The Lightest Sprinter Van Wall Panel

By: Scott Adamson
/ March 3, 2023
Choosing the right materials for your van conversion is critical for creating a comfortable and functional living space.

If you’ve been following along with my van build at all, you’ll notice that one of my goals is to make my van as light as possible.

Here’s why… 

Oftentimes, we stuff our vans with bulky materials like heavy wooden cabinetry, bed and couch framing, and thick floorboards…

After we add our batteries, water, heater, fridge, bikes, snowboards, surfboards, cooking utensils, plates, etc… We run a real risk of getting close to or exceeding the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Restriction).

The GVWR refers to the vehicle’s total maximum operating weight, including the vehicle’s body, engine, accessories, and cargo. Exceeding the GVWR on your van could result in poor performance, damage to the vehicle, and potential accidents on the road.

In my first van, I was only a couple hundred pounds under the GVWR because I never really thought about it… In my second van, with every decision I make, I do my best to incorporate lightweight materials.

Choosing a lightweight wall panel

A lightweight material that I haven’t seen a lot of people use is a wall panel called Duotex.

Duotex is a lightweight material that is typically used for:

  • Desk partitions
  • Wall covering
  • Ceiling covers

The reason it interested me is that it’s:

  • Soft to the touch
  • Doesn’t rattle around
  • Gives a finished look
  • Lightweight
  • Has acoustic properties 
  • Convenient and easy-to-install

With all of these properties combined, it kind of makes it a perfect choice for a van build.

Where to install Duotex

A lot of people will install wall panels throughout the entirety of the van, only to cover up most of it with cabinets. That is a lot of added weight for areas you won’t even see.

That’s why I chose to install Duotex in the areas of the van that are not necessarily visible but where I still wanted a finished look:

  • Inside cabinets
  • Back of my kitchen area
  • Behind my bed

How to Install DUOTEX

DUOTEX is easy to work with and you can fasten it using rivet nuts. I use m5 fasteners with washers to make sure it looks neat. 

How much does Duotex weigh?

  • Duotex Panels: 0.3lbs per sq/ft
  • 1.2 Baltic Birch: 1.4lbs per sq/ft
  • 3/4 Baltic Birch: 2.2lbs per sq/ft

Where to buy DUOTEX

I purchased DUOTEX from Richelieu at

  • It comes in 4×8 Sheets, and
  • 2 thicknesses: 6.4mm & 12mm (I used 6.4mm)

Other Van Weight Saving Tips 

There are many other weight-saving tips you can opt for in your van to reduce your GVWR. These will help you save precious weight and stay under the maximum weight limit.

 Lithium Batteries Instead of AGM batteries

  • Switching to lithium batteries reduces weight from 210 pounds to only 75 pounds with added power in the van.
  • Instead of two AGM batteries, installing three 100 amperes of power lithium batteries is better.

8020 VS Wood Framing

Another best way to cut down weight is to opt for the 8020 instead of wood because wood makes the van heavy. 

Why is the 8020 a better option? 

  • 8020 gives a stronger built
  • It also has better material components and comes in various sizes to fit into your sprinter van.

To find out more about 8020 vs Wood Framing, have a look at this article


I talk about wall panels in more detail in one of my latest YouTube videos. So make sure you check that out! 

Key Takeaways

The next time you plan on upgrading your van, do not forget to go easy on it. Always remember that lightweight is the best policy and do not overburden your van with materials that are not required! 

Here are a few key takeaways: 

  • You can save a lot of space by using DUOTEX in your wall panels and ceilings. 
  • DUOTEX is lightweight, and soft, and maintains the aesthetics of your van very well. 
  • You can also save weight by substituting Lithium batteries in place of AGM and 8020 for traditional wood framing. 


For exciting Vanlife YouTube videos and updates, make sure you subscribe to my YouTube channel. 

Scott Adamson
Wanderful Idea Guy
Coffee drinker, adventure seeker, below average photographer.
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