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  • Writer's pictureHannah Awesome

🚐 The Ultimate MTB 4x4 Mercedes Sprinter Van Conversion (Everything we used in our build!)

Updated: Feb 3



Did you watch our van tour and have some questions on the exact parts we chose to build the van? Here is a complete list of everything we used in our van and even our Vancept design! If I missed anything be sure to ask me in the comments!


Our Sprinter Van Details


Custom Mercedes Sprinter Campervan at Elevation Road
Our Van Sitting Pretty at Elevation Road Van Builder

The chassis is a 2021 Mercedes Sprinter 4x4 170 WB. We purchased the van near the end of 2021 when it was difficult to find and vans. We got lucky when the dealership called and told us someone had returned their van after bringing it home to his unimpressed wife.


We didn't originally plan to purchase a 4x4 sprinter but when this van became available in peak waiting times we knew we had to jump on it. Not purchasing the van we had originally wanted turned out to be the biggest blessing because getting a 4x4 was 100% the way to go for us! We got stuck in a snow storm in Sedona and we were the only vehicle able to make it up the road. Our van drove like a tank! It also ended up being the 2nd to last year Mercedes made the 4x4 and switched to AWD.


Our Custom Campervan Design


Before commencing the build with our van builder, Elevation Road, we had our van design mocked up by Vancept. Once we looked over the 3D conceptual designs we gave Elevation Road the green light to start building! These designs ended up being 99% accurate to the finished van!


The Best Exterior Upgrades on Our Sprinter Van


custom mercedes sprinter van camper outdoors
Our First Overland Experience in Tucson, Az

Our Tires: Toyo AT3 275/70/17


Toyo is our top pick for tires. These tires lasted us 100K+ miles on our last sprinter van! They are also more affordable than BF Goodrich tires.



We love the look and strength of our Black Rhino Arsenals but we are technically over the weight limit for these wheels. However, we haven't incurred any issues so far.


The new Owl Vans Talon wheels would be our top choice for wheels had they been available and released when we were outfitting our van. Their Talon Sprinter Van specific wheel has a much lower offset (wider stance and lower center of gravity) at 30mm and the Black Rhino Arsenals sit at 38mm. Also, the Owl Van Talon wheel can hold up to 4200 lbs per wheel compared to the Black Rhino Arsenals that can support 2600 lbs per wheel. Here is a link to those Owl Van Talon wheels.



To upgrade your Sprinter van wheels/tires to a larger size, you will have to cut the body of the van for them to fit. We chose 17inch wheels/tires because that is the maximum you can choose before it will affect your cruise control availability.



Suspension upgrades for your camper van I would say could be a more important upgrade than the stock tires. The stock suspension for a Mercedes Sprinter van is pretty bad and even though it's a cargo van that is meant to be loaded with weight, the stock suspension is set up for an empty van off the lot to drive well. The stock suspension in. Sprinter van doesn't account for the extra weight you will have in your van. This means when you add your camper build the van will need the extra support and the van will sway a lot at every small bump.


There are 2 main companies people go for, Van Compass and Agile Off Road. We chose Van Compass because of availability and cost.



The Owl Vans Explorer side steps were a very important upgrade to our van. Since we chose a 4x4 Sprinter and added a suspension kit, our van was sitting pretty high off the ground. The steps really helped me to safely get in and out of the van.


The Owl Vans Explorer side steps are also built to sit high and tight so the steps don't hit rocks and get hung up when going down a trail.



We added an Owl Vans Large Expedition Box to the rear of our van using the Owl Vans B2 Bike Carrier. In the box we carry all of our wet and smelly items like our water tank hose. It's great having extra storage for items we don't want to store inside the van itself!


Rear Ladder and Tire Carrier: Owl Vans Explorer


On the drivers side of the van we added a rear ladder and tire carrier from Owl Vans. It was important for us to carrier our spare tire on the outside of our van because our spare tire holder holds a spare water tank and our spare won't fit in the holder because of the upgraded size. As a bonus the tire carrier has a ladder attached so we can get on and off our roof rack easily.


Awning: Fiamma F80s


The awning we chose is the Fiamma F80s. We chose to get the longer length so it covers a good majority of the side of the van. We also opted for a mechanical awning over an electric because of the issues other van owners said the electric awnings have given them.



