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The Rigs in Camp Now: Which Vehicle to Choose

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We have had some overcast days recently which gives us spectacular sunsets. I took this shot about 3 days ago.

I was asked to post pictures of some of the different rigs of the folks camping with me, so I thought I would do that. The first thing that stands-out is that just about every kind of mobile dwelling is represented here. We have everything from Ken living out of his car in a tent to a very nice 33 foot 5th wheel. In-between we have vans, my cargo trailer, travel trailers, a 14 foot diesel box van, a Class B, a very nice 18 foot Class C, a pop-top camper, and a nice older 24 foot Class C.
But before we look at the rigs, let’s take a look at the demographics of the people camping with me. You would think it was all older men with a fewer middle-aged men or women thrown in. But it is actually fairly balanced. In the last week (some of them have left) there were 19 people camping with me.
The balance of sex is 12 men and 7 women. It comes as a surprise to many people how many women there are living in vans and RVs. But in my experience this is a typical example. Women make up a little less than half of all vandwellers.
Here is how our ages break down: people in their 30s=2; in their 50s=7; people in their 60s=6; people in their 70s=4. That is very typical in my experience. We are mostly people in our 50s and 60 with a small group of older and younger people.
Finally out of those 18 people there were only two couples, 4 people total. And, again, that matches perfectly with my experience. Nearly all vandwellers are single with a few couples sprinkled in here and there. I think vandwellers are so fixated on freedom, that it becomes difficult to share your life with another person. Only a very few have been able to work out that conflict.
Now let’s look at the vehicles we are all living in. Each one of those vehicles has specific pluses that make them perfect for one person, and other minuses that make them a terrible choice for another person. We are all different and there is no one best choice for everybody. So we will take a look at different rigs and see why they were a great choice for each person.

Joeys high top conversion van is a great choice of van to live in.

VAN: There are more vans here than anything else, and there is a good reason for that; vans are an extremely well balanced vehicle for mobile living. They offer a good balance of initial cost, comfort, fuel mileage, stealth and freedom. It’s possible to get a good used van for $1500 and get 15-19 mpg with it. There is enough room for a simple lifestyle and they are extremely easy to drive around town or down a rutted old forest road. They are great for boondocking in the country or stealth parking in town. They aren’t the best at any one aspect of mobile living, but they do everything very well. I think they are an all-around great choice and the best choice for most of us.

Imagine getting 44 mpg! For Ken, the freedom to travel is well worth the loss of comfort.

CAR; But what if you want to travel a lot and live a truly minimal lifestyle? For that nothing beats car-camping. Ken is here in his Toyota that gets 44 mpg. He can sleep comfortably in the car or camp out in a tent. He isn’t as comfortable as most of the other choices, but his incredible fuel mileage allows him to travel more than twice as much as the vans and at least four times as much as the RVs for the same amount of money. For him, that is a trade-off he is delighted to make. Plus, most of us already have a car, so if you are just starting out and the terrible economy has crippled you financially, you don’t have to spend any more money. Go buy a tent and a few camping items, and you are all set for a life of adventure and travel.

Nemo got this nice diesel box van for $5000 and it has enough room to be very comfortable. It allows him to carry his Kawasaki Vulcan motorcycle in total stealth and comfort. It gives him a great life!

BOX VAN: What if you like the idea of a van, but just have to have more room? A box van like Nemos may be perfect for you. His is 8 feet wide and has a 14 foot box so it is enormous inside. With all that extra room it is perfect for: 1)couples or families, 2)someone who works out of the van 3)or if you want to use it as a “toy hauler.” Nemo carries a Kawasaki Vulcan motorcycle in his. It has a diesel engine so he gets 10 mpg, which sounds bad but is actually good for something that large and rugged.
CLASS B: Jake got a really great Class B off of eBay for $2800. That is an unusually good deal, but it just goes to show you that it can be done. He gets decent mpg, has a lot of comfort and it is stealthy enough for him to work and live in L.A. in it. It is an outstanding vehicle if you can find one. I was sure I had a picture of his van, but couldn’t locate it.

