Cargo Van or Camper Van: why not have both?
August 12, 2022

Enjoying Van Life without the van strife

We’ve all seen the many videos and people making the leap to the van life nomadic lifestyle and felt envious of this utopian dream. But when you think about cutting ties you might run into some dream-crushing realities that van life might never be an option for you. With your current life with house and yard, neighbors and community, and your collection of stuff, it seems impossible. Not to mention completely uprooting the kid’s “soccer game” world, assuming you have kids. And so you just keep that dream buried in hopes that someday, after the kids are gone and you enter retirement, and all the stars align, then maybe you can join the nomadic nobles. 

Until now.

Weekend Get Away (any day)

Reparadise has designed a solution to let you have your cake and eat it too! Introducing the “Weekender” package. We took a Sprinter van and made a convertible work/play interior that allows you to have all the benefits of a full camper build-out without giving up the utility of a cargo van with all its versatile “hauling-stuff” space. Using the SAGA cabinetry line to maximize storage and Van Wife’s transforming bed system, we were able to create an interior that quickly and easily converts your van into a weekend getaway camper. 

We took two Mercedes Sprinter 144’s (NCV3) and created some very versatile interiors for the weekender, designed for quick adventure getaways without giving up the working van benefits of hauling people and stuff throughout the week. Aptly named “the Weekender Kit”, this flexible interior design is the perfect answer, both in budget and style, to max out your Sprinter’s everyday usability. 

Get the full tour

Brandon Zinninger (Reparadise Owner) and Chance Becher (Electrical Guru) walk through the complete process of what Reparadise created on these two van build-outs in this video below:  

Video Transcript: 

[Brandon] – We just finished up a couple of vans that are kind of sister vans to each other as far as design style and needs for the clients, and they’re actually picking up pretty soon. So we have just a quick minute to jump inside of here and show you some of the cool stuff that we did to them.

Starting on the outside pretty similar they’re both 144s, not a whole lot of upgrades to the outside, we spent our time focusing on dialing in the interiors for these guys. We’re kind of doing these vans in phases, so right now we just finished up phase one. They’ll probably be coming back maybe towards the end of the summer. If they use them after they get out there and play with them, enjoy the space, and then maybe do some other stuff -suspension upgrades some other interior builds stuff like – that so without further ado, let’s jump inside these two rigs and show you what we got for you. 

All right so as we look inside this van the first thing you’ll notice is we’ve got a ton of space. The idea was a maximum gear storage area, you want to toss in a 12-volt Dometic cooler, anything like that you got tons of room to do it – bike space, kayak space – stuff like that. Very bright open layout, even though we’ve got our dark walls it helps with the light floor, light ceilings, and our light SAGA cabinets. 

So right here we do have our SAGA sink box, our SAGA drawer boxes, and SAGA overhead cabinets. We’ve got two of them in this build they’re both different lengths. They come in 48 inches, 53, and 58 inches in length, integrated Flex-fire LED strip lights here, assist arms, soft close,

recessed magnets (so you don’t have the handles overhead), so overall very nice, clean, polished, professional finish. 

To add a little bit of warmth we do have a walnut countertop with the Dometic flip top faucet closes down real nice, just real nice clean surface. So powering the sink, we do have a setup

in here we designed this cabinet for the sink to house three of these, I believe they’re seven-gallon tanks and you can mix and match them however you want, but we got them set up so that we have two fresh water and gray water. They have quick-release caps, and we’ve got a little 12-volt water pump underneath. Super easy. 

We offer this whole thing as a kit, so if you don’t want to have one of the over-the-wheel well water tanks or anything outside of here, because of space savings or just money savings, then this is a pretty awesome option. We can sell this whole unit as a complete kit or individual. Check those guys out on our site.

Now as we look to the rear of the vehicle we’ve integrated some of our friend’s products over at Van Wife components. We use their bed system. It’s their convertible system that works as a  bed, it’s a picnic table, it’s a bench, it’s a pretty slick unit and we designed a cabinet because this was kind of designed by them to fit mainly in the 170s and for the most part they’re like;

“You know, I think they can fit in the 144s but you know, good luck. You’ll have to do a little refinement to make it work”. 

So for us, what we did is we built this cabinet and at this point we now

have this CNC box. It’s also going to be pretty soon ready for a SAGA release to work in conjunction with the Van Wife component system or as a standalone. But the cool thing about that even though this is just–it looks like it’s almost like a rail system that is only holding up this bed system, but this really thin low profile unit right here is actually housing a pretty robust electrical system. We wanted to design this thing so our electrical system was as flat and tight up against this wall as possible. We got a couple of little storage units in here, but we do have a full 48-volt system. We’ve got our inverter. We’ve got our solar controllers and all of our wiring. 

Everything is packed into this small little area up against this wall and it

actually sits a little bit shallower than the wheel wells. You can check out the underneath here;

this is a little wheel well cover that we have and on that side, our entire cabinet system sits a little bit below, or rather, a little bit before the end of the wheel well by about an inch and a half or so. That leaves all this room underneath to add whatever you need to. So hitting the trail heads, going camping, stuff like that. Tons of room. In order to really get an understanding of what’s behind that wall, we’re going to get Chance in here. He can do a little overview. We can also show you a quick transformation of all the different ways that this cool little bed system works… A little montage of movement in here…[scene cuts to Chance]

[Chance] – Hey, guys let’s take a look at this power system we installed in this 144. We have

a really slim cabinet which is designed into the bed system. It’s a Van Wife bed system. This is our second iteration of this cabinet and this is our 48-volt system. You can see this cabinet is super thin and we needed to keep it thin for our bed leaves to fit in the space. So we actually have a 75-inch bed right here going front to rear, sleeping long ways. You have a bench here like so. We can drop this one down and put another one on the other side that has a picnic bench. You can actually have like four or six adults hanging out in here in the picnic bench layout, which is pretty versatile. You can pull them all the way out, have a completely open van for hauling gear and whatnot, or just run around town. So yeah, let me get these out of the way and we’ll take a look at the inside of the cabinet.

