Why More Solo Women Are Choosing Van Life
After the film Wild starring Reese Witherspoon debuted in 2014, the number of backpackers hiking the Pacific Crest Trail surged. Could the Academy Award-winning Nomadland have the same effect? Will we see a parade of single, older women driving down the road enjoying van life?
Zach Yeager is the founder of van conversion company Cascade Campers, based out of Nevada City, California. In an interview with RV LIFE, he explained that the company’s largest demographic is women, nearly retired or retired.
However, he mentioned, this is not a developing trend. In fact, since the first van conversion in 2018 to May 2021, the team has completed 235 van conversions, about 40% belonging to single, older women.
Yeager has noticed a pattern in customer preferences for both male and female customers. He explained that many are looking for an effortless way to get out and travel, whether it’s for the weekend or longer. They are looking for an obtainable alternative to purchasing and operating an RV like a motorhome or travel trailer.
A Cascade Campers’ conversion is affordable. The systems that the company installs in each conversion are simple to maintain. Vans are also easier to drive and park. In short, van travel is not as overwhelming as learning the ins and outs of driving and handling a traditional RV.
According to their website, Cascade Campers‘ mission is to “make the campervan lifestyle financially-accessible to the masses…do the basics well and leave out the bells and whistles that add cost but not value…”
The company converts Ram ProMaster City Vans (2015 or newer) into a camper van for only $8,000. This price tag does not include the cost of the vehicle. Customers are responsible for this specific vehicle purchase as part of the bargain.
“It’s a proven, reliable, compact van available for way less bread than the classic German campers that inspire us. It’s also cheaper and easier to keep on the road.”— Cascade Campers
A 2021 Ram ProMaster City has an MSRP of $26,065. Its payload is 1,760 to 1,886 pounds. (All of the conversions, including a filled water tank, add a mere 450 pounds to the van.) The RAM also has an average rating of 25 miles-per-gallon between city and highway and can be driven up to 350 miles before gassing up again.
Dubbed the “vehicular Swiss Army Knives,” folks can use the vans for everyday errands around town, go on road trips and off-grid camping adventures, or even rent them out for others to experience van life.
What comes with the van conversions
The production process is entirely standardized. All components of a van conversion are completed in the Nevada City shop. Camper builds occur in the California shop as well. Customers can either make arrangements to have their van delivered to or drive over to the location for the conversion.
A van can accommodate 2 people and is outfitted with:
- A couch that converts into a 42” wide, 6’ 4” long, two-person bed.
- A kitchen area including a countertop, a sink, a Dometic CF-25 freezer-fridge, and a portable single-burner Gas One butane cooktop. The sink comes with a five-gallon water tank and used water drains out the back bumper.
- A power system that includes a 75-amp hour battery stored in the floor of the van and a roof-mounted 100w solar panel, as well as a 100-amp battery isolator and a 400-watt power inverter. A charge controller monitors these power sources. The camper comes with two USB and 12-volt charging ports.
- Two 6″ roof-mounted Ventline adjustable speed fans.
- LED light bars with two settings and a red LED light bar for night vision.
- Five 15.8L storage bins secured below the bed with twist locks and many storage pockets.
- Privacy curtains secured in place with magnets.
- 1/8″ birch paneling and 1/2″ closed cell foam insulation covering the interior.
- A slip-resistant Hexa-Grip floor.
- Note: The van conversion does not come with a bathroom as there is not enough space to accommodate one.
Aside from these standard components, customers can opt to personalize their van with upholstery, curtain fabric, and more windows.
A standard conversion is typically ready within one day. Folks drop off about 8:30 am and their van is done by 5pm.
Find more information on their van conversions
For more information on setting up a van conversion through Cascade Campers, simply visit their website. The following video gives an overview of the conversion process.
Plan your next camper van adventure using RV Trip Wizard
Before heading out on your next camper van adventure, be sure to use RV Trip Wizard with the accompanying RV LIFE App to map out an RV-friendly route. Besides finding a safe route to your destination, RVers can also find pit stops along the way, including fuel stations, restaurants, and additional sightseeing options.