We chose the Warn VR EVO 12-s winch because of it's affordability and great reviews. We have had to use our winch a few times now and it's worked perfectly for us!


Front Bumper: Ca Tuned Off-Road


The front bumper we chose is the Ca Tuned Off-road bumper. Its a very minimal design and one of the biggest regrets in our van build. If we could choose our bumper again we would go for the Aluminess Front Bumper with the bull bar. We haven't had any issues with our CA Tuned front bumper but we now wish we would have opted for more coverage. Although it is much more sleek and minimal, ultimately the CA Tuned bumper does not offer as much protection as the Aluminess. If we were to hit a deer we would be much better protected with the Aluminess front bumper.


Lights on Front Bumper: LP9 Pro Driving Combo Clear


Attached to our Ca Tuned front bumper we have 2 Baja Designs Lp9 Pro Driving/Combo White lights. These lights are massive and in retrospect the Baja Designs Lp6 lights would have been more than sufficient. Let's just say our lights would blind a deer!



We went for the Aluminess Touring roof rack with the perforated deck. We love this roof rack, it's pretty stable for walking on and perforations make for easy walking. The touring version is great too because of the front drop down bar where we mounted a light bar.


Light Bar on Roof Rack: OnX6 Straight Driving Combo 50in


On our Aluminess touring roof rack we attached a Baja Designs OnX6 Straight Driving Combo 50in light bar. This light bar is super bright but we aren't sure we needed the amber lights on the side because we don't off-road very often in foggy or dusty conditions.


Side and Rear Lights: Baja Designs S2 Sport


For the side and rear of the van we attached the Baja Designs S2 Sport lights. They are super bright but easily dimmable. We especially like using the rear lights for backing up the van and side lights for camping.



We added CR Laurence half slider bunk windows to both sides of the van in our bed area. These windows have helped so much on hot nights! It's great to be able to get fresh air into the bed area.


Driver Side Vented Window: CR Laurence Dual Vent


Besides the bunk windows, the only other window we changed out was the drivers side window in our work area. We went for the CR Laurence Dual Vent window for extra air circulation. It would be great to replace the stock window in the sliding door with this window as well.

Shower Fan: MaxxAir Dome Fan


We added a small MaxxAir Dome fan in our shower to helpw ith humidity in the van when showering!



Lastly, we added a MaxxAir Maxx Fan in the center of the van and right underneath our 2 solar panels (from the roof view). We really like the placement of our fan because it circulates all of the air in our van easily and its close to both our shower and kitchen which need the most air.


Kitchen Products and Appliances



custom sprinter campervan kitchen with oven
Our Van Kitchen (Photo Curtesy of Elevation Road)

Tile: Basic white subway tile from Lowes


Yes, we used real tile in our kitchen backsplash and no, tiles have not been broke! Real tile real adds to the space and makes it feel like an actual home on wheels and not a slapped together RV. One tip I have is to use flexible grout or silicone to help the tiles stay intact when driving, there are plenty of videos on Youtube on how to do this, Eamon and Bec taught me what to tell my van builder lol!


I know real tile in a van isn't for everyone but it has our vote!



We chose this inexpensive farmhouse style black faucet. We like this faucet because the height is slightly shorter than standard kitchen faucets. It works perfectly with the size sink we chose!



This sink is on the pricey side at over $300 but we really wanted a quality stainless steel sink that would last. A lot of high end camper vans actually go with this Ruvati sink (check it out on Amazon here) but I really wanted an under mount sink so we went with the Kraus instead. I really like this sink, it's held up well and comes a cutting board that we frequently use to cover the sink and gain extra counter space when we aren't using it.



In our last camper van we went with the Dometic CFX 95 DZ which we liked but I personally really missed the look and functionality of a traditional standing fridge.


We chose the 110 over for the 130 size because the 110 was the biggest we could go before we had to make the countertop depth longer than what we needed the countertop to be. We love our fridge! The freezer can fit a surprising amount of items and so can the fridge portion.



A big deal for me when designing this van was that I wanted as many traditional home appliances and features that I could realistically squeeze in. I really wanted the van to feel like a tiny home on wheels! That's why the oven was a non negotiable. We went with the Greystone 17in RV Oven and have no regrets! The oven runs off propane but you can't really escape that in a camper van without having to really oversize your battery bank. I use the oven almost daily and absolutely love it!



