thanks!

  44. I’m in love with your van and thank you for your post! I have a question about the photo of the outside folding table and there’s a stove on top. May I ask the brand name or where it was purchased? I’m looking for a heavy duty folding table I can use outside for outdoor cooking, and it looks like that one is pretty compact for space/storage, which is always limited in a van. Thank you!!

  45. Would love to know. Now that you have been in a Sprinter Extended for a few years vs your previous 144, hitting the trailheads hard, do you still prefer the longer van and why?

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