Automotive

Small, slick French camper van is the bivy of van life

Small, slick French camper van...
Bivy Life presents a simple but complete camper van package
Bivy Life presents a simple but complete camper van package
View 5 Images
Venturing out to the mountains in the Bivy Life Mobile Base Camp van
1/5
Venturing out to the mountains in the Bivy Life Mobile Base Camp van
A creative three-sleeper configuration, the Mobile Base Camp pairs its double bed with a sort of floating platform
2/5
A creative three-sleeper configuration, the Mobile Base Camp pairs its double bed with a sort of floating platform
The Bivy Life Mobile Base Camp includes a
3/5
The Bivy Life Mobile Base Camp includes a fridge drawer and a swivel table for indoor or outdoor use
The Mobile Base Camp interior is filled out with an L-shaped sofa, storage shelving and a kitchen block
4/5
The Mobile Base Camp interior is filled out with an L-shaped sofa, storage shelving and a kitchen block
Bivy Life presents a simple but complete camper van package
5/5
Bivy Life presents a simple but complete camper van package
View gallery - 5 images

The term "bivy" (or bivouac) immediately inspires images of very basic camping, possibly with no shelter at all, possibly with a very compact, narrow shelter for one. French company Bivy Life lives up to that image by creating a small, efficient "mobile base camp" that's much simpler than other camper vans and motorhomes out there. With a little bit of sliding, folding and swinging ingenuity, it manages to sleep a family of three below the factory van roof while providing a complete kitchen, lounge, toilet and storage.

Bivy Life keeps it local, opting for a French van in the form of Peugeot's midsize van, the Expert. The conversion shop works with both the 496-cm (195-cm) standard and 531-cm (209-in) long Expert models.

In coming up with a floor plan for its Mobile Base Camp van, Bivy Life veers well off the road taken by other midsize van converters. It doesn't bother with automotive rear seats, instead swinging camper seating against the driver-side wall in the form of an L-shaped sofa. It puts the kitchen across the aisle toward the rear of the van, keeping a central aisle open for storing luggage and gear.

To convert the sofa to sleeping configuration, one simply slides and folds out the two individual bench seats and corresponding cushions to create a bed that fills out the space between the kitchen and driver-side wall. The bed looks quite narrow down at the foot but widens out near the head via the "L" extension, providing a bit more room for arms and shoulders.

The Mobile Base Camp interior is filled out with an L-shaped sofa, storage shelving and a kitchen block
The Mobile Base Camp interior is filled out with an L-shaped sofa, storage shelving and a kitchen block

Buyers can opt for the basic two-sleeper, but couples with a child can upgrade to a creative three-sleeper. Usually if you want to fit more than two people in a small or midsize camper van, you'd be looking at a pop-up sleeper roof, but Bivy Life avoids this common solution to save on expense and maintain a solid-walled interior without the fabric walls of a pop-top.

Instead, Bivy Life lifts a transverse bed over top the foot of the main double bed. The swivel dining table serves as a platform to bridge the kitchen counter with the driver-side shelf. Ropes secured to hooks on the ceiling support the tabletop, and the whole bed platform gets topped with a folding foam sleeping pad that stores on the shelf during the day. Bivy Life says that the 160-cm (63-in)-long bed is suitable for children up to around 12 years old. After that, we reckon they'll want to bring a tent along.

A creative three-sleeper configuration, the Mobile Base Camp pairs its double bed with a sort of floating platform
A creative three-sleeper configuration, the Mobile Base Camp pairs its double bed with a sort of floating platform

It's not the comfiest plus-1 camper sleeping solution we've seen, but it definitely lives up to the name "bivy live" while keeping everyone warm and secure inside a set of solid van walls and hard roof. While there's no rear drive seating, the Peugeot Expert is available with three front seats, so all three campers will have a place to sit on the ride to camp.

The Mobile Base Camp kitchen comes equipped with a gas stove, sink and 30-L Dometic drawer fridge. The sink is hooked up to a 12V pump, 45-L fresh water tank and waste water tank. Power for the water pump, lighting and other electrical equipment comes from a 100-Ah AGM battery with charger.

Bivy Life adds a full insulation package, carves out plenty of storage space and even manages to sneak in a standard chemical toilet.

Bivy Life helps buyers get exactly the camper van they want by breaking its price list down into a lengthy a la carte offering that starts with two main packages — the Space+Deluxe and Space+Bivouac. Both packages include the main equipment, but the Deluxe offers a heavier insulation package and upmarket trim (e.g. a stainless steel fridge face instead of black plastic). Either can be ordered in two- or three-person configuration, and many specific features can be added or deleted individually.

In addition to two van sizes, Bivy Life offers the brand-new Peugeot Expert in five available trims and various 1.5- and 2.0-liter engine options. Prices vary according to all those different options, with two-person camper vans starting at €35,750 (approx. US$43,175) for a base-level Bivouac and ranging up to €49,450 ($59,725) for the top-trim Deluxe. Three-person vans range between €36,350 and €50,050.

The quick video below highlights the adjustable table and day-to-night transition.

Bivy Life Time Lapse Manip Low Res

Source: Bivy Life (French)

View gallery - 5 images
4 comments
4 comments
Dirk Scott
Buy an old Fiat Multipla with the rear seats unclipped, a foam mattress and a camping stove and you have the equivalent for $/€/£1,000.
paul314
Without automotive rear seats, where does the kid sit? Are they belted?
Jeff7
Why do people build fixed units inside? They just encourage you to take more stuff. The Freedom campers just store everything in plastic fish bins underneath a false floor that has the bed on it. Agree with Dirk - a camping stove and plastic wash basin on a foldout table would save you thousands. The money is better spent on a bigger or newer van.
ReservoirPup
A nice setup, but not using the cabin space seems to be a downside.