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Keeping yourself insulated in your van should be a top priority when thinking about your van build. One of the best ways to do this is with van window covers.

After two years on the road, we have realized the value of having professionally made window covers which dramatically help keep the heat out when it’s hot outside and cold out when you want to stay warm.

There are several options from DIY to professional van window covers that you can choose from. Read on to find out our favorite vanlifer to purchase your shades from and how you can make your own.

Why you Need Window Covers 

You might be asking why you even need window covers in your campervan. You have well insulated your van and don’t feel that you will need any extra insulation. Although you can absolutely survive without window covers, I personally feel that they are an absolute vanlife essential.

4 Reasons Why You Need Van Window Covers: 

1. Keeps Your Van Cool – Even if you do not plan on staying in super hot areas, the sun can be potent anywhere you go. Having well-made van window covers can drastically reduce the temperature inside your home and keep you nice and cool. This is especially imperative if you have dogs in your van as it’s super important that you keep them nice and comfortable. 

2. Keeps Your Van Warm – Chances are you are going to end up in colder weather during your vanlife journey. We are always chasing the temperate locations and that often means being in the mountains or the desert. The mountains and the desert can be oh so cold at night. Alongside a heater and/or proper insulation, van window covers can make a huge difference in keeping you cozy at night! 

3. Privacy – The main reason we have van windows covers is that we don’t want just anyone to walk by our van and peek inside. There are so many times when we are stealth camping in the city or at a crowded campsite where we don’t want to worry about anyone seeing inside our van. With van window covers, you are a quick step away from having all the privacy you need. 

4. Stealth and Protection – Another benefit to having van window covers is it keep people from seeing inside which means they have no idea you are living in your van and don’t know what is inside! This could also lower the possibility of theft! 

DIY Van Window Covers vs Professional

We chose to make our window covers ourselves in the beginning when purchasing them wasn’t an option. DIY window covers will absolutely do the job; however, purchasing professional ones will likely insulate your windows better, store much easier and you don’t have to worry about figuring how to cover them in fabric, which was a big hurdle for us. 

For our Sprinter van, we only had the back window covers but for our Ford Transit, we opted for the back window covers, windshield, and even a cover for our fan. 

Our Favorite Professional Window Shades

There are several options for professional van window shades ranging from all prices and all designs. Our favorite Window covers are made by Van Made Gear. Not only are they a small business but they are vanlifers who made these covers with vanlifers in mind. 

VanMade Gear has some of the best covers I have seen at the most reasonable prices. They are made with Rare Earth Magnets and fold up, accordion-style while staying magnetized to the back windows. In a van with so little space, it is so handy to have a way to store the covers on the windows. 

They offer van window covers in many different vehicle styles: 

We personally highly recommend them for anyone needing well designed and made window covers! 

Instructions for DIY Window Covers: 

  1. Buy a roll of reflectix
  2. Use cardboard to use as a template for your window cutout. Make sure you cut the template to the metal around your window, not just the window itself.  You will need the reflectix to hit the metal surrounding the window so magnets can adhere and keep the window shade in place.
  3. Once window cutouts have been established, place the template on reflectix to trace out the design then cut the template. We chose to cut it a little bit bigger and trim off excess as needed.
  4. We used rare earth or neodymium magnets and taped them on reflectix with magnetic/thermal tape.
  5. If you have a sewing machine you can then add fabric. 

No matter if you choose to buy your van window covers or to make them yourself, make sure you have them! They will make your vanlife experience so much easier and more enjoyable. What do you have in your van? Did you make your window covers yourself or purchase them? 

9 comments

Reply

Thank you for this amazing piece.
I always find your articles so useful.
I have a van and I have been searching through the internet for a good van window cover.
Stumbled on your blog and honestly this answered all my questions.
Thanks
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Reply

About to purchase Van Made Gear window covers. I noticed they also sell Roof Air fan covers. Do I need these too?

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We opted to buy the covers for our third build. We haven’t got to use them yet but in theory it will keep the van warmer during the winter and keep light out for early mornings. You don’t NEED one but I think it’ll be nice!

Reply

How do you usually decorate your windows?

Reply

What do you mean? I just use the covers.

Reply

My van has no metal around the windows inside. Any suggestions?

Reply

What van do you have?

My suggestion is to remove the plastic panels around your windows, and glue magnets to the inside of the plastic where you would be trying to magnetize the covers. Then pop it back on and the covers should magnetize!

Reply

Great looking product so simple when the magnetic cover just clicks in place. But no one in the van industry making these great looking covers shows the front windscreen cover install. No magnets, not so easy, very heavy, maybe bad for sales? How are your windscreen covers held in place to completely block out light coming in or light visible from the outside. All advertising says great for stealth camping. Also being such a large window with lots of heat coming in which heats the black fabric do you use reflective product facing outside. I am going to start building a 2020 high roof extended Ford transit doing lots of product research. Thanks for all the great info
Dave

Reply

Hey David,

The windshield cover is slightly oversized resulting in a very snug fit. The cover also has a tight rear view mirror cut out giving the cover another stable fit. Then we always use the sun visors for a secondary hold.

The cover is light but well made, i believe there is a wire sewn into the edges helping with rigidity as well. Now to answer the question about reflective vs black side. We use the reflective side facing in when we want to keep our own heat inside the van then when it’s hot we turn the reflective side out.

We haven’t had any issues with light leaking through the edges of the windshield cover as the trim around the windshield seems to help hold the cover in place as well as the oversized fit. We also use a curtain behind the front seats when we need to be stealthy.

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