Custom Van Builds for Overland Camping

Custom Van Builds for Overland Camping

Why A Campervan Is Your Ultimate Adventure Companion

Overland camping is a unique and adventurous way to explore the outdoors, blending the thrill of off-road exploration with the joy of camping. This style of camping often involves using a four-wheel drive vehicle to access and drive through remote or rugged locations that are not easily reached by standard cars. 

Think about it – whether you’re exploring national parks, cruising through national forests, or scouting out the perfect spot for dispersed camping. Overland Camping opens up endless possibilities to find your own slice of outdoor paradise.

A sprinter campervan parked in a field

What is a Custom Van Build

A custom van build involves creating a personalized campervan that meets an individual or family’s specific needs and preferences. This customization covers everything from the van’s layout to its features, colors, and materials, ensuring the van is ideally suited to the owner’s requirements. This tailored approach makes sure your campervan investment provides years of use and service to you and your family

On the other hand, there are pre-fabricated vans available on the market. While these vans come equipped with a wide range of features and amenities, they lack the uniqueness and personalized design that comes with a custom build. These standard models may not align perfectly with your lifestyle or preferences, as they are not designed with your specific needs in mind.

Choosing A Custom Conversion for Overland Camping:

When you’re designing a custom van for overland camping, it’s crucial to consider how self-contained the van needs to be. Heading into the wilderness means you won’t have the convenience of popping to the store if you forget something. This requires careful planning in every element of the van’s design. You need to think about adequate storage, efficient cooking facilities, sufficient water capacity, and reliable energy sources. Additionally, the build quality and structural integrity are vital for enduring the demands of off-road adventures.

Interior and Exterior Features for Overland Camping

When planning a custom van conversion for overland camping, both the interior and exterior design are crucial for a comfortable and efficient experience. Let’s explore some essential features to consider:


Storage Solutions: First and foremost, the design must prioritize storage solutions that accommodate all the necessities for extended periods away from modern conveniences. A refrigerator becomes essential for those who prefer fresh foods, requiring sufficient space not just for the appliance itself but also for the power it consumes. Alongside, there must be adequate room for pots, pans, and other cooking utensils, ensuring that meal preparation is as seamless as it is at home.

Sleeping Quarters: Having a comfortable place to sleep is key to getting a good night’s rest while traveling. Whether you prefer platform beds or the adventure of pop-up roof tents, there’s a variety of sleeping arrangements to match your style.

Kitchenette: A well-equipped kitchenette allows you to prepare delicious meals wherever you roam. Consider installing a compact stove, fridge, sink, and ample counter space for culinary adventures.

inside of a 2 person sprinter 170 van conversion


Off-Road Accessories: Equipping your campervan with the right off-road accessories can transform your driving experience, especially when navigating through rugged and unpredictable terrains.

All-terrain tires are essential for any off-road adventure, providing crucial traction on a variety of surfaces. Upgrading your tires can significantly improve your vehicle’s performance. For an even greater enhancement, think about upgrading your suspension system as well. This not only supports better performance in “off-road mode” but also improves the overall comfort and handling of your campervan.

An air compressor is another critical addition. It allows you to deflate your tires to increase their surface area for better cushioning and traction on soft or uneven ground. Once you’re back on firmer roads, you can use the compressor to re-inflate the tires to their optimal pressure for regular driving.

Don’t forget to include recovery gear in your setup. Recovery boards are invaluable tools for gaining traction and getting out of sticky situations like mud or sand. A winch mounted on your van is necessary for self-recovery or to assist others. This all depends on the complexity of your adventures and the conditions of the roads. 

Water Capacity: When planning an overland camping trip, it’s crucial to consider your water needs, not just for drinking but also for cooking and hygiene. It’s equally important to have a good greywater management system in place. Since the regulations for disposing of grey water can differ from one state to another, having a system that can hold between 20 to 50 gallons will help you stay compliant and environmentally responsible. This setup not only meets legal requirements but also enhances your ability to remain self-sufficient, reducing the need to frequently resupply water.

Solar Power System: To extend your off-grid adventures and enhance your self-sufficiency, consider installing a solar panel setup. This system will keep your camper’s batteries charged, allowing you to enjoy prolonged trips without depending on external power sources. A combination of lithium batteries and solar panels is typically the best approach for powering amenities like your fridge, lights, and charging electronic devices. It’s essential to strike the right balance between power generation, storage capacity, and consumption. This balance is key to maintaining your self-sufficiency while ensuring all your essential needs are met efficiently.

Awning and Outdoor Living Space: Create a shaded outdoor oasis with a retractable awning or rooftop tent annex, providing extra sleep spaces.

the inside of a170 sprinter campervan conversion

Building The Custom Overland Van

When it comes to overland travel, especially off-road, the build quality and structural integrity of your van are absolutely critical. The rough conditions encountered can put a lot of stress on every part of the vehicle. Therefore, the van’s construction needs to be both sturdy enough to withstand these forces and flexible enough to handle the dynamic stresses of traveling over uneven terrains, like ruts and washboard roads. 

Achieving this requires a careful choice of materials and design principles that provide durability while still allowing some flexibility. For instance, securely bolting components directly to the frame ensures they stay in place, regardless of any vibrations or twisting motions the van goes through during your journeys. This balance is key to a reliable and resilient overland vehicle.

Our Favorite Custom Builds for Overland Camping

Now that you’re acquainted with the benefits and features of custom van conversions for overland camping let’s take a look at a few standout builds that exemplify adventure-ready craftsmanship:

The Adventure Nomad: A lot of people dream about having a campervan that can handle some serious off-roading. Still, not many actually go the extra mile to upgrade their suspension or add any aftermarket gear. But here’s a customer who fully committed to a full-on overlanding conversion, turning their van into the ultimate go-anywhere, do-anything adventure machine. 

Meet Nestor, an AWD Sprinter 144 built to comfortably accommodate your overland camping adventures. It seats 10 people and can sleep four. Nestor comes fully loaded with everything you might need off-grid, featuring a space-saving combined bathroom and shower, a nicely equipped galley kitchen, a refrigerator, and plenty of storage space for all your gear. 

The Wanderlust Explorer: Overland camping often involves long journeys, and it’s essential to have a spacious interior to ensure comfort throughout those trips. This custom Sprinter 170 ext. adventure van offers just that—a generous layout, complete with a fully equipped kitchenette and a solar power system for off-grid self-sufficiency.

Introducing the Jackson, one of our most robust and feature-rich builds to date. This 2022 3500 170 Extended model provides seating for four and includes a massive king-sized bed for restful sleep for two.

The Family Trailblazer: If you’re planning to take your whole family on off-road adventures, it’s essential to have a 4×4 camper that caters to everyone. Imagine a vehicle equipped with everything you need: ample battery power, solar panels, a large water tank, multiple sleeping areas, and cozy spots to relax. That’s exactly what this Sprinter conversion offers with its flexible, modular design. It easily switches from every day driving to long camping trips, making it perfect for family adventures.

Let me introduce you to the ultimate family camper van, affectionately named Nala. Jeremiah, who has been a project manager at ADF for over eight years, crafted Nala when it was time to build a van for his own family. He knew exactly what would suit their lifestyle and included a top-notch off-roading kit to ensure they could go anywhere together.

About Us

As a Mercedes-Benz Certified Expert Upfitter, ADF Sprinters has been perfecting the craft of van conversions since 2009.