Featured Builder: Nomadik Customs


Featured Builder: Nomadik Customs

One of the benefits of going to Overland Expo is interacting with equipment and builds you might otherwise not get a chance to see. One such company was Nomadik Customs.

Based in Portland, OR, they came to Expo PNW to show off their builds. We were fortunate enough to spend a little time looking at the two completed customer builds that were borrowed for the event.

Good day everyone and welcome to a new installment of AllOutdoor's Off-Road and Overlanding series brought to you by onX Offroad--mapping software for all your adventures.

The van life

The van life; living on the road in your custom home and working wherever you go…

There is a shift in some parts of the population. No longer is the dream for everyone to have a house in the suburbs with a picket fence. In some cases, it is not affordable. In some cases, it is too constraining. In some cases, it is a cry for minimalism.

Enter the return of the nomadic lifestyle. Your home and possessions travel with you. You probably aren’t herding sheep from oasis to oasis like a Bedouin, but you might work your telecommuting job from a new National Park every week.

To make that happen, you need a mobile “home” from which you can work and play. Not everyone wants to pilot a giant Class C bus. And larger vehicles limit where you can go. Smaller vehicles like Sprinter vans are much more versatile and open up many more options. Add services like Starlink, and you can pretty much work from anywhere you can get to.

Not all builds are equal

It would be hard to come up with standard pricing for a build. Or to even identify tiers. First, you have the base vehicle. Then you must add all the internals–water, power, bedding, storage, etc.

Pricing can run from thousands to hundreds of thousands. You can find horror stories of builds gone wrong and builds over budget. Builds that never get finished.

The difference in builds is the craftsmanship that goes into it. This pictured table pulls out from under the countertop. Those panels lift up, exposing more storage. The raised lip around the edge ensures plates and things don’t slide off. And that wine glass? Magnetic bottom to keep it in place on that metal coaster. These are not features you see on a typical van build.  This is not something you will find on a budget build.

Nomadik Customs is higher end. But you end up with a highly functional build constructed by artisans. Not only does it look custom, but the actual construction is well thought out, and problems are solved with unique solutions.

Why go custom?

These days it seems like everyone is a van-lifer. YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok are full of amateur and professional builders that are saturating the market. The “professional” shops eventually find a niche, develop a standard build or three, and crank them out as fast as possible–the demand, even now, is through the roof.

Spend some time on social media, and you will be hard-pressed to find the difference in many of the builds–they all start blending together. And there are only so many ways you can cram stuff into a van body. Amateurs do their best to try and mimic the professional builds. And that is probably good for a vast number of people.

There are people out there, however, that want something unique. Something that fits the individual quirks and tastes that we all possess. Some amateurs go this route on their own builds. Some professionals try as well.

Some people like to build their own.

Marc Vroman, of Nomadik Customs, has taken it to a whole other level. I will caveat that I have not interviewed every builder out there, but I have trolled social media for a while, and Marc’s builds are some of the most unique I have seen. Seeing them on the internet does not do justice to them in person.

How it got started

In a previous life, Marc Vroman was a rehab therapist. Stuff happened (an injury) that forced a career change. After an involved recovery process, Marc fell back on a previous skill–general construction.

While headed to a job site in another state with an overloaded vehicle, he decided to upgrade to a sprinter-type van. At the dealer, chatting with the nosy salesperson, Marc relayed that he was a builder and could build out vans. The salesperson expressed interest, saying there was a need and hot demand for that skill, and wanted to know the name of Marc’s “company.”

“Um, yeah, uh, the company is called, uh, No, uh, Nomad, uh Nomadik Customs…” Meet Marc Vroman, the guy that turned serendipity into custom van building.

On the spot. Marc made up the name “Nomadik Customs” and told the salesperson he didn’t have any cards on him but would bring some by later. After a visit to an office supply store and print shop, he made some cards, returned to the dealer, and now he has a thriving business building unique, one-of-a-kind, artisan masterpieces.

Nomadik Customs

Rather than give you a list of floor plans, you will spend some time with the staff, who will help tease out your idea. Artisans from different disciplines will be engaged, from custom woodworkers to upholsterers.

Each build is unique, and a work of art based on the customers’ likes and wants. In some cases, the customer doesn’t see the finishing touches until the very end. During the interview process, the owner of this build expressed interest in lots of textures and stated that they like end grains. And so this backsplash was born…

Nomadik Customs will first help educate you on many aspects of “vancrafting.” After you have gained some understanding of concepts around components and systems, you will submit your inquiry–via an eleven-page form… From there, you go on to a consultation and then start designing the platform.

You are not picking from a cafeteria list of options–you are custom building a van to live in, not just live out of. The end result is a custom product to your tastes, assembled by competent builders and artisans who impart their skill to each detail. They have produced over forty custom and unique builds in the past three years.

At first it just looks like some custom woodworking…
…and then you realize it is a shelf, and the mountains serve the function of keeping stuff from sliding out.

You bring your vehicle to the Nomadik shop, and they will build out everything, internals through mechanical upgrades. Depending on what is done, you can expect to spend $95k up into the $200k range.

The only downside is that building something this custom takes time to do right. The build time is anywhere from six to eighteen weeks (or more), but in the end, you will have a home that is as beautiful as it is functional.

Cabinet hardware from Home Depot? Nah. Let’s hand stitch some leather pulls instead.
Yeah, there is underlighting on the floor. And did we mention the radiant heating? That in floor heating works in tandem with the rest of the environmental controls to be extremely efficient.
Note how perfectly matched the grain is throughout the whole counter top. One van build (I didn’t get a good pic of it) had the wood grain from the countertop merge with an upright support, and the grain appeared to flow right up the side.
Even the induction stove gets a makeover. The wood lid is custom-made with an epoxy inlay. Oh, and the wood grain matches the rest of the countertop. (this is the same one from the previous photo)
More integrated woodworking.
The crockery is all kept neatly organized and in place with magnets.
The sleeping area is comfortable and inviting. Did I mention this van also had a toilet and a shower? All cleverly hidden in the benches.
The Nomadik Customs team (the ones that were at Overland Expo PNW, anyway)

If your budget allows and you are looking for a one-of-a-kind van, you would be hard pressed to find a better builder than Nomadik Customs.  I’m just sad my budget doesn’t allow for one, and I doubt my editors would approve of one as a perk…

If you are interested in learning more, please check Nomadik Customs on Instagram or via their website.

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Avatar Author ID 94 - 2102858338

Tom is a former Navy Corpsman that spent some time bumbling around the deserts of Iraq with a Marine Recon unit, kicking in tent flaps and harassing sheep. Before that, he was a paramedic somewhere in DFW, also doing some Executive Protection work between shifts. Now that those exciting days are behind him, he has embraced his inner “Warrior Hippie,” and assaults 14er in his sandals, and engages in rucking adventure challenges while consuming copious water. To fund these adventures, he writes all manner of content (having also held editor positions at several publications) and teaches wilderness medicine and off-road skills. He hopes that his posts will help you find the gear that will survive whatever you can throw at it (and the training to use it). Learn from his mistakes--he is known (in certain circles) for his curse...ahem, ability...to find the breaking point of anything. You can follow him at https://linktr.ee/docrader.

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