Modular camper boxes turn van into indoor/outdoor base camp
The tumultuous year has left a lot of people scrambling to buy or rent RVs, the preferred means of travel and vacation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Those who don't have the space or budget for a full RV might want to consider another alternative as the summer travel season approaches: a camper-in-a-box system that quickly transforms an everyday van, wagon or SUV into a camper and back again. We've seen many different camper-in-a-box systems over the years, and Italian startup Girovaga Box has yet another, which comprises a series of modular cubes that combine into a double bed inside the vehicle and an in-kitchen dining area outside.
While every camper-in-a-box kit varies in design, a common element shared by many, including the German Ququq, Czech Egoé Nestbox and Austrian Qubiq, is a horizontal box or set of boxes that stretch the width of the vehicle tailgate. This wide-box setup serves as the rearmost part of the bed platform while also housing the components of the tailgate kitchen. It's a natural layout that provides the three primary parts of a mini-camper: sleeping arrangements, cooking space and storage.
In place of the wide box, Girovaga Box uses a square orientation of boxes to form roughly half the sleeping platform. Each box fits into a base plate on the vehicle's load floor, and a series of beams combines to form a support frame for the panels at the front of the double bed platform. Users can also create a solo camper by setting up a single bed on one side of the vehicle, leaving the other side free for a bicycle, surfboard, skis or other sports gear. Multiple cushions combine to create the mattress.
The four boxes at the rear of the Girovaga setup don't have slide-out, fold-down or flip-up capabilities for transforming the tailgate area into a camp kitchen. Instead, each one removes to stack into a kitchen and dining space outside the van. The box holding the sink stacks atop the water storage box, allowing the hoses and manual foot pump to connect the fresh water canister to the faucet and the sink basin to the waste water canister.
The portable gas canister stove pops out of another box and sets up on the countertop that hangs off the sink box. That empty stove box then becomes a bench, topped by one of the single-width cushions from the mattress. The final box is empty in standard configuration and becomes the second bench. One of the panels that fills in space on the sleeping platform has an adjustable leg on its base and secures to the sink block to serve as the dining table.
It only takes a few minutes to go from bed to kitchen or vice versa and a few more to uninstall the Girovaga boxes completely. The system doesn't hard-mount to the vehicle, instead securing via straps during transit. Once removed, all four boxes can stack atop each other to save floor space during storage.
Girovaga Box is currently hosting a Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds it needs to get its camper-in-a-box off the ground. It offers two sizes — the 61-kg (135 lb) Rodos for compact vans like the Fiat Doblo, Nissan NV200 and Volkswagen Caddy and the 69-kg (152 lb) Valem for midsize and full-size vans like the Fiat Talento or Ducato, Mercedes V-Class or Sprinter, and Volkswagen Transporter or Crafter. The Rodos Deluxe kit with full cushioned mattress is available for a €2,452 (approx. US$2,900) pledge, the Valem Deluxe for €2,574 ($3,050). Girovaga Box also offers Smart kits with inflatable mattresses for €1,818 and €1,988 ($2,150 and $2,350), respectively.