It’s easy to dream about a gorgeous Sprinter van conversion, ripe with all the bells and whistles you need to live the van life. Sprinter camper vans are good-looking, hardy and roomy – and get great fuel mileage – the perfect rig for immersing yourself in nature.
But are Sprinter van campers really worth the cost? A brand new Mercedes Sprinter van costs anywhere between $38,000 and $56,000, and that’s without the camper conversion.
What’s all the fuss about anyway?
In this article, we hope to give you as much information as possible about Sprinter van campers so you can make an educated choice about your camper van conversion.
What is a Sprinter Van?
You may have noticed a variety of Sprinter camper vans when you’re driving down the street, eyeing up what could be your next DIY camper van.
There’s Dodge, Mercedes and Freightliner Sprinters – so, what’s the difference?
There isn’t any. These are all Mercedes vans.
That factory put the vans back together as “American made” vans. The Sprinters were branded as Dodge between 2001 and 2007.
Then in 2007, Chrysler Split off from Daimler and Dodge Sprinters went away. From there on out, they’re either branded Freightliner Sprinters or Mercedes Sprinters.
Most recently, Mercedes-Benz announced it will finally start manufacturing Mercedes Sprinter vans in the United States. In 2016, the company broke ground on a new $500 million facility in South Carolina to build its commercial vans.
All 2019 Sprinter vans and newer will be made in the U.S.A.
Sprinter Van Cost: How Much You Might Spend on a Sprinter Van Conversion
Of all the larger panel vans, Sprinter vans are the most expensive vans to turn into a Sprinter conversion.
Here are the base prices you’ll expect to pay for a low-roof 2WD Sprinter van:
Adding the high-roof option and 4×4 adds a significant amount to the base price.
- $51,000 for a high-roof 144″ wheelbase 4×4 Sprinter cargo van
- $55,000 for a high-roof 155″ wheelbase Sprinter crew van (more windows)
Prices also vary significantly by dealership. I recently priced out a crew cab 144″ high roof Sprinter van for $66,000.
Then, you’ll still have to build out the Sprinter van conversion, which can cost anywhere from $10,000 for a DIY build, to $50,000-$100,000 for a custom build.
As you can see, the Sprinter van cost can get pretty high when you’re looking to build a Sprinter camper van.
How To Pick the Right Sprinter Van for a Camper Conversion
A Mercedes Benz Sprinter van comes in a wide variety of lengths, heights, power trains, options and classes.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing a Sprinter for a DIY campervan conversion.
A Mercedes Sprinter cargo van comes in three lengths: 144″, 170″ and 170″ extended.
Crew vans come in just two lenghts: 144″ ande 170″.
Which length you choose for your Sprinter van conversion comes down to how much room you want.
The 144″ wheelbase is easier to drive and maneuver. If you’re into a lot of overlanding, you’ll want a shorter wheelbase. This van has a living space that’s 11′ long by 6′ wide.
The 170″ Sprinter van offers a lot more room inside. You may want to choose a longer van if you plan on having a bathroom in your van and extra sitting room. This van’s living space is 5′ long and 6′ wide.
There are two different height options with Sprinter vans: Standard and High.
You won’t be able to fully stand up with a Standard roof van, but benefits include better handling in wind and off-roading.
If you go with a Standard (low) roof van, you can add a pop top for extra sleeping space.
High roof vans are the most popular if you’re living the van life. These allow you to completely stand, which is great for cooking, getting dressed and hanging out.
There are also several types of Mercedes vans you can turn into a Sprinter van conversion: Cargo, Crew and Passenger.
Cargo vans are the most popular to turn into a camper as they’re a blank slate. You can add windows to your liking and you won’t have to remove seats like you would with the passenger van.The cargo van option is the most affordable off the lot as well.
If you want more windows, you may want to go with a crew van.
We don’t really recommend passenger vans for a camper van conversion as you’d have to remote too many interior components to make room for your build.
Mercedes Sprinter vans have several power train options: 4-Cylinder Gas, 4-Cylinder Diesel, 6-Cylinder Diesel and 6-Cylinder 4×4 Diesel.
The 2WD option will give you better gas mileage.
The diesel engines last longer, and the 4×4 option gives you more traction for snow, ice, sand and off-roading. Keep in mind that a 4×4 power train will reduce your gas mileage.
You have to decide how you’ll use the Sprinter van conversion and choose the power train accordingly.
The bottom line….
Go to dealerships and spend some time walking around and exploring the various Sprinter cargo vans. Test drive a few, and renting a Sprinter van is a great way to try one out before you buy.
