Review of the Ram Promaster City with a Wayfarer Conversion Kit

UPDATED APRIL 2020: We purchased a Ram Promaster City van and the Wayfarer Conversion Kit in January of 2018. Many of you have written us emails and left us comments about our set up. Thank you! We have written articles about Why We Chose the Van and Why We Chose the Wayfarer Conversion Kit and are finally ready to share our thoughts on both after living and traveling in it for over a year and a half. This article is a review of the Ram Promaster City with a Wayfarer Conversion Kit.

Pros of the Wayfarer Conversion Kit

It’s affordable

The kit for our small van is just under $5000. Though everyone’s budget is unique and everyone’s idea of what is affordable is relative, this van conversion kit is hard to beat price-wise. A quick internet search will bring up lots of companies who will help you build out your van but very few are able to deliver something under $5000.

It’s durable

Ram Promaster City Wayfarer Kit Camper Van Conversion Review
Mud on the floor is no big deal, it cleans right up.

We like to buy things that are made well and then we use the hell out of ’em. This conversion kit is no different. We lived out of the van for a good portion of the year. Four months was our longest stretch in it without a break. And, for the most part, it has stood the test of time. The floor had lots of foot traffic, the kitchen boxes got lots of use opening and closing for three meals a day and the bed was made many, many times. (We make the bed each night and break it down each day so that the space within the van is usable.) In the beginning we were super careful with everything but then after a while, like a lot of people, we just kind of got used to it and forgot to be as gentle. It wasn’t necessary. The kit is durable and can stand up to any adventure you throw at it.

UPDATE AUGUST 2019: We had to add a layer of varnish to the wood. We found that parts of the wood were starting to buckle up from water and that other parts were becoming lighter in color where the varnish was very thin. We didn’t want the water to penetrate the wood so we sanded down the area and added more varnish.

It’s removable

Unlike other van builds-outs and customizations, this kit comes out. We’ve been toying with the idea of upgrading our van to a standup Ram Promaster with a 136″ wheelbase. (More about that whole thought process can be found here.) During that journey we considered selling our van. We found ourselves thankful that we could sell the van “as is” with the Wayfarer kit in it as well as without the kit. Numerous people have e-mailed us inquiring about our used kit and we’ve also had a good number of inquiries about those looking to buy the van both with and without the kit. As my dad has always said, “It’s good to have options.”

Functional design

Both of us can be a little nerdy when it comes to design. We were pretty sure that the Wayfarer kit made sense to us but we weren’t 100 percent sure. Ian has done a great job working out the small details that make this a great kit. It’s the small things we appreciate the most: a place for the water, a place for the stove, shelving that is adjustable in the kitchen boxes, a bed that folds up, etc.

Things We Wish the Wayfarer Kit Offered

The ability for us to sit on the front facing kitchen box door

Ram Promaster City Wayfarer Kit Camper Van Conversion Review
The door that is open and down is the one we wish we could sit on.

If I could upgrade one thing to this kit it would be the option to sit on the front-facing kitchen box door. (The one that folds down.) We thought about maybe changing the nylon cord that keeps the kitchen box in position with a chain in the hopes that maybe it would support our weight but we never got around to it. We often sat on top of the kitchen boxes themselves with the doors open but we had to hunch over.

An opening in the side storage boxes with a latch

There were numerous times we would set the bed up only to realize that we needed something in one of the storage boxes behind the driver or passenger seats. It wasn’t the end of the world to get in there, but it often required two people: one to hold the Exped SIM Comfort Duo 7.5 Mat up and the other to reach into the box. We think that if there was a way to access each box from the side it would save a lot of hassle.

The desk extended further out

One of the things we’ve started to wish is that the desk, when in the “down” position, extended further out. In other words, we wish the desk was deeper. The reason for this wish is that when we go to actually use it for writing or working on our laptop, we have to sit on our cooler rather than the bed. That makes for quite a cramped cabin area. The original Wayfarer kit setup may work for people who are taller than us (we’re 5’4 and 5’6) but it’s not the best fit for us.

All of these things are pretty minor wishes to an otherwise good design. None of them are dealbreakers for us. All in all, after a year and a half of travel in this camper van conversion kit we’re still big fans.

Pros of the Ram Promaster City

Good gas mileage

We do a lot of driving. Almost 60,000 miles of driving in a year and a half. And all in all, we get pretty great gas mileage. We average 26 miles a gallon on the highway, a bit less around town (21-22 mpg). Not bad!

