Hi, from Michael!

I created this site to share the resources I’ve been collecting about affordable car camping and buying or building a camper van.

In 2015 I was looking for ways to improve my car camping experience. I moved to Northern California in 2012. After a divorce I started taking camping trips again, but sleeping in a tent is something that I’ve grown a little weary of, so I started looking at my options.

I basically wanted to get out in nature without the tent.

Among the options considered were roof top tents, installing a bed platform in my SUV, and camper vans. I grew up car camping with my family on the East coast. My dad simply installed a bed platform into a Chevy passenger van. I wrote a little about that experience on the blog. As I started researching my options seriously, and after my girlfriend and I borrowed a friend’s VW Westfalia, I started down the path of looking for a van.

Keep in mind that I wasn’t looking for a #vanlife hightop van that I would live in full time. I was looking for a weekender van that I could camp/sleep in. I basically wanted to get out in nature without the tent.

My hunt ended up with me wanting these particular attributes in a van: It had to cost as much as I might spend on a new car — under 60K. I’ve never bought a car that cost that much, but this was going to be my divorce gift to myself. It had to be small enough that it could be my daily driver, replacing my car, a used Volvo that I got from the divorce, but didn’t want. And finally, it had to be comfortable enough that 3 could sleep in it.

To recap:

  • Budget: Under 60K
  • Seating/Sleeping: at least 3
  • Size: Small (Westy-sized)

In 2017 I ended up deciding on Recon Campers. It ticked all of the marks, and I think I’m among a small group of early adopters who are driving this little camper in the Bay area. There were some hiccups along the way, but I’m happily taking trips in the van with my girlfriend and my 2 boys.

Now, I know that I said above that I wasn’t looking for a fulltime hightop van. But I’m finding myself already dreaming about what I might like to travel in when my youngest son goes off to college and I have an empty nest. So I’m already thinking about what that future might look like.

So I’m learning as much as I can in my free time about building a van that could suit my needs. If you’re like me, you may have already lost hours in YouTube videos. I’m now finding myself digging deeper into the black hole of forums about electronics and solar power, so we’ll see where this all leads.

Thanks for visiting, and happy camping! -Michael