While #vanlife and conversion vans get a lot of attention, box truck conversions don’t get the respect they deserve. We’ve seen some incredible box truck camper conversions, and the average conversion van can’t compete. If you’re considering jumping into a conversion project, you may want to consider a box truck conversion.
Today, we’re examining several lesser-known perks of choosing a box truck for a conversion project. Let’s get started!
What Is a Box Truck Conversion?
A box truck conversion is when you transform a box truck into a livable space. With blood, sweat, and tears, a DIY enthusiast can upgrade a standard box truck into a home on wheels. They can include almost everything one would need during camping or other nomadic adventures.
How Much Does It Cost to Convert a Box Truck Into a Camper?
With some luck, you can typically find a well-loved box truck for $10,000 to $15,000. It’ll have some miles on it, and it won’t be perfect, but that’ll make it easier when you scratch it or bump something against it.
The initial price of the box truck will only be a portion of the cost of this conversion project. Depending on how much work you can do, you could spend an additional $10,000 to $20,000+ on the entire conversion. As you’ll need to include water, plumbing, and electrical systems, it’s not a simple project. Some things will be beyond the average DIYer’s expertise and require a professional.
In total, a box truck conversion could set you back $30,000 to $50,000. Like any conversion project, you can control some costs by doing the work or making budget-friendly choices during the design process. If finances aren’t an issue, you can add a massive lithium battery bank and solar panels to create a beastly off-grid adventure machine.
How Do You Insulate a Box Truck?
If you don’t properly insulate your box truck, it will be a miserable experience. What’s the point of a box truck conversion if you cannot stay comfortable inside it? One of the first things you’ll do during a conversion is correctly insulate the walls of the box truck.
You can use standard sheets of insulation board and cut them to fit between the metal supports inside the box truck cargo space. You want to ensure the panels’ thickness matches the supports’ thickness. This helps create a flat and even surface for whatever material you’ll use for the walls.
You’ll want to be aware of the insulation’s R-value. The higher the R-value, the more effective it is at insulating. We recommend you cut the panels so they’re snug and avoid gaps between the wall’s structural supports.
In addition, you’ll want to consider insulation when laying your flooring. Applying a layer of insulation before the flooring will help you avoid walking across a frozen floor when the temperatures drop. This will slightly raise the height of your flooring, but it’s worth it.
Pro Tip: We found the best RV Flooring Options to Make Your Camper Feel Like Home.
6 Lesser-Known Perks of Box Truck Camper Conversions
If you’re still deciding whether a box truck camper conversion is for you, keep reading. We have several lesser-known perks that might convince you to make it your next project. Let’s take a look!
1. Straight Lines for Design and Construction
One significant advantage of choosing a box truck for your conversion project is its simple shape. Boxes have straight lines, which make it easy to align or install cabinets and various other construction projects.
Skoolie and van conversions can often be challenging since the surfaces can be slightly curved or uneven. A box truck’s flat and straight surfaces can help speed up the conversion process.
2. Ability to Get Good Weight Distribution
Box trucks haul large amounts of weight and distribute it evenly over the truck’s frame. While many RVers and conversion van projects have to be mindful of how much weight they add to their vehicle, that’s not something you have to worry about with a box truck. They’re capable of handling the contents of tiny homes and apartments, which weigh thousands of pounds.
3. Easy to Stealth Camp
A box truck can be an excellent option if you’re hoping to stealth camp. Most people see a box truck and assume it’s someone moving or hauling something substantial to a business. They don’t pay much attention to these vehicles in parking lots or along the side of the road. If you do your box truck conversion right, you can create the perfect stealth camping vehicle. You’ll want to consider your ability to stealth camp during the conversion process.
Adding windows and solar panels will likely make your vehicle a giveaway to anyone driving by. It can be a good idea to consider their placement and how visible they’ll be for your rig. It’s best to avoid putting windows on the driver’s side to reduce the attention your box truck camper receives from those driving by or passing on the side of the street.
Alternatively, you can design covers for your windows and solar panels that will conceal these features when needed. Also, throwing a high-visibility worker vest and a clipboard on the dash can add the perfect touch to complete your disguise.
Pro Tip: Don’t draw attention to yourself by avoiding these 7 Things That Will Give You Away When Stealth Camping.
4. Pretty Good Gas Mileage for a Camper
Fuel is one of the most significant expenses nomads have during their adventures. They feel the pain at the pump when gas prices start to trend upwards. While vans get the best fuel economy for conversion vehicles, box truck camper conversions aren’t terrible.
A ten to 14-foot conversion van will typically get anywhere from eight to ten miles per gallon, and a 15 to 19-foot box truck will get six to eight miles per gallon. This is comparable to what many RVers experience when towing their rig with a gas engine. Will it be painless when you fill up your fuel tank? Absolutely not. However, it could be much worse for the amount of space and weight capacity you’ll get.
5. Can Be Cheaper to Purchase Than a Van
Some vans, even before they are built out into campers, can be very expensive. Sprinter vans are some of the most expensive. Box trucks are usually bought used for conversion projects.
However, be careful if you see listings for box trucks cheaper than $10,000 to $15,000. You could be investing your funds into a money pit of a conversion project.
If something is wrong with any critical components like an engine or transmission, you could end up spending tremendous amounts of money on surprise projects. If you’re not careful, you could quickly blow through your original budget.
6. Comfortable Ride
If you’re crossing the country or spending hours behind the wheel, you want to be comfortable. Luckily, box trucks usually offer an incredibly comfortable ride. They have many cab features drivers need to stay comfortable while on the road. Features like cruise control and air conditioning are essential for some drivers.
In addition, they provide a tremendous amount of visibility and have an incredibly soft suspension system. You can enjoy a smooth trip over the interstate or maneuver the bumps and dips on a forest road.
Is a Box Truck Camper Conversion Worth It?
A box truck could be an excellent option if you’re looking for your next DIY project. No conversion projects are easy, and they all involve plenty of work. Before starting the project, you want to ensure you know what you’re getting into first. However, if you prepare and understand what you’re doing, it can be a fun and exciting experience.
Is a box truck camper conversion for you? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!
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Monday 21st of November 2022
10k for a box truck are you nuts! You won’t get across your state once no matter which one it is let alone across the USA 5-6 times a year. You’re better off buying a new one or one 3-4 years old .
Not So Free
Wednesday 2nd of November 2022
One thing to watch out for is many campgrounds won't allow "homebuilt" campers.