My camper is a 2017 RAM Promaster 159” cargo van (notes on how I made this choice). It has served me very well indeed.


This pic from the build shows the basic interior layout (looking back from cab):


  • Water and galley on the passenger side
  • sleeping platform and “basement” storage in the back
  • easier-access storage (food, clothing, etc), solar components and battery bank on the driver side
  • light and frequent-access gear in crude shelving along the sides


There are several sources of charging in the campervan:

  1. main solar array mounted on roof, 750w. (3x 250w Trina poly panels, 45A mppt controller). On average the setup makes/uses 1.76kWh/day, with a max observed of 4.28kWh/day when running some heavier loads.
  2. alternator, via voltage sensing relay (Battery Doctor 75A isolator).
  3. DIY converter (10A 24v power supply, 10A MPPT). I used the converter extensively during the build before panels were mounted but it has been used only once since then.
  4. portable solar array, 200w. Stored 95% of the time, deployed when conditions necessitate, as when camping in a forest canopy. details

Power is stored in a 100Ah LiFePO4 bank from Rebel Batteries. Update: I have paralleled the original 100Ah with a 50Ah Chins that was given to me by a boondocker who was upgrading to the 100Ah version. (related blog post and overview)


This pic shows the basic exterior layout:


  • maxxfan
  • solar array mounted on rack and square-tube steel post material

philosophy / intended use

The camper is my retirement vehicle (figuratively and literally). Retiring early requires a tight budget, which in turn requires moving minimally, cooking for myself, and not paying for campgrounds.

The answer at the center of that budgetary Venn diagram is boondocking (dispersed camping). I generally stay on BLM/USFS land for 14d then relocate and reprovision (food, water, laundry, and packages) at some point along the relocation route. This simple life makes it possible to live on $500/mo.


[see the semi-complete parts list]

I bought most of the physical stuff off Amazon, but some came from eBay etc when it was cheaper that way.