The backup camera

Ram Promaster City Wayfarer Kit Camper Van Conversion 1

We love this camera more than we thought we would. Neither of us had ever had a vehicle with a backup camera in it but honestly couldn’t live without it (our van does not have windows in the back.) Occasionally when I have heard a noise I have turned it on when we are in motion (I am not doing this while driving but from the passenger seat). Most often this is to check on our bikes when they are on the bike rack. Believe it or not you can get a good visual without having to pull over. The picture won’t stay up there but you can re-trigger it as many times as you need.

Cons of the Ram Promaster City

It’s small

The size of the van makes for some interesting compromises as far as space is concerned. We have a rule that anything we put in the van must serve at least two purposes. There are very few exceptions to this rule (shoes being the one thing we cannot share). Be sure that you can travel with very few possessions if you are going to get this van.

You can’t stand up

The inability to stand up in the van goes hand in hand with the size of it but we thought it was worth it’s own mention. At the outset of our van life journey, it made more sense for us to get into the smaller van rather than the stand-up, high roof van that Ram offers. Primarily it was a financial decision because we just didn’t know where our work would take us. Caroline is 5’6 and I am 5’4 so for the most part, we can make do crawling in and around the van hunched over. It’s a huge step-up from the even more cramped Toyota 4 Runner that we had done some travel in. That said, we recently got to take one of sCAMPer van’s high roof vans out for a few days and it so freaking comfortable! The difference was like night and day. We could stand up and move about and just be in our van.

Low clearance

One of the first things we noticed about this van was the extremely low clearance that we have underneath. It’s not a big deal in town but we like to do a lot of activities in parks which often take us down dirt and gravel roads. Before you purchase this van or even the high roof van (it has a similar clearance issue), stick your head under the van and give it a look! Roads with big potholes and rocks are kind of scary…

Overall Review of the Ram Promaster City with a Wayfarer Conversion Kit

Would we buy this van and conversion kit again? Yes.

Overall we think it’s perfect for one person and great for two small people. If you’re on the taller side or looking to travel with more than two people, you probably want to look elsewhere. We think a weekend or weeklong adventure is an ideal amount of time to travel in this setup. You can obviously travel longer in it. Our longest stretch so far has been four months. You have to be willing to sacrifice some comfort and be able to endure small spaces. There’s obviously way more to consider when choosing a van. We’ve written about DIY Van Conversions, Custom Van Conversions and Conversion Kits as well as How to Choose a Van for Van Life.

Also, be sure to check our post on what we’re sleeping on. We’ve written an entire write-up on why we think the best van life best is a DIY bed. It’s complete with instructions.

Update: After 2+ years in our vehicle we are ready to share our Problems with the Ram Promaster City (2018).

Are you considering a Ram Promaster City with a Wayfarer Kit? Do you currently have one? If so, we’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below. Not in one of these setups but have some other van life advice? Please drop us a line!

Additional Camper Van Resources

Erin McGrady and Caroline Whatley are travel writers, photographers and the authors of Authentic Asheville.

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Published by Erin McGrady

Erin McGrady is a filmmaker, photographer, and writer exploring Asheville and beyond. My work focuses on sharing about LGBTQ safe spaces, camper van life, and the outdoors.

19 thoughts on “Review of the Ram Promaster City with a Wayfarer Conversion Kit

  1. Great review! I’m considering the Promaster City as a daily driver / weekend camper for myself, wife, and baby. I would want a pop-top installed for standing height, which would also give us space for an extra bed at night. I’m having a difficult time locating someone who would install one though. The low clearance has me a bit worried since I also like to occasionally go down dirt or gravel roads. It’s all a trade off for better mileage though. Eventually, I would like to see electric campers become ubiquitous.

    1. Nice, a pop top would be a huge bonus. If you find a person to do one, would you please let us know? We’d be interested in learning and hearing more. Definitely a tradeoff as far as mileage and clearance goes. Makes me wonder how far off we truly are in seeing electric campers. It can’t be that far away can it? Or at least hybrids? Thanks for writing in and safe travels to you!

  2. This guy had Colorado Camper Vans do it:
    I contacted them, and they no longer support the Promaster City, although they are considering adding it back. I guess this was more of a custom build.. and it looks like the best of both worlds – great MPG, and inconspicuous. Pop the top when camping for I think 7 feet of internal height and fresh air. Adding a pop top can range from 7-10k. The Nissan NV-200 now supports a model called the Recon which comes with a pop top and fully outfitted camper.

    1. Right on. We’ve heard of them. Too bad they’re not doing them anymore. We’re too scared to put a pop top in ourselves. Have you seen a Nissan NV 200 Recon in real life? Curious about your thoughts if so!

