Mini camper van powers efficient driving and living for under $40,000
If the Mercedes Metris Weekender set your hopes high for an awesome, accessible American mini-campervan, only to bring them crashing down with its projected $70,000+ price tag, we've found an equally cute, cozy mini-campervan that's much more affordable. Based on a tiny Nissan NV200 cargo van, the West Coast Mini from Canada's Wilderness Vans is one of the simplest, most affordable camper vans you'll find in North America. But it still packs what you need for an on/off-grid road trip, including a water supply, fridge/freezer, dining area, solar power and snug bed or two. Let Wilderness do the installation or have it shipped and install yourself.
With its small footprint, affordable price and 25-mpg combined fuel economy, the 186-in (472-cm) Nissan NV200 is a lovable, little van that makes for a smart, nimble camper. But it takes a little thought and care to get it there since it's among the smallest vans on American roadways.
In the past, we've seen the NV200 camper van code cracked with Caravan Outfitter's full-width bed and under-bed rear cooking slide-outs, but Wilderness Vans goes more traditional for the West Coast Mini. In fact, at one point it was calling the floor plan the "California," clearly inspired by Volkswagen's famous van. Like the California, the West Coast Mini has a driver-side kitchen block and folding rear bench/bed. The kitchen comes standard with a sink and 40L fridge, and buyers can opt for an available sink/stove combo.
The Mini carries four people during the ride and seats two at a removable dining table at camp. At night, the dual-seat rear bench folds down to create a double bed. At just 34 in (86 cm) wide, it's not exactly a roomy, luxurious night of sleep for two, but compromises are inevitable when you're squeezing a bed next to a kitchen inside an NV200. Wilderness Vans positions the Mini as a step up from a tent on the camping comfort hierarchy.
The rear of the conversion includes a tall driver-side cabinet with roller face and a small passenger-side tip-out cabinet designed to hold personal belongings at night. There are also two under-bed drawers and a side cabinet inside the tailgate.
The leisure battery is located in a lower compartment in the roller cabinet and stays charged with help from a standard 250W solar panel. Other standard features include a MaxxAir fan, LED lighting, USB and electrical outlets, 13L fresh and gray water tanks, a water pump, flooring and wall and ceiling panels.
The West Coast Mini conversion reminds us a lot of the Envy from LA-based Recon Campers, albeit without a pop-up roof. Wilderness Vans does not offer a pop-top as an option but can add a roof-top tent for buyers looking for an extra two berths.
The West Coast Mini package costs CAD$18,900 (approx. US$14,000) installed or CAD$12,400 (US$9,075) shipped to the buyer on a pallet as a DIY kit. Buyers can bring their vans up to Wilderness' Alberta headquarters for installation, not a bad place to find yourself with a brand-new camper van given that it's within an hour and a half of the US/Canadian border-straddling Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. Wilderness also has several partner installers/resellers around the US and is in the process of adding more.
To drop a bottom line on things, you can buy a new Nissan NV200 cargo van starting at US$23,875 after destination charge, so you drive away with a brand-new Wilderness camper van for around US$38,000 installed, under $34,000 if you don't mind doing the work yourself. The previously linked NV200-based Caravan Outfitter Free Bird, the Ram Promaster City Cascade Camper and NV200 Recon Weekender are others to look at if you're shopping this end of the market for a mini-camper based on a brand-new van.
Wilderness Vans is also working on Mini packages for the Ford Transit Connect and Ram Promaster City. It additionally offers a variety of larger floor plans for the likes of the Ford Transit and Ram Promaster.
The 7.5-minute video below provides a closer look at the West Coast Mini components and bed operation.
Source: Wilderness Vans