The Ultimate List of Small Camper Vans: Inspirational Rigs to Fuel Your Van Life Dreams

You don’t have to spend big bucks on a larger campervan to start your van life dreams. Here is our list of SMALL campervans to travel in stealth and style.

Living in a Chevy Astro van showed us how awesome small camper vans are for van life. They’re way cheaper and stealthier than big vans like a Mercedes Sprinter or Ford Transit. We could park anywhere in the city without drawing attention, perfect for full-timers and weekend warriors.

Plus, they’re easy to drive and park, and the gas mileage is a big plus. It’s a practical choice if you want to keep things simple and low-cost on the road.

We’ve since upgraded to a Sprinter van as we needed the space for full-time van life, but I’m still a big believer that small camper vans are a great way to get started.

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Table of Contents

1) The Mercedes Metris

  • Price: $26,000-$34,000
  • Cargo Volume: 199 cubic feet
  • Estimated Combined MPG: 19
  • Exterior Length: 202 inches
  • Exterior Height: 75 inches
  • Exterior Width: 76 inches
  • Interior Headroom: 39.6 inches in the 1st row; 41.4 inches in the 2nd row

The Mercedes Metris is a new van introduced to the North American market in 2015. With the cargo version of this van, you can pick from a standard or long wheelbase. It’s available in two lengths – standard and extended.

This small camper van for sale has a turbocharged 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder engine with a 7-speed transmission. The Mercedes Metris can carry more than the other vans with a maximum payload of 2,502 pounds. Compare that to the Nissan NV200, which has a payload of 1,480 pounds.

Mercedes Metris vans have a larger cargo area than the competition, which means more room for your campervan build. They come with either a 270-degree swing-open rear door or a hatchback tailgate. The exterior looks just like that of a work van, making this vehicle a very stealthy camper.

The main problem with this van is that it’s the most expensive of the smaller vans, needs premium fuel, and is harder to park due to it’s longer wheelbase. The other thing to consider is the size of the windows – these are smaller than those fitted on other vans, which means you lose visibility and gain some extra privacy.

Read more about the Mercedes Metris.

If you’d like to get a Metris converted professionally, check out Contravans, the Getaway Van by Mercedes-Benz, Peace Vans, GTRV, Keystone Coachworks and Oregon Motor Coach.

2) Ford Transit Connect Mini Camper Van

  • Price: $24,000-$31,000
  • Cargo Volume: 104 cubic feet
  • Estimated Combined MPG: 25
  • Exterior Length: 174.2 inches
  • Exterior Length: 174.2 inches
  • Exterior Height: 72 inches
  • Exterior Width: 72 inches
  • Interior Headroom: 46.9 inches
This Ford Transit Connect camper is available for rent on Outdoorsy

The Ford Transit Connect is an affordable camper van that gets great gas mileage. It’s been around since 2012, which means you can find a lot of used vans for cheap, or even camper vans that are already built out.

When searching for your next home of wheels, get a mechanic involved – Transit Connects are known to have transmission issues.

You can get two types of engines with this small camper van, a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder van, or a turbocharged 1.6-liter Ecoboost 4-cylinder. Maximum payload on this van is 1,620 pounds.

This is a very small camper van for sale (the second smallest in this class) that doesn’t offer the same cargo space as some of its competitors or 4WD drive. However, it features double sliding doors on the sides, which makes it very easy to air out and access.

The look of the exterior makes it an excellent stealth camping vehicle. Plus being small it’s easier and cheaper to fix. Also, some people say this small camping van doesn’t have a lot of power but is comfortable to drive.

Click here to learn more about the Ford Transit Connect. If you can get hold of a newer model (2014 or newer), Freeway Camper Kit produces a sturdy and practical conversion kit.

3) Ram Promaster City Small Camper Van

  • Price: $24,000-$27,000
  • Cargo volume: 132 cubic feet
  • Estimated Combined MPG: 24
  • Exterior Length: 188 inches
  • Exterior Height: 74 inches
  • Exterior Width: 74 inches
  • Interior Headroom: 46 inches
This Ram Promaster City is available for rent on Outdoorsy

The Promaster City small campervan for sale was introduced in 2015, and prides itself on being efficient with a highway fuel economy of 28 miles per gallon.

This little van packs a cargo capacity of 131.7 cubic feet, and a nice-sized cargo area width of 48.4 inches between the wheel wells. This van comes in second for cargo space behind the Mercedes Metris.

The Promaster City drives with a 2.4-liter, 4-cylinder engine, and can be loaded down to 1,886 pounds. It also has a nine-speed automatic transmission. Owners love how reliable and long-lasting the engine is.

