- Jimmy Sutjak
'The Third Wheel', Van Life With A Baby
Alpinvan started in 2019 after my wife and I got married. We decided to go on a honeymoon road trip around the USA, but we had one issue. We were looking for affordable vans to either rent or buy, but we could not find anything on the market. We finally decided to take our years of engineering and construction skills in order to design and build an efficient and affordable camper van. Out of this honeymoon road trip spawned Alpinvan.
Since this first build we have continued to try to innovate and improve on our first design. This combined with the fact that we just had a little baby boy, led us to come up with a way to continue living the van life with a third member of our family. What we came up with is the perfect build that optimizes the space available and allows a third, full grown adult, to tag along on any of your adventures.
How did we do it?
In planning our new three seat build we wanted to work around our popular Base Build. We chose the Andes Base Build because this offered just the right amount of space needed to add a third seat and bed. Within this sector, we chose the Ram Promaster 159" because this particular model offers approximately 6" of additional interior build space. This may not seem like a lot, but in van life, every inch matters.
During the build we added the extra six inches to the seats located between the queen bed and the kitchen counter. This additional spaced allowed us to build a bed almost the size of a military cot. Approximatley 28" x 72". In front of the additional bed area is where we installed the extra third seat. This third seat occupies the sometimes wasted space just inside of the large slider door. There is still more than enough room to get in and out of the vehicle with the seat installed and there is ample room for one person to cook while the other two chill.
More people, More fun!
After we completed the build of 'The Third Wheel' my wife, baby, and I hit the road in order to do some genuine, ahem, product testing. We needed to ensure the quality and functionality of our new design feature. Ok, we also had a bit of fun along the way. What we discovered is that van life is even more fun with a little stoke machine who can tag along everywhere we go.
The additional seat worked perfectly and seemlessly with my son's car seat. We had also decided to add a large window on the slider door, which provided an incredible view as we hopped from state to state. After a meal, he would stare out the window until the slight noise from the road or music from the radio would lul him to sleep. Travelling was easier than expected since we would plan out drives during his naps and we would stop for the night just in time for his dinner.
The cot worked great for my wife or I to sleep on, but since the little man would roll all around we decided instead to install a small bunk room under the bed. For this we framed out three walls the exact size of the bed from his crib and pack and play. This way we were able to slide the mattress into the bunk room for him to sleep at night. This ended up working out even better for a little baby because we could put him to bed at an early time and just put a curtain across his bunk opening so that we could enjoy the rest of our evening without disturbing the sleeping baby.
Our little guy enjoyed his seclusion at night so much that we would opt out of a hotel for campsite each and every chance that we got. This was definitley good with us because we love living the van life. We could pull up to some secluded lake overlook, setup camp, cook
dinner, eat, put the baby to bed, and then enjoy the sunset or stars out all night. The entire trip was so incredibly successful that we cannot wait to go on out next product test. Now we just need to design some new features in order to give us a great excuse to hit the open road once again.
Would you like to buy this exact van? You can checkout our listing here for all of the details on the van and how to purchase. If you are interested in a similar setup or something completely different all together, then go checkout our builds section where you can design your own van and get your custom price quote.