Recon Campers founder Stephen Schank basically wanted something small enough to park downtown, but still be able to use for weekend adventures and getaways. Getaways that might involve road cycling, mountain biking, wind surfing, kayaking or some combination thereof. So he started with the tiny Nissan NV 200, which is smaller than your average minivan and is sold as a micro cargo van, and started upfitting it. He added sleeping arrangements, a pop-up roof, a kitchenette, ample storage, and more. The project turned out so good, Nissan should be offering these through their US dealerships as soon as Spring 2019!
Schank chose the NV platform because it’s a true cargo van base, with flat floors all the way back and industrial level alternator and electronics system. This made it the perfect small-scale platform for customization because it could handle the extra loads.
Features and options include Wet Ocole seat covers, marine-grade stainless steel cabinet hardware, solar port plugs directly wired to the battery system (so you can easily add panels if you want them), 3-gallon alternator-powered water heater tank plus 10 gallon fresh water tank, shower hose port and 5-gallon gray water tank. About the only thing it’s missing is a toilet…though there are plenty of portable options you can add on your own and stow them behind the rear seat.
A simple touch-screen digital control panel manages the entire system.
The rear seating is simply brilliant with it’s adjustability and ability to turn into a perfectly flat bed, too! Seriously, check the video at the bottom to see how it works.
Perhaps the best part? Fully loaded it still gets about 24-25mpg! That, and the price tag. The top-level Envy upfit shown here starts at $28,500 plus the cost of the car, which is sold at dealer invoice as part of the deal (we checked, and it’s about $19,700 for the base vehicle). So, for under $50K, you’ve got a vehicle that can seat and sleep four and carry plenty of gear, gets great mileage and will fit in a standard garage.
There are options that can bump the price up, but there are also much lower priced options that give you some of the key features for a lot less. Just want the rear bench/bed? That’s $6,000 and includes extra sound insulation around the wheel wells, storage drawers underneath, and their industrial floor. The bench seat uses frame reinforcing at the mounts and meets all current U.S. safety standards with three point seat belts for both sides.
The pop top with its panel bed is $7,500. Between those and the Envy package are several other intermediate builds, some with and without the cabinetry if you just want more storage for big things (like a bike) inside.
Bike friendly options include the rear mounted bike rack ($749), which sits above the tail lights and allows full access to the rear even with bikes on it…
…and this slot-in workstand ($199) mounted to the inside of the rear door.
This video from Fast Lane Truck has a great overview from Stephen and shows the mini-camper in action. This particular one has a few overlanding upgrades, particularly the wide-set wheels with Yokohama GeoLander tires. Wanna try before you buy? ScamperVan out of Atlanta rents them. You’re welcome.
If you’ve heard the phrase “good things come in small packages”, this photo showing how the Recon Camper compares to a full overland truck shows just how small it is. And from the looks of it, pretty good, too.