Life on the Road | From Van Build to Hitting the Road to Saying Goodbye

March 21, 2017


We absolutely love our tiny home, but living and working in Denver, Colorado full-time now hasn’t really allowed us to go explore in the van as much as we’d like or originally planned. This van is MEANT for someone who’s going to utilize it full-time for all of the many adventures you’ll be taking this beauty! Please keep reading this post for more details and photos on the van. We are being 100% honest about everything we know about the van. We have all of the maintenance records that will come with the purchase of the van, as well.

We bought this van back in January, 2016 while Andrew and I were in grad school and usually worked on the van every weekend (unless there was a huge blizzard… but we usually worked through those as well). After we graduated in May, we left for our big adventure through Alberta to Alaska and back down through B.C. and the west coast. All in all, it was a 15,000 mile roadtrip with an average of 20 MPG on the dot! The van has 101,007 miles on it. This is VERY low for what you’ll find in the market. Since we got back from our trip in August, we’ve taken the van on a couple of hiking and skiing trips in the Rockies, but not as much as we originally planned when we originally bought the van for long-term. And now, here we are, ready to sell this beauty to someone who is awaiting adventure in this practical and efficient tiny home! We’re asking $47,000 for the van based on what we originally paid, all of the included (less than 1 year old) features and appliances, all of the custom work to build this tiny home, absolutely no mechanical issues while we’ve owned the van (we’ve had THE local Sprinter expert check our van for any issues before and after our roadtrip- documents included with purchase of van and upon request), as well as the minimal amount of miles on this 2008 Dodge Sprinter that will be hard to beat in the current market.


Here’s a list of everything we put into the van (considering it was an empty shell when we bought it):

Main Interior Features:

  • Fridge/Freezer: 12V ARB 37 quart. Model #10800532 (can hold up 50 12 oz cans)
  • Stove: Dometic Origio 3000 2-burner alcohol stove (clean, efficient,
  • Roof Vent: Fantastic Fan with 7 speeds, automatic rain sensor, and wireless remote. Model #807350
  • Rear Bed Fan: RoadPro 12v variable-speed tornado fan. Model #RPSC-857
  • CO2/Smoke alarm: X-Sense battery-powered combination. Model #DS51
  • Stainless steel, bottom mounted, deep sink (18# gauge, 7″ deep, 12.75 x 15″) with a Valterra Hand Pump RP800 faucet (saves you from overusing your water supply)
  • 7 gallon fresh water tank and a 5.5 gallon greywater tank
  • PLENTY of clothing and gear storage
  • Fire extinguisher
  • 1″ thick hard wood maple kitchen countertop with a custom sink-sized cutting board
  • FULL-SIZED QUEEN bed, 5″ thick memory foam mattress (let’s be honest… this is the most important part)
  • EBERSPACHER (Espar) Airtronic D2 heater under the passenger seat that is connected to the fuel tank with additional thermostat in the “control panel” (next to the kitchen counter) and option exhaust muffler underneath the van (will keep upwards of 80 degrees all night even in below freezing temperatures) Note: we used the heater 90% of our trip and we are so grateful because it truly makes the van feel like home
  • EVERYTHING runs off the solar, except for the heater (and not once did we go below 50% solar power… even with 4 days of rain)

Behind The Scenes Interior Features:

  • 1st Layer of Sound Deadener/Insulation (1st): 150 square feet of FatMat self-adhesive “RattleTrap” sound deadener. This stuff was lain below the factory wood subfloor, around wheel wells, and on all bare body panels (walls, roof, rear doors, etc. This stuff is pretty much everywhere.
  • 2nd Layer of Sound/Thermal Insulation: 64 square feet of R-5 rigid foam reflective-film insulation board. This was cut and adhered with 3M spray adhesive on top of the RattleTrap sound deadener.
  • 3rd Layer of Acoustic/Thermal Insulation: 75 square feet of 3M Thinsulate (50 sq. ft generally is recommended and we went a little overkill which is good for you!)

Electrical System:

  • Solar Panels: Two (2) 100W Grape Solar high-efficiency monocrystalline panels. Model #GS-S-100-TS
  • Batteries: Two (2) 12V, 115aH, Full River AGM batteries. They are group size 31 Group 31 AGM batteries and are about the best batteries you can buy. Model #DC115-12
  • Solar Charge Controller: Blue Sky MPPT charge controller with full-feature programming. The charge controller optimizes the input from the solar panels and maximizes charge voltage and ultimately increases efficiency. Model # 2512iX-HV
  • Solar System Monitor: Blue Sky IPN PRO remote meter. Communicates directly with the MPPT charge controller and provides live system diagnostics (i.e., battery usage, output, number of cycles, etc.). Also monitors battery temperatures via included temperature compensation sensor (if you’re parked somewhere freezing cold, or hot) to account for temperature effects on battery performance.
  • Shunt: 500A/50mV shunt installed in series with batteries and used in combination with IPN PRO remote to provide the most accurate net battery current possible.
  • Combiner Box: AM Solar Roof-C box is attached on roof, underneath solar panels, and combines all wiring for easy access, minimizes the size of the hole for wiring entering the roof of the van, and makes it ridiculously easy to add another panel in the future if so desired.
  • Two 12V to 120V inverters. One in front and one in the rear cargo area.
  • LED lighting all over the place – 8 on the ceiling, 4 under the shelf for counter light, as well as 4 under the bed for lighting when you need to access something in the back/under the bed at nighttime
  • Numerous 12V outlets throughout the van (all in convenient locations for whatever your need may be)
  • Inverter: 1000 w/1200 w 12V-110V next to the sink, and a smaller one in the back of the van (both red in the photos)
  • LAST BUT ABSOLUTELY NOT LEAST, we added in the Jensen VX7020 6.2 touch display with GPS navigation, including a usb plugin AND DVD player (in case you feel like watching a movie in a random May snowstorm like we once did)
  • Note: everything was wired by a Colorado School of Mines engineer aka the best of the best!!! 😉

ALSO!!! Routine/maintenance record will be coming soon!!!! (Trust us, we kept ALL OF THEM)

We recently purchased snow chains for the rear wheels that will come with the van as well!

