Pop-top Volkswagen T3 Syncro campervan conversion parked on snow

8 Amazing Pop-Top Campervan Conversions

Key takeaways

Considering a Pop-Top Campervan Conversion for Van Life?

With their extra headroom, additional sleeping space, and compact design, pop-tops are great for van life.

But what about the cost & installation? And what kind of conversion can you build with a pop-top van?

In this post, we’ll find out.

8 Amazing Pop-Top Camper Conversions

Pop-tops provide a great platform for designing a layout… but which is the best?

Here are 8 of the coolest pop-top campervan conversions ever:

#8: All-Electric Pop Top Ford Transit with Convertible Bed

  • Highlights: This conversion is done on the brand new all-electric Ford Transit. It has a bench seat next to the kitchen unit that folds down into a bed. The pop-top roof has some extra sleeping room.
  • Van: 2023 Ford E-Transit 350
  • Owner: @gtrvvans

 

#7: Off-Road Pop-Top VW Conversion

  • Highlights: This 4WD T3 Syncro Volkswagen campervan has a totally custom build. The rear has a long bench that converts into a bed. The kitchenette has a two-burner stove and a sink. The owners custom-made the pop-top that allows for standing room, and also has a small extra bed at the rear.
  • Van: Volkswagen Campervan (T3 Syncro)
  • Owner: @bus_piraten

 

#6: Pop-Top Toyota HiAce Campervan with Extra Bed and Standing Room

  • Highlights: This gorgeous HiAce conversion has a cozy rear bed with some side storage pockets. The front has an L-shaped kitchenette with a fridge and sink. The pop top allows for standing room and also has a bed above the driver’s cab that can be used for storage.
  • Van: 1991 Pop Top Toyota HiAce
  • Owner: @carinacrowhurst

 

#5: Volkswagen Van Conversion with Large Couch and Wood Panelled Pop-Top Roof

  • Highlights: This Volkswagen T4 pop top has been completely stripped and redone. It has a huge L-Shaped couch that converts into a bed across from the kitchen area. The kitchenette has a propane two-burner stove and a large sink. The gorgeous pop-top has wood paneling and recessed lighting installed inside
  • Van: Volkswagen T4
  • Owner: @vanclans

 

#4: Vintage Volkswagen Pop-Top Conversion with Original Interior

  • Highlights: The owners of this vintage Volkwagen pop-top have kept its interior almost exactly as it was manufactured. The green leather booth seat folds down into a bed and sits in front of some rear storage. The small kitchen area has large, deep drawers and room for a camp stove.
  • Van: 1976 Bay Window VW Campervan
  • Owner: @idletheorybus

 

#3: Professional Pop-Top Conversion that Seats and Sleeps Four

  • Highlights: This gorgeous conversion from Contravans packs a whole lot into a Ford Transit van. The AWD van seats two in the front, and two in the rear. The pop top can either be used to add a standing room above the one-wall kitchen or as an extra sleeping room. In total, the van seats four and sleeps four.
  • Van: 2021 Ford Transit
  • Owner: @contravans (more at contravans.com)

 

#2: Pop-Top Toyota HiAce Conversion with Hidden Toilet

  • Highlights: This modern HiAce conversion is super functional, with a convertible bed across from a kitchenette with lots of storage. The pop-top provides tons of headroom in what would normally be a very short van. A Thetford cassette toilet is hidden under the booth seat, and the van is fitted with an outdoor shower.
  • Van: Toyota HiACe
  • Owner: @southcoastvanfitouts (more at southcoastvanfitouts.com)

 

#1: Pop-Top Toyota HiAce Camper with Large Windows

  • Highlights: This professional pop top HiAce conversion has a large bench seat under wide windows that converts into a bed. The pop-top has a wood-paneled ceiling and extra campervan windows for more natural light. There are slide-outs in the rear and side door of the van for cooking and food prep.
  • Van: 2021 Toyota HiAce
  • Owner: @nomad.vans

 

10 Reasons Why Vanlifers Like Pop-Top Campervans

Pop-top campers are spacious, convenient, & readily available – but are they the best option for vanlife?

