Stealth campers offer a way around one of the most pervasive challenges facing van-lifers: parking. Simply put, many neighborhoods and businesses don’t want people obviously camping out in public spaces; they may run you and your gorgeous-but-obvious Volkswagen Bus Camper off after a few nights.
But what if they had no idea about your alternative lifestyle? Stealth campers essentially camouflage your tiny home in the guise of a humble fleet vehicle. It’s all about maintaining a low profile, and today we’ll be showing you how to do it in style and comfort.
We’ve put together a list of ten of the best examples of sneaky rolling homes on the internet for you to get some ideas for your own build. You’ll be dodging overpriced campgrounds and enjoying city camping in no time!
1. The Black Panther
Margaret, aka @curlyhaircamping, has a self converted off grid home that is undoubtedly one of the stealthiest stealth campers out there. From the outside there is almost nothing to give the game away; there are no windows, no colourful decals, and no cool-but-distinct two-tone paint jobs nor hand-drawn forest wonderlands.
The nato green colour of Margaret’s van may be a slight give away if she was city camping. However, as she spends 99% of her time camping in the wilderness, the dark green paintwork actually means the van can blend into its surroundings.
Instead of housing things on the side of her vehicle, Margaret has everything that she needs on the roof of her van: Solar panels for electricity, plus skylights for letting air and light into the main living space. She chose to convert a Sprinter van, which is the perfect choice as they are commonly used as work vans or people carriers.
Being the stealthiest of stealth campers doesn’t mean that you have to compromise on the interior either. Margaret’s rolling tiny home is both stylish and functional, acting as both her humble abode and office all rolled into one.
This conversion features a spacious kitchen with a sink, fridge, preparation area and a two-ring burner; a fixed double bed; a desk for working at; and ample space to store everything that she needs for an impromptu adventure, including two bikes. Creating a space to store bikes inside your van means that you don’t need a bike carrier on the back of your vehicle–keeping the telltale outside fixtures and fittings to a bare minimum.
Check out Margaret’s adventures on Instagram @curlyhaircamping to get more stealthy inspiration!
2. The Green Machine
Next on our list of the top stealth campers is another nato green Sprinter Camper Van, brought to us by off-grid-aficionados Helen and Jelly. Unlike the last van, this Sprinter conversion utilises the same blacked-out windows that you might find in a minibus.
Not only do they match the dark colour scheme, they have a privacy screen to stop peeping toms seeing into the living space beyond. If this wasn’t enough, the windows are also bulletproof. Yes, you heard right–bulletproof! Thieves will definitely have a hard time breaking through this kind of armoured glass, which is on par with that of the Tesla Truck Camper.
This camper van isn’t just stealthy; it’s also the most independent off-grid adventure bus I’ve ever seen! Thanks to its large roof-mounted solar panel and built-in water filtration system, Helen and Jelly can make use of the natural elements rather than fighting them.
Step inside their van, and you’ll find all the comforts of home–and then some. The list includes a large under-counter fridge; an oven with a three-ring burner; a large sink basin; a large sofa-style seating area; a composting toilet and standing shower; and double bed with under-bed storage for their all-important mountain bikes.
If you want to check out Helen and Jelly’s van, you can see more on their van tour filmed by The Indie Projects.
3. The Work Van
With an Instagram handle of @stealthcampervan, we thought it would be rude not to include this Sprinter conversion on our list of the top stealth campers out there on the roads.
And yes, that’s three Sprinters in a row. Vanlifers choose these for their conversions since they’re super reliable, and spare parts are easy to find anywhere in the world.
This particular vehicle spent its former days as a highway work van; it’s even still got the bright red and yellow striped hazard markings and the red flashing light on the roof. Talk about urban camouflage! It looks 100% official, and will appear as though it’s meant to be on duty wherever it lands.
The rest of the van retains its original white, with nothing to give the game away. No windows have been added to the sidewalls; just a skylight in the roof. While it’s hard to see from the roadside, it still lets plenty of light into the van.
Inside, the van provides plenty of comfort, with a large bench seat which folds out into a bed; a full kitchenette complete with a sink, fridge, two-ring burner, and plenty of storage space; a shower and toilet; plus room to store a bike in the back.
