June 12, 2024 5 min read

Introducing HEST Quest! This year, we want to take a deeper dive into what is the ideal set up for sleeping outdoors. Is it a van? A rooftop tent? The back of your truck? A truckbed camper? A tow behind trailer camper? A ground tent?

With so many options out there, HEST has set out to answer the big question: What is the BEST car camping set up? 

Whether you are new to camping or a veteran overlander; everyone wants to know what is the BEST setup. What’s the most efficient, cost effective, easy, comfortable set up for sleeping outdoors?  HEST Quest will explore all the different setups; sharing the benefits and setbacks of each, plus “how to” tips when it comes to building or shopping for your next mobile basecamp.

HESTQUEST: Dodge Ram Promaster

What Type of Setup is do you have?

2018 Dodge Ram ProMaster

How Many Does it Comfortably Sleep?

Two parents, one kiddo, and one doggo.

Is it Family Friendly?


Tell me more about the 4wd/ Off Road Capability of your set up?

Our van is front wheel drive so it can make it a lot of places and we have driven it over mountain passes in the winter, but it’s a little sketchy.

What’s the kitchen/cooking set up like? Is it inside or outside?

Inside we have a sink, fridge/freezer, drawers and cabinetry, and a full kitchen set up inside. Our stovetop is portable with propane, so we can cook  inside or outside.

How easy is it to set up, move around, leave the vehicle/go to town?

Super easy—it’s always ready to go. 

Benefits/Pros: What you LOVE about this set up?

A few pros: It's set up and ready to go. We have comfy bedding and a HEST mattress. We can make all of our food—we never go out to eat  We never have to get a hotel  We can work from the van (Nate sews and can plug into electric). We integrated a table on the hitch so I can work and plug into the electric  There's also lots of space to work and play.

Challenges/Cons: What has been a hurdle/setback of the set up? 

We are a family of five ( two medium to large dogs plus one kid), so it’s tight. When our kid gets bigger we might need more space. Right now our kid sleeps in a canopy that fits him perfectly. When he grows we can connect the bucket seats and put a mattress over it. We are also adding racks to haul gear in the back. 

What are the budget considerations for investing in your set up?

A few of the considerations on our end: Materials to build it out. Upfront vehicle costs—you want a low mileage van. Electrical (we have solar) and a wood burning stove to be efficient  There are lots of kits out there for you to customize different parts of your van. We didn’t get a Sprinter because no one services it in our area (because it’s a European vehicle). There are many more, but these are our big ones.  

What’s the swag level of your set up?  While function is definitely the most important consideration when looking for a rig, we can’t deny that some set ups just LOOK GOOD! How does this set up rank in terms of coolness? 

We added special touches like the Japanese shou sugi ban ceiling, custom art burned in the wood cabinet, a funky tile floor with a squishy vinyl, wicker covering to the cabinets (to breath and look cool) and leather poles for handles. Everything is handmade/homemade, so there's a lot of wood and pops of color. We made a baby canopy hammock that fits a HEST dog bed for our kiddo to sleep.     

Which HEST mattress works best in this setup?  

Dually Wide for our bed and Dog Beds for both the dogs and the kiddo, plus HEST Pillows. 

What are some tips or hacks that your experience using the set up has taught you?   

Make sure you can get the van serviced in your area. Also, a diesel heater is legit—you can set the temperature and it doesn’t take much diesel to work. Our wood burning stove is more nostalgic on winter nights.  

What are some upgrades you’ve made or want to make? Are there some key upgrades that you recommend to make your setup even better?   

Besides the special touches we made mentioned above, we’d love to have more organization considerations, particularly in the back with all the storage and gear.  Eventually we might need more space, so perhaps we go with a bigger ProMaster or bigger van. We don’t want a tow-behind camper because vans are more mobile and easier. They're very functional. 

If you had a chance to do it over again would you choose the same set up exactly? 

100% yes, though I would consider an AWD next time.

Would you recommend your setup to a friend?

Absolutely—much easier than tow behind campers.    

What were your main considerations in choosing your set up/why did you choose it?

We own our own business, Thread Metal Stone, and travel to all different kinds of art shows and festivals for work. We wanted to be able to work out of the van and sleep out of the van, but also enjoy road trips and adventures. We have a baby and always like to bring our dogs, so it’s critical to have a place where we can nap and make a home base. At work events, the van can often be on site during events which is key—we would not be able to do what we do without the van. I love that we can close the door and we are in our own little sanctuary.    

How’s the sleep quality you get in your set up? Do you wake up rested? Are there any pain points in the sleep situation in your adventure set up (e.g. pesky light, temperature issues, etc.)?

We are obsessed with our HEST gear—we play and work hard and when we are ready to go to bed, we love coming back to the van to a good night’s sleep. For year round comfor,t we have a diesel heater in the winter and a fan over the bed for the summer, which also acts like a white noise machine. We made custom blackout coverings so we can sleep anytime we need to.  

Follow along @hestoutdoors as we meet the people behind these different setups and build outs.