If summer travel is any indication, the camper van craze looks to have staying power. You can’t drive over a mountain pass in Colorado or near a surf break in California without seeing camper vans big and small. And while I’m busy cruising around the American west in my own Sprinter van, I’m always on the lookout for innovative, interesting rigs. Love campers and trailers? Come join our community group.
The latest to cross my desk is from Oregon-based Outside Van. We’ve covered the latest and greatest from Outside Van in the past—check out this bike-centric van for two or this luxurious off-grid van—but their most recent build is a bit of a surprise.
With a sophisticated color palette and a laundry list of new amenities, the Next Gen van is a glimpse into Outside Van’s future—and I have to say that I like it.
Outside Van has been a leader in custom conversion vans for some time now, pushing the boundaries of what vans can look like and how many luxuries can be packed inside. Their standard vans are usually sleek and rigged for adventure, with a focus on functionality rather than colorful style.
The Next Gen van takes design up a notch, with a fun teal, orange, and brown color scheme. Custom upholstered katzkin leather seats feature a center stripe of color in a durable Sunbrella fabric, while the upper storage areas use a brass-like finish and white accents.
A unique partition system with roll-up doors lets you close off the back area, while another roll-up door provides access to the fully enclosed aluminum shower. Wood-inspired floors look fresh and apartment-like, although they are made with marine-grade vinyl that’s built to last.
The living quarters are positioned in the rear of the van. A galley kitchen features a sink with on-demand hot and cold water, a low-profile induction cooktop, and a spot for a Vitamix blender. Cabinets are made from lightweight bamboo and boast dovetail joints and soft-close latched doors. A walnut butcher block adds style, while a double compartment refrigerator-freezer combo gives you plenty of space for food storage.
A sleeping area uses a brand new bunk-bed system with tubular aluminum frames, rip-stop Sunbrella fabric, and space to sleep two. The system is removable, modular, and lightweight—measuring in at 10 pounds per bunk.
Built on a 2018 170 EXT four-wheel-drive Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, the layout of the Next Gen prioritizes weight reduction and distribution to help with fuel efficiency and ride comfortability. Two 360-amp hour MasterVolt Lithium Ion batteries and three Zamp solar panels power the van, while other perks include a custom roof-rack, an air conditioner, and even a 110-volt outlet underneath the front hood so you can charge an e-bike.
Outside Van converts most any van as long as they are 2007 or newer; you can provide your own van, order a new one, or choose from a chassis that’s in stock. Conversions start at $32,000 (excluding the van price) and can run well into six figures.
Next Gen features a number of new product concepts—like the cot bunk system and the AC unit—that are currently being tested and are not available to the public. If they hold up in testing you can expect to see them offered in the future.
Regardless, it’s fun to see where the luxury conversion sector is heading. The Next Gen shows that Outside Van and its competitors (like this van from Nomad Vanz) are looking to add more features, more color, and more power into design-minded vans that can go anywhere.