The popularity of van life has been on the rise, with more individuals and families seeking versatile and adventurous ways to travel. In 2023, the market for adventure vans has expanded, boasting a range of models that cater to varied needs and preferences. From ample storage space and off-grid capabilities to eco-friendly electric options, there’s a travel van out there for everyone.
One highly-rated adventure van is the Storyteller Overland MODE 4×4, a Mercedes Sprinter conversion that combines safety, simplicity, and off-grid readiness. Meanwhile, the Loef Camper Van stands out as a comfortable option for extended living, while the Tonke EQV offers an all-electric alternative. Other popular choices in 2023 include the Wingamm OASI 540, Roadtrek Pivot, Coachmen Galleria, and Thor Tellaro.
With these diverse options, potential van life enthusiasts have an array of choices to suit their specific needs. As the concept of van life continues to grow in popularity, the market can expect even more innovation and exciting developments in the world of adventure vans.
Table of Contents
|Customizable interior, high roof option, all-wheel drive
|Multiple roof heights, advanced safety features, available all-wheel drive
|Front-wheel drive, low load floor, customizable interior
|Powerful V8 engine, customizable cargo area, available high roof
|Compact size, fuel-efficient engine options, available all-wheel drive
Best Travel Vans for Van Life
The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is regarded as one of the top choices for van life thanks to its durability, efficiency, and 4×4 capabilities. With a price range of $35,000 to $50,000, it is more expensive than other options, but its diesel engine, resale value, and various roof options (low, medium, and high) make up for the additional cost. The Sprinter’s versatility allows it to be customized to suit various travelers’ needs and preferences.
The Ford Transit is another popular option among van life enthusiasts, offering various lengths and roof heights. The Transit is more affordable compared to the Mercedes Sprinter, but it tends to be narrower. The Ford Transits are available in both full-size van and Ford Transit Connect models, enabling travelers to choose the right size and features for their van life adventures.
The Ram ProMaster is a spacious option for van life, with the 159″ wheelbase version being the widest conversion van on the market. This width allows for a standard full-size bed to fit comfortably within the van. Available in various lengths and roof heights, the ProMaster is both customizable and versatile. Its affordability makes it a great choice for van life beginners and pros alike.
A more compact option for van life is the Toyota Sienna, a reliable and fuel-efficient minivan. While not as spacious as full-size vans like the Mercedes Sprinter, Ford Transit, or Ram ProMaster, the Sienna still offers ample room for comfortable living and traveling. The Sienna is an excellent choice for those seeking a smaller, more maneuverable vehicle without sacrificing the van’s life experience.
Camper Van Conversions
Camper van conversions are a popular option for those looking to create a mobile living space tailored to their specific needs and preferences. There are several types of camper van conversions, including custom adventure vans, compact camper vans, and luxury campers. In this section, we’ll explore these categories and provide some examples of the best vans for each type of conversion.
Custom Adventure Vans
Custom adventure vans are designed for off-grid living and exploring remote locations. These vans often come with off-road capabilities, reinforced suspension, and 4×4 drivetrains to tackle rough terrain. Some popular makes and models for custom adventure van conversions include:
- Mercedes-Benz Sprinter: Available in 4×4 and 2WD versions, the Sprinter is a versatile starting point for a custom camper conversion. Prices range from $27,000 used to $50,000+ for fully-upgraded long wheelbase models.
- Ford Transit: Another popular option for a camper conversion is the Ford Transit. Spacious interiors make it a great choice for converting into a mobile home. A new cargo van typically costs between $25,000 to $40,000.
Compact Camper Vans
Compact camper vans are designed to be efficient and easily maneuverable. Built on smaller vans or minivans, they are ideal for those who prefer a minimalist approach to their mobile living space. Some common compact camper van choices include:
- Nissan NV Cargo Van: This budget-friendly cargo van provides a slightly smaller footprint than the Sprinter or Transit, making it perfect for those seeking a more compact camper van conversion.
- Volkswagen Microbus (Type 2): A classic choice for camper van conversions, the Microbus is a compact and iconic van with a starting price of around $27,000.
Luxury campers are upscale camper vans with high-end finishes, appliances, and amenities. These conversions often include custom cabinetry, luxurious bedding, and built-in home theater systems for a comfortable and opulent travel experience. Some examples of luxury camper conversions are:
- Coachmen Galleria: This luxury Class B motorhome is built on the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter platform and offers upscale features like a Truma Combi furnace and water heater, induction cooktop, and premium leather seating.
- Winnebago Travato: A popular luxury Class B motorhome built on the Ram ProMaster chassis, the Travato boasts unique features like a Murphy+ bed system, solar panels, and the Pure3 Energy Management System for off-grid power capability.
In conclusion, camper van conversions offer a wide range of customization and comfort for travel enthusiasts. Custom adventure vans are ideal for those looking to tackle off-road surfaces, compact camper vans provide efficiency and simplicity, and luxury campers cater to those seeking a high-end travel experience. With numerous options available, there’s sure to be a camper van conversion to suit any lifestyle and budget.
Camper Van Features
Interior Layout and Storage
Camper vans are designed to maximize space and provide efficient storage solutions, making them perfect for vanlife adventures. Many models come with a garage-style area at the rear, which can be used for storing large items such as bicycles, camping gear, and even an inflatable kayak. In addition to the garage, interior cabinetry and closets offer ample storage for clothes, food, and equipment. Roof racks and safari roof racks are also popular additions for carrying additional gear, such as surfboards, skis, or extra luggage.