Where to Buy a Sprinter Van
It can be tough to locate a Sprinter van, especially if you want a certain model like the 4×4 high-roof Sprinter crew van. Sometimes you’ll need to order one and wait months to pick it up.
Here are a few places to look for a Sprinter van for sale:
- Facebook Marketplace
- Auto Trader
- Sprinter van Facebook groups
- Sprinter van conversion companies (they will usually help you source the van if they’re building it out)
- Sprinter Vans of Utah
Once you have an idea of what you want, you can consider a buying a new vs. used Sprinter van.
There are tons of used vans out there, and some people rave about the Dodge Sprinter vans being some of the most reliable for van life.
Sydney Ferbrache of Divine on the Road wanted to find a good deal on a Sprinter van camper. She searched the internet, used Gar Gurus, Carfax and Autotrader to find just the right Mercedes van.
“I was honestly just on a mission to find a Sprinter van with less than 100,000 miles that was also under $20,000,” said Sydney. “We just happened to find the Mercedes van that fit the criteria and had it shipped from Virginia.”
Sydney ended up with a 2011 Mercedes Sprinter with a 144″ wheelbase. She didn’t want the longer Sprinter (170″ wheelbase), because she wanted to easily fit into a parking spot.
Sometimes, you just have to look around until you find the right van. Click here to check out the various Sprinter van options on the market now.
Looking for a smaller camper? Check out the Mercedes Metris camper conversion.
Sprinter Van Conversion Pros and Cons
Here’s a list of positives:
There’s a lot to think about when deciding if you should go with a Mercedes Sprinter van for your camper van conversion.
- Great M.P.G. The diesel engine on a Mercedes Sprinter camper van means it gets better MPG than similar-sized vans. Some report MPG in the high 20s, which is amazing for a large van.
- Reliability. The Mercedes Sprinter is known to be a reliable, hardy van
- Loads of interior space. A good amount of interior space is critical to a comfortable camper van conversion, and the Mercedes van fits the bill perfectly.
- They’re an asset. The value of Sprinter camper vans doesn’t go down all that much, so if you need to sell, it won’t be as big of a hit to your wallet.
- Easy to maneuver. A Sprinter van conversion is surprisingly easy to maneuver given its size, and can easily navigate city streets.
- 4×4 capabilities. If you’re looking to do off-roading or overlapping in your Mercedes Sprinter camper van, you have the option of a 4×4 Sprinter van camper
Here are the main negatives:
- Cost. Many think Sprinter camper vans are cost-prohibitive. New ones are in the $40,000-range, and used ones are also high-priced for a used vehicle.
- Maintenance. The Mercedes Sprinter camper van has a lot of proprietary technology that can only be worked on at a Mercedes dealership. Some Freightliner mechanics will work on a Sprinter van, but the cost of maintenance will be higher than other vans
- 4×4 Gas Mileage: While gas mileage is good on 2WD models, the 4×4 power train reduces gas mileage significantly. Some report MPG in the 12-15 range for a fully-loaded Sprinter van conversion
Sprinter Van Conversion: The DIY Approach
Buying an empty van and buildling your own Sprinter van camper is the cheapest and most time-consuming approach.
However, there are some really good resources to help you out.
The Sprinter RV Conversion Sourcebook
Learn how to build your own van with this detailed van build sourcebook. While the title reflects Sprinter vans, the concepts can be used on any DIY campervan conversion. You'll learn design considerations, how to plumb your van, choosing solar panels, installing water tanks and electrical and wiring systems. A great resource!
Well worth the money, The Sprinter RV Conversion Sourcebook is the ultimate Sprinter van conversion resource. You’ll learn not only how to select the best Sprinter year and model for your needs, but also how to tackle every aspect of the conversion, from electrical, to plumbing, to solar, to toilets.
You’ll find 222 pages of details in the Sprinter RV Conversion Sourcebook pdf, including charts, lists, photos, and descriptions to help you design and build your own campervan from scratch.
Van Build: A Complete DIY Guide
This book guides you through every step in your DIY van build, from choosing a van, to designing the layout, to plumbing and electrical systems, to self-building your new dream home — all in as little as 21 days. You'll find 222 pages of details, including charts, lists, photos, and descriptions to help you design and build your own campervan from scratch.
If you’re determined to convert your Sprinter van but don’t know a table saw from a hacksaw, Ben and Georgia Raffis’ excellent book could be all you’ll need! The authors stress that they built their dream van having never touched many of the tools they ended up using, and that zero skills or experience shouldn’t stop you from embarking on a DIY Sprinter van conversion.
Van Build walks you through every step of how to build a campervan, including how to design the layout, and how to successfully plumb and wire your campervan.