But couldn’t you just look through the windshield to see the internal suite? No way! The living area is completely separated from the driving cabin by a bulkhead. This wall has a small window with blackout curtains for total privacy.
Without a doubt, this is one of the sneakiest sprinter campervan conversions on the roads and could probably get away with parking pretty much anywhere. Check it out at @stealthcampervan on Instagram.
4. The Shiny New Motor
Next on our ultimate compendium of stealth campers is Quin’s van from @everchanginghorizon. This van is another Mercedes Sprinter (I promise that there are some other vans on this list!)
This one’s kept its factory silver colour, allowing the camper to blend in with all the other vehicles in the parking lot. It has all of its original doors and windows, and looks for all the world like a (shiny, new) standard work van.
Three windows plus an added skylight in the roof give this camper a beautifully light interior. The white cupboards and walls further complement this airy aesthetic. Of course, the window tinting plus blackout curtain divider work together to keep this tiny home in stealth mode.
Overall, this is a pretty spectacular conversion and includes a sink, two ring hob, pull out chest fridge/freezer, overhead and under-bed storage, a flip-up table, and a toilet hidden under the fixed double bed. Check out more of this stealth camper’s features at @everchanginghorizon on Instagram.
5. The Tool Shed
Next on our list of the top stealth campers is @whitecampervan, a VW T5 (and most definitely NOT a Sprinter van). This van is much smaller than the previous four vehicles, which helps to make it even more stealthy and inconspicuous. After all, the less space your van takes up, the less attention you’re going to draw from passers-by or pesky parking wardens.
This van has kept its original white exterior colour and only has the van’s original windows – one in the side door and one in the back door. Most people would expect this van to be crammed full of builder’s tools or plumbing supplies. Instead, it’s a fully kitted-out travelling home, with all of the van life essentials needed to make life on the road more comfortable!
Although compact, this van has everything you could possibly need for a long weekend away or a stint of off grid living in the woods. The interior is beautifully thought-out, with plenty of storage space around and beneath the fixed double bed; a flip-up table to go with the revolving front seats; and an under-counter fridge. Sure, the outdoor kitchen is a bit of a give-away that this is a camper van–but if you need to be really stealthy, you could always just have a sandwich or a can of soup!
Check out more pictures @whitecampervan on Instagram.
6. The Pro Stealth Master
The thing that I love most about stealth campers is that you never know what you’re going to see when you open the sliding door and take a look inside. (Okay, that had a Forest Gump feel about it, but I think you get what I’m trying to say.)
This conversion by Brandon @bucksd is proof that stealth camping doesn’t mean you have to compromise with poor interior design. Just because there are no side windows, doesn’t mean you’ve got to feel like you’re living in the trenches. When properly converted, there’s no reason why stealth campers shouldn’t have all the comforts of home!
Brandon’s conversion is light, airy, cosy, and incredibly tidy (kudos on the cleanliness!) It’s a sophisticated space hidden inside of a completely inconspicuous van. Everything inside has its proper place, with special coverings to hide them when they’re not in use, too!
As an aside: if the Mercedes Sprinter is our go-to choice for stealth camper conversions here in Britain, then the Ram Promaster would be its equal in every way over the pond. It’s literally used for everything in the States–including Amazon deliveries–in no small part due to its reliable motor and wealth of available stock and aftermarket parts. Great to see it being used for a stylish and stealthy travelling home!
Head over to @bucksd to check out more pics and to follow Brandon’s adventures.
7. The Toasty Ninja
Okay, you might be wondering how a van with a chimney has made it into our list of the top stealth campers. Let me share a personal experience: I had a chimney poking out the top of my van for a couple of years, and almost everyone assumed it was an aircon unit, or else a fancy radio antenna.
Now, Matt from @vanlifetv.uk has since taken the wood-burning stove out of his van. Nevertheless, the metal chimney twinned with the metallic paint job make for an inconspicuous picture. You’d definitely have to do a double-take if you were driving past, by which time you’d be too far away to notice that this was a camper.
