Join Steve Johnston for an extraordinary tour of a unique tiny home on wheels. This isn’t just any van; it’s part of a heartfelt mission to support Steve’s nonprofit, dedicated to funding research for a cure for his son’s rare condition that is causing vision loss. Embracing the van lifestyle, they set out to show his son the world, making every moment count.
Mercedes-Benz Sprinter AWD Camper Van w/ Elevator Bed, Pop Top & Full Sized Shower
Steve travels together with his wife and two kids onboard this heavily equipped AWD Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. His son suffers from retinitis pigmentoso caused by Bardet-Biedl Syndrome (BBS), which affects multiple organ systems, including the eyes. Many BBS patients have a slow, progressive loss of vision, with most becoming blind in their teenage years.
After his son was diagnosed and knowing that he might become blind in just a few years, Steve and his wife wanted to go out into the world and let him see and experience as many things as he could. And one of the best ways to do that is to start traveling in a camper.
But this family’s ambition goes much further than this. They play an active role in finding a cure for this rare condition, as they’ve set up a nonprofit called “A Race Against Blindness.” The goal is to make people aware of this condition and raise as much money as possible – this way, there’s a chance a cure can be found before the son loses his vision.
If you donate to this cause, you have the chance to win the camper van I’m presenting today. However, if it’s not the right fit for you, there’s another option in which you can customize and build your dream adventure van. Whichever option you choose, you will also receive a $70,000 (€64,890) cash prize.
What we have isn’t your run-of-the-mill camper van – the Johnston family travels in a 2023 Mercedes Sprinter 170″ WB AWD with many functional modifications inside and out, perhaps the best of which is the pop-top roof – more on this in a bit.
The Sprinter is finished in white paint covered by a decal with colored lines and a part that reads “A Race Against Blindness.” It only takes a glance at this rig to realize it’s designed to go off the beaten path.
Starting with the front, you’ll find an off-road bumper that gives the vehicle an aggressive look. It features a Warn VR Evo 12,000-lb. (5,443-kg) winch, a light bar, and recovery points. Above, you’ll notice a set of custom overhead lights that ensure the path ahead stays well-lit.
One of the most important off-road upgrades on this Sprinter van is a 2-inch suspension lift, allowing you to fit bigger tires. This rig rides on Owl Tan Sprinter wheels wrapped in 35-inch all-terrain tires. At the rear, the vehicle features a cargo rack complete with a carrier for bikes and a spare tire, and there’s also a large awning on the side.
Step inside, and things get even better. The interior has a dark aesthetic, with black walls, a wooden ceiling, and other wooden elements. Straight ahead, you’ll discover one of the two seating areas in this living space.
Both the driver’s and the passenger’s seats can be swiveled, and the latter has a dinette table nearby for working or eating. On the other side of the table, you’ll notice a flip-down double seat.
Next, the kitchen is divided into two parts. You’ll find a counter with a built-in two-burner induction stove, a decently sized fridge, and a flip-up table on one side, while the other houses a counter with a large sink and an overhead microwave.
Move deeper into the interior, and you’ll be in the seating area. This space has one of my favorite layouts in vans: a seating area under an elevator bed. Below, there are two benches opposite from one another and two spacious dinette tables. In the day setup, the elevator bed is raised all the way up to leave as much space as possible.
Given that the Johnston family has four members, they need additional sleeping arrangements. The two dinette tables, the benches, and their cushions can be rearranged to create another spacious bed.
In case that’s not enough, you also have one of the most distinctive parts of this van – the pop-top roof. There’s plenty of space available on top of the van, so two more people could sleep there.
This camper’s utilities will keep you nice and comfortable when traveling, even if you’re doing so in a group. You’ll find most of them underneath the two benches. Some of the more important ones are a 40-gallon (151-liter) freshwater tank, a 20-gallon (76-liter) grey tank, a water heater, a 3,200 W inverter, two 300 Ah batteries, and 400 W solar panels on the roof.
The cherry on top of this camper van is its rear area, consisting of a bathroom and a garage. A sliding door separates the bathroom from the rest of the living space, but you can also enter it directly from the rear. Inside, you’ll find a full-size shower.
Right next, this van’s builders devised a sizable garage space. Moreover, the rear doors come with many pockets to hold all the gear you need.
All in all, this is truly a fantastic camper conversion, with plenty of utilities, space, and even a pop-top roof. But what makes it even better is its purpose of raising awareness about this rare condition and finding a cure for it. If you’d like to donate and have a chance of winning this camper or building your own, check out the official website of A Race Against Blindness.