Thanks to Ben and Georgia’s exhaustive research, you should be able to save a lot of time, and the latest version of the book includes a ton of vanlife community feedback on gas systems, bed options, and other hot topics.
Far Out Ride’s Van Build Diagrams and Guides
If you need help planning out the interior of your DIY campervan, you'll want to take a look at Far Out Ride's van build guides. The Builder's Package includes wiring, water, propane and floor plan diagrams & tutorials. This is a great resource for DIYing your van!
Isabelle and Antoine spent a long time perfecting their Ford Transit campervan conversion and have lots of advice to give on systems.
If you want to know just how they did it, and perhaps use their systems in your own conversion, there are beautiful downloadable diagrams available on their website.
For a small fee, you can access high-resolution, printable diagrams that illustrate Isabelle and Antoine’s water, electrical, and propane systems, as well as a floor plan diagram.
DIY Sprinter Van Conversion Tips from a Van Lifer
Sydney Ferbrache of Divine on the Road built out her 2011 Sprinter camper van for just $6,000, and it looks absolutely gorgeous inside. The single biggest component of her build was the electrical system, which cost just over $1,300.DIY
“We prioritized electrical first because it’s what makes you the most comfortable in the camper van,” says Sydney. “We have a 1500 watt inverter , two 96 amp hour batteries and 400 watts of solar”.
Here are a couple of Sydney’s budget tips for a DIY Sprinter camper van.
- Use shiplap for a cheap interior finishing product that looks like “wood”
- Try finding recycled goods – Sydney’s kitchen counter and dining room table are both made from recycled doors that cost only $30
Sydney used recycled doors to build out her countertop and table in this Sprinter camper van.
“There are always things you can work around and make less expensive if you get creative with it,” says Sydney. “You can always find alternatives to the expensive stuff for your Sprinter van conversion.”
Sprinter Van Conversion Kits
A Sprinter van conversion kit is between a DIY and custom Sprinter van build. You can order parts and pieces to complete a DIY campervan on your own, including beds, kitchen units, insulation & flooring, water tanks, shelving, etc.
Here are some companies to look into for a DIY kit:
- Titan Vans
- Adventure Wagon
- RB Components
- ZenVanz diy van kit
- Happier Camper’s Adaptiv System
- Trail Kitchens
- Van Wife Components
- Owl Van Accessories
- Van Works
Custom Sprinter Van Conversions
A custom Sprinter van can be the most expensive option, depending on which company you go with and the components inside your van.
The positive of a custom van conversion is you have full say over your van’s interior. You’ll choose the campervan layout, options, etc for the van of your dreams.
Plus, you won’t have to do a lick of work on your own!
The downside of a custom Sprinter van camper is expensive. It’s easy for the cost of a custom conversion to range from $50,000-$100,000, not including the initial cost of the van.
This is a heavy investment for a van lifer!
Check out these top companies that convert Sprinter vans:
- Outside Van
- Titan Vans
- Freedom Vans
- Van Life Customs
- Beartooth VanWorks
- Rossmonster Vans
More and more Sprinter van conversion companies are popping up all the time. You’ll surely find one that fits your needs!
Keep in mind that custom Sprinter van conversions take time. You may end up waiting months, or maybe even a year, for your campervan to be ready for adventure.
Turnkey Sprinter Van Campers for Sale Right Now
If you’re looking for an off-road adventure van you can buy off the lot, take a look at these Sprinter van campers for sale.
We’re totally in love with Storyteller Overland’s “Beast Mode” 4×4 Sprinter camper van for sale. This rugged Mercedes Sprinter 4×4 van is ready to go anywhere, with a KC Highlights Extreme Lighting Package, Boost MODE M-Power Extender System and Agile Ride Improvement Package.
You’ll have the lighting, power resources and suspension package to tackle bumpy, rocky dirt roads.
One thing that stands out about the Storyteller Overland camper van is the air conditioner and diesel heating system. The solar power and battery bank is powerful enough to keep that air conditioner running all night – super handy if you’re in a hot climate.
Sleep sideways in a modular bed that changes into a work table as you see fit. Store gear beneath the campervan bed, which is also where you’ll find your 21-gallon freshwater tank.
You’ll also get a sink, induction cooktop and fridge in this van build.
Storyteller has three vans to choose from: Classic, Stealth and Beast Mode.
Winnebago Revel Sprinter Van Camper
The Winnebago Revel Sprinter conversion is a close competitor with Storyteller Overland’s vans. The main difference between the two is the Winnebago is a Class B RV with an enclosed toilet and shower.
This van is the clear choice for someone wanting a campervan with a bathroom. However, it does take a lot of space in the van, making it not as roomy and open as the Storyteller.