One level up from the basic cargo van model, or the SLT, gets you a van that needs oil changes every 10,000 miles, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, cruise control and heated seats.

The best feature of this nimble van? The walls at the back are nearly vertical, which means it’s very easy to convert DIY. However, it’s not available in 4WD drive and doesn’t come with a diesel option.

Click here to learn more about the Promaster City.

If you’d like to get it converted professionally, you’re spoiled for choice. Opt for Contravans, Cascade, Voyage Campervans, Craft Autoworks or Kuku Campers.

4) Nissan NV 200 Compact Cargo Van

  • Price: $22,000-$23,000
  • Cargo Volume: 122 cubic feet
  • Estimated Combined MPG: 25
  • Exterior Length: 186 inches
  • Exterior Height: 74 inches
  • Exterior Width: 68 inches
  • Interior Headroom: 41.7 inches
This Nissan NV 200 camper is available for rent on Outdoorsy

The Nissan NV 200 is an affordable small camper van for sale with great gas mileage, built for easy maneuvering in a city. The van does fall short in cargo space compared to the Metris, Ford Transit Connect and Promaster City.

Some van lifers managed to fit a hidden portable toilet in their own builds.

The NV 200 has less power than its competitors with a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine. This makes it perfect for van lifers who intend to travel long-distance regularly.

The Nissan NV 200 small camper van only has a maximum payload of 1,480 pounds, so keep that in mind when planning out your DIY campervan build. Make this van too heavy and it won’t perform as well.

The benefit of this van is that it’s the cheapest of this group of vans.

You can get your hands on a used one for as little as $15,000. Want to invest in a professional conversion? Take a look at Recon Campers, Contravans, GTRV, Caravan Outfitter and Apex Vans.

5) Toyota Sienna AWD Small Camper Van For Sale

  • Price: $34,710-$42,250
  • Cargo Volume: 101 cubic feet
  • Estimated Combined MPG: 22 mpg gas / 35 mpg hybrid
  • Exterior Length: 204 inches
  • Exterior Height: 69 – 70 inches
  • Exterior Width: 79 inches
  • Interior Headroom: 40.1 inches in the 1st row; 39.9 inches in the 2nd row; 37.4 inches in the 3rd row
This Toyota Sienna camper is available for rent on Outdoorsy

The Toyota Sienna is a popular mini camper van as its one of the only brand new vans available with All-Wheel-Drive. This is one of the best camper vans to take boondocking as you won’t have to worry so much about sand, snow and mud.

The Sienna is also super reliable, which makes it cheap to maintain and durable. You won’t risk getting stuck in the desert with an engine problem.

To boot, the Toyota Sienna is bigger than some of the top cargo vans we mentioned above. Check this out:

The Toyota Sienna is 16′, 8″ long and 6.5′ wide.

The Ford Transit Connect is 14′, 5″ long and 7′ wide.

The Ram Promaster City is  15′,5″ long and  6′ wide.

The large side sliding door makes it very easy to nip in and out of the van, which is great for those days when you set up a little outdoor living room under the side awning.

The back seats are very easy to remove, so you can convert this minivan yourself, saving a lot of cash on the build.

Finally, the flat roof allows you to install multiple solar panels to generate electricity anywhere. If you’re interested in a Toyota Sienna custom build, check out Oasis campervans and Contravans.

6) Chevy Astro Small Campervan

  • Price: $2,000-6,000
  • Cargo Volume: 170 cubic feet
  • Exterior Length: 189.8 inches
  • Exterior Height: 75 inches
  • Exterior Width: 78 inches
  • Estimated Combined MPG: 15
  • Interior Headroom: 39 inches in the front; 38 inches in the rear
Chevy Astro small campervan in front of Vermillion Cliffs
Me and my beloved Chevy Astro small camper van

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my beloved Chevy Astro van in this list of small camper vans for van life.

I purchased this Astro conversion van with only 57,000 miles for just $6,000 on Craiglist and made a few modifications to make it completely off-grid. Two of us sleep in this extremely affordable camper van by reclining the back seats into a campervan bed, and I purchased two footstools from TJ Maxx to extend the bed.

We wanted a conversion van due to the higher fiberglass roof. Typical Astros have a low roof, and are much cheaper, like $2,000 or less.

I love how reliable this van is – it never lets us down. We converted it slowly over a couple of years, making quick and easy modifications as and when we needed them. We now have a Mercedes Sprinter van, but have the Chevy Astro in storage and bring it to Mexico when we drive to our sailboat.

