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Top 4 Best Vans For A Camper Conversion – Small, Medium, Large & Luton

Here are the top 4 best vans for a camper conversion project and why we chose them.

Converting a small van into a camper, like the Volkswagen Transporter, is best for solo fishing trips or weekends away where space isn’t a priority and all you want is a comfortable shelter on wheels. A family of four however would find their needs best met by choosing a large Luton van, such as the Renault Master as their base vehicle, which can offer enough room in the back for a game of 5-a-side.

So what is the best van for a camper conversion? First, you’ll need to figure out what you’re looking to achieve here.

Before we get into the sugar though, here are some things to take into consideration when deciding on a base van for your camper conversion.

To Build Or Buy A Camper

For the amount of money you will spend on a base van for your conversion and fitting it out with all the amenities you’ll need to make it functional, you could probably just buy yourself a good quality camper van.

That said, if you build your van yourself, you get all the options of choosing your own base vehicle and customising it to your own specific needs.

Custom-built vans tend to look much like normal vans too, so you get to enjoy that “stealth” look. You could even camp at the side of the road and nobody would be any the wiser.

Anyway, vans are what we do here and we know everything there is to know about them so let’s get on. Here are our top choices for “the best van for camper conversion”.

Best Small Van For A Camper Conversion

Volkswagen Transporter T6 GTI

Without a doubt, the best small van for a camper conversion would be the Volkswagen Transporter.

But why? Well, they seem to last forever. It’s not uncommon to see 30 year old Volkswagen campers with no signs of serious ageing. If you look after your Volkswagen, your Volkswagen will look after you.

Their iconic status gives them an edge in the camper world too. An edge afforded to no other make or model of van with my personal favourite being the T3 model.

There’s something about T3 Transporter that whispers “mystery machine” and you can pick them up for a moderately reasonable price.

Converting A Small Van Into A Camper Is Great For

  • Solo Travelling
  • Fishing Trips For A Single Person
  • Solo Camping Trips
  • Temporary Accommodation
  • Day Trips/Touring
  • Off-Road Camping

Best Alternative Small Van For A Camper Project

One of the most overlooked and underrated small vans for a camper conversion has to be the Mitsubishi Delica L300 which is an excellent alternative to the VW.

If you can get past the fact that this van is a pretty weird looking little number with chunky lines and an odd-looking front end, you’ll find it an exceptionally reliable, rugged and capable little 4×4 which is perfect for both on and off-road adventures.

Best Medium Van For A Camper Conversion

Renault Master MWB L2

The best medium van for converting into a camper award has to go to the trusty Renault Master with medium roof.

Why? They’re bulletproof, reliable and second-hand base vehicles in great condition can be had for a reasonable price. The cubic load volume for this class of vehicle is an entirely respectable 10.8m^3 and the interior lines make insulating and lining a breeze.

Converting A Medium Van Into A Camper Is Awesome For

  • Solo Travelling, Possibly 2 People
  • Fishing Trips With 1 Or 2 People
  • Temporary Accommodation
  • Day Trips/Touring
  • Off-Road Camping
  • Possibly Solo Van Life
  • Stealth Camping

Best Alternative Medium Van For A Camper Project

We would have to recommend looking at a Vauxhall Vivaro as a viable, reliable and trustworthy alternative to the Renault Master. The box-like dimensions of the van makes converting one into a camper that much easier. Simple lines, simple cuts, simple living.

Best Large Van For A Camper Conversion

Renault Master LWB L3

Again, we bow down to the Renault Master as the best large van for a camper conversion.

Why? The Front Wheel Drive, Long Wheelbase/High Roof model boasts a staggering 3,500kg GVW and a payload capacity of up to 1,445kg (always check the vehicle’s VIN plate). If you plan on living in your camper for any length of time, the ability to carry such a weight is beyond awesome.

Also, the whopping 14.8m^3 interior load volume means you won’t be struggling for room when designing a layout for your camper project. The lines and convenient shape of the Renault Master too, allows you to shape interior linings and fixings without encountering impossible angles, edges or any other serious awkwardness.

Converting A Large Van Into A Camper Is Perfect For

  • Travelling With 1 Or 2 People
  • Fishing Trips With 2 Or 3 People
  • Temporary Accommodation
  • Day Trips/Touring
  • Van Life For 1 Or 2 People
  • Weekend Tours For Small Family
  • Stealth Camping

Best Alternative Large Van For A Camper Project

A great alternative to an LWB Renault Master would be the Volkswagen Crafter. The strength & reliability of these vans is astounding and frankly, they simply just last longer.

With a payload of up to 1,531kg (always check your VIN plate), the only reason the VW Crafter didn’t take this spot was the price. They’re expensive.

If money is no object, we would wholly recommend the Volkswagen Crafter as an excellent option for camper conversion.

Best Luton Van For A Camper Conversion

Renault Master Luton

This was difficult. Here at Falkirk Van Hire & Removals, our preferred Luton vans are all from the Ford Transit range. We can literally vouch for their reliability, strength and functionality. They do what they do very well.

That said, we don’t camp in our vans. The best Luton van for a camper conversion will have a whole list of its own pros and cons that simply don’t apply to the removals industry.

Again, and I’m actually slightly annoyed saying this, the best base Luton to convert into a camper would be (drum roll) a Renault Master.

Why? If you want to convert a Luton van into a camper, the odds are you’re serious about your project and want to make a proper job of it. You’ll want to add all sorts of mod cons as time goes on and the accumulated weight of all of these added luxury extras = heavy.

