Where’s Your Head at;
Headroom is another coveted feature of campers. While you may think you can get away without the luxury of standing inside your camper, invariably Recreationalists that have been in the game a fair time have all yielded to being able to stretch out vertically. To be able to get dressed standing up, or prep and cook meals standing makes everything a lot easier and fun. Add headroom to the considerations list and be aware.
There are a few ways to get height if you are converting a vehicle.
Pop-tops are cute and epitomise the camper experience. There are aftermarket kits available and companies that offer pop top conversions. They aren’t cheap, you’re looking at 20K because they have to be certified by the NZTA as the original roof is being cut off, compromising the structural integrity of the vehicle. Part of installation is reinforcing pillars and what’s left of the roof. There are companies that fabricate high fiberglass roofs for campers too; if you think this is an option for you search online.
Pop-tops are low profile when you are driving. The vents and windows in them provide welcome light and ventilation especially in summer months. They do require more maintenance, as there are moving parts and ultimately canvas replacement. They are harder to insulate so colder in winter months and adverse weather they are colder and noisier with wind flapping the canvas about.
Hi-roof vans like Mercedes Sprinters and Ford Transits make for great conversions, which is why they dominate NZ’s camper rental fleets.
Kitsets and Flatpacks
Don’t want to be bothered reinventing the wheel and figuring out how to DIY a camper? There are a ton of flatpack van kits available for very reasonable cost. In the past these have mainly been available in the northern hemisphere for common vans in that market like VW T5s and Transporters. But increasingly there are companies set up in NZ and Australia catering to our market. A huge benefit of buying into a kitset is that all the cabinets and benches are C’n’C cut so they are extremely dimensionally accurate. They are tried and tested layouts. The kitsets can be installed in a vehicle in a few hours. Check out www.vanlab.co.nz
A Systematic Approach
The term systems is good way of breaking down what is needed in a camper. Each of these systems needs to work in with the others, so having an overall plan of where lights, water and all the ducting will go prior to starting will save a lot of time and swearing.
Here’s the basics. Even if you are in the market to buy a new or secondhand fitted out RV they are worth knowing. So you know what you’re buying and what to look out for.
Insulation– most vehicle manufacturers don’t design their metal boxes to be lived in. Insulating a vehicle for both warmth and sound is the first thing to look at as once the other systems go in it will be hard to revisit.
Ventilation– is key to a healthy living space, condensation is a RV’s enemy as it can lead to rust inside panels. Even in the short term, getting dampness and cooking smells out of any vehicle as soon as possible makes everything more comfortable.
Storage– where is everything going to go and how is it going to stay there.
Sleeping– arguably a sub heading under storage. Where and how are you going to go.
Self Containment. The Blue Sticker. Take out what you take in.
Water– both fresh and grey water. You need to drink, you need to wash, you need not to be harming the very environment you’re there for.
Power. Want to keep your phone charged, want to see stuff after the sun goes down? Need the vehicle to turn over when you’re ready to leave? Making things hot and keeping things cold. Need that caffeine fix to get moving in the morning, love the idea of a bbq cap off an epic day of adventure?