Here’s what I added to my van to make it off-road and off-grid ready:

7) Mitsubishi Delica

  • Price: $10,000-12,000
  • Cargo Volume: not specified
  • Exterior Length: 189.8 inches
  • Exterior Width: 70.67 inches
  • Exterior Height: 75 inches
  • Estimated Average MPG: 28
  • Interior Headroom: 48 inches

Looking for something quirkier? Check out the Mitsubishi Delica. It’s a mid-90s Japanese classic minibus that’s tough and reliable, as well as affordable.

The Delica comes with 4WD drive. It’s very small, which means you can easily find parking even in cities, but with a high clearance, which allows you to venture off-road.

This van transports 8 people and the seats fold flat, allowing you to keep them mounted. While driving the Delica is easy, thanks to its size, you will need to do it on the wrong side as these beauties have all been imported directly from Japan. Also, bear in mind that the interior height is only 51.8 inches.

Given that this van hasn’t been manufactured in the U.S., there aren’t companies that specialize in professional conversions. You can, however, adapt some of the smaller conversion kits available on the market. Think of QuQuQ Box and Egoe Nest. If you’d like something more permanent, you will need to take the time to carry out a DIY conversion.

8) Honda Element Small Camper Van

  • Price: $3,500-$7,000
  • Cargo Volume: 130 cubic feet (with seats removed)
  • Exterior Length: 170 inches
  • Exterior Width: 72 inches
  • Exterior Height: 70 inches
  • Estimated Average MPG: 22
  • Interior Headroom: 43 inches at highest point
This Honda Element camper is available for rent on Outdoorsy

The Honda Element is a cult SUV camper popular among van lifers all over the U.S. The model was discontinued in 2011, yet more and more people have decided to convert used ones into campers in the last few years.

It’s easy to recognize, thanks to its boxy shape and the unusual bi-parting doors. The design is based on a lifeguard station. Yet, it looks just like a car, making it very stealthy.

Buying a used Honda Element is super economical – some models are as cheap as $3,499. It also comes in four-wheel drive, so you can also take it on some fun off-road adventures. Unlike other minivans, the cab of the Element is quite tall, which means you can get changed inside without having to sit down. Sitting up in bed is comfortable, too.

There are no companies that carry out professional conversions for the Honda Element. However, you can check out Ursa Minor, Fifth Element Camping, Freeway Camper Kit for conversion kits.

9) VW Eurovan Camper

  • Price: $10,000-24,000
  • Cargo Volume: 166.6 cubic feet
  • Exterior Length: 188.5 inches
  • Exterior Width: 72.4 inches
  • Exterior Height: 76.4 inches
  • Estimated Average MPG: 20
  • Interior Headroom: 41.3 inches
This VW Eurovan camper is available for rent on Outdoorsy

Nothing is more iconic than a VW Eurovan Camper. If you’re in love with these little jewels, there are lots of used and fairly cheap ones for sale on the market.

The gas mileage is exceptional, so it’s ideal for long trips around the country. The weak point of the VW Eurovan is the automatic transmission – it can give problems. When you start looking at potential vans, it’s a good idea to research a vehicle’s history and even ask a mechanic to come check it out with you.

The Eurovan came out of the factory as a camper (Volkswagen teamed up with Winnebago to build them) and has been out of production since 2003, so there aren’t any companies who specialize in converting them. However, you can either spruce up the old interior or replace it completely. It’s up to you.

The floorplan typically included a stove, a sink and a couch that turned into a bed. Some models even had a pop top, offering a lot more interior room. Whether you keep things exactly as they were intended to be or change them completely, this little bus makes for an excellent camper.

More VW models have been imported into the U.S. over the years – the Combi, the Westfalia and the Splittie. These are rarer to find and can cost a little more, but you can find them with a little patience.

10) Dodge Grand Caravan Mini Camper

  • Price: from $27,290, new
  • Cargo Volume: 140 cubic feet with seats removed
  • Estimated Combined MPG: 20 
  • Exterior Length: 189 inches
  • Exterior Height: 69 inches
  • Exterior Width: 79 inches
  • Interior Headroom: 39.3 inches
This Dodge Grand Caravan is available for rent on Outdoorsy

If you prefer the lower profile of a minivan, check out the Dodge Grand Caravan. While it looks like a car, it’s very long, offering plenty of legroom for sleeping.

It can sit up to 7 people and the size is impressive. It has a total length of 202.8 inches, 78.8 inches of width and a height of 67.9 inches. You can easily fit a double bed and a kitchen. The rear hatchback door allows you to cook at the back of the vehicle.

