Wanderlust-filled Americans with tight budgets and limited DIY skills have long had to watch with envy as Europeans turned their ordinary vans, wagons and utility vehicles into full-fledged campers and back again with help from off-the-shelf camper-in-a-box systems. Colorado's Wayfarer Vans is fixing to change that, one funky, little Ram Promaster City Tradesman cargo van at a time.
Wayfarer Vans' camper kit turns Promaster into pro camper, complete with flooring and insulated wall panels. When the camping trip or season is over, Wayfarer modules pop out and leave you with an empty cargo van ready to haul long-lost treasures home from the flea market or move worldly possessions from one residence to the next.
Over the years, we've covered a number of modular camper van kits from all around Europe and have seen plenty others. France has the Yatoo; Germany has a number of Ququqs, including the off-road Land Rover D-Box; the Swiss have channeled some Swiss Army know-how into the SwissRoomBox; and Austria has the Qubiq. Suffice to say, if you want to camp in the Alps, there's a camper-in-a-box solution not far away.
Meanwhile, the US market has plenty of different drawers, slide-outs, kitchen boxes, sinks, and other individual modules designed to help turn ordinary vehicles into specialized campers, but it seems to largely lack the homegrown camper-in-a-box options we've seen in Europe. Wayfarer is bringing some of that Alpine-style modular ingenuity to the Colorado Rockies and American market at large, giving Americans an easy way of going back and forth between camper van and cargo van.
Wayfarer's multi-module system is designed for a more complete camper van conversion than those aforementioned European single-box, folding-mattress systems. It's also more complicated and relies on an empty cargo van cabin, seating only two people for the ride. The European systems tend to ride comfortably in the trunk without taking up the entire cabin during driving.
While Wayfarer's hardware is not for families, we imagine there are plenty of single van lifers and young couples who would like the idea of a plug-n-play camper van solution, and for them it definitely looks like an interesting option. The foundation of the system is the vinyl floor, which secures down and brings cargo management tracks for holding in place three camping modules: the kitchen, bench and bed. The install involves removing the van's stock D-ring mounts and using the holes to bolt the Wayfarer floor in.
The kitchen mounts just inside the load doors and comes equip-it-yourself style so you can use your own camping stove, small cooler and supplies. Wayfarer also recommends specific products, helping customers get the right fit. The kitchen's split lid folds out of the way to provide access below and the front panels fold down to work as a countertop. It's a super-simple layout, lacking the slide-out hardware, sink and refrigerator you might find on others, but it does keep you ready to prep and cook at a moment's notice.
Behind the kitchen box, along the driver-side wall, is the bed module. When folded up, this module works with the fold-down table mounted to the passenger-side wall to create a simple, compact dinette. When night falls, the hinged top opens into a double bed platform measuring 47 x 80 in (119 x 203 cm). The kit includes a single cushion, and you can either order another or use your own pad or mattress to create a comfortable bed for two. Below the bed, the module has built-in storage for swallowing up bedding, clothes or whatever else you want to throw inside. Two screw-in legs support the fold-out half of the platform and store in the under-bench area.
The front bench module offers an extra seat, works with the main bench and kitchen box to create the sleeping platform, and provides more under-seat storage. While all three modules are designed to work together as a full camper van, owners can also use them individually if and when they want.
Wayfarer completes its conversion with easy on/off wall coverings that add insulation while creating a homier ambiance than you'd get with bare van walls. The panels have a core of closed cell foam sewn up inside tough fabric and stick to the van via built-in magnets.
The full package of flooring, modules, table and wall coverings will take about 30 minutes to install or remove with a simple screwdriver and socket wrench. Once it's in, you can install and remove just the modules and components, leaving the floor in place, in a fraction of that time.
With its flooring and insulation, the Wayfarer kit is a more thorough camper conversion than the average European box, but this also brings a big negative. The materials are cut and designed quite specifically around the Ram Promaster City Tradesman cargo van, so that's the only vehicle they will fit – they won't even work in the passenger version of the Ram Promaster City.
So unless you happen to own this particular cargo van, Wayfarer's hardware is less a universal plug-n-play conversion kit for your van, more a full camper van purchase, albeit it a simple and affordable one. Wayfarer does plan to add kits for other vans in the future, but for now, it's just the Promaster City Tradesman. Other modular camper systems work with a variety of vehicles, making them more universal, off-the-shelf solutions.
The EPA estimates the Ram Promaster City's fuel economy at 21 mpg city/28 mpg highway (11.2/8.4 L/100km) , and Wayfarer reckons it averages about 25 mpg (9.4 L/100km) on the highway when its van is equipped with its 200-lb (91-kg) conversion kit and a roof cargo box.
The full Wayfarer kit retails for just under US$4,700 before freight (you can save on freight by getting the free install at Wayfarer's Colorado Springs headquarters). Wayfarer also sells the components a la carte.
The below video shows the initial set-up and provides a good look at how the different components fit to the van and come together to create a camper.
Source: Wayfarer Vans