Inside Scoop

Top 10 Outside Van Builds of 2020

2020 was filled with many challenges to say the least. However, the Outside Van team persevered and was luckily enough to continue building out some amazing custom conversions for our customers. This year’s most popular vans include an eclectic mix of layouts, features, and functions. They range from family adventure haulers to escape pods for solo and couple travelers.

Here are the top 10 most popular Outside Vans of 2020:

 

10. COMMAND POST

Command Post was custom-built in a Mercedes-Benz 4WD 170 EXT dually chassis. This van was specifically designed for a family that wanted a premium and enjoyable way to travel around the country. With seating for up to 5 passengers and upper and lower sleeping platforms that accommodate the whole family, we had to be strategic with the layout. It was designed with a majority of the heavy components located and distributed over the rear axle, creating a well-balanced van.

With dual 300Ah Lithium battery, totaling 600Ah, as well as a high amp secondary alternator, this family is able to power appliances off-grid without worry, even the 20,000 BTU aftermarket rooftop A/C and microwave. To heat the van’s 40 gallon water tank, we’ve installed an Espar hydronic heater. This provides warm water to the fully enclosed aluminum shower. The cabin is heated by a Webasto EVO 55 system.

On the exterior, we’ve designed a safari rack that accommodates two cross bars, as well as a ladder on the rear to access the roof.

www.outsidevan.com/van/command-post/

 

9. Monkey Business

Monkey Business is a Sprinter 170 that features dinette seating that converts into an extra sleeping or lounging area at the push of a button. With a fully stocked kitchen featuring a sink, fridge, and induction cooktop, creating gourmet meals at the campsite is easy. The upper three panel bed provides a queen sized sleeping area. With plenty of upper and lower storage areas, it’s simple to keep food, cookware, gear, and clothes organized.

With a power system is comprised of two 300Ah lithium ion batteries, a 2000W inverter, two 130W rooftop solar panels, and a secondary alternator that charges the van while the engine’s running. With this amount of power, the owners of Monkey Business can camp off-grid for days with worry-free use of the induction stove, fridge, fans, lights, and outlets. The 25 gallon water tank feeds the sink, rear shower hookup, and the removable shower in the slider door area. The team at Outside Van has created a custom removable aluminum shower pan with a floor drain and a removable shower curtain and track.

www.outsidevan.com/van/mokey-business/

 

8. RANGER

Ranger is a Sprinter 144 was designed and built by the team at Outside Van. This Sprinter 144 features the debut of a two person travel-approved passenger seat that easily folds into a bed, reupholstered in leather to match the front driver and passenger seat. This seat fits perfectly next to the fully stocked galley kitchen, with a fridge, sink, induction cooktop, and plenty of drawer space, while still allowing ample room to stand.

The power system is comprised of two high-output AGM batteries, a 2000 watt inverter, a secondary alternator that directly charges the van while idle or in motion, and a 130 watt roof top solar panel. An Espar heater heats the water for the exterior shower and sink, as well as the cabin air.

The exterior features Outside Van’s rear step bumper (developed for 2019 vans and newer), side and rear Utility ladders, side steps, combo rack with safari roof rack and light bar, and crossbars.

www.outsidevan.com/van/ranger/

 

7. SKYWALKER

Skywalker is a Sprinter 170 was designed for a family that camps in all seasons in the Pacific Northwest. The layout features seating and sleeping for four with two removable captains chairs and upper and lower sleeping platforms, finished with custom upholstery. The upper platform includes a hinging panel that drops down to make a backrest for the perfect space to relax. The lower platform can be partially removed in the garage for more storage space. In the garage, there’s plenty of room for both summer and winter gear.

The power system is made up of two lithium ion batteries totaling 600 amp hours, two 130 watt solar panels, as well as a secondary alternator. This provides virtually unlimited power to the aftermarket rooftop A/C, induction cooktop stove, fridge, roof fans, lights, and outlets. With a 25 gallon water tank and a hot water heater, warm water for the exterior shower and sink is available.

On the exterior, there’s a custom built safari roof rack which houses the solar panels, a 50″ light bar, and two rear load lights. We’ve installed two 6″ lights in the front bumper area for visibility while driving off-road. And to help this rig on it’s back road adventures, Black Rhino Warlord 18″ wheels with BFGoodrich K02 tires have been added.

www.outsidevan.com/van/skywalker/

 

6. CLOUD CAP

Cloud Cap is a Sprinter 170 serves as the perfect basecamp for our customers, who are a family of four that spend most of their weekends at the mountain during the winter, skiing and racing. This functional layout features a four panel removable bed with a folding mattress and a dropdown panel option that makes a comfortable couch for relaxing after a day on the slopes. The platform below has two flip up sections that create a sleeping area for two. The galley kitchen is made out of marine grade plywood and topped with a solid walnut countertop, and is equipped with a 4.6 cu ft stainless steel refrigerator, an induction cooktop, and a sink.

