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 an alternative, off-the-grid lifestyle.
Recent events have made that #vanlife fantasy feel especially poignant. Most of us have spent the past few months stuck at home, and many of us will be looking for vacation alternatives that don’t involve flying. It’s hard to get more social-distancing friendly than a van parked in the great outdoors.
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 a 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 options from both major manufacturers and independent builders are below.
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 Weekender. 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.
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 to the Revel 4×4. Costs typically range between $100,000–$200,000.
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.)
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.