Here's what we recommend


We know upfitting your van can be overwhelming. So we’ve made it easy for you by listing everything you need to turn your van from a cargo van to an adventure van. Here’s a checklist of our recommendations of the best products from the folks we trust most.


Click any of the listed items below to learn why it’s an important component, and what our recommended solutions are:


INTERIOR

Kitchen

Kitchens are easy to fall in love with because they can be so elegant. But be clear about how you want to use yours. Cooking inside can make your van smell like garlic and grilled onions for the next week. Outside cooking can be super convenient when the weather cooperates. Our personal preference is the outdoor portable kitchen solution from RRE-Global with an indoor option consisting of the Cuisineart hot plate - that's it!

Bathroom

The first time we built a van we thought we needed a permanent toilet and shower. Then we realized our wives were never going on extended van trips that required permanent solutions. Your use case may be very different but make sure you understand it. Over-investing in a shower and toilet for weekend warriors is easy to do. And under-investing for our long term van dwelling friends on extended trips can be, well, shitty. So give some thought to your use case and if you don't know, try our 'temporary need' recommendations and you can always upgrade.


Refrigerator 

The first time we built a van we thought we needed a permanent toilet and shower. Then we realized our wives were never going on extended van trips that required permanent solutions. Your use case may be very different but make sure you understand it. Over-investing in a shower and toilet for weekend warriors is easy to do. And under-investing for our long term van dwelling friends on extended trips can be, well, shitty. So give some thought to your use case and if you don't know, try our 'temporary need' recommendations and you can always upgrade.


Electrical 

Electrical needs are tricky. In our first van build, we used a beautiful Lithium system integrated into wheel well boxes, totally out of sight. We had a beautiful control panel mounted on the wall and outlets throughout the van. In our next build, we simply used the Goal Zero unit that powers five 12v units (fridge, 2-lights, 2-USB ports), and has 110v plugs in the face of the unit.  

Lighting

Vans need cool interior lighting on multiple circuits. But, we have also built our vans to only use the factory lights that come with the cargo vans plus the two 12v lights integrated into our trim rings. Be honest with your use case to pick the best solution for you…


  • Factory

  • Multiple zones custom

Water & Water Storage

Everyone needs water. So you'll either carry a few jugs in your storage systems or you may decide to integrate water storage in your wheel well compartments. Other cool storage solutions include modular kitchen cabinetry with integrated clean water and grey water storage. We recommend using your van for a while to best understand your needs.

  • Wheel well tanks

  • Custom cabinetry

  • Weekend Warrior

Bed System

When you buy a van to use as an adventure van, you need a bed. Buy ours. The Flarespace bed system is lightweight and super easy to put into your van or store away when you're taking a bigger group and need the interior space. If you want maximum versatility including variable seating and bunk configurations, buy the Van Wife bed system.

Seating

Make sure you know how you plan to use your van! If it's just the two of you, you're all set! If you need more seats, figure out whether they need to be permanent or removable. We always like using a Smart Floor (see Flooring section) when adding more seats for maximum protection and easy configurations.

Sleeping

Environmental

We lumped heating, cooling, and windows into this category. Heaters in adventure vans are pure magic. You can program them to get started an hour before you return from the slopes, set a temperature range, and infinite other settings from an easy to use control panel. They're relatively inexpensive and worth every nickel, from our perspective. They're also incredibly efficient, using a tiny amount of fuel directly from your gas tank. We also love them because vans, even when well insulated, make a pretty spectacular thermo graph for detecting heat loss (everywhere). Don't worry about heat loss when you have an Espar heater. Air conditioners are a bit trickier. We find that open windows and a Maxxair roof vent are usually all you need - but if you want an air conditioner, you'll need to do a little more research and pay attention to the amount of noise the condenser makes....


  • Heating

  • A/C

  • Windows; Slider door & Midship

Ventilation

Insulation

After you install your flares, it's time to insulate your van. There's a bunch of options but we like to use Kilmat for sound deadening and then Thinsulate for further noise reduction and weather barrier.  

