Versatile SUV Camping Conversion Kit
In the eternal quest for the perfect road trip, we often find ourselves in an age-old tug of war between freedom and comfort. In one corner, you've got the wind in your hair, an open road stretching endlessly in front of you, and the thrill of not knowing where the next stop will be. And in the opposite corner, you have that nagging voice reminding you of the discomfort of sleeping in your car, the absence of a hot meal, or even just a flat surface to cut up a lime for your end-of-day drink.
Enter California's Van Lab, a game-changer with a hint of nostalgic simplicity.
Picture this: a kit that’s essentially a camper in a box, inspired by the no-nonsense, do-it-yourself ethos of Ikea furniture. It comes flat-packed, waiting for you to breathe life into it, piece by piece. When assembled, this kit can turn some of the market's most favored SUVs – from the electric charm of the Tesla Model X to the reliable Toyota RAV4 – into functional camping rigs.
Now, while the idea of a camper box isn’t groundbreaking, what Van Lab offers is the sleek simplicity of design that matches the hustle and bustle of our modern lives. On one side, there's a drawer, spacious enough to hold most of what you’d need on a trip. Opposite it is a slimmer slide-out for the smaller essentials. And in between? A space perfectly sized for a cooler or fridge box of up to 30 liters. The beauty is in the details, like the removable panel that can double up as a worktop or even hold a single-burner gas stove.
But this isn't just for those who wish to set out into the wilderness. If you're someone who simply enjoys the occasional tailgate party, picnic, or camping by a rooftop, you can opt just for the kitchen box. However, for those of us who dream of waking up to a new view every morning, there’s the full in-vehicle camper experience. This includes a sleeper platform kit, turning your vehicle into a cozy nest complete with a cushioned bed.
Crafted from Baltic birch plywood, the entire kit evokes a sense of ruggedness, yet it’s designed with the understanding that not all adventures are forever. So, you can easily remove and reinstall it, based on whim and fancy.
Cost? The basic kitchen unit sets you back $1,650, but for a full experience – that is, the kitchen and bed kit – you're looking at a starting price of $2,150. And if you’re thinking of adding bed cushions, that’s an additional $400, rounding off to $2,550.
For those who are always on the lookout for the next big thing, the cherry on top might just be Van Lab's recognition. They were honored with a 2023 IF Design Award for their inventive work.
So, for anyone with an itch to explore, a passion for the open road, or just the need for a spontaneous escape from the city's chaos, Van Lab seems to say, “We've got you.” And, in this ever-evolving age of travel, isn’t that exactly what we need to hear?
- Versatility: Suitable for a wide range of popular SUVs, from electric models like the Tesla Model X to stalwarts like the Toyota RAV4.
- Dual Functionality: It can function both as a kitchen unit for tailgating and picnics, as well as a full in-vehicle camper with a sleeping area.
- Easy Assembly and Installation: The Ikea-inspired flat-packed design is user-friendly. Plus, those close to Simi Valley, California can avail assembly and installation at the Van Lab facility.
- Space-Efficient Design: The kit is crafted to maximize storage, with well-thought-out compartments for everything from pots and pans to utensils.
- Removability: It’s designed for easy removal and reinstallation, offering flexibility based on users' needs.
- Quality and Recognition: Built from durable Baltic birch plywood and recognized with a 2023 IF Design Award, indicating high-quality design and functionality.
- Cost-Effective: Compared to purchasing an RV or fully-fledged camper van, the Van Lab SUV Kit offers a more budget-friendly entry into vehicle-based camping.
- Assembly Required: Much like Ikea furniture, not everyone might be inclined to spend time assembling the kit.
- Additional Costs: While the base price is reasonable, fully kitting it out with cushions and other add-ons can drive up the price.
- Space Limitations: Despite its efficient design, it's still a compact solution, which may not cater to those looking for more spacious camping accommodations.
- BYO Design: Users need to stock it with their own stove, cooler, cookware, and dishes, which could be a con for those looking for an all-in-one solution.
- Weight: When fully assembled, especially with the kitchen and bed kit, it adds a significant amount of weight (104 lb/47 kg) to the vehicle, which could impact fuel efficiency and overall vehicle performance.
- Durability Concerns: While Baltic birch plywood is sturdy, its longevity compared to metal or other materials, especially in varying weather conditions, might be a concern for some.
- Limited to Certain Vehicle Types: Despite its wide range of compatibility, those with vehicles not on Van Lab's list won't be able to use the product.
From $1,650 (SUV kit)