This Affordable Camper Van Cost Less Than $10,000 to Build

Camper vans, camper trailers, motorhomes, and RVs of all kinds have seen a massive resurgence in the COVID era. The problem is, RVs are prohibitively expensive for many people. Companies like Winnebago are starting to make some more affordable camper vans, but those are still nearly six figures. This gives homemade and budget-friendly, affordable camper vans, like this one, a chance to shine. 

Chase Christopher's affordable camper van build is a black Ford Econoline parked in the hills
Road To Ridge Camper Van | Chase Christopher via YouTube

We need more affordable camper vans

Let’s be honest: camper van conversions are a dime a dozen these days. However, most of them are heralded as the “ultimate camper van” or “unstoppable overlanding blah blah blah.” These are all very cool, but so few can afford them. Companies like EarthRoamer are one of the most notable of this style. However, dozens are similarly huge and cost more than most people’s houses. That’s not to say they aren’t super cool, though.

Unlike the typical builds covered in the news, this Ford Econoline build was done with a $10,000 budget. 

Can you get a cheap camper van? 

According to Motor1, this build started as a 2009 ford Econoline E150 passenger van powered by a 4.6-liter V8 pushing 160,000 miles. Unlike the six-figure vans, this one sends all power to the rear wheels instead of all four. It won’t be the overlanding rig of your dreams, but it will handle most ordinary people’s camping needs. 

The builder, Chase Christopher, started by removing the two rows of rear seats and prepping the floor pans to put down more homey flooring. In the video of this affordable camper van build, Christopher mentions that the floor was the only straight part of the whole van, meaning it didn’t need much in the way of reconstructive bodywork. 

Once the floor was dressed and ready, the Ford Econoline camper van was set up with a small kitchenette consisting of a small sink, water hand pump, and a mini-fridge. The van also has a decent-sized bed that can sleep, two adults. 

Like most camper vans, this affordable build still comes with built-in integrated storage all over. The two main spots for storage are underneath the sink and the two massive cubbies built-in in the back underneath the bed. 

Christopher also wisely built a short drop ceiling and insulated the van to make it more friendly in the colder months. This is clearly not his first rodeo. 

Building an RV doesn’t have to be expensive, but you have to be smart

The builder of this wonderfully affordable camper has been around this sort of thing before. Christopher runs the Road to Ridge website, where he and his pals show all the clever camper modifications they do to their camper van rigs. 

His YouTube channel is home to loads of useful content surrounding the camper lifestyle. He slowly turned his Subaru Outback into a killer camper rig with a little know-how and cleverness. 

The site not only offers helpful advice and tips, but it also chronicles his adventures in these homemade campers to show others that living this lifestyle is doable if you only have the drive and desire to give it a shot. 

While the $500,000 EarthRoamers would clearly be a pretty good time, the resourcefulness and grit it takes to pull this sort of camper living off are what the van life thing is all about.

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