By the time a customer stops by the shop, they usually have a pretty good idea of what they want. Most have done some research online, and some have already had experience with a camp trailer or camper van before. The owner of this 2021 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter showed up with an empty van and a very, very good idea of how he wanted it built out — down to precise cabinet dimensions. He had even built out his design in the van using 2x2s and ‘lived’ with it for a while to make sure he could. That’s dedication. So, yeah — we built it how he wanted it
The client had very specific goals in mind for this build. First, the interior components had to be 100% electric and self-sustaining — he never wanted to stay in an RV park again. With the plan to stay as far off the grid as possible, the second goal became security. The third goal (which was actually the very beginning of the build) was to store his and hers mountain bikes inside the van with all their other outdoor gear. Because of the particular bed he had chosen, this last goal proved to be more challenging than you might think
Most interior builds begin with some goals and recommendations from the client, maybe even a little specific guidance. This one came with a full blueprint — every component mapped out on the floor. The client did his homework. The build started with a client-designed interior mountain bike storage system. He had designed a drawer-style storage system that would fit two mountain bikes plus gear, clothing, and shoes for two. The whole rig was designed to fit underneath the Axel Bloom dual-mattress adjustable bed that the customer specced for the build. Each rear swingout door is equipped with a bike repair stand. We also installed an ARB twin air compressor to regulate RV tire pressure. It can also be used for the bikes.
The customer decided to go with an Isotherm Cruise 130 Elegance Fridge, because they never used the freezer in their previous camper. The galley is also equipped with a microwave, a 10-inch deep sink (which doubles as storage when not in use, a drawer designated for recharging devices, and loads of cabinet and drawer space by SAGA. Cooking is handled by a Dual-Burner Induction Cooktop that can be used in the galley or under the awning, cookout-style.
The indoor shower and toilet are hidden in the galley under the ½-inch solid surface countertop. This ingenious design incorporates a cabinet that slides out of the way, a removable composting toilet, and a stowaway shower curtain that’s hung from the ceiling.
The interior of the van also features a full Saga Sprinter cowling kit made with breathable and easily washable marine-grade vinyl. In the cab the driver and passenger’s butts are swaddled in Scheel-Mann custom driving seats.
At the heart of this build, there was the need to get way off the grid with complete independence. We started with a Tiny Watts Solar 10 Kit battery bank and inverter. The kit includes a 5000W inverter and 10.24kWh lithium battery bank. With 740 watts of solar panels on the Sprinter’s roof, this is more than enough to keep them off the grid. The 2nd alternator option means a full charge takes just a couple hours’ of running the van’s engine. The entire system is controlled by a touchscreen solar controller in the galley area.
If you’ve seen the 2006 documentary “The Hills Have Eyes” or any of its prequels, you know how dangerous it is to sleep in the middle of nowhere. Security was a priority for this build, and we did it right. First, we beefed up the mechanical locking system with Thunderbolt deadbolt-style locks. Because of its position on the rear door, we cut an access tunnel in the bed to get to the emergency lock release. We then added two security cameras — one facing the cab and the other facing the sliding door. Camera data storage is handled by a 1TB hard drive that backs up to the cloud. The van is also surrounded by high-output LED worklights and a light bar from Code 4 Lighting that will scare the absolute hell out of any approaching baddies. Sorry, mutants, you might want to look for victims somewhere else.
In addition to the solar and security systems, the van received a closed-hydronic radiant heat system. The system is run off a heat exchanger, as are the air and water systems. HVAC duties are handled by a Cruise N Comfort 24-volt air conditioning and heating system, a roof-mounted Maxxair fan, and custom C.R. Laurence windows on the sides of the van and in the sliding door. LEDs on dimmer switches illuminate the cabin and exterior in separate zones. The dimmer switches are custom-made in-house at Reparadise.
For entertainment, the Sprinter features a fully upgraded sound system and a projector TV system. TV and movies can be watched in the lounge area, in bed, or even outside under the awning — perfect for a nighttime marathon screening of The Hills Have Eyes (1977) and its three sequels.
The plumbing was kept relatively simple on this build. The composting toilet means there’s no black water to deal with. A SAGA gray water tank is mounted under the cab and can be held until parked in a responsible dumping spot. In addition to the interior shower, we installed an exterior shower at the rear of the van.
The Sprinter’s exterior features all the best-of-the-best goodies. Starting at the front, an Aluminess heavy-duty aluminum front bumper gently moves Bambi off the highway. Between the MaxTrax traction pads and the Warn 1200-pound winch, they never need to worry about getting stuck. The roof components, including the solar panels, are mounted to an SAGA Sprinter Roof Rack. Aluminess nerf bars make access easier and a Rugged Designs side ladder is used to clean the front solar panels. A Rugged Designs rear bumper underlines an Owl Vans ladder / tire carrier that provides access to the rear solar panels. Underneath, an Agile Off-Road Ride Improvement Package suspension system and Agile Off-Road brakes help the Sprinter handle the added weight of the camper. The van rolls on a Reparadise Rhino / Falken upgraded wheel kit.
For patio chillin’ duties, the client chose a Dragonfly manual tarp, rather than an automatic awning. A small table folds out from the slider door — perfect for the induction stove or a game of Micro-Beer-Pong. A pull-out drawer cleverly hidden in the door recess holds the dog’s leash, food and water bowls, and other pet supplies that might need to be grabbed on the way out the door.
It’s always nice to do a full, ground-up custom build on a modern van. We’re especially proud of this one because the result is beautiful and the customer is stoked. We also outfit new Sprinters with our own high-quality, in-house standard designs if you want to go big but don’t have the budget to go full custom. You won’t be disappointed.
If you’d like to take a look behind the scenes at some of the work that went into this then click here to check out a video.
Contact us a today1-801-972-5211, or email inquiry.