The inside of Matt’s camper was and still is very rustic looking. I love the use of wood throughout the build and the choice of stains gives a country cabin feel that always resonates well with outdoor lovers.
As a climber, Matt needs a lot of space for gear storage; he also wanted a travelling house for sleeping over at his favourite climbing spots. It’s at once practical and hospitable, with a dual burner, sink, bed, toilet, storage for all of his cooking accessories; plus tonnes of pictures and trinkets to make this converted van feel like home. Stealth campers might be blank and bleak on the outside, but inside they’re full of intrigue, colour, and adventure.
Head over to @vanlifetv.uk to follow Matt’s adventures!
8. The Family Car
As stealth campers go, this family minivan conversion takes top prize for being the most unsuspecting camper on this list.
You might not be able to stand up in it, and you certainly wouldn’t be able to have your friends round to play a board game. But what you can do is get the best parking spots at the very front of the beach; and you’ll never have to worry about underground parking height barriers ever again!
The sink and food preparation area can be used both in and outside the camper. Similarly, a useful swing-out table lends itself to dining, gaming, or whatever else your heart desires. The bed is large enough to sleep two people and there is plenty of storage to keep adventure gear packed up and ready to go all year round!
This would be the perfect option for someone who needs to appear smart at meetings, but who is also too tight to pay for hotels while out on the road. If you’re a professional vanlifer who still needs to look like a professional human, then this is the camper for you.
Head over to our full-length article on this affordable camper for more details!
9. The Little Nipper
The VW Caddy Camper is one of the most underrated stealth campers of all time. In stealth mode, this van looks just like the kind of thing you would see a handyman pull up outside of your house in; crammed full of odd bits of wood and more hand tools than you’ve ever seen in a lifetime.
While it might be small, the VW Caddy is the perfect option for budding weekend warrior types who want something small and speedy to take away on a quick break to the country. With a pop-top roof added into the mix, you can even make enough space to sit up comfortably and relax with a good book or a movie.
Another outdoor adventure conversion, this cosy camper built by @sam_likes_to_travel is both practical and homely. It’s got a cool pallet wood vibe that instantly makes me think of a cosy shed house in the middle of a forest glade.
The bed folds out into the main walkway, almost doubling in size, and there’s still tonnes of space for kitchen essentials such as a hob and gas canister combo. Living in a tiny house doesn’t have to feel cramped if it’s done right, and this is a great example of how stealth campers can hold so much while still looking small and inconspicuous.
Follow Sam’s adventures over on Instagram!
10. The School Run
Last but by no means least, we have the Citroen Berlingo: A tried, tested, and approved conversion vehicle used by lovers of stealth campers everywhere. What at first glance might look like a family vehicle trained in the art of traversing the perils of the school run is actually a fully converted camper with a bed, shelf-storage, outdoor cooking area, and more besides!
This conversion built by Anna @littlestcampervan proves the age-old saying that good things come in small packages. And the best thing is that self-conversions in little vehicles tend to be very kind on your wallet too!
With a couple of blackout blinds drawn and the rear boot down, this vehicle could seamlessly blend into city life without anyone even batting an eyelid. Not only is it small and easy to park, but it also has an interior that’s incredibly well thought out and makes the most of the available space.
Nice work Anna! You can follow her adventures over on Instagram.
How To Build A Stealth Camper, In Short
So, if you want to build a stealth camper and couldn’t be bothered reading the rest of the article, then here are several common themes to follow:
- Low-key exterior colour to blend into your surroundings.
- No or original side windows, preferably blacked out.
- A bulkhead wall or inconspicuous curtain to hide the living space from the cab.
- No adventure gear such as bikes or surfboards on the exterior of your van.
- Keep stickers and decals to a bare minimum, and if you’re going to use a chimney, make it a small one!
If you follow these handy points, then you should be well on the way to creating your own tiny home to rival any of the examples in our list of the best stealth campers. Good luck, and let us know your plans over on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
Are you vanlifer or weekend warrior? Join our Facebook Group and connect with our ever-growing community! Are cosy wooden cabins more your thing? Head over to our sister site, Cabin Clan for some woodland vibes and off-grid inspiration!