Van Builder Stories: True North Custom Campers

Mercedes Benz converted campervan in snow

Van Builder Stories: True North Custom Campers

Buy or Sell Campers

Buy or Sell Campers

16 February 2023

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📷 @tnvans
👥 @truenorthcustomcampers
📍 Calgary, Alberta, Canada
🚐 Building vans since: 2016

Helping folks choose the road over the rat race

Brody from True North Custom Vans quit his business degree to go all in on True North Custom Campers. 7 years later, this pro-team of builders, cabinet makers, mechanical engineers and RV technicians are among the most-respected and admired van builders out there. Based in Calgary, Canada, the team work with customers all over Canada and the USA.

Their builds are designed with the intense winters in mind. They are true four-season campers, built to last. And the aim? To get as any people as possible on the road, and out of the rat race!

So Brody, tell us where it all began...

I was 3/4 of my way through a business degree when I decided to drop out and pursue my dream of running a van conversion company. Today, our staff includes a red seal RV technician with 25 years of experience in the industry, and journeyman cabinetmaker and a former mechanical engineer.

What's unique about True North Custom Campers?

We focus on the customer experience both during the design/build process, and after the pickup. We want every customer to feel like they can bring any idea to us, and we can help make it a reality. It is also extremely important to our staff that we recommend systems and products that we know are going to work for our customers specific needs.

Every van and system we build is completely different. With full customizability and off grid capability, our vans are set apart from any RV or standard van conversion.

We also specialize on fully wheelchair accessible conversions, to help get folks with disabilities on the road in a way they never have been able to.

What inspires your build style / concepts?

We are inspired by our customers’ imagination! We can take a small idea or picture they have, and turn it into a reality. Creating a camper van that is completely unique to them.

We don’t operate on spec designs or layouts. The process comes about by developing a connection with the client. The best results come when we start with what they want, and then I get the creative freedom to bring it together in my artistic way.

Lighting tends to be what most people are excited about when choosing me as a builder!

Whats the most popular van package/design/style your customers choose?

Our most popular style is the static rear bed with bike storage underneath. This allows people to use the off grid vans to their full potential and get out to bike and kayak where they haven’t been able to before!

Static Bear Red campervan conversion by True North Custom Campers
Static Bear Red campervan conversion

What’s your favourite layout, and why?

Our favourite design recently has been “Moonrider”. With a convertible rear bed, this build allows for maximum liveability during the day.

Custom camper with sink, sofa and blue interior
Moodrider campervan conversion

What’s your favourite van base to build from, and why?

We love the AWD Ford Transit! It’s the most affordable AWD van.

Combined with our VanCompass lift option, and off road tires; this van can compete with the 4×4 Sprinter at a much lower price-point.

AWD Ford Transit converted campervan

Do you take built-to-order commissions?

We start every build with a blank canvas, and design every inch of the layout – handpicking each material used – in partnership with the customer.

I am open to just about any ideas and designs that are out there (or not!) I start out by asking for 3 photos of vans they like, then we take it from there. There is a great deal of trust involved.

After nailing down the essentials, we continue to work on making decisions as we go. Having open communication with my client is vital. I take my craft seriously and nothing makes me happier than working with a client that respects the process.

Help us end the eternal debate: which is the best shower format, and why? No shower...outside shower...pop-up shower...fixed shower...

Our preference is the outdoor shower. Maximizing interior space while still allowing for a shower when needed.

We feel like ever inch of the interior of the van should get maximum use, while some customers report they rarely use their indoor shower.

Let's cut the crap, give us your top toilet recommendation, and tell us why!

You can’t beat a composting toilet. Minimal smell with maximum storage space still available. We often pair compost toilets with a slide-out drawer to keep them out of sight when not in use.

How do you live your best vanlife?

Fishing and skiing.

Madeira Park, British Columbia, Canada

Where’s the best vanlife destination?

We love traveling to the beautiful coast of British Colombia.

Are there any particular ride-or-die brands you insist on for your builds?

We love Victron energy products. Their quality is unmatched.

What do you think will be the next big thing for vans?

I think we are going to see more vans with 2 extra seats in them over the coming years. As popularity in vanlife increases, more and more families are interested!

What's one van item that you couldn't live without on your journeys? and why?

Can’t live without solar. It has so much more capability than most people think.

What's your message to people just starting or thinking about getting into vanlife?

You won’t regret it! The freedom you have is something that most people have never experienced!

What are the must-ask questions for newbies?

Key thing: If it was professionally built, can you talk to the builder directly?

Unfortunately with the boom in van conversion popularity, many people are doing backyard builds and selling them for slightly less than professional builds, in order to turn a large profit. Proper builds are more money for a reason.

Our company has high overhead because professionals have done the electrical, cabinets, plumbing and finishing! These are all things that will cost you more to re do in a cheap build, it’s more worthwhile to just buy a properly built van to begin with.

Why go pro, rather than fly solo on a conversion?

Experience, experience, experience. Also a professional company will be more willing to help you with any issues, as they have a duty to their customer!

What’s next? What are your dreams for your business?

We look forward to building as many vans as we can handle in order to get people in the road and out of the rat race!

Nothing better than getting feedback from customers that our vans have helped change their lives.

Let's connect...

📷 @tnvans
👥 @truenorthcustomcampers
📍 Calgary, Alberta, Canada
🚐 Building vans since: 2016

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