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Insulating The Van

I am not going to go into the specifics of the vast topic of insulation. There are plenty of resources out there telling you the details and it can be very overwhelming. Here is my brief run down of what I did after hours of research:

  • Walls: 1/2″ poly
  • Ceiling: 1″ poly
  • Floor: Sound deadener (ply and vinyl but that is for another topic)
  • Windows: Reflectix/Black outdoor fabric (sewn together)
  • Misc: Big Stuff expanding foam, HVAC foil tape, 3/4″-1 1/2″ sheet metal screws for installing cleats (self drilling)

I wanted to go as simple as possible. I will mainly camp out of the van when it is hot out and I know there is much debate on to even insulate. I did because I have two vent fans and from what I have researched, is a must with insulation in the summer. I didn’t insulate on the floors because there are a number of resources out there saying the floor isn’t that important. I did however add sound deadener because the road noise in an empty van is pretty substantial.

This is time consuming. It took two full days to cut everything out and install. Fairly simple install once you get inside and study your walls, how you want to add cleats, etc.


  • Big Stuff foam is crazy messy. They say to wear gloves and it probably isn’t a bad idea. Also, use up your can in one day. I tried to use an open can the 2nd day and didn’t get much life out of it.
  • I templated the odd shapes with art paper, then cut the panels. I did all this in one day and the install the second.
  • Some people cleat everything to the metal, then add their panels, wall, etc to this. I didn’t feel the need with my van. You make the best call for your van.
  • A good ‘ol steak knife works great for cutting the expanding foam once it has dried


I started kayaking in Wisconsin of all places, because this is where I am from. I then moved to San Diego and took on kayak surfing along with heading to the Kern River when water was available. I then made the move to Asheville, NC and have been hooked on this sport since my Wisconsin days. With whatever it is that you do, do it because you love it, not because society tells you should or for other outside factors. Don't simply exist, live!