We get lots of questions about living the van life on a daily basis, and many of them have something to do with money or the cost of living in a van. Whether you’re planning on becoming a digital nomad or just want to go travelling in a van around the United States, the initial cost of living off the grid is what stops a lot of people from being able to follow their dreams. I would always strongly recommend building your own van (it’s part of the vandwellers rite of passage!), but if you’re not confident with your power tools, then we have found the perfect cheap camper to get you on the road on a budget.
Be Free As A Bird With This Cheap Camper From Caravan Outfitter
We talk about European conversions a lot here at Van Clan, and that’s probably because we live here. But this article is for all of our American readers who are tired of wishing that they could get their hands on some of the incredible campers that come out of our factories over the pond, and we’ve got finally got some good news for you. Meet the Freebird, a cheap camper that has everything that you could possibly need for your next off-grid adventure. It’s small enough to double up as an every day van but more cost effective than some of our small travel trailers if you can only afford to have one vehicle in your household.
‘Cheap camper’ isn’t a phrase that we’d associate with the United States, and we feel for you on this front. Imported goods always end up being mega expensive, so it’s about time that you had an affordable camping option available to you. (On a side note – if you already own a truck and want to convert it into a camper then you should check out our Four Wheel Campers article!)
Tell Us About This Cheap Camper
The Freebird is the creation of Washington based company Caravan Outfitter. Brothers Kurt and Craig Campbell have a long history of being in the camper van game, and now they’ve decided to target the gap in the market for a small, cheap camper that is so sought after by the American people. They specialise in converting Nissan NV200 cargo vans into fully-fledged campers and give each vehicle the ability to be used in both cargo or camping mode thanks to some clever engineering.
The main thing that you’ll notice about this cheap camper is the height of the vehicle. You won’t find the same space inside the Freebird as you would in a pop top camper or one of the larger Mercedes Sprinter Conversions, but then again, you are buying an affordable camper, so you might have to put up with a few fewer luxuries than you might have hoped. And besides, if you’re heading out on adventures all day, then you only need a place to sleep, and the Freebird provides a comfy bed for weary travellers, as well as other amenities that you need for a tiny off grid home. Instead of a pop top, Caravan Outfitter has gone for roof rack storage that you can use to store bulkier items that won’t clog up your living space.
When hunger strikes, you won’t need to worry about heading into the wood on a foraging mission. This cheap camper makes use of the great outdoors by having a pullout burner and fridge drawer that slot in underneath the bed. It’s a little bit too much of an ask for you to cook in such a small space, so Caravan Outfitter have added these features instead of clogging up the sleeping area with bulky kitchenware, and also to save all of your clothes and bedding smelling like last night’s curry. This would only be useful if you were cooking in sunnier climates, and I couldn’t see this doing very in the minus temperatures that come with a Yorkshire winter, but it would be great for weekend warrior style trips in the summer. You can get an optional bat awning so that you’re covered from the elements while you cook, but this would obviously increase the cost slightly.
Can I Still Use This Cheap Camper As A Normal Van?
Yes, that’s one of the plus points of this conversion. There’s a ‘slide and glide’ system that lets you convert your van from camper to cargo van in under 5 minutes, meaning that this can be both the vehicle that you use for work through the week and your adventure get-a-way vehicle as soon as the clock hits five on Friday afternoons. It’s a two person camper, so there are no seats in the back for extra passengers, partly because Caravan Outfitter wants you to be able to make use of the dual purpose nature of this camper. You can comfortably fit two in the back when sleeping, and with the back doors open the bed makes a nice seating area while having a cup of tea. If you’re after something with a little more room then this Ford Transit Camper might be more up your street.
Does It Come With Any Gadgets Or Accessories?
You get the bare van life essentials that you need for off grid living, so don’t be expecting a tech-savvy tiny house when you part with your cash. There’s a couple of USB and 12v charging ports, some LED lighting, and a roof vent to keep your camper aired. You also get a leisure battery and the ability to charge it from the campground or at home. If you’re looking for an off grid van that you can take into the wilderness, then this isn’t it, but if you like the comfort and safety of private camp spots, then the Freebird has everything that you need for a comfy stay.
This cheap camper comes in at just over $37’000, which isn’t bad considering you get a brand new cargo van at the same time. The Freebird is an affordable entry vehicle that will give you everything that you need for living the van life, and the new models come with backup cameras for peace of mind while parking, heated side-view mirrors to give you better vision, cruise control and remote keyless entry to save time when your hands are full.
I want to tell you to go for it, and to purchase one when they are ready for sale next year, but I can’t bring myself to ask you to spend $37’000 on something so small. You can easily build your own adventure bus out of a second-hand skoolie or get yourself a travel trailer and a used car for half the price. I’d always recommend making your own camper, but if you really hate the idea of deciding which screws to buy from the local hardware store then play it safe and get yourself a cheap camper from Caravan Outfitter; a company with a reputation that you can trust.