Five Essential Pieces of Gear for your DIY Van Build

The logistics of van life get a lot easier when you have the right gear with you, but despite what many people will have you believe, over-preparing is not the only way to find the must-haves for living the van life. We’ve developed a list of essential gadgets for living out of your travel van that covers all your bases. From sleeping to showering to going on adventures, check out these five van life essentials, courtesy of The Flarespace Fam.

Heated shower system for van life hygiene

One of the most common questions we get about van life relates to the creature comforts we can’t go without. If you’re going on a lengthy road trip or considering living out of a converted van, an easily accessible and easy-to-use shower solution is an absolute must. Yes, we’ve seen some get by with a DIY shower made out of a lawn sprayer. And sure, you can get by with a trusty old camp shower bag, but we’re about to put you on to the most eco-friendly & user-friendly shower system we have ever used. The Geyser Shower System redefines personal hygiene on the go with cutting-edge technology that uses 10x less water and is 2x lighter than any other portable shower out there. So you can clean up your footprint both literally and figuratively.
Now that you know you can shower comfortably while living the van life, why stop there? With The Geyser Shower System you can do the dishes, wash your camp gear, rinse the mud off your bike, or you can even do your 12-step skincare routine before bed… if you’re into that.
With the Geyser Shower System, you can wash your mugs after taking the perfect #breakfastwithaview pic, or you can rinse the mud off of this very good boy. Van life is much cleaner with a portable shower on hand!

Winch with steel cable for heavy-duty wind ups

The great outdoors is unpredictable, and we like it that way. But if your adventure van gets stuck in sand, mud, rocks, or another unexpected obstacle, the last thing you want is to be unprepared. The Smittybilt Winch is one of our favorite pieces of gear for off-the-grid journeys and casual road trips alike. Armed with a kickass motor and over 90 ft. of super-powered cable, this American-made powerhouse will get you out of a less than pleasant situation while you’re out there living the van life. This is one of those “you don’t know you need it until you really REALLY need it” van life essentials. You know what they say: “In a pinch, use a winch.” Just kidding, no one ever says that… but trust us, it’s better to be safe than stuck.

Window flare to increase van interiors

This is the part where we introduce ourselves – Hi, we’re Flarespace and make cost-effective van conversion products to help you build out the camper van of your dreams and rethink what life on the road entails! Okay, now back to the gear – our flagship product offers those with DIY van conversions an innovative and economical way to make more room in their van-build! Flarespace’s fiberglass Flares increase the interior space of your van so you can #SleepSideways and have more room for whatever you’re bringing along with you on your adventure. If you’re looking to upgrade more than just the direction of your mattress, check out our bundle, which includes two flares, trim rings, an interior finish kit, and the complete version of our ultra-lightweight Bed System (hinged mattress & custom fitted bedding included). Learn more about this new way of sleeping on the road below.
Check out our flares, how they work, and why you need them in the video below.

Catch some Zzzs & conserve space with a Bed System

We know what it’s like to sleep like a baby after a day of exploring the outdoors. And though some of us can sleep anywhere anytime, having enough room to sleep comfortably makes the DIY van life a whole lot nicer. Whether you’re recovering from an adventure or catching some much-needed Zzzs before heading back out on the road – a good night’s sleep is a necessity, but so is conserving space… So, we created a solution. Yes, yes, it’s another shameless plug. But now that you know about our flares, we had to throw our Bed Systems in the mix. These minimalist van sleep solutions are DIY-friendly and fully compatible with our flagship Flares. The design of our two-panel Bed Systems creates a level surface that sits flush with the bottom of your Trim Rings, spanning the width of your van from Flare edge to Flare edge. When you #SleepSideways, you can reconfigure your build to have some of the best and most space-saving van floorplans. That means more room for sleeping and everything else, too! Check out our minimalist van bed systems below:
Our Original Bed System 2.0 is easy to install, removable, and designed to be adjusted to the length of your van. Need we say more? With two vented panels of FSC certified Baltic birch, you can sleep peacefully knowing there’s no land or forest damage due to your purchase and no pesky toxins floating around while you sleep! This camper bed system is also extra sturdy, utilizing hefty metal mounts that solidify the bed surface with serious structural support!
Coming in at just 1” thick, our newest Flyweight Bed System boasts an epic strength-to-weight ratio. Designed to answer the challenge of soaring shipping rates while still providing a solid & safe foundation for sleeping, Flarespace’s Anti-Gravity Bed System is one of the best van sleep solutions on the market. Durable, cleanable, out-of-this-world strong, and just as customizable as our other products… Oh, and did we mention is one of the most affordable van bed solutions on the market?
Pro tip: Once your bed system is in place, it’s the perfect home for our custom contoured memory foam mattress.

Bike rack to keep your gear in order

Like we said before, our minimalist bed system reconfigures your floorplan, saving you a ton of space inside your DIY van build so you can store more adventure gear. But keep in mind, however, that the exterior of your van has a lot of untapped potential to lug some of the bulkier and muddier gear you may have. Namely, your bikes!
If you’re planning a pedal-powered adventure and need to take some bikes with you on the road, let us introduce you to the best way to transport them to the trailhead. Say hello to our lightweight (but mighty) friend, Owl Vans’ B2 Bike Carrier. This easy-to-install rack is the most efficient and space-saving way to travel with your bikes. This modular piece is more than just a bike rack. With complete adjustability, you can mount bikes, as well as other accessories like trays & boxes that maximize your van’s exterior storage.
Now, we know what you’re thinking: “Will this bike rack get in the way of my van’s doors?”and the answer is a resounding “No!” Owl Van’s Bike Carriers mount right to the hinges and opens with the doors, so you never have to swing it out of the way or lose departure angle with a bulky bumper. Get yourself one of these mounts, and your bike will be safe & stable while you’re on the road… and when you need to use it, just unlock your bike, and you’re off! And since the mounting height with this carrier is entirely up to you, a well-adjusted carrier can save your back windows if you have them. With traditional bike racks, you run the risk of breaking your rear windows with the pedals of your bike… this is such a common problem with the Mercedes Sprinter that we created a solution!
We’ll leave you with one last thing – we know that van life is not for everyone, but if you’ve gotten this far then it’s safe to say you’re pretty serious about it. And we’re here to help! Flarespace’s mission is to help you discover the perfect layout for your van and nothing more. We see so many people overbuild [read – overspend!] their vans before they even know what they actually need. Stop overbuilding and start perfectly building with Flarespace. If you’d rather leave the building to the experts – we have over 150 installers throughout the country that can do the work for you.