The Dodge Grand Caravan is an extremely well-liked car and camper with a long production history. For this reason, it’s easy to find replacement parts. However, it can be difficult to find a used one for sale.

For the same reasons, it holds its value well – in case you’re thinking of buying one for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure and then go back to normal life.

To convert the Grand Caravan, check out Oasis Campervans, Roadloft and VanPackers.

To get $100 off your Roadloft order, use the coupon code TWH100.

11) Honda Odyssey Mini Camper Van

  • Price: from $33,040, new
  • Cargo Volume: 141 cubic feet with seats removed
  • Estimated Combined MPG: 22
  • Exterior Length: 205 inches
  • Exterior Height: 70 inches
  • Exterior Width: 79 inches
  • Interior Headroom: 40.7 inches in the front; 39.5 inches in the middle; 38.3 inches in the rear
campervan honda odyssey rental outdoorsy
This campervan is available for rent on Outdoorsy.

The Honda Odyssey is another popular small but spacious minivan. With a 205.2-inches length, this vehicle is suitable for taller van lifers, too.

One drawback is that to convert the Odyssey into a camper you need to remove a row of seats to obtain a flat sleeping surface. So if you plan to turn your car into a camper at the weekend, it can take a little bit of time.

It’s also reliable and long-lasting, which makes it easy and economical to maintain. However, it doesn’t hold its value well. Opt for a used one.

If you like the look of the Honda Odyssey, you can choose among 4 companies which produce conversion kits: RoadLoft, Freeway Camper Kit and Ququq. For a full professional build, look up Oasis Campervans.

To get $100 off your Roadloft order, use the coupon code TWH100.

12) Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Mini Camper

  • Price: from $27,541 to $56,998
  • Cargo Volume: 140 cubic feet
  • Estimated Combined MPG: 22 
  • Exterior Length: 204 inches
  • Exterior Height: 70–71 inches
  • Exterior Width: 80 inches
  • Interior Headroom: 40.1 inches
This Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid is available for rent on Outdoorsy

An alternative to the Honda Odyssey is the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid. It’s a 7-seater minivan which looks very similar and has nearly identical measurements. As such, it’s fantastic for stealth camping.

To make the most out of the space available, many van lifers create a bed platform as big as possible and fit drawers underneath it, so they can slide out at the back of the car.

The advantage of the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid is that two rows of seats fold down perfectly flat into built-in floor storage. This allows you to keep the minivan set up as a car all the time.

However, some people claim it isn’t very reliable. Some have issues with failing transmission lines. So it’s very important you get a used one checked by a professional before buying it.

Conversion kits for the Pacifica are available from Road Loft and Freeway Camper Kit.

To get $100 off your Roadloft order, use the coupon code TWH100.

13) Kia Sedona Micro RV

  • Price: $16,000 – $43,000
  • Cargo Volume: 142 cubic feet
  • Estimated Combined MPG: 21
  • Exterior Length: 201.4 inches
  • Exterior Height: 68.5 inches
  • Exterior Width: 89.3 inches
  • Interior Headroom: 39.8 inches in the front; 39.4 inches in the second row; 38.9 inches in the third row

If you’re looking for an affordable minivan that’s great to drive, look no further than the Kia Sedona. It’s cheaper than luxury vans like the Dodge Grand Caravan and super easy to convert, as the seats are easily removable. The interior headroom is modest, as it is with most minivans, but the it’s not much less than that of similar, more costly vehicles.

Inside the Kia Sedona there’s enough space to install a platform bed, a small table, and a portable toilet. You can create a simple conversion like the one above by Hayley and Kevin, or buy a kit from Road Loft, Freeway Camper Kit, Home On Wheels or Compass Campers.

14) Kia Carnival Mini Camper

  • Price: from $34,565, new
  • Cargo Volume: 145.1 cubic feet
  • Estimated Combined MPG: 22 
  • Exterior Length: 202.95 inches
  • Exterior Height: 69.88 inches
  • Exterior Width: 78.54 inches
  • Interior Headroom: 40.9 inches in the front; 39.5 inches in the middle; 38.6 inches in the rear

The Kia Carnival is a versatile minivan with generous interior space. It’s easy to drive, cheap to run and provides a comfortable ride when fully loaded. The back seats recline or fold down and are easily removable, so you have different options for your conversion.

New Kia Carnivals come with an in-built sunshade and a quiet cabin, which make sleeping inside it a comfy affair.