The microwave is the only feature in the kitchen I sometimes question because I rarely use it. It doesn't take a tremendous amount of power, it's about the same as our Vitamix (around 1000 watts) and you need to use it usually for less time than the Vitamix.


However, it does take a lot for me to use it reheat food because it feels like an unnecessary consumption of power when I can typically use the stove to do so. I think all in all I am still happy we chose to do a microwave because I love having the option of using it! It's especially handy for microwave popcorn and for reheating food quickly when we are busy or driving to a destination!


Drinking Water Filter + Tap: Acuva ArrowMAX 2.0 (“mohannah” for 10% off)


If you are planning on amping or spending a considerable amount of time in your van, you NEED a water filter. You can't always trust the fresh water going into your van, you need to filter it. Plus, you can't be constantly filling or buying water bottles.


We went with Acuva for our water filter needs and chose the Acuva ArrowMAX 2.0. This water filter is a compact but powerful high performance UV filter that inactivates 99.999% of E. coli bacteria and with the pre filter unit, filters 99% of chlorine and lead, plus VOCs and unpleasant odors.


Use code "mohannah" for 10% off with Acuva RV water filters!

Shower Products


custom Sprinter van camper platform bed and shower
Our Van Shower and Bed Area (Photo Curtsey of Elevation Road)

Shower Fan: MaxxAir Dome Fan


Already mentioned above, this little fan does a great job controlling humidity in the shower area.



This shower pan was the perfect size for us and I would say it's the smallest shower size I would recommend. With our natures head toilet removed and in our hallway we can comfortably take individual showers. The size of the shower pan is 24x32in which of course is 2ft in width and 2.66ft in length.


Wood Shower Floor: Teak Shower Mat


For both aesthetic and space maximizing purposes we had our van builder cut this teak shower mat to fit perfectly within our shower pan. The shower pan does have an unnecessary 3in or so lip that goes around the edge of the pan and it takes up a lot of "shower real-estate". The lip is weaker than the floor so be sure to use the scrap teak from your cut and add long enough supports so that the weight is distributed evenly through the floor of the shower pan.



Now for the more controversial portion of our bathroom, the toilet. Deciding what toilet we wanted for our van was no easy task but choosing which we hated came easy to us.


Natures head toilet install diy sprinter van camper
Our Natures Head Toilet!

The toilets we eliminated right away were cassette toilets. The clean up and smell involved with a cassette toilet was out of the question for us. In a cassette toilet the solids and liquids mix together and you have to empty the sewage into a public toilet.


In the Laveo Dry Flush Toilet each time you use the restroom (# 1or # 2) the toilet vacuum seals your waste. It initially sounded like a good idea but in reality we realized we would go through too many expensive refill cartridges, on amazon 3 cartridges with 15 uses per cartridge will run you around $100. See for yourself.


The Natures Head Composting Toilet was the option that we ultimately decided on. The composting toilet works by separating liquids and solids into 2 different compartments. The liquids go into a removable pee jug and the solids go into a larger composting bin. The composting bin you have to fill with a composting agent, we tried coconut coir.


Quick review of the Natures Head Composting Toilet

We are happy with the pee situation although it's not a very glamours task to empty it. However the composting solids aspect just didn't work for us. We tried using the solids section once and the whole van smelled awful, like manure. Perhaps the venting hole we used wasn't quite large enough or the fan on the Nature Head toilet is not powerful enough, we aren't sure. This toilet has worked great for many people and maybe ours was set up wrong. What we decided is that, even without the smell, we realized we just weren't comfortable with defecating so close to where we sleep and in such a contained and closed environment. So we cleaned out the compost and now only use the toilet for liquids.


TLDR: We decided defecating in our van was out of the question for our comfort level and we only use the Natures Head Composting Toilet for pee.


Shower Wall: Faux Shower Tiles


We got a few questions in regards to our shower walls. We skipped the basic white FRP board and went for these faux tiles from Lowes. The really add to the space and make it look more put together.



Don't forget the TP! We store our toilet paper in this recessed waterproof toilet paper holder from Dometic. It's hard to fit larger rolls in it but overall it works well and does a great job keeping our toilet paper tucked away and dry!


Water Saving Shower Head: Nebia Shower Head


Our favorite feature in our shower is the Nebia Corre four-function, handheld and water saving shower head. This shower head only uses 1.5 gpm where as traditional shower heads use 2.5 gpm. The way this shower head is able to save you so much precious van water is by using up to 60% more force.


