One of the best parts of sharing RVs with you is when I get to talk to cool people about RVs, especially when they’re the ones building or designing them. Such was the case speaking with both Rob Novotny and Brian Jones from Glampervan, a San Francisco-based company that builds custom vans based on the Ram Promaster platform.
Rob is the founder and head of the company and Brian works in sales. Both of them actually use their vans and you can tell by the way the vans are built. Speaking with both, you can also glean that they really care about the customer experience and the product as well.
All the vehicles that come out of the Glampervan shop share a common design series. But each one is also tailored to the customer’s tastes and wishes. You don’t just buy a Glampervan off the shelf – there are a lot of options to make it your own.
But the basic floor plan is also there. It consists of a galley along the road-side wall with a round stainless steel sink. There’s a cabinet in which to store an induction cooktop when not in use. Above this are cabinets. I like the light finish on the cabinetry in this rig.
All cabinets are built in-house by Glampervan and are cut with a CNC machine to make sure the fit is up to the company’s standards. A CNC machine is essentially a computer-driven router that can precisely cut wood to very high tolerances ensuring that each piece fits the way it’s supposed to. Of course, they’re not the only ones to do this.
A Lagun table is mounted to the cabinetry which can be used by the front seat occupants when they turn the seats around to face the main body of the van. This is essentially the dining and work space area. The Lagun table is a nifty device that allows for almost infinite adjustment of the table from both a horizontal and vertical standpoint.
The bed and storage in the Glampervan are really slick
What’s really slick about the Glampervan, though, is the bed and storage in the back.
Essentially the bed sits on a platform over a large open space in the back. The bed can also be folded up and you sleep east-to-west owing to the width of the Ram Promaster platform.
Beneath the bed platform are two large “boxes” that are on rails. Essentially you can either have the two boxes stacked on top of one another on these rails leaving a large “trunk” under the bed. Or you can have them parallel on the upper or lower track of the sliding system. Or, just take them out altogether.
If you do this and flip the bed up, you have much of the cargo space that is part of having a van to use for whatever you want to bring. You could easily bring a couple of bicycles back in this space. Or Rob indicates that one of their customers uses the space for wind surfers.
The Promaster chassis chosen for the Glampervan is the 136” wheelbase high-roof model. It offers full standing height inside but isn’t much different in foot print than something like a Suburban. That means you can easily use this for stealth camping or, as Rob said, “Some of our owners use them as second cars.” The fact that you can camp on some weekends and use them to bring hardware home on project weekends doesn’t go unnoticed by owners.
Bonus features in a Glampervan
While the sliding boxes feature is one of the coolest things I’ve seen in a Class B van, another one that floats my boat is the optional roof platform. This is a large metal platform that you can actually go and stand on or even use as a platform for a way-up-there patio. The company’s only caveat about 2-3 people sitting up there and enjoying a sunset is that you should watch your step as you are on the second floor, essentially.
That platform shares roof real estate with a 340-watt solar panel that feeds two lithium batteries – three if you’d like that many. This is more than enough power to fuel the Glampervan’s systems, which include a Webasto gasoline heater.
Those who want air conditioning can have it. The company is working through plans for a swamp cooler as well. That works well here on the West Coast, where humidity isn’t as much an issue. The swamp cooler will be very power efficient.
Another thing that’s really unusual in the interior is the aluminum ceiling and side wall trim. In some ways this reminds me of an Airstream. But there are “L” track rails between each ceiling trim panel, so this also facilitates traveling with gear.
The interior is sort of Ikea-esque in the aesthetic. But there are also fabric inserts and cushion upholstery that offset what could be a stark appearance. In fact it comes across as rather warm and really reminds me of a European apartment.
The thinking behind this vehicle is a bit different than most. However, I’m seeing more and more adventure-focused vehicles that are offering less “stuff” in them and more room for adventure. And there are a lot of features you can add or tailor to your own taste, including a water heater, screens for the door openings, a cassette toilet and other such things.
“What was striking to me is how much stuff conventional RV makers put in that aren’t appropriate for a small van. They try to replicate your entire house. There are some things you just don’t need if you have a small space. There are simpler systems,” said Rod. He has been a long-time RVer with a variety of RVs in his past – from travel trailers to vans and more.
That certainly describes the Glampervan product well.
These RV reviews are written based on information provided by the manufacturers along with our writer’s own research. We receive no money or other financial benefits from these reviews. They are intended only as a brief overview of the vehicle, not a comprehensive critique, which would require a thorough inspection and/or test drive.
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