Modular ski/surf bum camper van keeps van life thriving in winter
The United States may not have Europe's deep market of affordable, mass-produced camper vans, but it definitely holds its own when it comes to off-grid vans custom-built around specific adventure sports. Small shops all over the country specialize in these types of van projects, with new ones popping up every year. So while Europe's Sunlight was toying around with an action sports concept camper van built to play year-round, Colorado shop Titan Vans was building one out of actual plug-and-play camper van modules. Its rolling ski/surf bum shack supports two adventurers as they chase powder mornings and prime breaks.
Titan Vans positions itself somewhere between the full-time custom van builders that dominate the American van life scene and pre-package builders with specific floor plans and options. It does do fully custom builds for those that want something totally unique (and expensive), but for those looking to go more affordable, it also offers a "Classic" van with a single layout and a la carte add-ons.
The Classic base package is built around the Bi-Slide bed platform. Rather than the foldaway or lift-away rear bed solutions seen on many other camper vans, Titan relies on a slide-away design. The raised platform slides backward to cut its size in half during the ride, opening more space for storage. At night, simply pull it forward and lay out the 68 x 74-in (173 x 188-cm) folding mattress.
The left and right side consoles do more than just hold the bed platform in place, housing key standard components like the 20-gal (76L) water tank, water pump and electrical hardware. The standard electrical system starts with a 200Ah lithium-ion battery and 2000W inverter, powering components like the over-bed fan, USB and 120V AC outlets, and interior lighting. The triple-option charging system helps maintain battery power with a 300-watt solar panel on the roof, engine alternator and shore power hook-up.
Other base package standard features include swivel cab seats, a Webasto heater, an outdoor-access shower sprayer, rear windows cut into the panel van, and L-track on the coin-pattern flooring, vinyl ceilings and upholstered walls.
For better or worse, the Classic offers a pretty robust package for a base model, and we're surprised to see items like the 200Ah lithium-ion battery, solar panel and Webasto heater, equipment that might be unnecessary for some buyers and would often come optionally, not standard. It seems they could make the base price even lower by downsizing (e.g. a 100Ah AGM battery) or making some of those standards optional.
It doesn't seem like buyers are complaining, though, since Titan says its average Classic camper van is optioned up about 42 percent above the base package price. And if buyer preferences shift, it can alway shuffle features and options around.
At just under $35,000, the base package is affordable as far as American camper vans go. Figure a brand-new Mercedes Sprinter 144 cargo van will about double that price, so buyers can drive away with a pretty powerful off-grid sleeper rig based on a brand-new full-size van in the low $70s. Go used (Titan upfits vans up to 10 years old) or with the cheaper Ram ProMaster and you can cut pricing further. A kitchen can be tacked on for $4,995, creating a more complete camper van. The plug-and-play kitchen works closely with the off-grid electrical system to fire up the single-burner induction cooktop and keep the 130L Isotherm marine fridge humming. It also has a stainless steel sink, PaperStone worktop and storage.
As you'll recall, the van that brought us here wasn't the basic Classic but the Skier/Surfer, a specially upgraded version of the Classic that includes extra options to make it more of a ski-in/ski-out (and surf-in/surf-out) parking lot chalet. This package includes the aforementioned kitchen block, overhead storage cabinets and shelving, a water heater for a warming après spray down, and easily removable ski and surf racks on the load floor for organizing gear during driving and sleeping.
The dedicated ski/surf storage is what reminded us of the Sunlight Cliff 4x4 Adventure concept linked above, but one puzzle piece the concept van had that would benefit the Titan Skier/Surfer is the deployable indoor shower room. Spraying down outside might be lovely after surfing on a July evening in Southern California, but it won't be so nice in below-zero wind chill in the Canadian Rockies. Part-time collapsible shower rooms aren't just a concept at this point, appearing on the equipment lists of vans from Storyteller and VanDoIt. Something like that could fit quite nicely in the free space created by Titan's Bi-Slide bed, and who doesn't like a nice warm (indoor) shower after a cold day on the slopes? Add a portable toilet, and this van does a ski trip like a mobile slopeside condo.
The Skier/Surfer package tacks $8,210 atop the Classic price, so you're at $43,205 for the entire conversion, van sold separately. The components remove quickly, without tools, making for a multi-use van that can go back to work the day after the ski trip ends. Titan works with both 144 and 170 Sprinters and has plans to convert other full-size vans, including the Ram ProMaster and Ford Transit.
Source: Titan Vans