We were pretty excited to try this shower head out when we first heard of it but also a little worried about how it would perform. It ended up working great and actually better than a traditional shower head.


Although it is higher pressure, it uses less water so in return the spray doesn't hurt and efficiently removes soap, shampoo and conditioner with ease. It also helps us to take longer showers and not worry so much about how much water we are using. We really recommend it for your camper van build or even your home!


Electrical


diy  camper van propane and electrical system using Battleborn batteries
Our Electrical System at the Van Builder


We had a 200AH deep cycle battery in our last van and new we wanted a much bigger system and lithium ion batteries in this van! A very simplified and basic explanation is that lithium ion is the way to go over deep cycle because, unlike deep cycle batteries, you deplete the battery more then 50% and even to 0% without causing damage. Plus lithium batteries are much lighter and smaller in size.


We have 4 100AH Lithium batteries and it has been a great size system for us! We chose Battle Born because of their excellent reputation and 10 year warranty but I am sure there are less expensive options out there.


⚠️ If you made it to this part of my dreadfully long blog post, lucky you because I'll give you a HUGE tip. If you shop Battle Borns Black Friday sale you might be able to snag blem (cosmetic damage only) batteries at about 50% off. This saved us sooo much money!! ⚠️



We went for a very larger inverter because we knew we had a lot of high power appliances. At 3000 watts capacity, we can power a Vitamix and hair dryer at the same time if we wanted to! A great feature with this inverter from Victron is that it also has a charger, which gives us the ability for shore power hookup! This thing is a beast!


Charge Controller: Victron Smart Solar MPPT


Simply the best solar charge controller for if you are using lithium ion batteries! We have the 30 Amp because we have less than 400 watts of solar.


X2 USB Charger: Amazon USB Chargers 2


These USB chargers were placed on each side of our bed near our pillows so we can charge our phones at night. It's really nice to have quick and easy access to a phone charging cable late at night before we sleep. It's also great that it runs off 12v versus 120v because it helps us to save battery!


X4 USB Charger: Amazon USB Charger 4


We have a lot of electronics so we put one of these inside one of our seat storage boxes and one underneath our work table. Again, it's important to try and use 12volt wherever you can to save power and not run the inverter!



These solar panels are the best panels for your Mercedes Sprinter van roof, they fit perfectly across the width of the van. No tetris involved, these are the perfect width. We added only 2 panels for 350 watts of solar and they barely took up any space on our roof rack.


Plumbing


DIY campervan plumbing with NW conversions wheel well water tank and Bosch water heater
Our Plumbing While at the Van Builder


Very basic water inlet hatch with gravity and city fill plus a key that locks the door from the outside. We chose black to match our gray/blue Sprinter van.Not much to say!


Grey Water Release: Motorized Ball Valve 


This is one of the best features of our plumbing! This simple motorized ball valve works from a switch on our kitchen wall to release and close our grey water tank. No more having to go outside to open the grey water or lugging your grey water from your kitchen cabinet to outside to empty it. This small part makes a huge difference in your day to day!


This is one our van regrets! This 2.5 gallon water heater from Bosch takes so much power and really depletes our batteries. It took a while for us to figure out the best way to use it. We found that during the day when we are taking in a lot of solar, when we are driving and when we are plugged in with shore power are the best times to run it. It keeps the water pretty hot inside the tank for several hours which is nice. Make sure to put it on a switch though because it's not something you want to be constantly running.


It does take about 30 minutes before it finishes heating up the water completely. We sometimes only run it for about 15-20 minutes just to get a warm shower!


Water Level Sensor: Water Level Sender


These water level sensors sit in your water tanks and connect to your water level gauges inside the van to give you a pretty accurate reading of how much water you have. Make sure you get the correct length sensors or your readings won't be accurate!


Water Level Gauge: Electric Water Level Gauge


Just like the sensors, we have 3 of these water level gauges, one for our gray water tank, our main fresh water tank and one for our reserve fresh water. They work great, just be sure to connect them properly to your water level sensors. I also suggest putting a switch for the light if you decided to connect one of those wires, I believe there are 3 different light colors to choose from.