Conversion kits for the Kia Carnival are available at Road Loft, Oasis Campervans, Van Packers, and Simpler Ways. Add a pop top with Unicamp.

15) Toyota Rav4 Campervan

  • Price: from $28,275
  • Cargo Volume: 69.8 cubic feet with the seats folded
  • Estimated Combined MPG: 27
  • Exterior Length: 180.9 inches
  • Exterior Height: 67 inches
  • Exterior Width: 73 inches
  • Interior Headroom: 37.7 inches

The Toyota Rav4 is a popular SUV camper that can turn into a great minimalist camper van for a solo adventurer. If you get a 4×4 model, you will be able to travel pretty much anywhere.

Simply remove the back seats and install a sleeping platform in the back. You’ll probably need to build an extension which you can flip at night by moving the front passenger seat forward. Next to it, you will be able to store your camping gear. There isn’t a huge amount of cargo space inside a Rav4, so you’ll probably need to add a roof storage box to your setup.

If you’re looking for a ready-to-install conversion kit, Freeway Camper Kit and SimplerWays make nice ones.

16) Jeep Grand Cherokee Tiny Campervan

  • Price: from $40,000 new / from $3,000 used
  • Cargo Volume: 70.8 cubic feet with the seats folded
  • Estimated Combined MPG: 21
  • Exterior Length: 189 inches
  • Exterior Height: 68 inches
  • Exterior Width: 77 inches
  • Interior Headroom: 39.4 inches

The Jeep Grand Cherokee has been around forever, so if you’re looking to buy an affordable SUV to convert into a small camper, it makes for a smart choice. Finding replacement parts for this vehicle is pretty easy and most mechanics will have fixed one before.

There isn’t a huge amount of room inside, but you can easily fit a platform bed with a slide-out kitchen at the back.

Freeway Camper Kit make a nice conversion kit for the Grande Cherokee.

For more SUV camper ideas, check out this article.

More Vehicles That Make For Great Small Camper Vans

There is a huge amount of vehicles out there which you can easily turn into the small camper of your dreams. We couldn’t list them all, so we compiled a list to help you look more of them up.

Here they are:

  • Buick Enclave and Enivision
  • BMW X3
  • Cadillac SRX, XT5, XT6, Equinox, Blazer and Traverse
  • Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban
  • Dodge Journey
  • Ford Escape, Aerostar and Edge
  • GMC Acadia, Terrain, Yukon and Yukon XL
  • Hyundai Santa Fe and Santa Fe PHEV, Tucson, Palisade and Ioniq 5
  • Honda CRV and HRV
  • Kia Sorento, Niro EV, Telluride, Seltos and Sportage
  • Lexus RX and GX
  • Lincoln MKX and Nautilus
  • Mazda CX-5
  • Nissan Murano, Rogue and Armada
  • Subaru Crosstrek, Outback, Forester, Ascent and Solterra
  • Tesla Model X
  • Toyota Highlander
  • Volkswagen Touareg and Tiguan.

Conversion Kits for Small Campervans

Once you’ve chosen a model, it’s time to think about your conversion. The most affordable and quick option is to buy a conversion kit.

This is made of one or more modular units which are built in a factory and shipped out to you (or installed by the producers at the factory). You can then install them onto your van using just a few tools. Opting for a conversion kit will save you both time and money.

Let’s look at the companies which offer conversion kits for small campervans.

1) Roadloft – From $4,490 CAD

Roadloft's Dodge Grand Caravan conversion kit has platform bed with long drawer storage underneath and table in front
Photo Credit: Roadloft

Roadloft is based in Canada (Quebec) but also delivers conversion kits for small vans across the U.S.

There are 4 units you can buy: a double bed, a bench and table, a tailgate kitchen and a “group travel” option. The last one allows you to keep two back seats. Their kits can be installed in just five minutes and no permanent modifications are required.

Roadloft kits are compatible with:

  • Dodge Grand Caravan
  • Chrysler Town and Country
  • Chrysler Pacifica and Grand Caravan
  • Toyota Sienna
  • Honda Odyssey
  • Kia Sedona
  • Kia Carnival
  • Ford Transit Connect
  • Nissan NV200

When ordering your kit, you need to specify which vehicle you will fit it into. Based on this, the guys at Roadloft will produce a kit that fits your van. To find out more, head to the Roadloft website.

To get $100 off your Roadloft order, use the coupon code TWH100.

2) Wayfarer Vans – From $5,580

wayfarer vans kit
Photo Credit: Wayfarer Vans

Did you choose a Ram Promaster City? Wayfarer Vans specialize in converting Ram Promasters into campers. Their Wally kit fits perfectly in the Promaster City.