Another unique part of the Winnebago Sprinter camper van is the power lift bed. You can totally lift the bed up to the ceiling during the day for an open space and easier access to your van’s “garage.”
Like the Storyteller, the Winnebago Revel comes with a full kitchen with sink, induction cooktop and fridge.
There’s a bench seat behind the driver’s seat with seatbelts and a swivel table for working or dining. Both front chairs also swivel for a hang out space inside the van.
If you’re looking for something between custom and DIY, check out 9 amazing Sprinter van conversion kits.
Need Some Inspiration? Check out these Sprinter Van Conversions
If you’re obsessed with van life like me, you probably love browsing through Sprinter van campers for ideas on what to do with your build.
Whether you choose to build out your own van or go with a Sprinter van conversion company, it’s great to jot down ideas as to what’s important and what’s not inside your campervan.
Here are some of the best Sprinter van conversions on the web.
I just love watching SoWeWent’s journeys in their rad Sprinter van conversion. This San Diego couple travels part-time with their baby girl, and their photos are phenomenal.
The two facing couches in the rear make a great van bed design, and don’t those hammocks look just so relaxing?
You’d be amazed by how much cool stuff they fit in their Mercedes camper van conversion.
If you’re jonesing to see what you can do with a 4×4 Sprinter camper van, you’ll have to check out these guys.
This overland Sprinter van with an interior by Tourig is built for heavy off-roading, with a solid axle swap out, 28-gallon reserve fuel tank, 40 gallons of water, 375 watts of solar and 600 amp hours of lithium batteries, this off-road rig is ready for anything.
What’s amazing is that We Roll With It’s van started out as a plain white cargo Sprinter van. Looks way different now, right?
Freedom Vans Sprinter Van Campers
We just love the modern and clean look of Freedom Vans Sprinter van campers. Plus, this bed design makes great use of space inside a smaller Sprinter van.
These custom van builds aren’t cheap, though. You’ll pay anywhere from $45,000 to $120,000, and that doesn’t even include the van.
Talk about luxury van life, right?
I love following Kristen’s adventures in her Sprinter van conversion by Outside van. She opted for a 170″ wheelbase, which gave her and her boyfriend plenty of room to roam around in their Sprinter van.
In this Sprinter van camper, I especially love the little work table that also serves as a lounge area for hanging out.
Still curious? Q&A about Sprinter van campers
Sprinter van campers can really run the gamut in terms of price. A DIY camper van will be much cheaper than a custom build. A new Mercedes Sprinter cargo van starts at $33,740. A new passenger van can get up to $41,290. Remember, those are base prices. You may be able to do a DIY Sprinter van conversion for under $10,000. Custom builds will cost you upwards of $20,000-$50,000 in many cases.
Sportsmobile has been converting vans since 1961, and is a reputable camper van conversion company. The typical Mercedes Sportsmobile costs about $95,000 for the van and the conversion. Of course, Sportsmobile offers other packages like a partial conversion, which is significantly less. Or you can design your own Sportsmobile van and those prices vary.
Living in a van for a year really depends on which type of van you buy and what type of lifestyle you lead. If you mostly camp for free on public lands, known as boondocking, you’ll pay significantly less than if you pay for a campsite every night. The cost of a camper van can vary between $8,000-$100,000. Your daily cost of living depends on how much you drive the van, whether you cook or go out to eat, how much alcohol you consume, and whether or not you pay for campsites. I think living in a van for a year can be as cheap as $15,000 if you live frugally.
Mercedes camping vans come in two heights: low roof and high roof. The low roof Sprinter vans have an overall height of about eight feet. The high roof vans are almost nine feet overall.
Conclusion about Sprinter camper vans
If you’re serious about living in a van and want a hardy vehicle to do it in, a Sprinter camper van might be your best choice.
Sprinter vans conversions get good MPG due to their diesel engines, are reliable and have the right amount of interior space for a camper van conversion.
However, they are more expensive than other vans, and also more expensive to maintain as work needs to be done at a Mercedes dealership.
If you like high-roofed vans but think a Mercedes is a little out of your price range, check out similar-sized vans like the high-top Ford Transit, the Dodge Ram Promaster or any van with a pop-type camper van option, like the VW Vanagon.
Check out these other van life stories:
- 40+ ways to make money from a campervan
- How to get campervan insurance for a DIY van
- 16 campervan rental companies to test drive van life
Kristin Hanes is a journalist who founded The Wayward Home as a place to learn about alternative living. She currently lives on a sailboat and in a Chevy Astro van, and has written articles about alternative living published in Good Housekeeping, Business Insider, Marie Claire and SF Gate. Read more about Kristin here.