The Renault Master has the highest payload of any van in the Luton range with a mind-bogglingly impressive 1,238kg and a load volume of up to 22m^3.

With enough space and permissible load weight to build a small, mobile apartment in the back for permanent living, you would still have enough room left to build the ultimate death slide.

Converting A Luton Van Into A Camper Is Ideal For

  • Long Term Travelling
  • Family Touring Holidays
  • Fishing Trips With 3 or 4 People
  • Temporary Accommodation
  • Permanent Living/Van Life
  • Day Trips/Weekend Adventures

Best Alternative Luton Van For A Camper Project

We would have to recommend the reliable and bulletproof Ford Transit as the best Luton alternative to the Renault Master simply because we know these vans inside and out.

The only reason the Transit didn’t take this spot was its payload capacity, a meagre 1,016kg (always check the VIN plate) compared to Renault’s 1,238kg.

*The biggest pro to choosing a Luton van as your base vehicle for a camper conversion is the ability to remove the box. If you crash, break down beyond repair or your van just dies of old age, then you can simply remove your beloved box and fit it onto a new base vehicle.

We actually did a great article on Luton van FAQs you might find handy when deciding on a base model for your camper conversion. You can find it here: Everything You Ever Needed To Know About Luton Vans

Vans We Wouldn’t Choose For A Conversion Project

Mercedes Sprinter.

We’ve seen so many camper conversions using a Sprinter as a base van and we’re just sitting here like, why?

They’re expensive to buy, expensive to repair and expensive to maintain and with all of their gizmos, gadgets and flux capacitors, there’s so much more than can go wrong with them.

That’s not even the worst part either. Mercedes have never been famous for longevity.

Granted, they are amazing vans, when they’re new. Engineering marvels almost. But with 10 year old, well looked after Sprinters fray at the seams with rust whereas a VW Crafter, for instance, would still look new.

Camper Conversion FAQs

Can I Convert My Van Into A Camper?

Yes, you can convert anything with wheels into a camper. You’re only restriction is the size of your base van as to how much of a camper you can actually build.

How Much Does It Cost To Convert A Van To A Camper?

The cost of converting a van into a camper will range from £1500 to £25,000.

You can throw a single bed in the back of an ex builders van, a camping stove, a plastic washbasin and a 25l water butt and you have a camper for around £1500.

You can also insulate and line a 5-year-old courier van in top-notch condition, design your layout, fit solar and WiFi, lighting, heating, air extraction, cabinets, frames, bedding, seating, a kitchen and a wet room and you won’t see much change from £25,000.

The type of camper you want will always be budget based so, I’ll assume you’ll just go with what you can afford at the time.

Top Tip: it may be worthwhile thinking about the type of camper you eventually want?

For instance, you can buy a good base van, put in the basics so it’s at least functional and add to your project as time and budget allows along the way.

Is It Cheaper To Build A Camper Conversion?

Yes, it is cheaper to convert a camper van and no, it’s not cheaper to convert a camper van.

As stated earlier, you can throw a bed in the back of a van and call it a camper, albeit not much of a camper, but a camper all the same.

There are only 3 real reasons why you would take on a camper conversion project and not just simply buy a modern camper in good condition for the same price as a top-quality conversion project.

  1. You’re able to customise that vehicle as to how you want it and how it’ll serve you as your accommodation on wheels.
  2. You want to get into the Van Life and want to build a stealth camper that you can park anywhere.
  3. You have buckets of time and money and just want to build something awesome.

All of these are very valid reasons, but unless any apply to you, you’ll probably be better off just buying an actual camper.

How Long Does It Take To Convert A Campervan?

A typical camper build can take up to 6 months to complete.

This is assuming you work, have a family and can only work on your project in your free time, of which you don’t have much.

However, if free time isn’t something you’re short of, you can go from 0 to camper in 3 weeks flat.

How Hard Is It To Convert A Van To A Camper?

A camper conversion is an easy build to undertake if you take your time to consider the task ahead.

Having a good think about things and having a plan in place before you start your project is half the battle. YouTube is fabulous for tutorials too.

You can learn a lot from other people who have already taken the plunge so do check them out, even before deciding on your base vehicle.

Try this link: Camper Conversions On YouTube

Electrical work and gas fittings, however, should only be undertaken by a professional engineer.

What Is The Difference Between A Day Van And A Camper Van?

A day van will contain very few amenities. A sitting area, a table for eating and possibly something that’ll allow you to heat water. A day van is better suited to day tours, family days to the beach or mountain biking.

In comparison, a camper van will have a kitchen, bed and washing facilities. It’s basically a vehicle you can live in comfortably for an extended period of time.

Things To Consider When Converting A Van Into A Camper

Informing The DVLA

This is weird. We didn’t realise that there were so many specific conditions that must be met before the DVLA will change the classification of a vehicle from a van to a camper van until we actually looked into it.

You can read the complete criteria here: DVLA Van To Camper

Camper Van Depreciation

It’s worth noting that new vans depreciate quickly, and by a lot whereas older vans don’t.

When considering which van to buy as the base vehicle for your camper conversion, we suggest waiting for the right one to come up.

Your perfect van should be around 10 years old and covered under 100k miles with full service history and been visibly well maintained inside and out.

Ideally, a van previously used for only light work such as courier or delivery work would be a bonus.

And by paying a little extra for a van in this condition, not only can you enjoy another 100k trouble-free “adventure” miles on the clock, but it won’t lose value as quickly, nor by as much as a newer van.

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