It’s a very clever modular kit made out of plywood boxes, which together form a sleeping platform. When you open them, some act as storage while others as a kitchen. The kit also includes a fold-up table.

More information is available on the Wayfarer Vans website.

3) Freeway Camper Kit – From $1,249

freeway camper kit
Photo Credit: Freeway Camper Kit

Freeway Camper Kit is a minivan and SUV conversion specialist also based in Quebec. Their kits include a dinette which turns into a bed, a slide out kitchen compartment for the rear of the camper and storage.

You can order your kit with a number of add-ons, such as a foldable mattress, a sink, a solar generator, a running water system and more.

The guys produce specific kits for these vehicles:

  • Dodge Grand Caravan
  • Toyota Sienna
  • Honda Element
  • Honda Odyssey
  • LWB Ford Transit Connect
  • Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid
  • Bounty Hunter Compact

They also build 6 generic kits, which are suitable for different minivan models. These can fit in a number of minivans, which are listed on each kit’s page.

Not sure whether you want to buy one of their kits yet? Rent one for a trip to put it to the test.

Check out the Freeway Camper Kit website for more information.

4) VanLab – From $4,750

vanlab camper conversion kits
Photo Credit: VanLab

VanLab is the Ikea of camper conversion kits. They deliver your kit in flat packaging, together with all the tools you need to install it and detailed instructions. They produce two small kits – one for the Nissan NV200 and one for the Chevy City Express.

Both include a kitchen with a flip-out table and two benches, which turn into a bed. To this, you can add an integrated electrical system. Order yours for delivery or get it installed in Simi Valley, California, for an additional $850.

Check out Van Lab Conversion Kits here.

5) Egoe Nest – From $2,666

egoe nest camper kit
Photo Credit: Egoe Nest

Based in the Czech Republic with dealers all over the world, Egoe Nest produces conversion systems for cars and vans. The Egoe Nest Box comes in three sizes – compact, medium and large. They include a sleeping platform and a kitchen with the space to add a fridge.

All the details are available on the Egoe Nest website.

6) Fifth Element Campers – From $4,995

fifth element campers
Photo Credit: Fifth Element Campers

Fifth Element Campers, based in Asheville (North Carolina), specialize in Honda Element conversions. 

The complete installation takes about 10 minutes and doesn’t involve any permanent vehicle modifications. The standard package includes a bench which turns into a bed, a cabinet with a pull-out table, a console and a kitchen with a side table.

You don’t have to buy the full package, though. Simply choose the components you like and order them to be shipped to you.

Find out more on the Fifth Element Campers website.

7) California Custom Vans – From $3,600

california custom vans
Photo Credit: California Custom Vans

If you’re looking for a full custom kit, check out California Custom Vans. They can work on a variety of small vehicles to deliver a built-to-order DIY conversion kit handmade from sustainable timber.

More information is available on the California Custom Vans website.

8) Trail Kitchens – From $1,995

trail kitchens
Photo Credit: Trail Kitchens

Trail Kitchens build kitchens, chuck boxes, camping sinks and portable showers in aluminum. Most units can be quickly removed and used outside. The Minivan Camper Kitchen fits many minivan models and offers a spacious and practical surface to cook at the back of your van.

Check out the Trail Kitchens website for more details.

9) Unicamp USA – From $4,000

If you have a Kia Carnival which you’d like to turn into a small camper, you can get a rad professional conversion with Unicamp USA. They specialize in turning the Kia Carnival into a mini RV.

If the space inside your Carnival is enough, you can opt for a standard kit with a platform bed and a slide-out kitchen. If you’d rater have a separate bedroom, you can install a pop top. This will create an extra bed, as well as more headroom for getting changed (or go to the bathroom) inside the car.

You will find more details on the Unicamp USA website.

Van Conversion Companies That Work on Small Vans

Small camper vans have become more and more popular as people have decided they don’t need a big vehicle to get on the road and experience adventure. For this reason, there are now a number of companies which specialize in converting small vans into campers.

If you are set on turning your vehicle into a camper to use on a regular basis and don’t mind waiting, a professional conversion is perfect for you. You won’t have to lift a finger – just bring your van to the warehouse and pick it up as a camper to go camping that same night.

1) Contravans – Pricing Available on Request

This Nissan NV200 is available for rent on Outdoorsy

Colorado-based company Contravans carry out custom conversions for many van models, including the Mercedes Metris, the Nissan NV200, the Ford Transit Connect and the Ram Promaster City. They maximize the space into each vehicle to fit a kitchen and dinette.