Here are 10 reasons why vanlifers like pop-top campervan conversions:

  1. Standing Room: Many vans don’t have room to comfortably stand up in. Adding a pop top to your van means you’ll easily be able to walk around your living area without crouching.
  2. Extra Sleeping Space: Lots of pop-tops come with the option of an extra bed. If you’re traveling with more than two people, this is a huge plus.
  3. Simple to Set-Up and Take Down: While having a pop-top might seem like a hassle, most are relatively easy to pop up and take down.
  4. Built-in Ventilation: If you have a pop-top, you may not need a ventilation fan to extract air. When you’re cooking, you can open the pop-top for built-in insulation.
  5. Extra Natural Light: Windows in a pop-top can help add some natural light to the space without taking away privacy.
  6. Pretty Easy to Find: There are more pop-top vans on the market than you’d expect, and many companies will do aftermarket conversions on common vans.
  7. Easy to Drive: As opposed to an extra-long, double-wide RV trailer, pop-up campers are pretty easy to drive.
  8. Fits in Any Parking Spot: Most campervans that come with a pop-top are small enough to fit in a regular parking spot, so you don’t have to sacrifice being able to park anywhere for that extra height.
  9. Cheaper Than Buying a Larger Vehicle: Buying a pop-top or converting your van to a pop-top is less expensive than buying an RV, but it can feel almost as spacious inside.
  10. Lots of Professional Conversions Available: If you already have a van and want to convert it to a pop-top, there are many professional conversion companies out there that will do it for you. (If you’re willing to get your hands dirty, you can also do it yourself!)

6 Reasons Why Vanlifers Dislike Pop-Top Conversions

As with every vehicle, there are downsides to pop-top campers.

Here are 6 reasons why vanlifers dislike pop-top campervans:

  1. Can Let Wind In: If you’re sleeping somewhere windy with the pop-top up, it can get pretty noisy.
  2. Need to Take Down Before Driving: Having a pop-top adds one extra step to setting up and taking down a campsite, which might seem inconvenient.
  3. Poor Insulation: Pop tops are usually made of some blend of cotton, polyester, or canvas and don’t do a great job at insulating. Pop-tops can make it more difficult to keep your van warm in the winter, so if you plan to travel in cold climates, using your pop-top frequently can be difficult.
  4. Small Interior: While pop-tops have a lot of height, their interior is usually still pretty small, and can lack space for some essential amenities like an indoor kitchen or bathroom.
  5. Issues With the Pop-Top Mechanism: You usually can’t drive with your pop-top up, so if it gets stuck, it can be a hassle to try to fix before you get on the road.
  6. Expensive to Add a Pop-Top: Adding a pop top to your van can cost you $10,000 or more.

 

Cost, Dimensions, & Fuel Economy

Now that you know a little more about pop-tops, let’s see how they compare.

 

Pop-Top Conversion Cost

Converting a van to a pop-top can cost between $5,000-$15,000

Model New Used Price
Toyota HiAce (pop-top not included) $45,000 $16,000 Check price
Volkswagen Van (pop-top included) $84,000 $25,000 Check price
Ford Transit (pop-top not included) $50,000 $30,000 Check price

 

Pop-Top Dimensions

Dimensions: Toyota HiAce Pop-Top vs Ford Transit Pop-Top vs Volkswagen T6 Pop-Top

Model Approximate Interior Height with Pop-Top Interior Length (cargo) Interior Width Ext Length
Toyota HiAce 81 inches 92 inches 61 inches 186 inches
Ford Transit 95 inches 126 inches 69 inches 218 inches
Volkswagen T6 Van 78 inches 101 inches 67 inches 209 inches

 

Pop-Top Fuel Economy

Fuel Economy: Toyota HiAce Pop-Top vs Ford Transit Pop-Top vs Volkswagen T6 Pop-Top

Model City Highway Combined
Toyota HiAce 17 MPG 20 MPG 18.5 MPG
Ford Transit 15 MPG 19 MPG 17 MPG
Volkswagen T6 Van 25 MPG 30 MPG 27.5 MPG

 

Conclusion: Is a Pop-Top Campervan Right for you?

There are a lot of reasons to like pop-tops they’re compact without sacrificing sleeping space or headroom – but they may not be for you.

Biggest factors:

  • Interior standing room
  • Additional sleeping space
  • Pricey to install
  • Poor insulation

So should you get one?

Yes! Pop-tops are supremely cool and offer a great way to increase the interior living space of your build without the added challenges of owning a high-roof vehicle.

Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest

Read Next