      1. I have not, but they look cool! Thanks for all that you post, I find everything super helpful.

      2. The Recon has a 42″ wide bed. That’s fine for one person, or maybe a small couple in a college dorm. 😅

  3. thanks for your post.
    question, i see your pic which shows big hitch style bike rack. i am averse to that and see myself constantly banging into it and it being in the way while camping, i am so ch a klutz that even removing it at camp i’m afraid of the hitch that protrudes without the rack
    i also don’t want a roof rack
    am i out of luck and have to carry inside the van in your opinion?
    is there any other rack that would work?

    1. Hi David, thanks for writing in. I’ve definitely hit my shin on the back of the bike rack several times and it hurts super bad. But, you can open the hitch up since it swivels and move it out of the way. The hitch doesn’t stick out that much further than the bumper. We get not wanting a roof rack as well…we didn’t want to deal with the hassle of having to load and unload stuff on the roof. Short of taking the front wheel off the bikes and loading them on the inside, Im not sure what other options you have …

  4. Nice write-up. I’m thinking of a Cascade Campers conversion for a Promaster City Cargo. I appreciate the info on the van itself, as I hadn’t really thought about the clearance issue. Unfortunately, I’m limited on height because my parking garage has clearance of 6’9″. I think the only “large” van I could get is the shortest Ford Transit (not the connect, the full size, just not the medium or tall roof). It sure would be nice to have more space, but this would be for a weekend to week-long trips and daily driver vehicle. My big requirement is being able to fit a 7’6″ surfboard in the back, so I don’t have to inflate and deflate it, and have more time to get a quick surf in after work. I figure it will fit diagonally.

    Another idea for you guys might be to add a roof rack and awning so you could make your own shade. Anyway, if you get a chance to check out the Cascade Campers conversion, maybe you could let me know if you notice any pros or cons right away, besides the increased price. It’s $7000, but also has solar, a sink and some other additional features. That also includes installation, although this one seems pretty easy to install. It’s a bigger factor compared to a self-build, which I don’t have time for, or wouldn’t finish in a reasonable time…

    1. Hey Don!

      Thanks so much for the feedback. We’re glad it helped you. The clearance issue came up for us recently in Montreal when we decided to store the van in a parking garage. We barely made it but were glad to have been able to duck under! We’re into surfing too, so we hear ya on the 7’6″ requirement. I think in our van it would most likely fit diaganally but it might be a big headache using the inside of the van with it in there…

      We’ve thought about a roof rack and and awning for sure. The rack we didn’t go for simply because we don’t want the added drag and therefore loss of gas mileage. Still haven’t ruled it out. Not sure what to say about the Cascade Campers since we haven’t spent any time in one. Right away though I love that there’s a Dometic Fridge in there…the layout looks pretty cool, too. I wonder how tall you are…we’re 5’4 and 5’6 so when we’re sitting down in our van, our heads barely touch the ceiling. We’re still slouched over a bit though. Something to consider with that padded cushion in theirs…any cushion really. Hope that helps!

  5. Hi Erin,
    Your blog offers terrific inspiration for the Wally conversion! We are currently pricing the PMC Tradesman to create our own. I really like the idea of second row and rear windows for extra light in the van when the doors are closed. That said a PMC with second row and rear windows are harder to come by and $1500-2500 pricier (either installed or as an after market installation) in my area. My use is weekend camping/site seeing. When the PMC is parked the doors will either be open to cook, set up camp, and hang out or closed to sleep and/or avoid bad weather. What are your thoughts on the second row and rear windows after long term use of the PMC? Wish you had them or maybe never missed them? Thanks! Shari

    1. Hey Shari!
      Thanks for writing – glad to hear you’re in the process of getting into van life. To answer your question about the windows, I personally am happy that we have a solid sided van without the windows. Though I sometimes wish we could see out of the back and side when driving for the most part we are quite happy without them given that we keep the doors open (both side and back) whenever possible for air flow and natural light. The biggest plus I see is the sense of security and light blocking at night. I really just don’t want someone to see into my windows when I am sleeping. Yes you can put things up to block the light (we do that on all three front windows) but there’s just the added sense of safety (either real or presumable) by not having windows in the back. Hope that helps!

      1. Hi Erin,
        Thanks for the quick comeback and thoughts. If you don’t mind one follow-up question, what do you cover the front windows with for privacy? I have seen Wally setups with a blackout curtain between the front seats and cargo area but would like a solution that allows me to use the front seats for storage (or for one or both of our pups to sleep). For car camping, I have cut out Reflectix to cover the back windows for privacy. Thanks again. -Shari

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