Body type Camper van: What you should have in mind when buying
The camper van is the all-in-one among the camping vehicles: A multifunctional all-rounder, the perfect combination of everyday car and motorhome. Handy enough to find a parking spot when shopping in town and with sufficient space for a weekend trip away or camping holiday.
What is the difference between a camper van and a motorhome?
The trend towards camping buses and camper vans remains unchanged: For years they have made up the largest proportion in diverse range of different motorhome classes, and sell better than semi-integrated, integrated and alcove motorhomes. The reason is quite simple: The base vehicle for the conversions is a light transporter such as the VW bus or easy to handle delivery van like the Fiat Ducato. This means they score points with their crash-tested full steel bodywork, their similar handling and comfort to a normal car, and their modern driver assistance systems.
Furthermore, the external measurements of compact base vehicle are generally perfect for using standard garages or underground car parks, and parking spots in towns. In other words, camper vans are ideal as second vehicles for everyday use, for example for shopping (with a fridge on board), taking kids to nursery, school or to sports events. The camper van offers sufficient space in an easy to handle format for sporty singles and couples wanting to take their kit, be it a mountain bike, paddleboard, skis, or paraglider, with them into the countryside and even stay there overnight. And, after all, a camper van used every day is generally quicker to prepare for a spontaneous long weekend than a motorhome that has been standing unused for a while.
What equipment should a camper van generally have?
In principle, you don’t need a lot to feel comfortable in a camping vehicle: Sleeping, cooking, washing, sitting. In the pioneer era of camping buses, these requirements were fulfilled with little more than a bench that could be turned into a bed, a little washing up bowl, a spirit stove, and a spade and a roll of toilet paper. Today, a normal camper van usually has a bench with table as basic furnishing (depending on the size and model also with swivel cockpit seats), a kitchenette with gas hob and coolbox or fridge and, depending on the size of the vehicle, a Porta Potti or a complete bathroom facility with toilet, washbasin and shower. There is also at least a sleeping area for two persons as standard. This is usually a double bed at the rear of the camper. Additional beds, depending on the vehicle type, are available as a convertible seating arrangement or under the roof.
And “roof” isn’t simply “roof”. There are camper vans with a normal flat roof, pop-top (sleeping) roof, high roof or even a small alcove (these are those with a ‘nose’ like an upturned bow of a boat over the cab). Depending on the height and type, they offer sufficient headroom, plenty of storage space or even a double bed.
How many features should a camper van have?
Just how many comfort features a camper van needs depends not only on the number of inhabitants, but also on their requirements and preferred holiday regions: In the far north, an effective diesel or gas heating system is essential so that you are not reliant on campsites. If you prefer to use the infrastructure at campsites or pitches and travel south, then full on-board bathroom facilities are less important. And if you’ll be using the vehicle mostly for weekend sports, then you may find an outside shower is sufficient. On the other hand, restaurant tourists or city tourists may decide not to bother with a proper kitchenette.
What role does weight play in the camper van?
As with all the other motorhome classes, there is the question of transport capacity and therefore weight. The answer depends on the type of holidaymaker you are and the extent of your leisure activities, and primarily concerns the storage capacity and payload. The latter value is the difference between the “mass of the vehicle in running order” (column G in the vehicle registration certificate) and the “technically permissible maximum mass” (column F.1). In the first instance this is theoretical because any ordered optional extras or those purchased from a dealer must also be included in the calculation, e.g. canopy, bicycle rack, etc.
How long should a camper van be?
A camper van of 5.99 metres long is sufficient for a 2+ person holiday. Parents with small children should consider a larger camper van (maximum length 7.00 metres) – or even better consider a semi-integrated, integrated or alcove motorhome in the same category.