Getting a Sprinter van had been in the back of my mind for a few years and those around me would hear me mention from time to time “I’m getting one of those!”

I did lot of research, well what I thought was lots of research at the time.  I purchased the online Sprinter source book a DIY guide to building a Sprinter.  This book is FILLED with tone of information.

I also contacted Sportsmobile one of the premium custom Sprinter builders in the U.S.  They have an online designer to let you build a layout.  WARNING:  Even though this online designer has a ruler for measurements it is NOT exact.  I took a tape measure to a dealer and was short some critical inches of what i had designed using their online designer.   It will give you a feel for what you can put inside the different lengths and they have  a page of complete layouts to give you ideas of how it goes together.  I was not impressed with their $38,000 quote to build what I wanted.  I sent them an email saying I didn’t understand their #’s and didn’t want to spend anywhere close to that much money.  I guess that offended them as I never heard back from them explaining any of the #’s.  I did notice when buying everything myself that the prices I found were much cheaper that what Sportsmobile was quoting for the same type of item.  I am not a cheap person so it’s not like they were getting a better quality unit.  I had an advantage that most did not in the fact that my brother is a master carpenter and has a 12,000 sq foot shop we could build it in and a crew to help.

BEFORE you buy a Sprinter you need to design what you want.  I read some posts of people that built one saying they were able to get the 144″ WB model when they thought they would have to get the larger one.  I tried to build mine into the smaller 144″WB model and realized I had to have the 170″ WB.

Make a list of what you NEED the Sprinter to do or carry inside and out and then make a list of what you WANT the Sprinter to do or carry.  After making a list of items you will need to look at different variations of each.  The bed for example is a HUGE design factor.  A Sprinter isn’t wide enough to sleep from side to side unless you are very short.  You can get an item called a “Flare Space” from Outside Van.  The furthest back panels of the Sprinter can be removed and an insert put in which gives you a few inches on either side to increase the distance.  The 2 types of beds are platform bed and couch/folding bed and of course there are variations of each.  I decided that I wanted a place to sit if I needed to hang out “INSIDE” the van and a platform bed doesn’t really allow this as it is always in bed form.

Before we bought the Sprinter we had a small travel trailer.  This took us awhile to find in itself because we were told we were 2% of the buying population.  We actually found this refreshing as we weren’t wanting to be like everyone else, lol.  Anyways we owned this travel trailer for about 2 years so we learned what we used, liked, needed, etc.  Sometimes ideas are great but putting them to use aren’t what you thought they would be.  For example our travel trailer was a small 20’er, 17′ box & 3′ tongue.  We got a Tracer ultra light with a U-shaped booth in the front as we wanted a place to host people if we needed one due to bad weather.  In 2+years of use.  A good bit of use I will add we only used the table to host 1 time when it was 90+ degrees at 8pm and we had the A/C on playing cards.  We did have a few people now and then for breakfast as well.  The issue with the Booth is it wasn’t comfortable.  Because the unit was so small space was hard to come by.  the backs of the booth were 90 degrees so you couldn’t sit back and relax at all.  So the other 98% of the time that we were inside by ourselves we had an uncomfortable place to sit. BOO.  Our camp chairs are so much more comfortable and we would prefer to be outside of course when possible.  We also never used the marine bath that came with the model other than to hang up or wet kayaking gear.  No drawers in the unit….poor design completely.  The unit did have a slide though which was awesome but that’s not really available in a Sprinter.  Skylight too, that was a cool idea until the plastic fogged and you couldn’t see out of it, lol.  Maybe it was just dirty.  The hanging closet was nice even though it was too short and all our shirts drug on the bottom.  Nets everywhere vs doors to keep weight down.  I think you need a balance of both.  My point is we learned a lot about what worked well, what was ok, what was stupid and what was unneeded.

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