One of the most fun parts of building out your own camping rig is the planning phase. This is where your imagination can go a little wild before actually having to pick up a screw gun.
The open space of a cargo van, minivan, or even a cargo trailer is a tempting space to make over into a camping rig. There are so many opportunities and options out there that the process can get a little overwhelming.
A cheap way to figure out a layout is with cardboard boxes.
There are various ways to imagine your ideal layout in a van or trailer. One of the best is to actually get inside the vehicle you want to convert, do some measurements, tape out some spaces, and build some mockups.
An inexpensive way to mockup a van or trailer mockup is to use large pieces of cardboard (or stacked cardboard boxes) cut to the size of your desired bed, cabinets, workspace, etc.
Another way is to purchase cheap or junky furniture in the approximate sizes you want to use. Move those pieces around to find your favorite setup.
However, you might not be able to get immediate access to the exact vehicle you want or you might still be in the planning phase of what vehicle or trailer you actually want to get. This is where interactive online tools come in handy. Check out these five ideas below:
1. Adrian Steel
Adrian Steel specializes in contractor-grade van equipment for many commercial vehicles. These include shelving, cabinets, partitions, and toolboxes. They are also an excellent source for the dozens of vans, trucks and cargo trailers available on the market.
On their website, they have pages of vehicles with their dimensions, 3D layouts, and load weights. Even if you have no need for a commercial vehicle, their website is a great resource.
2. Ranger Design
Ranger Design is another cargo van conversion company for the construction and delivery trades.
While they mostly specialize in storage and rack units, they do have a cool online configurator where you can choose a 3D version of your favorite van and add in various units to see how they fit inside. The measurements and weight of each shelving unit are listed.
Again, even if you have no intention of using your van as a commercial vehicle, it’s nice to get an idea of how various units fit inside different vehicles.
3. 3D Warehouse
3D Warehouse is a massive database of 3D modeling content created by users of SketchUp. While the more advanced versions of SketchUp are a subscription service, 3D Warehouse is free to use.
You can search for a variety of layout ideas for vans or cargo trailers and if you set up an account, you can download your favorite ideas for later use.
4. Google Keep App
To keep from going a little crazy during the planning process, it’s helpful to keep projects, material lists, tasks, and prices contained in one place. There are various ways to do this.
Many people use online forums such as iRV2, Class B Forums, or Pinterest to save ideas and photos. However, Google Keep (one of the lesser-known and used Google products) is a simple way to organize a van or trailer build project.
Not only does it integrate with Gmail, but the little notes can be color-coded, filtered, and added via Google Voice. The notes can also be shared with anyone who has a Google account.
If you have decided on your perfect vehicle and are ready to make more of a commitment, purchase the software and service VanSpace3D.
This online design program includes unlimited layout designs, tutorials, furniture, and material lists, and email support. The program also lets you compare different vans and allows for first-person viewing of any design.