Windows

Windows are important for ventilation. If you're designing your van, you're thinking about all the beautiful views from your Flarespace bed - good thinking. But when you want an awesome view, just open the doors. Windows are for ventilation and we prefer awning windows over slider windows to keep the rain out.

  • Arctic Tern Awning

  • Bunk Window 10x33” slider

  • Bunk Window 10x33” awning

Privacy & Blackout Window Covers

If you forget to get window covers, say goodbye to that dreamy idea of waking up mid morning in your van after your first overnight adventure. Window covers provide privacy but also blacks out your van as the sun rises - or, as we found out, also makes those annoying street lights go away.

Flooring

Here's the simple scoop. If you're going to add seats, you need a Smart Floor. The Smart Floor is 'pull tested', which means it's safe. If you bolt a seat through your floor without the proper plates, bolts, and testing, then everyone is going through the windshield in a high impact collision. Get a Smart Floor. Plus, the Smart Floor include secure fastening for camping furniture, sports equipment, bikes, motorcycles, and anything else you want to lock down during travel.  

Storage & Cabinetry

EXTERIOR

Suspension

Suspension systems are cool - and functional. You'll need to dig in a bit here to understand what the best solution is aligned with your use case. We love everything Owl makes but check out the options.

Wheels & Tires

Stock wheels look a tad wimpy. We prefer a bit beefier look and have used both the Storyteller and Black Rhino wheels. Storyteller makes an aftermarket wheel that looks good and is also fully compliant with all Mercedes Benz specifications, if you have a Sprinter. Rhino makes cool looking wheels and Owl Engineering is launching some new products as well. The bigger wheels then allow you to use the Bridgestone tires that seem to be the top choice of elite builders for all sorts of performance reasons.  

Stone & Chip Protection

Ventilation

You won't have enough. So get plenty of windows, fans, and vents. The rear door vents from Flarespace combined with a roof fan are the best solution for airflow over the bed and throughout the vehicle. We also like seeing two Maxxair fans in our own vans.

Bumpers & Winch

We love Max and his crew at CA TunedOff Road in Sacramento for their killer bumpers with integrated winch. You can mount your high intensity lights from Baja Design on the bumper guards and embed your winch right into the design. We found the pure practicality of the bumper with integrated winch during a trip through Baja. Get stuck without a winch and your next stop will be the winch store. So if you're planning on going off-road, get a winch integrated into our bumper. 

Lighting

Exterior lighting is cool. Plus, it's also very functional for remote night driving and lighting up your campsite. There are a bunch of options but we like the Baja Design lights for night driving the most - these lights give new meaning to the 'midnight sun'. And they also come in handy when folks won't move out of the fast lane.

  • Night driving

  • Custom night lighting

Storage

Almost as important as your window covers for eliminating street lights, it's hard to get enough external storage on your van. We use all the Owl storage gear for bikes, but also for keeping cables, dirty gloves, windshield wiper fluid, DEF, oil, cleaners, and other generally greasy stuff out of the pretty inside of the van. You need this, trust us..

Roof Racks

Roof racks are great for so many reasons. You can store tons of stuff on top of your van (just know your clearance limits), mount all sorts of practical exterior lights, and just add more girth to your cool rig. There are a ton of options but we like the one from our friends at Freedom VanGo.

Roof Decks

Roof decks are about the funnest part of owning an adventure van. Especially if you love sunny days and great views. Just don't fall off - you've been warned. Our pal, Jason, of Canyon Adventure Vans has just developed a really cool solution, check it out. This product is in development but we've seen the prototypes, so call them for details if you can't find it on the website.

Window Tinting

  • Contact local tinter

Awnings

Getting the most use of your outside space sometimes requires a little shade or rain protection. Awnings are the answer to protecting your space from the elements. There are a bunch of options but one really practical idea that we love is from Dragon Fly Tarps because of it's cool look, adjustability, and ease of use