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Chevrolet Astro Van Conversion (our homemade camper): Update 3

There have not been any major changes since my last update about our Astro Van conversion, but two pretty good upgrades!

The bed is completed but we have not started on the other elements of the van (cooking area, more storage etc) as these are more related to our long-term plans (i.e. the big trip across Canada) that we have decided to delay until spring. Here are all the details.

First published in 2013. There are affiliate links in this post. If you make a qualifying purchase through one of these links, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Astro Van Camper Conversion Update 3

New tires for our Astro Van conversion

We have recently fitted off-road truck tires (spelt the Canadian way), our most useful and expensive upgrade to date! They look impressive and we hope they will live up to the specs.

We purchased BFGoodrich All-terrain T/A KO; an all-season tire with good snow traction. The treads on these are ridiculous, see the second photo below. These tires should give us the freedom on the logging roads that we have been waiting for! We have had a few dodgy moments at times, including a flat tire last year.

We will still need to be on the look-out for rocks that become embedded in the tires, as this can easily happen with treads like these.

There are a few disadvantages to running our van on truck tires, such as more noise (especially on highways) and less fuel efficiency. We haven’t really tested the van much with these yet, so will do an update in a few months on how the tires are running.

Astro Van Camper Conversion - new tires
Astro Van Camper Conversion - logo

Window covers

The second upgrade is window covers. Over autumn and winter, Jean Robert did fit some black curtains around the bed at the back, using a fairly soft blackout material.

These worked fine (although we still needed one between the front seats and the back/bed area), but then we were told about using foil insulation to cover the windows with by our fellow traveller Joe.

He has this material on his converted van’s windows, and after seeing how well it worked on a camping trip, we were off to Home Depot to buy a roll of our own!

We paid $45 for a roll of Reflectix Bubble foil which covered all of our Astro Van’s windows and windscreen. OK, it almost did, Jean Robert ran out at the last window (driver’s side) and had to use patch up the leftovers with foil tape to finish.

The insulation is great stuff; it is very easy to cut to fit and sits in the window frame well. At night, the windows just appear dark, and you really couldn’t tell it was foil insulation until very close to the vehicle. Perfect for stealth/wild camping!

Astro Van Camper conversion
Astro Van Camper conversion foil insulation

Testing our new window covers

The foil insulation is a much better solution than curtains, providing a complete black-out, great for sleeping anytime! (Yes, the lighting looks very odd in this photo; it turns out that it is difficult to get it right when you have covered up all the windows and door with foil!)

We haven’t tested our new window covers on a camping trip yet, so I will most likely write a little more on my next update. By the next update, Jean Robert may have started on more inside construction.

Our third update for our Astro Van Camper Conversion. New tires (better for gravel roads) and window covers are added to the van.

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Monday 27th of February 2023

Hello, How did you fix the covers on the Windows? Thank you Armelle


Monday 6th of March 2023

Hi Armelle,

The foil window covers fit right within the window frame itself, in the gap between the window and the plastic fascia around it. So super easy to remove and replace.

Chevrolet Astro Van Conversion (our homemade camper): November 2013 update | Off Track Travel

Tuesday 5th of November 2013

[…] main improvement since you last saw the van is the cabinet, built between the bed and the driver’s seat. The cabinet is an important […]


Saturday 2nd of November 2013

How do the foil bubble wrap window covers stay in place?.... By the way, glad to know you Canadians know how to spell tire correctly.


Sunday 3rd of November 2013

Hi Ken,

The foil window covers fit nicely within the window frame - between the window and the plastic fascia. It's just the right thickness to wedge in and hold. In the middle of the car we have two opening windows, and JR cut the foil to fit around the window fixings. When fitting the foil at night, we pop out the hinge of the fixing, place the foil on the window and then close the hinge. For the windscreen, he cut a big sheet in half to follow the curve. The two sheets meet at the rear view mirror; they both have a cut where they insert into each other. When using, we would also put down the sunshades in front of the driver and passenger seats and this keeps the foil in place. Hope this all makes sense, but feel free to give JR an email to: [email protected]

- Gemma


Sunday 19th of May 2013

I'm glad the blinds are working out for you - try look great! I could do with some better tyres for the logging roads... and 4x4! I had to turn back not far from a rec site a couple of days ago after encountering a splattering of snow. The van is a work horse but he is afraid of snow!



Monday 20th of May 2013

The tyres were a pretty big investment but they've already changed my outlook on travel...looking at all the logging roads on the north of the Island don't worry me one bit anymore! Can't wait to test them out properly. Sorry to hear about the snow, but you definitely don't want to get stuck at a rec-site in some of that!!

- Gemma