Affordable pop-top transforms your van into a camper for $7K

Ursa Minor Vehicles converts Honda Elements, the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, and Ford Transit Connects into pop-top campers.

Never sleep on the ground again

Each month the top
conversion van companies
in the country debut sleek, innovative
homes-on-the-go that appeal to everyone from retired couples to
adrenaline-addicted mountain bike pros. But a much-anticipated
trend has finally hit the United States: Camper companies are
opting to build out the smaller siblings of the Mercedes Sprinters
and Ram Promasters, vans like the
Nissan NV200
, the
Ram Promaster City
, and the Mercedes Metris.

The trend towards smaller camper vans is already prolific in

, where many families opt for campers that can serve both
as weekend retreats and daily commuters. But it’s been harder to
find here in the U.S., with popular campers like the
Volkswagen California van unavailable stateside

That’s changing with campers like the
Free Bird
, the
Envy from Recon campers
Cascade Campers
, and the latest to catch our eye: Pop-top
campers from Ursa
Minor Vehicles
. Inspired by the VW Westfalia, Ursa Minor
Vehicles operates two shops—one in San Diego and one in
Portland—that convert Honda Elements, the Jeep Wrangler
Unlimited, and Ford Transit Connects into a pop-top camper.

With the
Transit Connect pop-up
, Ursa Minor starts with the 190-inch
wheelbase Passenger Wagon and works to ensure that it can function
both as a people hauler and a camper. This isn’t a full interior
conversion. Instead, Ursa Minor focuses on the pop-up roof,
providing a strut-assisted pop-top that opens to 6.6-feet of
standing room inside.

A 7-foot by 4-foot double mattress with washable covers fits in
the above sleeping area, and you can access the bed from inside or
outside of the vehicle. Ursa Minor uses a water-resistant,
breathable Sunbrella canvas to keep the bugs out and the
temperature comfortable. One of the coolest features is the
zippered window screens that help with air flow but also let you
unzip to appreciate panoramic views from the roof of your car. The
top also includes low-current interior LED lighting that is wired
into the van’s battery.

Courtesy of Ursa Minor Vehicles The view from the upper bed area
with the screens open.

Because Ursa Minor doesn’t do full conversions, the pop-top
work doesn’t include a galley kitchen or lower bed. But the
Passenger Wagon’s lower level makes for a versatile work horse;
rear seats can hold a family and also fold completely flat to
create an 85-inch area that could easily work as another sleeping
space or a place to haul cargo.

Not building out a kitchen and other amenities also keeps the
costs down for the DIY enthusiasts out there. Prices start at
$6,400 (including installation) for a pop-top roof that works on
2014+ long wheelbase Transit Connect Passenger Wagon XL, XLT and
Titanium models with standard roofs. Optional extras include paint,
a 60-watt solar panel, roof rack systems, and USB or 12V

A pop-top from Ursa Minor won’t fit the needs of people
looking for a fully built out camper van. But it does follow in the
footsteps of companies like Sportsmobile and Colorado Camper Vans
that have made a name for themselves popping the roofs of larger
vans. For anyone looking to add some space to their Transit
Connect, Honda Element, or Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, a conversion
from Ursa Minor could be an affordable option.

Courtesy of Ursa Minor Vehicles The camper uses tough, breathable,
fade and water resistance canvas for the pop-top walls.
Courtesy of Ursa Minor Vehicles The camper boasts 6’-6”
standing room when popped up.
Courtesy of Ursa Minor Vehicles The interior of a converted
Courtesy of Ursa Minor Vehicles

New Atlas

Source: FS – All – Architecture 10
Affordable pop-top transforms your van into a camper for K