With a 300 amp hour RELion Lithium deep cycle battery, a 2000 watt inverter, and a secondary alternator, the 20,000 BTU 12v aftermarket rooftop A/C, induction cooktop, and microwave can be used worry-free while camping off-grid. The Webasto Dual Top EVO 6 diesel heating system pulls fuel directly from the van’s fuel tank and quietly heats the cabin and water.

www.outsidevan.com/van/cloud-cap/

 

5. VALERIA

Valeria is a Sprinter 144 that includes a three panel bed serves as a comfortable sleeping area, and one panel can be dropped down to make a sitting area perfect for relaxing after a long day of adventuring. The kitchen has all the essentials for cooking a meal, including an induction cooktop, sink, and fridge. Stocked with a power system comprised of 2 AGM batteries, a 2000w inverter, and a secondary alternator dedicated to charging the batteries when the van is in motion, powering appliances and charging gadgets while camping off-grid is easy. With a Websato hydronic heating system, our customer can take warm showers outside the rear of the van and have warm water for washing dishes.

www.outsidevan.com/van/valeria/

 

4. SOLSTICE

Solstice is a Sprinter 144 equipped for any adventure, no matter the season. With two removable captains chairs, up to four passengers can come along for the ride. With an upper three panel bed with a hinging panel, the seats can be fully upright during travel. The kitchen, with an Avonite countertop, a deep stainless steel sink, an induction cooktop, a refrigerator, and an overhead microwave, is perfect for cooking up meals at the campsite. There’s plenty of gear storage in the rear, a rear exterior shower, and an onboard air compressor.

The power system includes two AGM batteries, a 2000W inverter, a 130W rooftop solar panel, as well as a secondary alternator that charges the system while the engine’s running. With an Espar diesel heating system, cabin heat and hot water can be summoned at the touch of a button. Agile’s Ride Improvement Package has been added to optimize the suspension setup around the van’s total weight & load distribution. Paired with the factory 4-wheel drive, Black Rhino 17″ Warlord wheels and BF Goodrich K02 tires make this a dream to drive in the snow.

www.outsidevan.com/van/solstice/

 

3. GRACE

Grace is a Sprinter 170 that was designed for a customer with two loyal pups and a penchant for adventure. The layout allows the whole crew to comfortably stretch out while exploring the country. The Outside Van engineering and production teams designed and built a folding, removable, lightweight bench behind the driver’s seat that’s provides a place to relax during the day, but folds up out of the way when more floor space is needed. The small seat to the left of the slider provides another comfy area to sit, but also discretely houses a porta potti and removable shower pan below. When its time to shower, the pan is simply removed, placed in the drain area, and the shower curtain is attached to hooks on the l-track above. The shower hose is conveniently located to the right of the galley. With two galleys directly facing each other, our customer is able to spread out while making a meal, using the stacked fridge/freezer, induction cooktop, and deep stainless sink, plus tons of countertop area. And to keep the van free of bugs on a cool summer night, a Rolef bug screen has been installed around the slider door.

At the heart of this build is an impressive lithium ion battery system, with three batteries totaling 1080 amp hours. A 2500 watt inverter has been installed, as well as a secondary alternator, which directly charges these house batteries quickly and efficiently. This means the ProAir 20,000 BTU aftermarket roof top air conditioner can run off-grid for hours on end without a worry, allowing our customer to camp in any summer conditions!

www.outsidevan.com/van/grace/

 

2. ZEUS

Zeus is a Sprinter 170 EXT that was designed and built by the team at Outside Van and is perhaps the most cutting-edge van of the year. It’s the ideal build for a family of four, with seating for four and modular sleeping areas for everyone. It features our proprietary Air Roof Extension, that not only allows you to sit up in the two panel bed with a vaulted, cathedral-like ceiling above, but a lightweight top bunk bed can be added for a child or to use as a storage area. The lower bunks are lightweight, easily removable, and can be used as sleeping areas as well.

Zeus features state of the art heat and water systems strategically installed so the weight is placed forward in the chassis and evenly distributed between the van’s axles.

The power system consists of four AGM batteries accompanied with a secondary alternator and rooftop solar. These help keep the system charged allowing for off-grid operation of the the aftermarket rooftop A/C, induction stove, lights, and outlets for days on end.

Outside Van’s hydronic heated floor system has been specially designed around the components in this specific build so that the heat channels only run in areas that see a lot of foot traffic. In order to reduce heat waste, they haven’t been placed under any boxing or the shower to reduce heat waste.

The heating system, which is not yet available to the public, produces heat in 3 different ways. By using the furnace, by plugging the van into shore power, and by using the van’s engine. As the van is driving and the engine’s running, a plate heat exchanger located under the hood heats up the van’s coolant lines. This will then, if desired, heat the van’s water, cabin, and heated floors while the van is in motion. Normally you can’t run a water boiler or any other type of furnace while driving due to safety issues, so this heating method is perfect for arriving at destinations in cold weather.

The exterior features several products that were designed and fabricated in-house at Outside Van, as well as the debut of the Outside Van Rear Step Bumper, which is not yet available to the public. The bumper relocates the 4 factory sensors to the rear-most part of the van so you don’t forfeit any of the factory features when in reverse and while the backup camera is in use.

www.outsidevan.com/van/zeus/

 

1. ELEVATE

The most popular van of 2020 was Elevate! With seating for a third passenger that can be removed to add extra lounge seating area with storage drawers, as well as dinette seating that transforms into a sleeping platform, this Sprinter 170 has the ultimate modular layout.  The galley kitchen has built-in JL Audio coax speakers with a Media Master unit, as well as a hidden table that can be extended for outdoor cooking. A fully enclosed aluminum interior shower serves as the perfect feature to stay clean while camping, and can also be used for storage. With tons of storage options, this van also features a wireless charging station and cup holders on the galley arm rest, as well as a dedicated drawer to hold a propane stove for cooking outdoors.

The power system is comprised of two high-output AGM batteries, a 2000 watt inverter, a secondary alternator that directly charges the van while idle or in motion, and a 225 watts of solar. An Espar heater heats the water for the shower and sink, as well as the cabin air.

The exterior features Outside Van’s rear step bumper (developed for 2019 vans and newer), side and rear Utility ladders, side steps, combo rack with safari roof rack and lightbar, and crossbars.

www.outsidevan.com/van/elevate/

 

That wraps up our top 10 vans of 2020. We look forward to a new year of making van dreams come true!