Cargo Van Conversion for Stealth Travel

Cargo-Van-InteriorI have undertaken a cargo van conversion project which has proven interesting. A cargo van provides about 60 square feet in the cargo bay that can be converted to living space for weekend trips saving $100 a night hotel charges.

The tasks to be accomplished: Chevrolet G1500 Cargo Van

Insulation of walls and roof – we used Reflextix double bubble insulation with adhesive in both areas.

Wall covering – we used ¼” smooth finished plywood to cover the walls secured to 1’ x 3” wood furring and then mounting our electrical outlets and appliance connections beforehand

Flooring – a ¾” thick fitted rubber mat give cushioned support and prevents slippage of items

Bedding – a 80-inch x 37-inch hinged platform with a 6-inch memory foam mattress – the platform is 20-inches off the floor offering enough usable storage for four (4) 60-quart Coleman coolers for food stocks for three (3) months and eight (8) 35-bottle case of drinking water (38-gallons) enough for two plus months.

Cabinets and shelving – I bought two cabinet bases with drawers and under storage with doors and installed a countertop with a single sink opening. It allows four (4) pullout drawers and two open areas for usable items to be out of the way. There is a space between the bases about 30-inches where I have two five gallons water jugs with a 12-volt electric pump attached to the sink for running water for daily cooking, drinking and hygiene.

Hooks on walls for gear – I have a Bug Out bag fitted for a 2-week hike totally self contained if ever necessary that mounts on wall attachments, along with 100-feet of ½-inch rope and other useful items.

solar-panels-for-cargo-van-conversionAuxiliary power – I have two 100-watt solar panels mounted on the roof, with a 1000 watt inverter and charger controller and two 12-volt AGM deep cycle batteries in a sealed containment box to store electrical power for 12-volt lighting and appliances (stove, refrigerator, frying skillet)

Food – I have 3-months supply of foods that I normally eat and like both canned and dry goods with plenty of salt, sugar, honey, oils and spices.

Fuel – I have a 31-gallon regular fuel tank with a 24-gallon external tank that gives me the driving ranges – local (825 miles) and highway (1,100 miles)

Lighting – I installed four directional spots for reading in different areas and low level lights to see what I am doing

Desk and chair – a wall mounted desk that folds down allows me to use my laptop and write with a single comfortable fold-up chair and another for sitting outside with company

Porto potty – yes we all have to go several times a day and this unit is a self-contained no odor system

110-power – the solar array and a 12-volt to 110 volt inverter allow regular 110-power for recharging my Surface Pro 2 laptops 10-hour battery and other electrical needs I may have such as power tools for repairs and a compressor for tire inflation

The purpose: To be able to travel in relative comfort on short and long trips with no need to stop at a hotel other than to stealth camp as the exterior of the van looks like any other not to arouse suspicion that someone is inside. An average decent hotel room in any city USA is going to cost $100 a night which if you look at the economics of it would provide for 40-gallons of gasoline – local (600 miles) and highway (800 miles), to me this traveling arrangement makes sense.

Cost and time for cargo van conversion without van price – 6-days and $1,200

  1. Reply
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    Mary July 18, 2015 at 12:53 pm

    Hello Delta, thank you very much for your excellent voedis. If you had rice stored in buckets for years then you open it, do you have to use all that rice bucket within a week or so, or can you reseal it to last for another few months/years etc. At the moment I am unsure whether to either vaccum pack or mylar/oxygen pack individual bags suitable for 1-3 people and then put the bags into the buckets or just pour a rice into the bucket with mylar/oxygen. Thanks Misscpb

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    ArlieXVontungeln July 19, 2015 at 6:05 am

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    FerneSAlvanas July 31, 2015 at 11:38 pm

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  6. Reply
    Bob DePalma September 18, 2015 at 4:42 am

    Having already done this and have lived in it on and off for 5 years I think I have a few things to offer.
    1. You won’t be running a refrigerator (110 ac or 12 dc) for very long before you have dead batteries. I installed a propane unit and it works great.
    2. I also installed a lil’ Buddy propane heater to keep my ass warm in the winter.
    3. I added a propane cook top.
    4. I added a microwave that my 2000 watt inverter can handle.
    5. It will take a lot of fuel to haul that much water. Get a decent filtration system with UV light instead.
    6. Can’t afford the commode? 5 gallon bucket with lid, garbage bag, and some cat litter.
    7. My electric consists of two, 12v deep cycle batteries, a battery isolator so I can charge them off the alternator, 2000 watt inverter w/current sensing, and a decent battery charger so you I can jump myself if needed as well as charge any of my batteries, and I have one `125 w solar panel on the roof.

    There is a lot more to my van. It is insulated , tinted windows covered from the inside so light from inside can’t be detected, small sink draining into a 5 gal container, pressurized pump…. well you get the idea. I can live in it in a rural or urban environment without detection as it looks like a soccer mom vehicle from any angle.And I haven’t mentioned half of the cool features I built into it.


  7. Reply
    craig December 4, 2015 at 4:09 pm

    really interested in building a stealth van, could you tell me all about yours?
    what would be the best van for size, fuel econemy?
    what are all the cool features you have in yours?

    thank you

  8. Reply
    Filman August 28, 2016 at 11:37 am

    boonie-hat-bob and other bob

    would like to see pics of these vans. mine is a e150 in the process of laying out the inside
    and would like to see others so if they have better or different I can copy or incorporate into my plan

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