There’s no doubt having a converted camper van gives you the freedom and mobility that you just can’t get with a standard RV. There’s something so liberating about fitting into small spaces and not needing a full hook-up to enjoy homey comforts on the road or in the backcountry. You can practically go anywhere.
Conversion kits and DIY options abound to turn your van into a camper. There are even companies that, for the right price, will do a custom conversion on your vehicle.
The Ram Promaster is a really popular vehicle for conversion into a camper. And for good reason. It’s relatively roomy with interior angles that are easy to work with. With so much space, you have multiple options on how to layout your floor plan. It’s easy to come up with a really functional design that works for your unique needs.
So, what is the first step to convert your dream into reality? How, exactly, can you go about achieving a full Ram Promaster conversion? The answer to this question really depends on you, your capabilities and what you want. Do you have a budget that allows you to trust the conversion to the hands of talented professionals? Do you have confidence in your own skills to tackle the challenging jobs yourself?
Do you even know how to use a screwdriver?
You may have heard about different options for conversion kits to make the job easier. And it’s true, there are a few companies out there specializing in Ram Promaster camper van conversions. In this article, I want to help you explore the options that are out there.
Your top 3 Ram Promaster Conversion Kit options:
1. Wayfarer Vans – Plug and Play Camper Van Kits
If you do a quick google search for Ram Promaster conversion plans or conversion kits, one of the first images you’ll see is of the Wayfarer Vans “Plug and Play” camper van kit. These conversion kits are really an “all in one” deal. They are a great option if you like to keep things simple and value your time over money.
Wayfarer makes different packages for the 136” wheelbase, 159” wheelbase, and the City Cargo, Tradesman SLT or Standard models. Depending on your Promaster, each kit has different components and different costs.
Here are the different kits available:
- The Wally Camper Van Conversion Kit for the Promaster City Cargo, Tradesman SLT or Standard models costs under $6000, including the costs of shipping. In just a few hours you can install the components yourself, with just a screwdriver and a socket wrench. It’s pretty foolproof.
- The Walter Model Conversion Kit works for the 136” wheelbase Promaster and costs under $10,000.
- The similarly named Walt Model Camper Van Conversion Kit is designed for the 159” wheel base and costs around $11,400.
So what does Wayfarer include in their packages? Basically everything you need. You get insulated wall and ceiling panels, durable flooring, storage areas and cushions. They’ll even custom make the cushions with the fabric you send them!
The Walter and Walt model conversion kits include a bed platform, kitchen galley (with faucet, water tanks and pump), shelving, rails to help you tie down your cargo, and privacy paneling. They really have thought of everything.
If there’s a ‘con’ to the Wayfarer Promaster conversion kits, it’s that you have to go to their workshop in Colorado Springs, CO to have your Ram Promaster van outfitted.
The Wally model you can have shipped to your home, but the other packages are just a bit too bulky and complicated to ship. If you want to save $700 in shipping and make the trip to their headquarters, they’ll install the Wally model conversion kit for free in their workshop.
You do have to plan the trip in advance so they know to expect you, but they are pretty accommodating. They’ll even point you in the right direction to the best trails to make the most out of your visit and so you can try out your newly converted camper van right away.
2. Vanworks – Camper Van Conversion Packages
Vanworks is a much older company that has been doing professional van conversions since 1978. These guys have a basic conversion kit that gets you on the road (and in the backcountry) with just the basics, or you can choose a package that completely converts your Promaster into a self contained, off the grid, mini camper with all the accessories that go beyond “basic comfort”.
These are the guys to go to if you want pro features in your van like recessed LED lighting, custom windows, swivel seats, a roof vent, gas stove, and refrigerator – all professionally installed and guaranteed to make your life comfortable without blowing anything up or causing leaks.
You have to have a bit of a budget to turn your van over to these guys. Expect to spend a minimum of around $10,000 and up to around $39,000 depending on what you opt for.
They do all of the installation in their Fort Collins, CO based workshop. You can work with them to install individual components (say, a roof vent) that you don’t feel comfortable tackling yourself or have them install the works.
Here are the packages they offer:
- EPIC Van Conversion Package: This is actually their most basic yet fully functional package. You get insulated and lined walls, a basic kitchen galley with water tanks, removable overhead storage bags, insulated window coverings, floor mats, removable bed platform and a portable battery system to power four LED lights among other features.
