Talk to me about camper vans

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  • Talk to me about camper vans
  • Jezkidd

    I’ve been thinking about getting a camper for a little while – it’ll make going away with the bikes much easier. Also my GF hates camping with a passion but quite likes the great outdoors.

    What should I be considering – I’m not fussed with a hippy van and I have a suspicion that they’re probably expensive anyway. How much should I look to spend on something thats not going to fall apart straight away?



    Premier Icon epicyclo

    Get something big enough. Walking around stooped inside a van is a pain and so is continually bumping into each other. Also big enough means you can chuck the bikes in without dismantling.

    You’re more likely to use the van if you do it that way.


    All camper vans are a compromise. I have hired a few different ones. You just have to choose your compromise

    Small ones drive like cars but tend to have less good kitchen stuff, you cannot have the bed out and sit at the same time and no on board khazi

    Big ones are a pain to drive in towns and on small roads but are super comfy to camp in with proper kitchens and on board khazis. Beds tend to be bigger and more comfy as well.

    Given the cost of one to buy unless you are going to use one most weekends just hire one. That way you get a super duper one with no hassle

    Premier Icon cookeaa

    Long wheel base, high top sprinter I reckon that’s what you want…
    Doubt it’s a cheap option…


    How much do you want to spend?
    I saw a very decent Trannie for £5k last week.

    Go for medium-long wheelbase van, rather than a coach-built. Stadning room is important, as is the absence of bulkhead – you want to get into the back easily in a rainstorm. You can wash in the sink, crap in a bucket at a pinch, so a full washroom suite isn’t a necessity.
    Also get a layout which enables both the side and rear doors to open. It’s more useful than you might think.
    (I’m on my second big van now, 3 yrs with an Iveco Daily, now on a Ducato)

    Premier Icon alfabus

    As TJ said, they are all a compromise. The thing to do is to choose what compromise is best for you.

    I kitted my old van out with complicated folding/sliding beds and a kitchen unit with hob and fridge.

    If I was getting another van (and I am tempted), I’d probably get a crew van (panel van with one removable row of seats behind the driver) with a pop-top roof/bed. Plenty of room for whole bikes (and sofas etc.); comfy bed in the roof and lots and lots of flexibility. Probably stick a coolbox/fridge and a little stove in the back for longer trips – maybe even put swivel bases on the front seats, so you could seat 4 around a small table out of the rain.


    b r

    Also my GF hates camping with a passion but quite likes the great outdoors.

    This is the key phrase, so I can’t image that she go for You can wash in the sink, crap in a bucket at a pinch, so a full washroom suite isn’t a necessity., can you?

    TJ is right, until you’ve tried, you don’t know.

    Premier Icon a11y

    As others say, they’re all compromised to some extent. Best idea would be to hire a few different sizes and see what suits you best.

    We wanted something small enough to double as daily transport and also for accessing pretty much any road in Scotland, so had to be compact. We went with a VW T5 panel van with a mattress in the back for a couple of years although it’s now a complete conversion with popping roof, etc. We were able to think about what we wanted and have a custom conversion to suit our needs. Still lacks a toilet but neither of us have an issue with crapping outside.

    Campervans ain’t cheap though, so be sure you’re going to get use out of one before buying.


    We priced one up a few years ago and decided that a day van was best for lugging gear, sheltering from the rain and drinking tea while looking at the view. Money saved can be spent on B&Bs, rooms in pubs & hotels.

    The reality? We bought a large estate car.

    Premier Icon steveh

    I’m just loading my new coach built up for it’s first trip away tomorrow. I had an extra long high top iveco daily before this and an lt35 lwb hi top before that. The vans have progressed in quality/contents as I’ve gone through them.

    You need to think about where you’re happy for your bikes to live. If you don’t mind them staying outside on a rack at the back your choices are much greater. I wasn’t happy with this though so have my new camper has a garage area at the back for bike storage.

    My new one is a mclouis glen 440, which gives me a double bed over the cab, a single rear bunk at the back (would be 2 but the lower is lost to make the garage area) and if needed another bed can be made out of the table and chairs in the middle. It’s got heating, running water, a shower, hob, grill, fridge etc so I can go away and be self sufficient. Despite being a 6 berth van 4is the most that would be comfy in it and 2 people would be the nicest option.

    Cost wise you’re right that vw’s carry a big scene tax and are for me best avoided. I’d suggest you go and look at a few to get some ideas and think about the facilities you need. If you plan to be on sites most of the time then you can get away with a lot less than if you want to be entirely self sufficient.

