March 24, 2021 4 min read

The Adventure Ready School Bus

In this day and age there truly are SO MANY different adventure ready vehicles to choose from: Tesla Camping, to Sprinter Van, RV, and everything in between, the build out ideas and inspiration never stops flowing! At HEST we always appreciate the ingenuity of DIY builds. As product designers by profession and weekend warriors by passion, our team is obsessed with functionality and how a design will incorporate in to everyday life. DIY truck & van build outs are the pinnacle of smart design meeting practical function. Taking a moment to celebrate these projects and give them the love they deserve:


Your Name: Caleb Brackney

Location: Knoxville, TN

Rig nickname: Roamer Bus 

Vehicle Make & Model: Thomas International 36' School Bus

Year: 1995

HEST Product: HEST Sleep System + Pillows


Is this your daily driver or getaway car? 

No, I have a car that I tow behind the bus for more efficient transportation and ease of getting around faster! The bus is used as my base wherever I go, and I park it at campgrounds, truck stops, or parking lots while traveling! 

What were the basic goals of your build out?

The basic goals were to stay within a $10K budget and to primarily use second-hand materials. This encouraged me to be more conscious of what I was buying and ultimately helped me make more sustainable choices in the creation of the Roamer Bus. Another goal was to design the space to allow the most possible cross-ventilation and light inside, which makes the mood of the bus feel open yet cozy. As someone who spends lots of time outside, I wanted my home and lifestyle to be based on natural light, scenic views (which motivates me to go explore what is outside), and time spent with others. The bus has offered a perfect solution to these goals, and I’m thankful for the opportunity to live my dream while still in school! 

On your average weekend adventure, what is the gear set up you bring with you?

On my average weekend adventure, the essentials are a propane outdoor oven, a mobile power station (such as a Jackery), a guitar, a propane water heater for showering and dishes, my 4-man tent, the HEST Sleep System, my dog (Ivy the golden doodle) and as many friends as I can fit! The basics for the best times are music, a good night’s rest, warm food, and a shower every few days if possible! Incorporating gear storage into the Roamer Bus was mandatory for me as I have grown up learning the importance that spending time outdoors has on my mental and physical health. 

How did you incorporate gear storage needs into your build?

As a grad student, I did not want to compromise by sacrificing gear storage for video game/media storage. I ensured I have space under my queen bed, a 7’ long closet, and storage space above the headboard and under the sectional couch in the bus. These places provide the perfect amount of room for me to carry my equipment with me that will ensure I have the best experience possible wherever I go. 


Any cool custom details you’re proud of for your build?

The roof top deck is an old utility trailer that was on its way to the scrap yard. I took off the axle and bolted it to the roof of the bus. I have never heard of anyone else doing this, so I am proud of how that turned out! I also converted an old pallet into a green wall which I hang on the back of the bus. When I drive, I can easily carry the pallet inside, and it offers a nice place to grow herbs or flowers wherever I am! Inside, my favorite feature is the copper light feature over the bed. The best part of it is that under inspection, it’s actually PVC pipe spray painted with copper paint! I dropped outdoor string lights through to add the final touch! It works perfect in the bus because it’s light weight, easy to fix/adjust, and was really cheap! 


Coolest place you’ve taken your rig to?

As I am still in grad school full-time, I haven’t traveled more than 4 hours away from Knoxville so far (in the bus so far). Being tied to the commitment of being on campus at the University of Tennessee five days a week, most of my excursions have been weekend trips to the Smoky Mountains or driving across town to friends houses. I plan to travel this summer and take the bus with me as I head West to explore my favorite places such as Glacier, Yellowstone, and Yosemite. I moved in the bus on August 1st, 2020, so I’m looking forward to spending my first summer in the bus this year! 


Anything you wish you’d done differently with the build?

I am so thrilled how it turned out, and as I near 8 months of living in the bus, there really isn’t any- thing I wish was different! I’m constantly amazed at how easy life can be with less things and being in control of what I own by always knowing where things are. It really makes life so much less stressful. My weekends aren’t full of organizing closets or going through clothes I don’t wear, so I’m able to spend that time with friends and family outside to make as many memories as I can! 

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