One of the aspects I value most in any piece of gear, be it a mountain bike or a camper, is value. I love flashy new products as much as anyone and certainly test a lot of high-tech, expensive gear, but my Midwestern sensibilities always pull back to the concept of value when thinking about whether I’d purchase a piece of gear or recommend it to my friends. To me, value doesn’t always equate to a low price, though, it just means that I’m getting a lot for my money compared to other options in the space.
Dave and Matt Vans (from $64,982) are a prime example. While $65,000 is a lot of money no matter how you slice it, in a world of $250,000 custom van builds, it’s a downright bargain. That money buys you a brand new Ram Promaster van, with a full interior build. The various setups are simple, yet beautiful—they’re not as flashy as some other vans, but you get a fully functional camper with everything you need and nothing you don’t. The list of amenities includes lighting, a fridge, a sink with running water, a 170 amp-hour lithium battery, an inverter for charging gadgets, 200 watts of solar on the roof, a lofted queen-sized bed, and plenty of storage space for all your gear.
You can add a toilet, furnace, and even a portable shower to the mix if you’d like, but all of the add-ons and systems inside are simple and easy to maintain. Take the kitchen, for instance: rather than a built-in water tank that has to be filled from the outside, Dave and Matt Vans opted for a simple setup that consists of two seven-gallon jerry cans. One holds your fresh water, the other collects your gray water, and they can be easily taken out of the van and filled nearly anywhere—there’s no need to search for a spigot or hose, and you don’t have to worry about winterizing your van.
Keeping things simple and focusing on only what’s needed allows the company to keep their prices down, and their value high. But, just because they’re accessible doesn’t mean they aren’t gorgeous on the inside—my wife, who for years has been decidedly anti-van, was fully converted after just one trip.
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