Head to the Contravans website to find out more.

2) Paved to Pines – Pricing Available on Request

Paved to Pines are based in Canada but do camper builds for US clients, too. They work on Transit Connects and Mercedes Metris, but it’s worth getting in touch to see if they will outfit your vehicle. Their conversions look modern and cozy.

Find out more on the Paved to Pines website.

3) Van Specialties – Pricing Available on Request

Van Specialities are based in Oregon and while they typically focus on Sprinters, Transits and Ram Promasters, they also convert almost any vehicle, including smaller vans and vintage or classic models.

More information is available on the Van Specialties website.

4) Ursa Minor – From $7,000

Ursa Minor is a camper production company based in San Diego (California) with a second HQ in Portland (Oregon). The guys convert the Honda Element and the LWB Ford Transit Connect.

They can add a pop-top sleeper, rack systems and USB, 60watt solar charging system or 12V outlets and lighting in the tent. Each conversion includes a mattress. The cab will be left untouched, so you can either convert it DIY or buy a conversion kit to add a kitchen and dinette.

Find out more on the Ursa Minor website.

5) Oasis Campervans – From $8,390

This Mercedes Metris is available for rent on Outdoorsy

Based in Colorado, Oasis Campervans create professional conversions on various models of minivans. These come in standard or luxury packages, so they’re a little cheaper than those of the competition.

Want more info? Check out the Oasis Campervans website.

6) Peace Vans – Pricing Available on Request

Based in Seattle, Washington, Peace Vans specialize in converting the Mercedes Metris into a camper with a pop top. You can choose between a Full Camper with two beds and a kitchen, a Weekender with a platform bed, and a pop top.

Fid out more about Peace Vans.

7) GTRV – Pricing Available on Request

The guys at California-based GTRV convert the Mercedes Metris, Toyota Sienna and Nissan NV 200 into small campers. They also do custom work, if you like the look of their work.

Check out the GTRV website for more details.

8) Keystone Coachworks – From $11,399

Want to convert a Metris? If you live in or around Oregon, check out Keystone Coachworks. They specialize in converting the Metris into a micro RV with a pop top, kitchen, electrical system, shore power and much more.

Find more information on the Keystone Coachworks website.

9) Cascade Campers – Pricing Available on Request

This Promaster City is available for rent on Outdoorsy

Cascade Campers turn the Ram Promaster City into a mini RV with all the comforts you need. They can fit a bench bed, indoor kitchen with a fridge and storage cabinets in this little van. If you’re only interested in the kitchen unit, you can buy the pod for $1,950 and install it yourself. They ship it all over the US from California.

Check out their work on their website.

10) Craft Autoworks – Pricing available on request

Craft Autoworks create a similar conversion for the Promaster City with a pop top in Reno, Nevada. This allows you to use the cargo space as a kitchen and living room area, creating a lot more living space in the back of the vehicle.

Take a look at the Craft Autoworks conversions.

11) Recon Campers – From $21,500

Recon Campers convert the Nissan NV 200 into a full camper by installing a pop top, electrical system, butane stove, kitchen with fridge and sink, storage drawers and much more.

Check out the packages available at Recon Campers on their website.

12) Caravan Outfitters – Pricing Available on Request

The guys at Caravan Outfitters transform the Mercedes Metris and the Ford Transit Connect into homes on wheels. Their conversions are pretty much custom made, so you can add a huge amount of gear to your rig. You can find them in Edmonds, Washington.

Get more information on the Caravan Outfitters website.

13) Apex Vans – Pricing Available on Request

If you own a Nissan NV 200, you can get a custom conversion done at Apex Vans, who work out of Massachusetts. Their rig includes a 42 inches by 74 inches platform bed, which turns into a bench, and a kitchen with a sink and cooler.

Take a look at The Gateway – their NV 200 camper conversion – here.

DIY Small Camper Design Inspiration

Here are our favorite small camper van DIY conversions. Some are elaborate and sport a lot of useful gear; others are basic and feature no furniture whatsoever.

Whatever your budget and skills, you can create a rig that will take you on some fun adventures.

1) Nissan NV 200 DIY small camper van

This Italian couple chose to install a couch bed and a kitchenette in their Nissan NV 200 because they travel full-time and need a cozy, warm space where to chill out.

2) DIY Mercedes Metris camper

Marty and Spin went all out on their Mercedes Metris design. They built a bench bed with cabinetry next to it and a kitchenette attached to the rear doors.