- Bear Bones Van Conversion Package: As the name implies, this is the bare bones of a full conversion. Basically, they help you with the most intimidating parts of the job. You get vented windows, the highest rated insulation possible, wall and ceiling paneling, automated roof vent, LED touch lights and an isolated battery system to keep it all working when off the grid. This package does NOT include the kitchen galley, bed platform or storage cabinets. The idea is that they install the base essentials, and you take it from there.
- Base Camp Van Conversion Package: This package will convert your van into a fully equipped camper van that is ready to enjoy right out of the workshop. You get everything that is included in the Bear Bones package, plus everything else you need to be camp ready. You get a bed platform, the kitchen galley with refrigerator, overhead storage cabinets with netting, a folding sofa bench with seat belts, durable flooring and ceiling mounted D-Rings.
Trail Ridge Van Conversion Package: This top-end conversion package will give you a sense of rustic luxury when out on the road in your camper van. You get a higher capacity battery system with solar panel options, high quality aluminum storage cabinets, kitchen galley with a propane stove, passenger swivel seat adapter, wheel well storage units, outside awning, diesel heater, and (wait for it) … a rear cold water spray off station!
Vanworks works with every single client on an individual basis to customize each package to suit your needs. You have to talk with them directly to get a quote on any of these packages. The price will depend on the model of your vehicle and what, exactly, you want to install in your camper van.
3. The ‘Do It Yourself’ Option
Ok, Ok – so this isn’t exactly a “kit” or a “package” that you can easily purchase and install or have installed in your Promaster to convert it into the camper van of your dreams.
But let’s face it, some of us that want to live the #vanlife don’t have the kind of resources needed to equip our van with professionally installed gas stoves or refrigerators. Others might have a nice budget to work with but just want to outfit their rig to be truly one of a kind in style and personality.
So depending on what your needs are, and what your budget is, you might do well to consider opting for a DIY setup.
One couple did an incredible job of outfitting their Promaster into a remarkably comfortable camper van using all Ikea products, for under $1000. They live full time in their van, proving that making the leap into #vanlife doesn’t require large sums of money to get started.
It’s impossible to give a budget for a DIY conversion, because every vehicle will turn out differently.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when undertaking a Promaster conversion.
Plan, Plan, Plan!
This is probably the most overwhelming part of the conversion process. There are so many amazing ideas out there. When one enters the “rabbit hole” of design ideas, it can be really hard to make decisions. That said, planning is the most important part of the process. Make a plan and try to stick to it. What you will save in money you will invest in time.
Decide on a floor plan and on the features that you deem absolutely essential. Be realistic about your needs and your budget. Start thinking about sourcing materials (where can you buy RV windows, for example) and looking up building plans. Think about the project from start to finish.
A good plan goes a long way in keeping a project like this on budget.
Remember The Essentials
It’s easy to get lost in designing your dream mini kitchen or bed platform with storage space. But don’t forget the basics. This includes the stuff you will never see, or that doesn’t play a huge part in the “look” of your camper van.
What kind of insulation will you need?
Will you install flooring? Wall Covers? A ceiling?
What kind of electrical hook-up do you want and what kind of wiring does it need?
Will you need to get rid of rust?
Will you install windows or vents?
Know Your Limits
It’s only human nature to bite off more than you can chew. Avoid costly mistakes on your Promaster camper conversion project. Be honest with yourself about your limits. Some of these projects require real know-how and specialized tools.
- Ask for help from more experienced people. Take advantage of the collective knowledge of your family, neighbors, and friends to make sure every project is done right.
- Borrow the appropriate tools if you do not have them. The right tools make a hard job so much easier.
- Admit mistakes. If your vent installation didn’t quite go as planned, don’t wait until it’s leaking rain on your belongings in a three-day downpour to fix it!
- Don’t skimp on certain materials. It’s great to be thrifty when outfitting your rig, but make sure that you install high-quality materials that will last where it matters. This includes electrical fixtures, insulation, seals, and anti-rust paints.
There is now a huge community of people living their best #vanlife and a lot of them are connected. Link into the forums, Facebook groups, and Instagram accounts. You will find them invaluable. You can find advice, inspiration, reality checks, and a sense of community by connecting with like-minded people.
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Traci is a lifelong traveler and adventure seeker. She is currently raising her free-range children in rural Venezuela, works as a part-time dairy farmer and a freelance writer. Follow her on IG @traciraymond
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