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Van Conversion PART 2: The 8 Essential Factory Options For Our Sprinter Van Conversion

We are in the process of converting our Mercedes Sprinter Van into a luxurious off-grid Tiny Home on Wheels, which will serve as Trail & Kale’s mobile office, hotel, and transport all rolled into one. Before we get into the conversion itself, in this post we share our list of the essential factory options for our Sprinter Van that we wanted it to already have before we start converting it.

Our Sprinter Van is a VS30 (the 2019+ model), 144 wheelbase 2500 cargo van, which has a 6 cylinder diesel engine and rear-wheel drive.


What Mercedes factory options are essential when ordering a Sprinter van for conversion?

The answer is partly, ‘it depends’ – on you, how you intend to use the van, what features you value / enjoy, and whether cost is a big consideration.

Our Sprinter van came with quite a few upgraded factory options compared to the base model. Not all of them were those that we would have chosen if we had ordered the specifications ourselves (it had been pre-ordered from the factory by the dealer), but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t happy to have them all and am grateful for them as it makes for a rather comfortable and high-end ride both from a function and appearance perspective, which will be great once we hit the road after the van has been converted.

The dealer we worked with to source the van has a great deal of experience in converting Sprinter vans and so he was really helpful in matching us with a van he had pre-ordered that had everything we wanted, and more (thanks Keith! Mercedes-Benz of Seattle).


Looking for Sprinter Van to Tiny Home PART 1? Click the button below.


Of all the pre-installed options our Sprinter van has, these 8 factory options are those that were on our list of essentials that the van had to have. Some of these options will really help with the conversion and using the van as a campervan, and others are touches of luxury that we wanted our van to have, but are not necessarily essential factory upgrades that other people may choose for a conversion van. I hope you find this helpful if you are looking to buy a Sprinter van for conversion and share our love of space and comfort when it comes to being on the road!


The 8 essential factory options for our Sprinter van conversion

Not all of these features HAVE to be installed at the factory, but if you know you’re going to need them then it’s usually neater and potentially less-costly to have them pre-installed in the van when you order it.

Also, before I go into these specific features, I should point out that we specifically chose a panel van, rather than a passenger or crew van. We didn’t want the full set of windows that come with a passenger van, and we wanted to avoid having (and paying for) features such as extra seats that we would end up removing anyway.

1. High Roof Van

essential factory options for our Sprinter van conversion - high roof sprinter van 144 wheelbase

Most people looking to undertake a Sprinter Van conversion will want it to have a high roof. A high roofed van, compared to the standard roof, provides standing headroom and room for overhead storage.

We aren’t particularly tall and are not planning to cram the overhead wall spaces with storage cabinets, but we like that having a high roof on our van gives us more options for storage and space to move around.

Plexus Co. (dba Chirp)
Plexus Co. (dba Chirp)
Plexus Co. (dba Chirp)
Plexus Co. (dba Chirp)

2. Roof Rails

If you want to mount anything to the roof of your van, such as a roof rack, solar panels, additional storage, etc, then the van needs to have roof rails for those items to be securely attached to.

We’re planning to have a roof rack and solar panels mounted on top of our van by the time the conversion is complete, as well as a seating and stargazing area up there, so we definitely had to have roof rails installed on it.

Roof rails can be installed aftermarket however that involves drilling additional holes in your van – so these are one of the essential factory options for our sprinter van conversion and will be something that most people will want to make sure are already installed when buying a van.


3. 2-Stage Power-Assisted Sliding Door

essential factory options for our Sprinter van conversion - two-stage sliding side door

We love that the sliding door is power-assisted and closes without being slammed. This reduces the chance of catching ourselves (or our pets) in a slammed door, and is obviously quieter.

The door also features 2-stage opening, which means that when you open it the door stops halfway, so you have the option of leaving it half-open or pulling it all the way open.

The 2-stage opening feature is ideal given our plans for our van conversion, as we are planning to build seating/storage that sits across half of the sliding door opening and so don’t have much need to open the sliding door all of the way very often. Maybe not essential for everyone, but a great feature we wanted on our van, given the choice.


4. Rear Windows

essential factory options for our Sprinter van conversion - rear windows

Not all vans have rear windows installed and we see many van conversions without them. However we wanted to have rear windows as we want to maximize the amount of daylight and connection with the outdoors while inside our van. Windows on our van are naturally going to be less well-insulated than we can make the other walls, roof and floor, even with insulating shades, however we still prefer to have them.

The rear windows also help with seeing behind us while traveling and backing up. As a bonus, our rear windows also have electric defrost and wipers. Posh!


5. 360 Degree Camera

essential factory options for our Sprinter van conversion

The 360 degree camera is awesome for maneuvering our van in tight spaces! It does what it says – it shows you a 360 degree picture of your van when in reverse or moving forwards under slow speed, such as when we’re parking it or pulling away from parked.

See Alastair’s explanation and footage in our video for more details on how this works and looks in the cockpit control center.


6. Electric Folding Wing Mirrors

essential factory options for our Sprinter van conversion - electric folding wing mirrors

This may not be a must-have for many people but the electric folding wing mirrors are a nice feature that we ideally wanted on our van. Due to the other packages that came with the van, these wing mirrors also have built-in indicators, are heated and offer blind spot assist – not to mention they form part of the 360 degree camera setup.

I imagine the wing mirrors will be very costly to replace if they get knocked off so we are pleased that we can reduce this likelihood at least a bit by folding them in at the push of a button.

7. Heated Seats

Mercedes Sprinter 144 heated seats trail and kale

Think what you will… but for me, heated driver and passenger seats are an essential for long road trips! Especially if you’re going somewhere cold, have a tendency to get a bad back, or are going to be jumping into the van for a long ride after a long run – or perhaps all three may apply, if you’re anything like me. There’s nothing like sitting in a heated seat after running an ultramarathon in the cold to ease your tight lower back 🙂

8. Driver and Passenger Seat Swivels

essential factory options for our Sprinter van conversion - factory-installed swivel seats

Many would agree that our 8th and final Mercedes factory option ‘must-have’ is pretty important for most van conversions, especially in a 144 wheelbase Sprinter where you don’t have much room to play with.

Seat swivels can be installed aftermarket, but it’s easier to get them installed at the factory, or find a van that already has them, if you have that as an option – they tend to be more cost-effective and the factory-installed swivels have shorter bases.

Having swivel seats mean we can turn our driver and passenger seats around 180 degrees to face backwards, which gives us more layout and seating/dining options.


So there we have it, our list of must-have factory-installed options in our Sprinter Van. Notice, I didn’t say 4×4, although this is considered a must-have option for many people when looking to buy a Sprinter van to convert. As explained in our van conversion PART 1 blog post, we opted not to get a 4×4 van; given how we intend to use our van, 4×4 would have been great but is not essential.

Now you’ve heard from us on the features we consider to be important for our conversion van to have, let us know what features you would want (or already have) on a van for conversion – we’d love to hear from you! Also if you have any questions about our van, drop us a comment and we’ll get back to you 🙂



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Helen
Helenhttps://www.trailandkale.com
Hi, I’m Helen, one of Trail & Kale's founders. Things that bring us joy are spending time together running, hiking and adventuring in beautiful places around the World, working towards be more self-sustainable and living a healthy, plant-based lifestyle. We changed our lives to realize our dreams and share advice on how you can do the same.

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