The Climbing Van

When Charlie & Dale, two climbers with a passion for design and DIY, grew tired of living for weekends and holidays, they decided to give up the stability of their 9-to-5 office jobs for life on the road. In 2019, the couple decided to convert a retired DHL delivery van into a little home on wheels, which they affectionately call ‘Ringo’. In this month’s blog we follow their journey to life on the road as Climbing Van…

As the couple would be living in the vehicle full-time whilst travelling around Europe, they wanted it to have the feel of a tiny apartment rather than the back of a van.

They chose a fairly minimal Scandi boho aesthetic with lots of white, natural wood and rattan, alongside carefully selected pops of colour. This approach provided them with the feeling of space within a very small setting, alongside plenty of character. The compact but clever 7m² ‘apartment’ contains an L-shaped kitchen with room to cook, a double bed, a seating area and plenty of storage.

The sink – a custom-sized Shaws Belfast – is positioned against the bulkhead.

Of this choice, Charlie said: “This means that when you have the sliding door open you can wash the dishes with a view, and it really has become the centrepiece of our campervan”. Any van has a maximum load weight they can carry, and ‘Ringo’ needed a sink that wouldn’t add too much weight to the build.

Customisation was key.

As manufacturers of the original Belfast sink we were able to handcraft a version of the Belfast that would suit the special dimensions and weight restrictions of the van. The one-off ‘baby’ Belfast as we call it, whilst still weighing around 30kg, is robust enough to retain Shaws’ trademark durability, but with less bulk.

“It was definitely a bit of an extravagant purchase, but it’s 100% worth it as it really transforms the space,” said Charlie.

“The Belfast is big and durable enough for us to wash dishes, clothes or even wash our hair if it’s rainy or cold and we can’t use our outdoor shower”, Dale adds.

The industrious pair spent just over a year converting the van, whilst continuing to work full-time – working on the van on evenings and at weekends. “We tackled everything ourselves, from woodwork to plumbing, and the electrics,” said Charlie.

A week after the conversion was completed in March 2020, the UK was plunged into its first nationwide lockdown. With their travel plans put on hold, Charlie and Dale decided to use their backgrounds in science and engineering to write a book about how to convert a campervan. The Van Conversion Bible was released in March 2021 and is currently the best selling van conversion book, receiving glowing reviews worldwide.

Since April 2021 they have been living full-time in ‘Ringo’, working remotely from the road with the mountains as their backdrop, and are currently climbing somewhere in the French Alps with their new baby (Belfast) onboard.


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