Swamper - VW Transporter Swampers
The VW Swamper look is becoming increasingly popular in the UK. A Swamper is a more aggressive look for your VW Transporter. Generally you’re trying to make the van look more rugged and mean and use it for bigger, muddier adventures!
What is a Swamper Van?
People that convert their van into a Swamper usually use it for more adventurous pursuits. Oversize, chunky, all terrain tyres are a total must when looking for the Swamper look. Ideal for your T6 Swamper!
We like to think of it like converting your Transporter into a Land Rover Defender.
How to achieve the Swamper look
We’ve put together your swamper shopping list. You’ll need the following to really nail the swamper look:
- 4 motion Volkswagen Transporter
- Swamper Alloys
- Roof racks
- Wheel arch covers
- Side bars
- Solar panels
- Aluminum engine guards
- Rear skid plate
- Bike racks with heavy duty gas struts
- Lifted suspension
- Mud flaps
Sometimes these two get mixed up. But they're very different. Overlanders are vehicles that have been modified for serious adventures only. If you're looking for something a a bit more hardcore, check out our guide on Overlanders.
Swamper Base Vehicle
Swampers can be made out of most base vehicles. To be a true Swamper conversion you really need to using a 4-motion or some sort of 4x4 functionality. We’ve seen fantastic Transit Custom Swampers. However, overall we recommend the T6.1 4motion. It has a fantastic 4x4 drive option and is ideal for the overland adventures! You’re able to convert any of the VW range into a really unique Swamper conversion:
- VW T4 Swamper
- VW T5 Swamper
- VW T6 Swamper
- VW T6.1 Swamper
- VW Caddy Swamper
- VW Crafter Swamper
For a VW Caddy Swamper or a VW Crafter Swamper you can also buy a 4motion base vehicle straight from VW. This is ideal to do your Swamper mods!
We've noticed a real trend towards the MAN TGE panel vans. A great alternative to the Volkswagen brand and well worth looking into. They come in 4motion and could be a great base vehicle for a Swamper conversion.
The rear differential lock can be used if the terrain gets hardcore button, meaning the rear wheels of the van will keep driving you forwards. Even when you’re on off-road, and on dirty and rugged tracks.
Swamper Alloy Wheels
A VW Swamper will want a really particular looking alloy. You don’t want shiny, easily scratched rims. You need something really durable that you’re not worried about looking mint. You’ll want a raised stance, to give greater ground clearance.
We recommend the BF Goodrich All Terrain tyre to go with your VW Swamper Alloy Wheels. Tough rubber means that you don’t need to worry about sidewall punctures, even on the toughest terrain. They also look wicked! You might want to look out for packages that include Swamper Wheels and Tyres. This should mean you get the right kit.
Check out our full range of VW Transporter Swamper Wheels with BF Goodrich tyres.
Lifted Suspension for your Swamper
If you’re planning on going off-road with your VW Transporter Swamper you'll want to raise the suspension. To do this we use the Desert Lift Kit from Seikel. This can give you a lift that’s around 30mm to 60mm. Based on our experience taking VW Transporter on 4wd drive tracks and you really do notice the extra clearance the handling is heaps better both off-road and on the tarmac.
Depending on the weight of your van, you’ll get a different lift. For example a campervan is going to weigh much more than an empty panel van. So keep this in mind when shopping for suspension lift kits.
Swamper Light Upgrades
Light upgrades are a total must for your VW Swamper. You need to be able to rely on high-performance lighting when traveling during the night, especially if your planning an off road adventure. These are usually mounted on the top of your van or on the front grille. They really add to that aggressive Swamper look.
We love Lazer Lamps, they manufactured in the UK and produce very cool looking lighting for the VW Transporter. Make sure whatever you choose is road legal and made for heavy duty use.
Fitting a snorkel to your van is a pretty cool bit of kit to add to your Transporter.
Your engine sucks in air, if you go through deep water it will get sucked in through your air intake. It’s called a snorkel because it extends your air intake above the van to the top of the snorkel. Which means you can drive through a greater depth of water.
A snorkel is a permanent piece of kit you’re installing. You have to cut holes in the front wing, and then you have to drill two holes for the top mount in the A piller. If you did want to take it off you would have to have the pillar filled and repainted. Which isn’t something you really want to do.
Roof racks are an important part of your Swamper build. As you know, the space in the Transporter can be limited. For an expedition swamper you’ll want to be taking kit with you. For example, paddleboards, kayaks, tents, additional tyres, power systems etc.
There are roof racks that are made for a Transporter that has a pop top roof. You need to check out the load capacity of your roof to ensure you don’t overload it. You might want to use your roof rack to store your tread boars, an important part of your off-road kit.
For a roof rack where you can still keep the items on the roof when raising your pop top, Wildworx recommends the Karitek System.
A Swamper makes a great Campervan Conversion. Better ground clearance and more durability mean lots more adventures. These off road campers are great for getting off grid and muddy.
A swamper campervan really needs to be fully off-grid. This means you need a leisure battery system, an inverter and solar. Meaning you can survive fully without being plugged into mains (240v) electricity.
You’ll need expedition worthy kit to be able to survive (in a bit of luxury) while on these adventures. Really good leisure systems are a total must. You need to be able to rely on your power when you’re off-grid. Understanding the voltage and drawer on your different appliances is important. Making sure you don’t overload your batteries. Your fridge is going to be one of your biggest power drains.
Take into account your diesel heating system. Make sure that you have enough fuel and power in your leisure system to get the system
Solar panels are a must to top up your power when you’re on the road. Fitting a permanent solar panel to the roof of your campervan is a great way to top up your leisure battery system. Just make sure you have the right MPPT Controller to convert the power to your batteries. You can purchase solar panel kits here.
If your campervan conversion has any underslung tanks, you’ll need to take these into account when you’re considering your off-road adventures. The last thing you want is to take out your LPG gas tank bottoming out your van!
To Swamper or Not to Swamper
The most important thing is to decide what you want your VW Swamper van for. Do you just want the Swamper look or do you actually want to go off-roading in the van?
If you want to go off-roading you’ll need to take into account a few technical elements with the tyres and alloy set up. You will also need to protect your chassis and underslung tanks. As well as raise the vehicle to give better ground clearance.
But if you’re just wanting to get the Swamper look, don’t worry about it! Ultimately, does it matter? How many 4x4 Land Rovers have never seen a lick of mud?!
VW Swamper For Sale (UK)
When buying an off the peg Volkswagen Swamper you need to keep in mind what you’re planning on using the van for. If it’s just to look awesome then great! If you want to take it off road you really need to make sure that it is a 4motion base vehicle and has sufficient modifications to protect the chassis.
You see lots of VW T6 “Swampers” for sale that are built on standard VWs with no lifting or chassis protection. They look the part but won’t last long off-road. Totally depends what you’re looking for - there is nothing wrong with a 2 wheel drive adventure van! The grip and extra clearance will give you more confidence on tracks and across campsites. Especially in the winter or on European trips. Which is usually enough for most people.
Wildworx Swamper Conversions
If you want to discuss your Swamper Campervan Conversion project get in touch with our team who can give you more information. Alternatively take a look at our Campers for Sale.