After living in my Self-Converted 170″ 2WD Sprinter Van for a few years, it has become really clear what my must-haves are for any future van build that I do.
I don’t know about you, but I go to the bathroom every day… I personally prefer not to plan my day around access to a bathroom. For that reason, I’ll be including a toilet in every van build I do.
Do I use my shower every day? No. But boy am I glad it’s there after a day at the beach. Having the option to rinse my feet off outside the van, or hop inside for a full body shower after a day of sweating, is nothing short of bliss.
There’s a constant debate about how to properly insulate a van, whether it be sheep’s wool, spray foam, or foam board…
Whatever you choose, if you spend a lot of time in warm or cold climates, you won’t regret insulating your van.
As for a heat source, I would recommend at least installing an Espar D2. They’re not that expensive and it’s a super easy DIY project.
I use solar power to charge laptops, phones, drones, and even to use my induction cooktop. Without solar power, I would otherwise have to run the vehicle way too much to charge the batteries.
If your roof has the space and you want that true off-grid experience, then solar panels are an absolute no brainer.
Having huge freshwater storage capacity means more time between fillups.
In my new van, I’ll have 38 gallons of freshwater. The thing to keep in mind is that water adds quite a bit of weight to your van (8.34 lbs per gallon).
Along with my water storage, I have a water filtration system (2 sediment, 1 carbon sterasyl) which has served me very well.
I do a lot of activities such as surf, snowboard, mountain bike, hike… All of these activities require specialty items and clothing. Inevitably I need a lot of storage.
I’m also a big fan of a clean look so I like everything to be stored behind a cabinet door or inside a drawer.
I love having a lot of outlets throughout the van. In my last van, I had about 7 different outlets, which I know is a bit of overkill. I was able to charge my phone or laptop from essentially anywhere in the van. If I had a friend staying with me and they needed to work, they could charge their laptop at one side of the van while I did the same on the other.
I had an outlet in the back of the van for easy access when I needed to use an air compressor, etc. I even had an outlet inside my closet to charge my hand vacuum when not in use.
It’s not expensive to have extra outlets and I can assure you, it’s very convenient.
A lot of people prefer not to install windows in their vans because they are doing a lot of urban stealth camping. I, personally, don’t do a lot of stealth camping and I love having lots of natural light coming in. Without that natural light, the van can feel like a bit of a cave.
On my new van, I’m putting in:
While we’re on the subject, I highly recommend investing in good-quality insulated window covers. These have several benefits, such as:
A lot of people prefer not to spend money on a good fridge/freezer and instead opt for a cooler with dry ice or a small bar fridge with an ice-tray-sized freezer. For me, I like to have an actual freezer to store ice, fruits, etc.
I’m also a fan of the top loader vs. chest-style fridge. They have much more storage capacity and are more efficient.
Factory tires from Mercedes are fine for city driving. But if you plan on doing any off-roading, you’re going to want to upgrade your tires.
I use BF Goodrich K02 245/75/16 A/T (All-Terrain) Tires and they have been amazing.
Hope this list has given you some inspiration for your van build!
Whether you want to incorporate all the comforts of home into the van, or you’re gearing up for some adventurous offroading, you may find yourself with a long wishlist of upgrades for your van.
If you’re shopping for a Sprinter Van and struggling to choose between the 144″ or 170″ wheelbase, you’re not alone.
Grabbing some last-minute items before you hit the road? These are some of my most-used items in the van.