The Best Van For A Camper Conversion

The Best Van For A Camper Conversion

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

Small vans like the Volkswagen Transporter are best for solo fishing trips or days away where space isn’t a priority and all you really want is a comfortable shelter on wheels. A family of four however would find their needs best met with a Luton van such as the Renault Master with enough space in the rear for a game of 5 aside.

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, then 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 also tend to still look much like normal vans so you do 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 To Convert Into A Camper

Volkswagen Transporter T6 GTI

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

Why? Because 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 also gives them an edge in the camper world. 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.

Small Vans For A Camper Conversion Are Best For

  • Solo Travelling
  • Solo Fishing Trips
  • 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 and is an excellent alternative to the VW.

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

Best Medium Van To Convert Into A Camper

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? Because 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.

Medium Camper Vans Are Best 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 alternative to the Renault Master. They’re reliable and trustworthy, but most of all the shape of the van with it’s box like dimensions make converting one into a camper that much easier. Simple lines, simple cuts, simple living.

Best Large Van To Convert Into A Camper

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 vehicles 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 shape of the Renault Master too also allows you to shape interior linings and fixings without encountering impossible angles, edges or any other serious awkwardness.

*Payload capacity differs from model to model and year to year including optional factory fitted or aftermarket extras that may have been fitted. ALWAYS refer to your vehicles VIN plate for payload capacity of the vehicle you’re driving.

Large Camper Vans Are Best 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 a LWB Renault Master would be the Volkswagen Crafter. The strength & reliability of these vans is astounding and 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 then we would wholly recommend the Volkswagen Crafter as an excellent option for a camper conversion.

Best Luton Van To Convert Into A Camper

Renault Master Luton

This was difficult. Here at Falkirk Van Hire & Removals our preferred Luton vans are all from the Ford Transit range so 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 so the best Luton van for a camper conversion will have a whole list of it’s 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 mindbogglingly impressive 1,238kg and a load volume of up to 22m^3.

This is enough space and permissible load weight to build a small mobile apartment for permanent living and still have enough room left in the back to build a death slide.

Luton Camper Vans Are Best 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 it’s payload capacity which is a meagre 1,016kg (always check the VIN plate) compared to the Renaults 1,238kg.

*The biggest pro to choosing a Luton van as your base vehicle for a camper conversion is the ability remove the box. This means if you crash, break down beyond repair or your van just dies of old age then you can simply remove your beloved box and have it fitted to 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. They’re truly amazing vans when new, granted, engineering marvels almost, but we’ve seen 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 restricted by 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?

Cost of converting a van into a camper will range from £1500-£25,000.

You can throw a single bed in the back of an ex builders van, a camping stove, a plastic wash basin 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 not see much in the way of change from £25,000.

The type of camper you want depends on your budget so I’d assume you’ll just go with what you can afford at the time.

As a top tip, it may be worth thinking about the type of camper you eventually want, buying a good base van, putting in the basics so it’s at least functional and adding to your project as time and budget permits along the way.

Is It Cheaper To Convert A Campervan?

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. Not much of a camper but a camper all the same.

There’s 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 of a top quality conversion project.

  1. So 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 reason but unless any apply to you, you’re probably better 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.

If free time isn’t something you’re short of however, then 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 project to undertake if you take your time and think about things before you do do anything.

YouTube is fabulous for tutorials and you can learn a lot from them before you even decide on which base vehicle you want. Try this link: Camper Conversions On YouTube

Electrics and gas however should always be checked and fitted by a professional engineer.

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

A day van will contain very little amenities. A sitting area, a table for eating and possibly something that’ll allow you to heat water. A day van is 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 is basically a vehicle you can comfortably live in for an extended period of time.

Things To Consider When Converting A Van Into A Camper

Informing The DVLA

This is weird. Until we actually looked we didn’t realise there was such a specific criteria of conditions that must be met before the DVLA will change the classification of your vehicle from van to camper van.

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

Depreciation

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

If you’re looking for the perfect van for your camper project than we suggest waiting till you find the right one.

It should be around 10 years old, under 100k miles, been previously used for light work such as courier or delivery work, have a full service history and be visibly well maintained inside and out.

This type of van you may pay a little extra for but you’ll have another 100k trouble free adventure miles on the clock and it won’t lose value as quickly, nor by as much as a newer van.

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