We don’t get the Volkswagen California camper van here in the United States, and that’s a damn shame. Thankfully, a modern day Westfalia is possible though with the Envy from Recon Campers.
Van life is a booming trend and one that’s undoubtedly dreamy for some. Hitting the open road and having everything you need to live (and for some, work) all in one fun, box on wheels. But the choices for adapting to this often sought-after van life are somewhat limited. Surveying Craigslist for a decent iconic Volkswagen Vanagon can be a gamble, and finding a Mercedes-Benz or Dodge Sprinter that isn’t a rust bucket can be even trickier. If you want to avoid the used van scene, even the smallest new camper vans and RVs are atrociously expensive, leaving wanderlust addicted millennials who are drowning in debt, out of luck.
The donor for the conversion is Nissan’s NV200 which you’ll need to purchase brand-new from a dealer and lists for a relatively low $22,000 MSRP. Due to the, at times, sketchy liabilities used cargo vans possess, Recon Campers only outfits new NV200s. As production continues to rise, plans are in the works for the entire buying-then-converting process available through Nissan dealerships, including the financing of fully finished Envy campers through Nissan, which will cost about $28,500 in addition to the price of the NV200.
So what does $28,500 get you?
A ton. And everything is built to the highest degree of quality. A sliding door opens way to an insulated living space complete with a gorgeous wooden floor with a small kitchenette featuring a stainless steel sink with a 10-gallon tank, fridge, fold-out table which can also be attached to the exterior of the Envy, plenty of cabinet space with sliding covers similar to a garage door, hidden storage, and six USB inputs for charging devices. One fantastic innovation in the Envy’s kitchen, is its two-way cupboard, which allows one to load groceries from the outside of the van and then later access them from inside.
The back seat contains two deep storage drawers underneath it as well as large cargo box and locker near the rear door. Out back is also a hot water, outdoor shower. Two adults can sleep comfortably on the seat once it folds forward flat into a 42 x 72 bed, unlike the typically backwards like you’d expect in a shaggy ’90s conversion van. The seat’s been safety tested and can also be deployed in a tailgating position. Its “pop top” roof easily rises to create more than seven feet of standing room plus a 40 x 88 berth with three large zippered window for two additional sleepers.
Proper on-the-go tech
You can be envious about the tech too, as the Envy features a 110 Ah AGM+ house battery that can be charged in a few hours by an optional thin, 100 watt roof-mounted solar panel that also powers the shower and stink’s water heater. A slick 7-inch touchscreen LCD mounted on a wall near the kitchenette controls all of the Envy’s dimmable lighting, switches for the water heater, fridge, DC outlets, and water pump, and shows readouts for the house battery, temperature, and capacity of the fresh water tank.
Other options for for your overlanding adventures include roof rack cross bars, a bike rack for two bikes, a fantastic assortment of rocker panel decals, bug screens, a black diamond-plated rear cargo box that mounts to the hitch, and a solar-powered ventilation system.
It’s styled for a vagabond too, as the Envy camper on display at Nissan’s exhibitor display had a set of tiny, knobby Yokohama Geolander A/TS all-terrain tires wrapped around bronze aftermarket Method wheels that were staggered just slightly. Recon Campers also installs a set of black, protective side rails to prevent rock damage when off-roading, nature-themed graphics, a blacked-out grille, front tow hook, and some rally-inspired mudflaps.
Recon Campers also offers a conversion kit for the NV200, minus the “pop top” roof, called the Stealth, which starts at $21,750. Hopefully we can get our hands on either camper sometime soon to take on a national parks endeavor. Looks like I’ll need to draft a pitch to their PR department for a two-week test loan.
Learn more about California-based Recon Campers here.