Tips, Tricks & Trends

Forget Van Life! Convert a Honda Element Into a Camper Instead

Have you thought about quitting your job, selling your house, and getting rid of most of your coveted possessions in order to live life on the road? Specifically, in a van? We wouldn’t blame you, considering there are thousands of Americans living the “van life.” But here’s a crafty alternative to buying a van; buy a Honda Element instead and turn it into a camper.

The Honda Element is ideal for camping

Do you remember the old Honda Element commercials of the early 2000s? They featured a little crab talking to a Honda Element at the beach and the crab kept asking if he could pinch it. Well, the crab is insignificant, but what’s more important is that the Honda Element was built for camping, whether it’s at the beach or anywhere else.

In case you’re not familiar with it, the Honda Element was produced from 2003 to 2011 and during its time in the market, it was the Swiss Army knife of compact SUVs. If you can get over the fact that it looked like an oversized toaster on wheels, you would be surprised at how much room it had once you sat in it.

2003 Honda Element concept
A silver and blue 2003 Honda Element at the beach | Honda

The Element boasted 75 cubic-feet of cargo volume, which could be realized in a matter of a minute since you could not only remove the split-folding rear seat to reveal all of the room, but the rear seats could even be folded and stowed on the sides of the rear cargo area as well. With all that empty space, a full-size mattress could fit on the floor, and if you happen to have the higher-end EX trim level, there’s even a moonroof in the back of the car so that you can gaze up at the stars at night.

As an added plus, the Element was available with all-wheel-drive, making it pretty capable despite its unibody chassis.

2009 Honda element in orange
2009 Honda Element | Honda

RELATED: Why the Discontinued Honda Element Still Has a Cult Following

There’s so much more you can do with the Honda Element

The Honda Element’s flexibility is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to all of the camper configurations possible. Many Element owners are resorting to do-it-yourself modifications when it comes to making their rigs into a camper and the results are phenomenal. Many have built beds, desks, and storage areas in their Element, effectively making it a super manageable and comfortable small camper that can be driven anywhere a regular car can go.

If you want to convert your own Honda Element into a camper, but don’t want to go through the hassle of buying a bunch of wood, taking measurements, and designing various types of furniture, then you can always buy the pieces ready-made. Companies like Freeway Camper Kit sell a mattress frame and storage bin combination kit that will fit right into your Element without much effort.

But if you want to go all-in, then you can check out Fifth Element Camping’s lineup of camping products for the Honda Element. At this outlet, you can buy storage solutions like cabinets, trays, and even a laptop desk, or you can even have them make you a bed frame that turns into a bench as well as a handy kitchen side table for when you set up camp somewhere.

RELATED: What Happened To The Honda Element?

The ECamper conversion will make your Element more of a hotel

If you have the means and don’t mind making a more drastic change to your Honda Element in exchange for more comfort and convenience then you can always opt for the ECamper conversion from Ursa Minor Vehicles.

The ECamper is a pop-up tent conversion that sits atop the Element’s roof and uses the rear sunroof as the entry point. The best thing about the ECamper is that it can fit a full-size mattress and offers an elevated configuration, which is safer and provides a really cool view of wherever you happen to be laying your head at night.

Honda Element ECamper Conversion in red
Honda Element ECamper Conversion in red | Ursa Minor Vehicles