After four years of dabbling in the van lifestyle, I'm feeling like we've finally optimized the space after ridding the non-essentials, and acquiring a few key items. Here's a list of personally vetted van upgrades that are low investment, but of high yield in van utility and comfort. Whether you're just setting the final rivnuts, or on a long-term travel stint, we hope you find it helpful.
Wheel Levelers (Chocks)
Part of my fairy-tale mindset assumed that our Sprinter Van would automatically level the surrounding ground with only its presence. After a healthy dose of reality, i.e a year of driving in circles to ‘find the right spot’ and stacking rocks and sticks to level out a wheel, I finally caved and purchased two wheel chocks (Check out these - a good balance of price and durability).
Storage tip: shock cord under the bed platform keeps them nicely tucked out of the way, but handy for when it is time to call it a night.
A Small Handheld Vacuum
Living in a small space and it not feelingsmall means being organized as well as being clean. There is no worse feeling than hopping into bed, having little crumbs, sand, bits of rock on your feet, or in your sheets. I call them intruders.
A small handheld vacuum makes a world of difference. Trust me, I had a mini broom and dust pan before my moment-of-enlightenment with the first pass of my lithium charged, crumb hungry gadget. Giving the interior a quick five-minute clean every few days goes a long way in general contentment with the space, plus extends the time between needing a big shop-vac clean at the car wash.
Which one? I bought a Shark. Can't say I've ever said that out loud. So far, so great: the form factor is very small, so hard-to-reach spots are no issues. Good value, plus it comes with a minimalist charging stand that holds the accessories. There's other options out there, like the Black + Decker or the Dyson, but the former had questionable quality and the latter a questionable price. Since vacuum's aren't all that exciting to look at, here's a pretty waterfall instead:
Yes. We're blogging about a rug. You might think we’ve reached a new low, but hopefully you’ll transmute the oddity of this suggestion into how significant it is.
Our van has vinyl tile. Cold, hard tile. You know what that’s like to stand on when the weather is less than favorable? Not nice. Now, there is a rug on the tile. Things are much better.
Makes cleaning an extra breeze when you can just shake debris out
They come in cool colours. 24” by 60” is a standard household size, which just happens to fit perfectly down the isle in our van. Get one at your local hardware/home outfitting store with a rubberized back, usually in the bathroom dept, to ensure non-slippage in the van.
A (Hot) Outdoor Shower
What were we even doing before this? The game has changed. Shoulder season, and independence of any public facilities, open up wide once you are able to get clean in relative comfort.
The Eccotemp L5 is a great choice. It easily plumbed in to our existing water pump and propane lines. Mount that thing on the door and up your game with some quick connects.
Four years of sleeping in still air while the overhead fan hums away with no effect. These days are now past us. On a recent cabinet mod, I installed a Sirocco. It is essential to have some horizontal air flow through the van, a permanently mounted solution does the best trick. My only regret is not doing it sooner.
Cell Booster. Working remotely is much easier when you can find a cell signal off the beaten track. This cell booster has been instrumental for making work days happen in some pretty spectacular spots. At the edge of a coverage area, it'll usually take 'No Service' and turn it into 3-4 bars of 3G, or 1-2 of LTE.
Aeropress. When you're being considerate of water usage, there's nothing more frustrating than trying to clean get grinds out a french press mesh screen. Ugh. 300% happier with the coffee out of an Aeropress, which less bitter and acidic, plus the cleanup is much easier.
Welp, that wraps up our list of useful bits in kitting out a Sprinter Van. Do you have any must-haves in yours? We'd love to hear about them in the comments below.