You can see right here we do have an access patch to gain access to you know our breakers,

fuses our main disconnect switch, and stuff like that. And then this thing is held on just by magnets here. And we can kind of see what’s under the hood here. 

On this install, we are being a little bit more budget-minded, or budget-conscious I should say, so we did two of our CAN-bus lithium 48-volt batteries. These batteries talk directly to our Victron servo and display all of our information up here on our touch screen directly from the BMS. It makes for a really clean install and those batteries actually control our solar controller, and our inverter, allowing us to safely charge and discharge them based on the battery’s needs. We have room for a third battery, this is just in here as a placeholder right now. So currently with the two, we’re at about uh 400 amp hours at 12 volts or 4.8-kilowatt hours. 

If we do the third battery, which we are planning on upgrading down the road for the air conditioning, we’ll get up to 7.2-kilowatt hours or 600 amp hours at 12 volts. I left the open spot down here for our Wakespeed alternator controller. So we are planning on doing a Nation’s 48-volt alternator during stage two of the build, so that’ll be a fun project to integrate that and really kind of up the charge current to support the air conditioning running off-grid. (Put that back on the shelf for now). 

We have a Multi-plus 3000 inverter charger handling all of our charging and discharging. This is our 48-volt version for this cabinet. It allows us to max out about 600 amp hours at 12 volts or 7.2-kilowatt hours. We do have a 12-volt version that fits in the same cabinet, which is a little bit more cost-effective than one that maxes out about 300 amp hours of capacity at 12 volts. So yeah, different options there to fit different budgets, different needs when we have the air conditioner we obviously need a little more capacity to handle those that heavy lifting. I’m really happy with how this install turned out and the form factor and the layout in the van. [scene cuts back to Brandon]

[Brandon] – All right, a few other things to talk about inside of this van.

I’m gonna flip on a couple of lights here to illuminate the area. This is also our saga wall kit. Right now we’re almost in June of 2022. We don’t have this listed on our website right now. We’re focusing on dealer programs – getting those guys set up first before we get this guy to the public – but it is a very nice refined polished wall kit. 

You can see our overhead cowling unit here with integrated lights to help illuminate your step. Our lights in the ceiling, and our wire chase is here for a nice finish. You can run all your wiring around the van there around the rear of the doors. We do have our finished cowlings that give it just a really polished refined look with integrated USB ports, our overhead articulating lights and we’ve got inverted plugs down there. 

It’s just a great way to finish it off and it gives you electrical and if you wanted to PEX line chases to move stuff from the passenger side and driver’s side, and if you ever need to access them it’s just a couple bolts, and the whole unit drops out and you can run more wires or chase wire gremlins, whatever you need. So, super excited about this. 

If you want to see basically the sister van, we need to jump over here…[Brandon points to a second van a few feet away]..and you can kind of see a similar build with some just different colors. So, follow me on over – don’t let me forget my beers – for the long journey across my parking lot..

All right. So we got a little bee that’s joining us [ a bee flies into the van ]…Right, when we step in you can see first of all that we’ve got the same cubby right here. So same thing, we’ve got a pretty robust 48-volt unit and two 48-volt batteries in here. Everything’s super tight and flush up against this wall to maximize the amount of space and storage and transportation room. 

Jumping in, we do have a void right here where in the van that [compared to] we were just in we did have a little galley, a sink and everything, [but] the client actually picked up the boxes and she’s going to install it all herself. So she came by earlier, picked up the flat pack boxes. She’s already got them at home – she’s picking this up today and then she’s going to go work over the weekend getting those all installed herself, along with an overhead, so it’s going to be very similar to that build. But the nice thing is she wants to save a little bit of cash from, you know, paying our shop labor rates and she’s like;

 “You know, I want to do put in some of my own hours, some of my own hard work into this thing, I want to do those cabinets myself“.

So check out these front cubbies which we’ve featured before. We’re getting ready to launch these on our website. Everybody that’s walked into our shop that’s seen these has gone goo-goo over them. They’re simple. It’s a simple design, simple concept, but it utilizes a pretty kind of dead zone in the van. So these little cubbies right here envelop the front seats.

Right now we have just a couple of sizes, depending on if you’ve got a hand E-brake or the electronic emergency brake. We’re working on some other variations to put on the market depending on seat height, swivels, and things like that. But right now these are just kind of a cool little catch-all cubby to put your Nalgene, put maps, put snacks stuff like that. They also come flat packed, easy to install, and a quick little weekend thing to throw in there but I think pretty soon basically every van is going to have one of these once they realize what a great use of space that is.

Turning around to the rear of the van, you can see that same Van Wife component bed system. Right now we have it set up just a little bit different than what we saw there. You can see it’s almost like in a picnic table setup. So the other one was kind of in bench mode, so you can see

the variations that you can achieve with this, but pretty quickly and easily you’re just going to collapse these and you can move them into the upper rails, middle rails, lower rails – so super quick and easy to throw it into bed mode, bench mode, picnic table mode, and still have tons of room underneath. So excited about being able to offer this as a pretty quick install and pretty unique little kind of weekender design for the 144 systems. 

So if you have any questions about the setup, if you have any questions about any of the products that we have, cabinets our cubbies, anything like that – give us a shout, give us a ring, hit us up. Check out our social media. Keep following our videos, and thanks for watching.

Cheers!