A few years back, a social-media phenomenon known as #Vanlife began trending. Vanlife started out as merely a Bohemian-esque concept, eventually growing into a global self-defined community. In June 2020, a Seattle startup pitched Vanlife summer road trips as an alternative to traveling by plane or bus. The last time it was actually cool to live in the back of a van, they were called “Shag Wagons.”
However, today’s modernized Mystery Machines feature a lot more than shag carpet and a few pillows. Modern-day nomads don’t believe minimalistic means living like a bum. And since most recreational vehicles (RVs) cost more than a house, people are converting vans into miniature RVs. The Dodge Ram ProMaster has become the top pick among Van-lifers planning on doing a DIY camper conversion. With so many custom configurations out there, which Ram ProMaster van configuration is best for camping?
What exactly makes the Ram ProMaster a great camper van template
Whether it be four-by-four off-roading or plowing snow, there is one key feature that makes any vehicle a great template: malleability. This characteristic is what makes the Dodge Ram ProMaster the ultimate camper van template.
Not only that but it’s quite affordable yet well-manufactured. With all of that combined, a well-crafted conversion kit turns an industrial cargo van into a somewhat comfortable luxury camper van. The more simple the overall design, the easier and cheaper it will be to customize your Ram ProMaster as you see fit.
The model for a DIY conversion
Many owners suggest purchasing a new or later model Ram ProMaster with a fairly intact warranty. Remember, living the Vanlife means putting a lot of Vanlife-miles on your camper van. Along with the warranty, new or later model ProMaster vans should provide years of faithful service. The only responsibility for the owner is to be sure they change their van’s oil regularly and keep its maintenance schedule.
The Ram ProMaster City cargo vans — the two smallest Fiat-based commercial models — start at around $24,500. A solid camper conversion easily costs $30,000 or more. Interior starter kits featuring 100-percent natural wood insulation, a kitchenette, hand pump, privacy paneling, perimeter shelving, and cargo management tracks runs approximately $9,800.
This conversion kit is compatible with the high-roof ProMaster featuring a 136-inch wheelbase, 2014 model years and over. For $11,400, a slightly larger kit with an added hideaway table is available for the 159-inch wheelbase model. Even with the ProMaster City models, these conversions make the vans look more like a small house than a campervan.
For serious #Vanlifers, the high-roof Ram ProMaster with a 159″ wheelbase and 2500 suspension may be the best choice. The 2500 suspension provides you with a solid Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 8900 pounds (4.04 t).
This means one could tow a small trailer with additional necessities or a couple of motorcycles. In an article published by Vanlife Outfitters, a Ram ProMaster owner wrote that this particular version is easier to drive and fits in standard parking spaces.
In addition to that, they recommend paying extra for the optional cruise control and backup camera. And while the author preferred a gasoline engine over diesel, this option is a personal preference.
The 2020 Ram ProMaster 2500 High Roof 159″ WB specs
According to Ram’s website, a brand new 2020 Ram ProMaster 2500 High Roof comes in 10 different colors with premium coats costing an extra $200. Some exterior extras include wide power-heated folding mirrors, front fog lamps, and rear LED cargo lamp.
Other premium packages offer a chrome front grille, cargo net, a shelf above roof rim, and an under-seat storage tray. For the standard powertrain, the 2020 Ram ProMaster has a 3.6 liter V6 24 valve engine with a 6-speed automatic transmission.
For an additional $3,500, Dodge will hook you up with a Ram ProMaster with an RV Ready-Prep Package. This Vanlife-ready model features auxiliary switches, driver and passenger swivel seats, a class IV receiver hitch, and Premium Appearance Group.
With those added extras, one can expect to pay around $41,200. Standard tech features are decent and include a Uconnect 3 with 5″ display. The Uconnect 3 NAV tacks on an additional fee, as well as does the SiriusXM one-year subscription.