    Premier Icon cookeaa

    How about a side fixing van awning, you can get some quite good roll up ones now, quick to deploy, extends your rain sheltered area quite a bit, allows you to claim quite a big undercover pit area, especially if you can’t quite swing a “Big” van straight away…

    Does no one else think that this:

    which gives me a double bed over the cab, a single rear bunk at the back … It’s got heating, running water, a shower, hob, grill, fridge etc

    Is a little ironic when followed by this statement:

    I can go away and be self sufficient

    It’s probably just me and my [irrational?] hatred of caravans ;-P


    I got this, was used for motocross, it has the garage in the back, and all your usual campervan comforts.
    It’s great for day rides, or a full week, been a winner this year when my lad has been xc racing.
    Plus, I like driving big vans, so no hassle for me.

    Premier Icon bigjim

    I owned a Toyota Hiace poptop, its a good size, in a strong wind I wouldn’t want anything bigger!


    Cheap estate car with a mattress in the back.



    get one, right now!
    i have a little connect i converted into a camper and its amazing. Ok its small, but that means its warm cheap and easy to drive/park.
    its my surf/bike/snowboard wagon. We did a week last yr at -16 and its been fine, i go away most weekends because i can. FC carparks are great for an overnight stop and you wake up at the trails before anyone else is there – how cool is that! i love mine, although parents have just picked up their T5 with pop up roof and being able to stand up inside is cool!! if i had the money id get a bigger van, but couldnt live with a big sprinter…you have to find a compromise especially when you think of the small roads where some trails are?


    If you really want to go camping in style you need something like this

    Extendable sides and everything.lottery money though.

    Sell the car(s), buy a Bongo and small driveaway awning. Towball mounted Thule rack. Spend the change on a long trip to Scotland then the Alps. One of the best decisions we’ve made recently.


    This is my self build, an Iveco Daily MWB;

    If you are thinking of a professional conversion then the red and silver van in the background is the sort of thing I’d go for, its a Hymer based on a Ford Transit, european layout which includes a fixed bed at the back with garage underneath, big enough for bikes. Has a shower room and four belted travel seats as well 🙂 Less than 6 metres long IIRC.

    Premier Icon Davesport

    Have a look on Fleabay. Not from the point of making a purchase, but it’ll give you a good idea of what’s available at your price point. Your budget’s important as this will dictate a lotof what you can & can’t have. If you’re buying a factory built van IE not a conversion, don’t worry too much about which base vehicle it’s built around. They tend to do low mileages & be well looked after. If you’re spending a couple of bob invest in a damp meter & take it with you when you go to view. Use it to check around all the apertures cut through the vehicles skin. Damp can be a huge & costly problem.

    There’s a show on at the NEC if February & it’s worth a look to see exactly what sort of options you can have. It will help you narrow down the things you “need” & the nice to have’s. There’s only a couple of options for transporting bikes. Either a rack mounted on the back or a garage. If you opt for a rack, invest in some good locks & a full cover for the bikes with a lockable drawstring through the base. Bikes get clarty (& nicked)if left exposed.

    Picture taken at Laggan.

    I can get 4 big bikes plus my little lads bike in the garage above & still have a bit of room for the gear. If you could be more specific about what you’re intending to buy I may be able to give you a few pointers.


    Orange Crush

    “and no on board khazi”

    Doubt whether I could ever have persuaded the GF to go anywhere with me if it involved an on board khazi……………

    Despite my enthusiasm for one in the porch of the tent.

    Premier Icon ampthill

    I think you have to rent one for a bit…..

    Premier Icon myheadsashed

    One day I will convert a Mercedes Vario 4×4……… 8)

    Have a look on http://www.Expedition it’s a great site.


    This is mine, taken on a fairly manky day at the start of the Lochgilphead Fire Trail.

    Loads of room in the garage for bikes (I’ve only had 3 in so far but fitting more in wouldn’t be a problem) and it’s very nice after a muddy ride to come back and get showered.


    Best thing to do is take a look at some camper vans
    and look at what floor plan suits you and buy a van
    of similar size and build it around your van


    Ours is great, we love it. Would recommend maybe hiring one for a weeks holiday or buying a cheap one to start off in case you don’t like it. We spent £6000 on a 20 yr old one 2 yrs ago, loved it so part ex’d it against a much newer shiner one last May. Ours is 6.5 meters long and I don’t think you would want it to be any longer if you want to get around little roads as they get a little harder to maneuver. Having said that, on a couple of occasions we’ve been a bit nervous of heading down a road only to end up following an arctic lorry type thing so its surprising what you can get them round. Ours has a fixed double bed at the back which is awesome because I’m a lazy cow and cant be bothered to make beds up all the time. Its got a garage underneath we can put the bikes and a whole ton of other stuff in, loads of room. If I was you I would go to something like the boat and caravan show and look at hundreds and talk to people about what you want then you can google something much cheaper. Ours is an ’06 and was around the £30k mark so they are not cheap! But good fun and very comfy……….

    IMG_3852 by fluffyfluffybunny55, on Flickr

    Sorry for the mamouth post! I love talking about my van though 🙂

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