Conversion vans are becoming popular by the day due to their versatility. If you’re shopping for a conversion van, the top consideration – apart from the budget – is comfort.
You’re going to be spending a lot of time in there, so need to get a van compatible with your height. For many taller people interested in conversion vans, one of the most commonly asked questions is, “can I stand up in there?”.
To answer this question:
Many conversion vans have a generous amount of headroom, allowing most individuals to stand in them comfortably. The average internal height of a standard van is 5’6″ feet (or 1.7 meters), with some models going as high as 9’6″ feet (2.18 meters). Beyond this, it’s possible to make a van taller by installing a high or pop-top roof (though, these come with some downsides).
How tall is the average van?
Vans range in dimensions from one brand to the next, and this further subdivides with the model you get. Typically, the average internal height of a standard van is 5’6″ feet (1.70 meters). However, there are a variety of different options, to suit people of all heights.
Looking at Ford vehicles, one of the most popular cargo vans in the US market, the range spreads wide from as low as 4 feet (1.19 meters) to 9.5 feet (2.18 meters) for full-sized versions. Keep in mind though that the latter are major companies purchased as service vehicles and not so much for personal use.
So if you’re talking about family vans, typically, dwellers over 6’6” may have a hard time getting head clearance with vans straight from the manufacturers. Even so, the example above is exceptional because most automotive companies don’t go as far with headroom.
When you like a vehicle and the only downside is height constriction, the good news is you can make modifications to achieve a more comfortable fit. It’s as simple as hiring outfitters or third party companies to get the job done. Do your research to get an idea of what options you have when it comes to roof configurations.
Low-top vs. high-top roofs
What’s the difference between a low-top and high-top roof?
The simplest way to distinguish between vans is with the roof design. Low-top roofs offer less headroom and if you choose to go by this, you can expect to bend as you maneuver therein. On the other hand, high top roofs afford more space but are usually more costly.
Here is a comparison to give you a better understanding of what could work best for your situation:
Pros & cons of low vs high-tops
With low top vans, there’s less to worry about when it comes to parking accessibility and laws. Some states are uptight with higher vehicles and do not allow entry for anything taller than 7 feet.
Moreover, it’s even harder to land a garage spot with such roof dimensions because of overhead barriers. A low top on the other hand is more forgiving and less likely to attract lawsuits. Same case when you’re out on the road in urban environments.
The likelihood of hitting branches or road signs is elevated, unlike when you’re driving a low roof.
Despite the obvious advantages of a high-top van, it may not be right for everyone (especially if you’re not going to need to be in it for long periods of time).
But, if your intentions are to live and sleep inside your van, beware of the pros & cons:
Pros of low-top roofs
- More affordable budget
- Has a tighter turn radius hence is easier to steer
- Can fit just about anywhere
- Are more accessible when shopping
- Lower maintenance costs
Cons of low-top roofs
- One has to keep their head low while inside (especially taller people)
- Could evoke shoulder and neck pains
- Poor air circulation
Pros of high-top roofs
- Accommodates tall, straight, standing positions
- Creates top storage allowance for drawers or cabinets
- Better aeration
Cons of high-top roofs
- Higher price tag
- More difficult to drive and turn in
- Strenuous to get with through drive-throughs, and parking spaces
- May not be road approved in other states
Can you stand in a van with a pop-top roof?
Also known as the push-up roof, it is a great alternative for van dwellers who wish to increase headroom without sacrificing too much space. And yes, you can stand in a van with a pop-top roof just as comfortably as you can as with a high roof.
The only difference is that a pop-top kit is lowkey, in such that it only emerges when pushed from inside. Half the time, it looks like the standard van roof. With a push-up roof, you have control over when the setting changes which is a plus.
Moreover, the convenience of looking outside when out on the road is a feeling every avid traveler and camper would kill to have.
Pros & cons of pop-top roofs
At the same time, there are drawbacks of converting your van in this way one of them being a security breach. It’s easier to break into a pop-top van compared to regular vans and also privacy isn’t guaranteed either, especially if you sleep with the roof facing up.
In the winter season, water leaks and chilling temperature can become problematic due to poor insulation. As if that’s not enough, if you have solar installations, they are likely to be shaded during the day failing to accumulate enough energy.
Judging by the letdowns, you may want to weigh sides before deciding to go with a pop-top roof. In case you do, here are the rewards;
- Iconic views
- Less condensation because of outdoor air coming in
- Spacious room for double-decker beds
- Low top roof advantages
What are some vans that you can stand in?
After analysis of reputable vans in the marketplace, I came up with a list of tall vans that you can stand-in.
1. Nissan NV cargo van 2500 HD
Out of all other Nisan models, this is by far the most abundant in headroom offering 195.3 cm in cargo height which is ideal for persons about 6’1″ tall. Price-wise, it is slightly affordable considering the value you are getting in return so this might be a good starting point for anyone seeking to make a purchase.
It’s only recently are customers beginning to tap into all that the Nissan cargo has to offer so it makes a great camper van if you intend to live in it without going noticed.
2. RAM ProMaster
This particular model was first launched in 2014 and is typically larger than average cargo vans by one and a half inches in width. In particular, the” windows van” which is what comes available in a high roof, has a standing height of 77 in (195.6cm).
Passengers slightly under 6’1” would best stand tall in such room logistics. As a bonus, it has more legroom to accommodate platform beds without a struggle.
3. Mercedes Sprinter Van Cargo 2500
Nothing beats the Mercedes Sprinter 2500 in standing space and this is why taller passengers opt for it. It does have a steeper price point which can be intimidating for tight budgets but it is worth the try.
Its interior height records a whopping 200.9cm, room enough to comfortably accommodate users up to 6 foot 4”. Apart from its leniency, it’s equally a powerful machine with a diesel engine built to get in good mileage.
If you can afford it, it’s one of those vans that can serve you for years.
If either one of these vans is not an option for you, look out for Ford models that scale up to truck sizes. They are an excellent choice for very tall van lifers affording ample internal height.
The Ford Transit Cargo Van Long EL in particular affords 207 cm of interior height with others exceeding up to 243.8cm. Again, they come in square-like silhouettes that make customizing projects (either by DIY or outsourcing) much more feasible.
And if you’re wondering, a box truck can still serve as a camping van in the case of extended families.
Do you need a van that you can stand in?
There’s not a one size fits all answer for this question, however, the best way to answer is by considering how you want to use the van and personal preference. If you intend to convert your van into your primary residence and have little care for anything else but space, a van you can stand in is probably better.
On the other hand, if a high top roof surpasses your financial muscle, then traveling on a budget van is better than not being able to travel at all. For others, getting the van without having to wait long remodeling periods or incur extra expenses is more important.
Or, a stealth setting is what you could be targeting.
In other words, look to your needs as a baseline for judgment. After all, you’ll be the one spending most of your hours in there, so get a van that works best for your inherent needs.
Luckily, conversion vans are more flexible for customizing, so you may not need to invest in a high-top roof right from the manufacturer. You can easily redesign the interior of any van to maximize your comfort. This includes adding running boards, awnings, and a growing contender, pop-tops.
Many campervans have interiors with enough headroom for most people. This makes them a perfect living space and mobile home for most people.
If you’d like to find out more about van life, consider checking out my other articles on campervans.
NOTE: If you're looking to purchase a new tiny home, but aren't sure if it's right for you, be sure to check out Escape Campervans. They allow you to rent unique vans and RVs all around the US. Book today!