The allure of #VanLife is strong, from the nomadic lifestyle to the ability to camp wherever, whenever. But although it seems like everyone wants a camper van these days, it’s not always practical for some people. Love campers and trailers? Come join our community group.
More than anything, most camper vans are expensive. Custom conversion rigs regularly run into six figures, and Class Bs from industry veterans like Winnebago and Airstream are top-dollar, too. It can also be hard to add another vehicle into the mix, and most camper vans don’t function as a daily driver.
Throw in height restrictions, HOA requirements, and storage space, and it’s easy to see while the #VanLife dream remains out of reach to many. Too often, the affordable, modular camper vans so common in Europe just don’t seem to be available here.
New companies want to change that. We’ve reported on the Recon camper van in the past, and today we’re looking at the Free Bird from Washington-based Caravan Outfitter. Built on the Nissan NV200 cargo van, the Free Bird uses a convenient slide-rail system that makes switching from camper van to cargo hauler a cinch.
The slide-and-glide system allows all of the components to be installed or removed in about two minutes. The main cabin is a series of boxes that hold everything you need to camp. The kitchen is accessed from the rear in a slide-out kitchen box; it consists of a portable butane stove and two storage drawers. Another large storage box behind the front two seats houses a deep cycle auxiliary battery that powers the dimmable LED lighting, two USB power ports, and the 31-quart fridge.
A seating area and table makes a comfortable indoor dining or workspace, and then at night the table legs remove and the table slides in to form a mattress platform. The cushions combine to form a 76-inch full-size bed, with space for two adults.
Because the kitchen area is outside, an optional Batwing awning provides a covered area around two sides of the vehicle and makes cooking in poor weather a bit easier. Screen-vented windows, a roof-mounted vent, and roll-up window curtains provide ventilation and privacy. Caravan Outfitters also offers extras like bike carriers, a Yakima roof box, and a sonar bumper warning system.
While the Free Bird can only seat and sleep two people—families, you should check out this van—it is an affordable camper van. The 2019 Free Bird SV+ starts at $37,165 and now through November 30, 2018 there is a pre-order early bird special that gives you a $600 accessory credit; deliveries for 2019 will start in December.