Kitchen and Appliances
A well-equipped kitchen is essential for a comfortable camper van experience. Most camper vans include a small kitchen area with essential appliances, such as:
- A sink with hot and cold water system
- A stove or cooking system, often powered by propane or diesel
- A refrigerator or cooler
- Storage for cookware, utensils, and food
Some high-end camper van models may also come with additional kitchen features like an oven, microwave, or an outdoor cooking area.
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Sleeping and Seating Options
A variety of sleeping and seating options are available for camper vans, depending on the size and layout of the vehicle. Some popular options include:
- Double bed: A fixed or convertible sleeping area that can fit two people comfortably. This can be a fold-down table that turns into a bed or a power lift bed that can be raised or lowered as needed.
- Bench seat: Provides seating during the day and can be converted into additional sleeping space at night.
- Pop-top roof: Allows for additional standing room and sleeping space when raised. This is particularly useful in smaller vans where interior space is limited.
Some camper vans also offer the option of an additional sleeping area in the form of a rooftop tent or a small trailer attachment, providing extra space for weekend getaways or off-roading adventures.
Depending on the size and model of the camper van, bathroom facilities can range from a simple portable toilet to a fully-functional bathroom with a shower room, toilet, and sink. Some camper vans even have an outdoor shower system for those who prefer to rinse off outside. A self-contained bathroom can make a significant difference in comfort and convenience, especially for extended trips or remote off-grid locations.
Solar panels and solar power systems are commonly used in camper vans to provide electricity for appliances, lighting, and other essential functions. This allows for greater independence and flexibility when traveling, especially when staying off the grid for extended periods. Diesel engines are also popular in camper vans due to their fuel efficiency and ability to handle long distances and tougher terrains.
Off-Grid Adventure Capabilities
Solar Power and Energy Storage
Off-grid adventure vans need to be self-sufficient when it comes to energy. A common solution is installing solar panels on the van’s roof to provide a sustainable power source. These solar panels can charge the batteries that power the van’s appliances, lights, and charging ports.
Some notable off-grid vans with solar power capabilities include:
- Storyteller Overland MODE 4×4: Has a 90-watt solar panel and an advanced inverter system.
- Sportsmobile Sprinter 4×4: Offers optional solar power system packages, including panels and energy storage.
An excellent off-grid van should come equipped with all-terrain capabilities to tackle different landscapes while overlanding. Some essential all-terrain features include:
- 4×4 drive systems for better traction and control.
- Raised suspensions for increased ground clearance.
- Durable tires suited for various terrains.
The Sportsmobile Sprinter 4×4 and the Volkswagen Vanagon Westfalia Syncro are great examples of vans equipped with these all-terrain features, perfect for off-grid adventures.
Outdoor Living Amenities
Finally, a good off-grid adventure van should come with various outdoor living amenities for a comfortable and enjoyable experience. These amenities could include:
- A camper shower for convenient hygiene during extended trips.
- A powered patio awning to provide shade and shelter during rest stops.
- Ample storage for gear and equipment.
The Travato by Winnebago is an example of a van that includes many outdoor living amenities. At 21 feet long, it sleeps two people, sits on a Ram ProMaster chassis, and has off-grid capabilities due to its Pure3 Advanced Energy System.
Safety Features and Considerations
When choosing the best travel van, it’s essential to consider the safety features available in your options. Safety should be a top priority for any travel enthusiast, ensuring a secure and enjoyable journey. This section will discuss vital aspects such as road safety, vehicle stability, and emergency equipment and preparations.
Road Safety and Vehicle Stability
Modern travel vans come equipped with various safety features that provide peace of mind while navigating various terrain. For instance, the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter comes with standard features such as:
- Crosswind Assist: Helps stabilize the vehicle in strong winds
- Blind Spot Assist: Monitors your blind spots for safer lane changes
- Active Brake Assist: Detects potential collisions and alerts the driver
Similarly, the Ram ProMaster boasts safety features like:
- Electronic Stability Control (ESC): Maintains vehicle stability and helps prevent rollovers
- Traction Control: Ensures optimal grip, particularly in challenging weather conditions
- Hill Start Assist: Holds the vehicle briefly on inclines, preventing rolling
Finally, the Toyota Sienna includes features such as:
- Toyota Safety Sense 2.0: Pre-collision system, lane departure alert, and adaptive cruise control, among others
- Star Safety System: Vehicle stability control, traction control, and anti-lock brake system
Emergency Equipment and Preparations
Being prepared for any situation is as crucial as having safety features. Equip your travel van with essential emergency items, such as:
- First aid kit: For treating minor injuries or stabilizing more severe ones until help arrives
- Fire extinguisher: To deal with small fires that may result from electrical or cooking incidents
- Emergency reflectors and warning triangles: To signal any trouble on the road
- Spare tire, jack, and lug wrench: For changing a flat tire and getting back on the road promptly
- Jumper cables: To jumpstart your vehicle, if required
Additionally, invest time in regular maintenance. Schedule periodic checks for essential components like brakes, tires, and engine performance to ensure they are in optimal condition for your travel adventures.
In conclusion, carefully consider the safety features and emergency preparations when selecting the best travel van. The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, Ram ProMaster, and Toyota Sienna all offer an array of features, ensuring a secure and enjoyable experience.