3) Ford Transit Connect Full Camper

How cozy does this Ford Transit Connect DIY conversion look like? Inside it, there’s a gorgeous tiny kitchen next to an L-shaped couch, which turns into a bed. We love how Evan, the owner, lined all walls with beautiful wood.

4) No-tools Dodge Grand Caravan Camper

Have no tools and don’t want to spend a lot of time learning how to build your own furniture? This Dodge Grand Caravan conversion proves that you can still build a practical DIY rig by placing your favorite bits of gear in your minivan.

5) No-build Chrysler Pacifica Campervan

You don’t need to build or install anything in your minivan to go camping in it, though. Look at how Tristan converted his sister’s borrowed Chrysler Pacifica into a weekender by simply placing all his camping gear inside it.

Conclusion on Small Cargo Vans for a Camper Conversion

If you’re looking for a small van to convert into a DIY camper , there are plenty of choices on the market. Whether you choose a cargo van or a passenger van is up to you and depends on the type of campervan build you want.

Also, keep in mind that you could buy a car camping conversion kit to turn your small cargo van into a camper. Then you don’t have to do everything yourself!

The Mercedes Metris van has the most amount of interior space, but is also the most expensive at $26,000-$ 34,000. On the other side of the spectrum, the Nissan NV200 is cheapest at $22,000-$23,000 with the least amount of cargo space for a van build. Then of course there are popular older SUVs, like the Jeep Grand Cherokee, which can cost as little as $4,000. No matter your budget, you will be able to find the right vehicle for your needs.

All of these small camper vans have their positives and negatives, so you’ll have to read through the specs to determine what’s best for you.

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  6. Motion Windows says:

    Excellent explanation, it’s simple & focus.

  7. Boat Windows says:

    Best of luck with the following! Thanks for sharing a smart thought.

  8. RV Windows says:

    Stunning, Thanks for the excellent outline

  9. Barbara O'Brien says:

    Great intro to small camper vans. I hate to go with a Mercedes, so expensive to maintain, and some of the American models I question reliability. Keep updating, I feel that the camper van meets my needs for simplicity. Wish there were more pop ups in the small van category.

    1. Kristin Hanes says:

      Hey Barbara! I am super jealous about all the amazing small campervans offered in Europe that aren’t available here! What a shame!

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  16. Kenneth Sprague says:

    Hi, just came across this site looking for some sort of inexpensive live in van etc… Hello There , I’m pleased to happen upon you. Ideas are the beginning and though IV many your perspective is a welcome !
    Thanks Kristin for sharing your research. (Good work)
    Ken Sprague

  17. Bill Hollingsworth says:

    Dear Kristin Hanes: Bravos and bouquets for your superb look at the top 6 tiny vans for living the van life. My wife is 82, and I am 84 with much-diminished physical strength and agility. Do any of the 6 vans strike you as easier or harder to enter and exit the front seat area and the living area — and to make it up to the bed — than are the others? Am thinking that strong handrails would be a must. We’d deeply appreciate any thoughts.

  18. Bill Hollingsworth says:

    Dear Kristin Hanes: A follow-up issue to my prior message of today: Do any of
    the top 6 tiny vans include a toilet? If not, I’m wondering how much larger a camper we’d need. Would deeply appreciate any recommendations. Given that my wife and I are to be the only campers, we are favoring a van as small as reasonably feasible. All best, Bill

  19. Jenn Garden says:

    Although I mentioned this in my reply to Bill, in case someone doesn’t read my long winded answer, another DIY camper kit is River Leaf which is not mentioned here, although two which are harder to order as they are based in Euorpe, Ququq (they have a headquarters here but the correspondence is all from Europe) and Egoe Nest which doesn’t show how to order it from the Czech Republic. River Leaf is not only made in the U.S. but so confident they are of their product they offer a full refund if you are not happy with it.

  20. Darsha Doran says:

    We are planning on driving from Tucson, AZ to Rochester, NY twice a year. We need a vehicle that will hold 2 people, 2 dogs and 3 cats. There needs to be room to keep the dogs and cats apart. One dog intensely dislikes the cats. We need room but probably will not do much, if any, sleeping in the vehicle. We would like to be able to leave the cats in a large kennel and if possible not have to take them into a hotel. What vehicle would you suggest? Thank you for any info you can provide.

    1. Kristin Hanes says:

      Hey Darsha! I’d suggest a larger van like a Ford Transit or Dodge Promaster. You can add a platform bed with a separate area for the kitties beneath. The dogs can hang out in the other part of the van.

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