Main Fresh Water Tank: 33gallon Wheel Well Water Tank


We decided on the NW Conversions 33 gallon right side wheel well tank. This tank is specially designed to fit over the vans wheel well and be super space efficent!


Reserve Fresh Water Tank: 28gallon Spare Tire Water Tank


Since our oversized spare wheel/tire was going on the outside of our van, we had room in our spare tire holder to fit this 28 gallon water tank from NW Conversions. We know had a total of 61 gallons of fresh water on board!



We fit this undercarriage water tank on the drivers side near our fuel tank. It holds 22 gallons of gray water and can be emptied inside from a switch, using that motorized ball release. We are happy we chose to this tank over the passenger sliding door tank because it does not interfere with our side steps and it hold more water!


Miscellaneous


The Bug Wall V2 Garage Wall Mercedes Sprinter Van
The Bug Wall V2 Garage Wall


These bug screens from The Bug Wall have made a big difference with our van. The privacy and protection against insects have made a significant difference in our comfortability in our van! Click here for a more detailed review of our The Bug Wall insect screens!


Black Out Window Shades: Wanderful Shades


Instead of curtains (although you could do both) we opted for black out window covers for the front cabin and the rest of our windows. These black out window shades from The Wanderful are great because they black out your van windows from the outside and the inside and they provide an insulated barrier. I also love having the front seat area accessible at night when we are trying to be stealth.


4” Natural Latex Mattress and Pillows: 2" Firm and 2" Medium Firm Mattress Toppers 


Another one of our favorite features in our van is our custom mattress! We opted for a latex mattress over a foam mattress because it's natural and more eco friendly. We also found the more "springy" feeling of the latex to be much more comfortable.


We went with Sleep On Latex for our latex mattress and they couldn't have been more helpful! With our bed being higher than most van beds, we knew our mattress could not be thicker than about 4" so they suggest combining 2 2" mattress toppers together. We explained to them our sleeping positions (back, side) and they recommended us to go for a "2 firm mattress topper and a 2" medium firm topper on top of that. The toppers were cut to fit our custom van bed as well. The combination they recommend us ended up being a dream! We are really happy with our bed!


Bed Sheets (Use this link to get $25 off $100+ order): The Best Linen Bed Sheets


I had been on the hunt for linen bed sheets for quite some time and after months of research I landed on Brooklinen! I can't recommend these sheets enough if you are in the market for a solid set of linen sheets. I choose linen for the van because they are known to keep you cooler in summer months. We have a diesel heater so we were worrying about the most warm sheets but since we don't have air conditioning, I wanted to make sure we wouldn't overheat in the summer time! These sheets have done a great job in summer and have kept their promise of a light and airy feel!


Diesel Heater: Espar S2-D2L


In my opinion, a diesel heater is a van essential. It's something we also didn't have in our last van and we really suffered from it. Even if you do your best to never be on cold climates, you need to be prepared for a cold night or two. Van life can become really uncomfortable without the right equipment and I would say a diesel heater is also a safety feature.


We went for the Espar Diesel heater because of it's ability to regulate in altitude but there are definitely more budget friendly options as well!



I added these cabinet pulls and knobs down below because I really struggled to find pulls and knobs that were both modern and low profile enough for using in a tight space. Hopefully this is helpful for you!



These cabinet knobs were used on all of our upper cabinets except for our overhead cab cabinet where we used a cabinet pull. They are pretty low profile so we never hit our head on them when getting in and out of bed.


Ceiling lights: Recessed 12V Lights


We went for these recessed 12 volt ceiling lights from Amazon. We chose warm lighting and we love the warmth it brings to our cool toned white interior! These lights are also dimmable and hooked up to a dimming light switch.



sprinter van with sliding bike tray
Photo Curtesy of Elevation Road


This recessed garage shower is great for washing off our bikes after a muddy ride or rinsing off our feet after a surf! We love having water access from outside the van!


Garage door storage: Cheap Door Shoe Holder


The last thing we added to our van was these shoe holders on each rear garage doors. We were originally planning on shelling out big money for a sprinter specific storage solution in our garage but ultimately we couldn't find anything we liked enough. We ended up purchasing these cheap shoe holders for each door and although they aren't super high quality they do their job and provide so much storage for not only our shoes but all of our bike equipment and tools.



Mo and Hannah Custom sprinter van by Elevation Road
Custom Quilt Curtesy of Elevation Road

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