Van conversions and the so-called "van life" have been garnering some attention as of late, and it's understandable. Who doesn't want to ride off into the sun, against the backdrop a picture-perfect wilderness, in a home-on-wheels that you've converted yourself?
Well, it may be that very last part that's the hardest to do: renovating van interiors requires a lot of elbow grease and time, something in short supply for many of us. So what's the next best thing? Van conversions for rent, like these nicely done vehicles by Colorado's Native Campervans. Founded by college friends Jonathan Moran and Dillon Hansen from the University of Colorado, Native Campervans was born out of a desire to share their life-changing experiences during a trip abroad, and to share the beauty of their native state of Colorado:
A few years ago, we took a trip to New Zealand in a campervan. The trip was amazing. It forced us to observe nature, be present and adventure. A few years later we decided to invest ourselves into that passion and began the business of purchasing, renovating and renting out campervans. The goal has been to give others the same experiences we had that’s both affordable and accessible.
The company converts minivans (which they dub "Smalls") and larger-sized cargo vans ("Biggies") into livable spaces, with the help of another company that specializes in these kinds of build-outs. Native's Biggies are built using the Ram ProMaster 136”, pictured here in two different styles, which was selected for its ample interior space, maneuverability and ease of driving.
There is a very well-done interior inside the Biggie, modern and flexible, compared to some of the other campervan rental companies we've seen. The queen-sized bed is placed in a way that maximizes space, and there is plenty of storage underneath, in addition to the under-bench storage, and all the other cabinets and drawers in the kitchen. There's even a secret in-counter storage caddy. The kitchen comes with a sink, refrigerator, cooking utensils and a two-burner propane stove, and a convertible dining table. The Biggie is equipped with a 7-gallon water/waste tank.
Hansen tells us that the Biggies are prewired for solar, and that they will be installing solar panels in the next few months. "[Right now] the vehicles run off an ancillary battery that is charged when the van is moving," explains Hansen. "One hour of driving charges the vehicle for one day. This supports the lights, refrigerator and inverter so individuals can charge their electronics. No plug ins at campgrounds necessary."
There are discussions about converting electric vans in the future, says Hansen, with the intention of perhaps using an electric cargo van from Tesla, if it is released. "I think one of the largest benefits we provide is the ability to rent these vehicles without having to own a Campervan or RV," Hansen points out. "The average RV sits in storage for 50 weeks out of the year. Our utilization is over 70 percent so we inevitably get thousands of folks on the road per year utilizing our fleet of vehicles."
There's also a shift in the way people are travelling now, explains Moran. "People are starting to recognize what’s important in their lives and they’re saying, 'I much rather be on the road, and meet people, and have real human experiences, rather than being tied to one location and being locked down to a certain lifestyle.'"
It's a great idea to rent out DIY van conversions that at least give people a taste of what living in such a space is like, especially for those who are curious about the full-time mobile living nomad lifestyle. The company's rental rates are seasonally adjusted and are also cheaper if you rent for longer periods, with prices starting at $145 per night for a Biggie, and $85 per night for a Small. You can find out more over at Native Campervans, Instagram, Facebook and about their builder, Van Life Customs.