Camper vans may be the ultimate recreational vehicles. They offer the maneuverability of a passenger car (or close to it) paired with many of the comforts typically found in travel trailers or full-blown motorhomes. Not surprisingly, #vanlife has become a popular movement, whether it’s Instagram-friendly weekend explorations or converting to a full-blown alternative, off-the-grid lifestyle. And recent events have made that #vanlife fantasy feel especially poignant. (Hell, it's not hard to argue that camper vans were supporting actors in the Oscar-winning film Nomadland, which depicts Francis McDormand traveling across America...while living in her van.)
A lot of camper vans we feature don’t come to the U.S. The modern equivalent of the classic VW model, tantalizingly named the California, only gets sold in Europe, and only Aussies can snag this badass, off-roading Toyota van with Land Cruiser bits. But there are still quite a few options available if you’re looking to buy a camper van in the U.S.
We’ve pulled together some of our favorite camper van options from both major manufacturers and independent builders. Check them out below.
Major Camper Van Manufacturers
Ohio-based Airstream is an iconic name in camping trailers, but the company also offers a line of pricey “touring coaches” — including the Interstate Nineteen, which fits an entire motorhome of conveniences into a 19-foot van.
Mercedes-Benz announced this year that it would be offering a pop-top camper version of its Metris van called the Getaway. It seats five, sleeps four, and can be fitted with upgrades like a roof rack, an eight-foot awning, mosquito nets and a pull-out rear kitchen. You can buy it at Mercedes dealerships with a full factory warranty.
Thor Motor Coach
Thor Motor Coach is a sibling brand of Airstream. They have a huge lineup of camper vans and RV that includes the Mercedes Sprinter 4x4-based Sanctuary, which is ready to hit the trail from the factory.
Winnebago is an iconic Iowa-based recreational vehicle manufacturer. While best known for its bus-like RVs, the company also produces a wide range of Ram Promaster- and Mercedes Sprinter-based camper vans, from the affordable pop-top Solis and comparatively petite Solis Pocket to the off-road-ready Revel 4×4. Costs typically range between $100,000–$200,000.
Independent Camper Van Builders
Antero Adventure Motors
Colorado-based Antero Adventure Motors, formerly known as Summit Adventure Vans, builds off-road-ready adventure vans. They currently offer a "Longs Peak" model van built with the Mercedes Sprinter and a "Pikes Peak" based on the Ford Transit.
Oregon-based Benchmark Vehicles promises to build your dream escape vehicle, offering custom off-road-ready Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and Ford Transit conversions.
Arizona-based Boho Campers builds (and rents out) custom vans that offer exceptional-looking wood finishes — at an affordable price.
Boulder Camper Vans
Colorado-based Boulder Camper Vans performs custom Mercedes Sprinter, Ram ProMaster, and Ford Transit conversions — and also rents their own vehicles, if you just want to give #vanlife a try.
Caravan Outfitter brings the spirit of the old Volkswagen Westfalia camper into modern Nissan NV200 and Mercedes Metris builds.
Washington-based Freedom Vans builds comfortable custom Sprinter and Transit conversions, whether you’re looking for a van just for weekend duty or a rolling place to live.
California-based Glampervan builds so-called “multi-use” Ram ProMaster builds that can haul like a truck and serve as a mobile office.
Want a camper based on a minivan, instead of a full-size one? Oasis Campervans converts Toyota Siennas into campers with custom sleeping, kitchen and storage setups.
Outside Van sells both custom and pre-built Mercedes Sprinter-based conversion vans for adventure enthusiasts.
New Jersey-based Ready.Set.Van turns Ram ProMaster vans into apartments on wheels, with the help of Tesla-sourced batteries. (We took one of their camper vans out for a weekend; read all about it here.)
Storyteller Overland is based in Alabama. They produce a line of Mercedes Benz-based off-road vans including their top-of-the-line Beast Mode. They now offer a Ford Transit-based Mode LT model as well.
Los Angeles-based Texino offers a range of four different Mercedes-Benz-based vans starting at just $40,000. They also rent vans and have a share program that allows owners to rent their van through Texino and keep 50 percent of the profit.
Colorado-based TouRig performs Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and (newly for 2020) Ford Transit-based 4×4 adventure van conversions.
Vanlife Customs can build modern or rustic conversions of Sprinter, Transit and ProMaster vans. It can also tailor them to your unique style.
Can I Rent a Camper Van? Yes
If you're not ready to commit to owning a camper van just yet, no worries — you can also try it out by renting one. Check out either of the rental companies below:
Outdoorsy is a peer-to-peer marketplace that connects camper van owners with potential renters in a safe and easy process that includes features like insurance protection and 24/7 roadside assistance.
RVshare is a peer-to-peer marketplace with more than 100,000 recreational vehicles available, with everything from luxury motorhomes to basic travel trailers. Search filters are easy to use and include pet-friendly options.
Want to add a rooftop tent for more sleeping space? Check out these options: