A van without a roof rack is just like a road trip without good music. You can go without it… but you’ll be missing out on a lot of the fun. A DIY van roof rack brings tons of benefits to vanlife. It increases storage space and helps you declutter the inside of the van. It gives you the opportunity to set up a roof terrasse or an additional sleeping area when it doesn’t rain. You could fix a van solar shower to it, or more solar panels. Furthermore, building your own roof rack also means:
- Designing a van rack that fits the exact dimensions of your van.
- Configuring the rack according to how you want to use the roof of the van.
- Choosing the building material you want to add to the rack -if you actually want to add panels to it-, whether it’s wood, PVC or metal panels.
1. The parts you’ll need to build a DIY van roof rack
The first step to create your project is to design your rack according to your van’s roof dimensions and buy the parts to build it. This step-by-step plan was designed based on Constance and Maylis’ project -if you want to learn more about their story, we also wrote an article about it!
So you’ll find the information on what you would need to build it below. Although this rack works perfectly well for their model of van, we recommend you customize the project as you see fit for your own van model.
What you’ll need: Connectors and tubes
Here are the parts and tubes you’ll need to build this DIY van roof rack. If you adapted the project, change the dimensions and adjust the number of tubes and fittings according to your own plan.
|12||1-1/16" x 92" Jet black steel pipe||PT-92-BK||Buy now|
|16||Tee connector black fitting set||HJ-1||Buy now|
|8||90° Elbow black connector set||HJ-90||Buy now|
|16||Flat clamp black connector set||HJ-15||Buy now|
|4||3 way corner black connector set||HJ-2K||Buy now|
2. The cut list
Once you’ve ordered the parts and they’ve been delivered to your doorstep, it’s time to build your van roof rack. Start by cutting the tubes (don’t forget to buy a pipe cutter if you don’t already have one).
|Qty.||Length (inch)||Length (centimeter)|
|2||91 1/4″||231.77 cm|
|2||86 7/8″||220.66 cm|
|8||60 1/2″||153.67 cm|
|8||3 1/4″||8.25 cm|
3. Build your DIY van roof rack… This is where the fun begins!
OK, so you’ve cut the tubes and gathered all the parts. It’s now time to start building your roof rack! Use the color and letter codes to place the right connectors and tube sizes at the right place.
The tinktube joint sets are assembled with bolts that require one of the following tools – you might already have the tools at home, but if you don’t, you can order from us here:
|Hex drill bit set (x5)||T-BIT||Buy now|
|T handle wrench||T-HANDLE||Buy now|
Maylis and Constance also bought roof crossbars from an auto parts retailer that they fixed the rack to.
4. Hit the road, (insert your name here).
We sure hope you’re as happy as Constance and Maylis were when they finished building their project. If you are looking for more van project ideas, check out this complete guide to camper van conversion: you’ll find more free plan and articles on various van-related subjects that will spark your creativity!