After spending a lot of time looking at European camper vans throughout 2018, we've become rather disillusioned with the American market. Whereas Europe has a booming market of smart, nicely equipped camper vans for under US$50,000 (when converted from euros), you're lucky to find a van with an MSRP much under $70K in the US. We're not the only ones who've noticed the American shortage of affordable vans, and a few brands have risen to the challenge of filling the gap. Arizona's Boho Camper Vans is one of the latest, designing downright gorgeous camper vans that base in at a very affordable $35,000.
In working to keep price down, Boho skips right past nice but pricey brand-new van options like the Mercedes Sprinter and Ford Transit, opting instead to source 1-ton commercial vans from the used market. It may be a Dodge Ram Van 3500, or it may be a Ford E-350, but it'll be roomy enough to support a camper floor plan and it won't cost more than $10,000, leaving the remaining budget for the particulars of Boho's interior conversion.
The type of buyer waiting for the new Mercedes Sprinter to land Stateside so they can get a camper van with all the latest technological bells and whistles probably won't be shopping for a $35K camper van, anyway, whereas the average Boho buyer probably won't care so much about which van model is doing the driving, so long as it's capable of driving and camping around the map. Boho's conversion operation actually grew out of the demand Boho was experiencing on the rental side, which opened earlier in 2018, so its customer base seems more interested in living open-road adventure than in owning the newest, most cutting edge camper van.
Boho dedicates the rest of each conversion's budget toward building out a simple but very aesthetic living space. It covers up the cold sheet metal with warm, knotty pine or cedar, creating the feel of a cozy mini-lodge. The wood-look flooring shown in photos blends nicely with the wall and ceiling paneling, but Boho uses vinyl flooring, beefing toughness up for the mobile environment.
In back, Boho adds a two-person full-size bed, framing out storage below the mattress. Ahead of the bed on the driver side, the long bamboo countertop unit includes an end sink hooked to an electric pump and 25-gal (95-L) water tank. That water tank also feeds the outdoor shower.
Boho leaves behind common but expensive camper equipment like the inbuilt stove and fridge, opting instead for a simpler, cheaper propane camping stove and cooler. A slide-out bamboo shelf out back holds the stove at a comfortable cooking height.
One thing we wouldn't necessarily expect to see on an entry-level adventure van like this is the 200-watt solar system feeding the dual 12V batteries. Solar panels are usually optional on base-level camper vans, but Boho includes them as part of its standard kit, keeping its buyers powered up on the road ahead. The electrical system also includes an inverter, USB ports, AC outlets, and LED lighting.
That package prices you out to the $35,000, after you throw in some linens, cookware and other provisions. From there, Boho can further customize the conversion.
Boho only started doing conversions in October and has completed only the two vans pictured in the gallery, one based on a 2011 Ford E-350, the other on a 2007 E-350. Some of the custom options added to those builds include a toilet, upgraded audio, European-based electrical system for English customers, swivel seats and custom storage.
On the rental side, Boho offers several different vans for rent from its Phoenix headquarters. It aims to rent more of a camper van experience than just a vehicle, offering full trip suggestions and its own "secret map" of campgrounds, attractions and activities in the greater Southwest region.
We like the retail niche Boho has dug between standardized production camper vans and fully custom conversions. North America seems to have plenty of van customizers, and while their van creations are generally quite nice, they tend to bring along some sticker shock. Boho offers buyers the opportunity to get right on the road with something simple, affordable and functional, but it can also build out a more personalized van if you're willing to spend the money. It joins the likes of Cascade Campers and Caravan Outfitter in giving American van buyers affordable, non-custom options to consider.
Source: Boho Camper Vans
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