Picking an RV-Class B Motorhome or Van Camper

The Class B motorhome or van camper offers the traveler both an RV and especially in the case of the smaller units, a second car as a bonus. They appeal to those who want car like drivability with all the features of a motorhome in a compact space. They are easy to drive and operate and can be parked in normal parking spaces for the most part, making them easy travelers on the open road. Unlike a large motorhome, it is easy to spontaneously pull off the road and take a break, make a meal and other activities without much thought.

The modern Class B motorhome can be bought in sizes of from 18-24 feet. Typically the van will have a raised fiberglass roof allowing the occupants to stand up inside the van. The recent models based on the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter chassis, feature stand up headroom as an inherent part of their design. Others models may have a popup roof, with screened tent type fabric enclosing the raised roof space. There are also van conversion companies on the market that offer van campers with optional four wheel drive adding to the go anywhere travel possibilities available.

Vans can also carry roof racks, bike racks and other enhancements multiplying the recreational possibilities. Another bonus is being able to tow a boat or a trailer. Some models can tow up to 10,000 pounds, appealing to many fulltimers who own both a van for towing and exploring the boonies, and a full size larger trailer that stays in the RV parks as a home base. This is a very versatile, multipurpose setup.

In most van campers, the front seats will swivel around adding to the useful amount of interior space to be had. A van camper can sleep 2-4 people depending on the floorplan and length of the van. Most beds have to be converted when it’s time to sleep by pulling out couches, breaking down dinettes and so on. Modern units will sport all the typical RV features one is used to like full galleys, entertainment centers, and even toilet and shower facilities. Storage is available inside with some having storage access from the rear doors and/or outside compartment doors.

Pros:

  • Vans make good multipurpose vehicles whether it is as a second car, or to tow a trailer or a boat.
  • Van campers can go almost anywhere where larger RV’s cannot venture. If primitive sites and/or windy, narrow roads are where you like to roam and explore, consider a van camper.
  • Class B motorhomes get excellent gas mileage for economical traveling.
  • Van campers have the advantages of a motorhome in that you don’t have to exit your rig when ready to camp. Setup is easy with minimal fuss unlike a towable RV.

Cons:

  • Vans can be small and cramped in their narrow confines. Two people can operate if cooperative, or those with very small children will do well. Fulltiming in a van camper would be a challenge as the small space will wear on you over time.
  • If using the van as a second car, the miles will add up quickly depreciating the vehicle making it harder to sell than a motorhome that is only driven on trips.
  • Bedding has to be setup and taken down for sleeping adding a bit of work in operation. It can be hard on those with sensitive backs or larger folks.
  • The small space of a van dictates that there will be limited storage available. For those who need to take it all with them a van camper may cramp their style.

Cost: Van campers can range from a low of $40,000 to well over $100,000 for the newer Sprinter vans or a four wheel drive model with all the bells and whistles.

Van campers definitely have their appeal for those who want an easy driving rig that sports all the conveniences that RV’s have to offer in a compact space. Fulltimers should probably select a larger rig as the space of a van will prove inadequate long term. Those needing a second car and love to go on weekend journeys and other shorter camping trips will also find a van camper an unbeatable choice. A family with small children will find van camper travel a great ally on the road, having washing, bathing and other facilities at their fingertips.