View Full Version : Family camper
07-07-2011, 10:38 PM
This is a real basic build but I hope this can be useful for someone with the same dilemma.
A family of five ready to embark on a cross country journey, kids are pre teens. When they were younger, I had a queen size bunk in back and a bench seat that folded down into a bed. Basically at night the van just converted into a giant bed with storage underneath and cooking was done outside. Now that they are older they want their own space. What to do? what to do? .....and then it came to me....bunks! I replaced the foldable bench seat with a factory bench seat which was much more comfortable while driving. I kept the full size bunk in back and built some bunks . In the photo my daughter is facing towards the rear but normally we sleep with our feet towards the door, that way we can sit up. They take turns sleeping in the bunk or on the bench seat. the third gets the front seat bunk. If the two dogs can't sleep outside they sleep on the floor in front of the bench seat. It is all very cozy! like being on a boat.
07-07-2011, 10:56 PM
I always loved the canvas bunks that went over the front seats in the old VW camper vans. I never could figure out how to make one for the sprinter. My son actually came up with this idea. It works great. A very simple design. Easily placed or removed. Stores on the rear bunk with feet attatched. Takes up almost no space when stored. I can actually drive with it in place if I need to quickly abandoned a campsite in the middle of the night (bandidos, crazies, grizzlies, drunks, floods, fires, officers ..etc.) That is pretty rare but I sleep better knowing that option is there. Putting a curtain behind the front seat gives my son his own "room"
07-07-2011, 11:25 PM
Home sweet home away from home. Here we are camping at Crystal hot springs outside of Honeyville, Utah. I mostly use our van for work so the bunks are easily removed yet the driver side part of the lower rear bunk is permanent. Storage tubs (action packers) easily slide under the bunk. There is a place for a foldable kitchen unit and we carry about 12 gallons of water in the blue totes. We have one of those foldable enviro toilets that use absorber bags. A curtain clipped to the opened rear doors makes a private space for the toilet or changing etc. A tarp clipped to the roof rails makes for a cheap awning if it is to sunny or rainy. Surfboards get strapped to the inside of the roof. Fishing poles are on the wall. Roof rack for kayaks or canoes. I installed a solar powered vent for fresh air but want to replace it w/ a fantastic fan. Some day soon I hope to build one of those pop up roof top style tents. When we retire I will take out the bench seat and make a kitchen unit.......but it is all working great for now. A very versatile vehicle.
07-12-2011, 10:56 AM
I applaud you for your ingenuity. Any regrets not getting the bigger van? I used to own a passenger version of your size but I then went to a bigger van after 2.5 years. If I had bought a bigger van originally, I probably would still continue to drive it today.
That top bunk is where I'd rather be. Don't want to sleep on the bottom bunk seeing that slight bow in the middle.
07-16-2011, 03:35 AM
With only the weight of a child on the upper bunk, I am not concerned about the bow in the plywood. It was just a quick easy solution and has room for improvement. For a brilliant bunk bed design that raises and lowers check out "treehouselab" thread!!!
No regrets on this sprinter but I have eyed the largest sprinters available and thought how fun it would be to build one out as a dedicated camper. My only regret on this van was that I didn't get a non-white one.
07-16-2011, 04:36 AM
In an NVC3 cab we have used a 2 1/2' x 5' folding table, from walmart. With the seats back the table catches the gear-shift housing. OK for little people. Cut the legs off, or not, depending on weight concerns, or need for a table!
07-16-2011, 11:31 PM
Great idea with the front bunk.
When my kids were little we traveled in a '71 Voks camper. I used a square piece of canvas with hooks in the corners to attach to the anchor points on each side of the front windows. It made a hammock over the front seats, perfect for a small child or infant. I suppose some anchors could be put into the sprinter window columns.
As far as the crazies and late night interruptions, I believe it is good to be prepared. I worry some of my favorite SW boondocking sites are becoming gang territory, and National Park and Forest Service oversight is retreating from some areas because of budget problems. When I boondock, I turn the van and point it so it is ready, and stow everything for a quick exit. When I crawl into bed, I know where my pants are and a flashlight and the bear spray.
Actually never had a bear try to get into the van, but I sleep better.
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