Before we left for our trip, we bought brand new tires (currently, they have <20,000 miles and plenty of tread)! While we were on our roadtrip, we rotated the tires every 3,000-5,000 miles and changed the oil every 7,000 miles. Not once did the van break down, and not once did we ever feel like we needed to take it to a mechanic. NOT EVEN A FLAT TIRE! It’s truly the perfect van for the perfect roadtrip.

If your questioning having a bathroom or shower, consider this… If you’re on the road quite a bit, you’re going to be stopping at gas stations, coffee shops for wifi (especially, if you’re out of the country), information/visitor centers, grocery stores, campgrounds, etc. There was rarely an occasion over 3 months of driving every day where it was inconvenient or out of the way to find a restroom. on another note, we stayed overnight in national forests 90% of our trip to avoid costs, crowds and to be a part of nature as much as we possibly could. With that being said, national forest is free game for ANYTHING… just make sure to dig a hole for #2 so it decomposes or so you don’t attract bears! And obviously, if you’re staying at a campground, there’s always bathrooms and often showers. For a shower, we used this guy ALL THE TIME! You just fill up this freestanding pressurized shower at a gas station (hot water available from tap), restaurant/coffee shop (hot water available from tap), grocery store bathroom (hot water available from tap), visitor center OR even a river/lake, and then use the shower whenever you get to your secluded campsite that night or even the next morning. When you have a warm heater to come back to in the van, it’s really not a big deal if the shower is a little chilly. Hopefully this helps with your decision on whether or not it’s important for you to have a bathroom/shower option in your tiny home.

Here’s a selection of photos and a everything we think is important for you to know about the van before you consider buying!

Started with an empty shell! Covered this bad boy with FatMat self-adhesive “RattleTrap” sound deadener

Beautiful vinyl “wood” flooring installed

Installing the Espar D2 heater

Our saviour for all of those cold Canadian and Alaskan nights!

The 2 side windows were professionally installed in Fort Collins, CO

The “control panel” – includes light switches, usb outlets, solar charge controller, solar diagnostics, heater controls, heat thermostat, and wireless fan remote

The KITCHEN aka the heart of the tiny home. Includes fresh and greywater tanks, alcohol burning stove, ARB fridge, sink and silverware and plate drawers

Customized sink-sized cutting board

Stainless steel, bottom mount, deep sink!

Cooking some leftovers in wine country for lunch!!

Your kitchen view!

The 37 qt. ARB fridge seriously fits at least a weeks worth of food! Some everyday fridge items for scale.

Feels like home with all of the kitchen storage!!

The overhead hutch that doubles as a pantry and extra lighting underneath for cooking. AND! CO2 detector

Inverter and trash! (again, more stuff that really makes this tiny house feel like your true home)

This is what cooking a BIG dinner looks like ( you can open the windows out even when it’s raining, just as you see in this image)

Washing dishes is sooo easy with the hand pump faucet! And, so therapeutic since it feels like a “house chore”

Toiletries, his/her clothing shelves and pot and pans storage

The best bench in the world with abundant amount of storage for dog food and toys, alcohol, all your shoes, and outerwear. Doubles as a seat and a step for the bed while you’re parked

Bedside storage- perfect for electronics, books, etc. The two closed off cabinets are more his/her two-shelf, deep cabinet space, as well as a three shelf pantry that we left exposed for easy access when cooking (rather than having a cabinet door open all night while you’re cooking)

This extra storage space next to the sliding door is KEY! We kept all of our grab and go stuff here- including headlamps for those middle of the night bathroom runs….

Nighttime ceiling LED lights (you can turn off the front or back set individually for “mood” lighting)

Grab and go set up for a fly fishing rod

What it really looks like at night when you’d like some privacy and to block out the never-ending summer sunlight in Alaska

The electrical system (we will have this labeled for you before you buy!)

SO much storage in the back for all of your hobbies! We brought both bikes, an excessive amount of unnecessary camping gear, and there was still room for hiking and fishing gear, and sooo much more.

Lighting at night from the outside (there’s even lighting underneath in the bike area below the bed (not shown in picture)

Plenty of foot space while driving (even enough for your dog to take over)

He loves to steal my seat every chance he gets…..

Watching How I Met Your Mother in a 24 hour May snowstorm on the side of the road in Canada!!

(PROOF OF MAY SNOWSTORM!!) yeah… we were definitely stuck for a little bit

The outside of the van does have cosmetic rust! We have had the rust professionally looked at and it is purely cosmetic and ABSOLUTELY no rust on the base/frame of the van. The van was purchased from the East, where salt is excessively used on the roads during the winter. Here’s a where you can see the extent!

Now for the evening set up, including our “porch” and our free camp spots!


California near Yosemite



Jasper, Alberta campsite

Top of the World Highway in the Yukon near Dawson City




Beach day napping in the PNW

Near Lassen Volcanic NP, California

East fit on ferries as well!

Arizona (such a hot night we slept with the back doors open, and covered up all the goods in the back with the comforter)

If you think we left anything out, PLEASE contact us at alexmabrey@gmail.com!! We’d love to hear your comments or questions! Feel free to check out the rest of the blog, to get to know us a little more and how much we absolutely loved living our tiny home during our 3 month roadtrip.