This 6×10 converted cargo trailer is my home and is a great compromise for me.

CONVERTED CARGO TRAILER: Another choice is a cargo trailer towed by a van, which is what I have. I choose a cargo trailer because it was cheap to buy and it’s very light so it’s easy to tow. It was empty inside so I designed it just how I wanted it with nothing I don’t want to have. I have a van because I can leave the trailer in a storage yard and take the van on long trips, greatly increasing my mpg and freedom. I think it gives me the best of both worlds: comfort and storage of a trailer, freedom and mpg of a van.

If you want to get further back into the National Forests or BLM desert land, almost nothing does it as well as a pop-top camper on a 4×4 diesel pick-up like this one Bryce owns.

POP-TOP, SLIDE-IN TRUCK CAMPER: Bryce wants to be able to get into the back-country, get good mpg, and live comfortably. For him this slide-in, pop-top truck camper offers all those things. He averages 16 mpg on his Ford Diesel pickup, and because it has 4×4 he isn’t afraid to head off down a rough road. It’s big and comfortable inside and when he sets up camp he can take it off the truck and leave it on the jacks. That lets him use the truck as his daily driver. It really is the best of many worlds.

This small Travel Trailer has a single slide-out and it is very comfortable for Bill and Judy.

TRAVEL TRAILER: Are a great choice for some people. You get all the comforts of home and you can set up camp and drive the tow vehicle as your daily driver. Judy and Bill bought a very nice little trailer with one slide-out, that is great for a couple. They use a van as their tow vehicle so they get extra storage and can take it on overnight trips. Fred wanted more room so he has a 26 foot TT.

5th Wheels offer the ultimate in comfort and good living on wheels. Once you are camped you can drive the pickup as your daily driver. Jerry and Nancy love theirs!

5TH WHEEL: There are very few vehicles as comfortable to live in as a 5th wheel. They also tow much easier than travel trailers. Jerry and Nancy have the hearts of a young vandweller, but their bodies like comfort, so a 5th wheel is perfect for them.

Older Class Cs are very easy to find and very in-expensive. You should be able to find a good used one for $2000-$5000. You can easily tow a small economy car which will give you a balance of great comfort and economy. Bill carries a small scooter instead and gets 80-100 mpg.

CLASS C: Of all the RVs, I like a Class C best of all. Older ones can be picked up very cheap and yet they may still have very low mileage. They have plenty of room and are easy to drive. They can easily be set-up to tow a small, high mpg car. Or you can do what Bill has done and carry a small scooter to drive around once you set-up camp. Don also carries a scooter but he was lucky enough to find an 18 foot Class C which might be the very best Boondocking rig I have ever seen!

Blars very nice Class A.

CLASS A: Blars gave it a lot of thought and decided that a Class A was his best choice when he retired. It’s easy to drive and has plenty of room.
So there you have it, the Rigs and people who are camping with me. I hope you enjoyed this little tour and it gave you some food for thought in choosing your own vehicle. If so, come join us, we will be glad to meet you!! Bob

Part of the year Fred needs to be in one place so he will put this nice Travel Trailer in an RV park. It is big enough to live in for the rest of his life and also small enough to be able to tow easily and go anywhere. It’s the perfect balance for him.

Dodge stopped making vans, but there is no problem getting parts or service for them. Lucy found this one with a 318 V8 which is a superb engine. They are very reliable and can get 16-20 mpg.

4×4 vans are extremely hard to find, but Steve managed to and he loves it. Everywhere he goes people stop him and want to talk about it. It’s a great rig!!

I can’t tell you how much I love Don’s 18 foot Class C. It is very hard to find them that short but if you can–grab it up! He gets 11 mpg and the layout is perfect. Notice he also carries a small bike: a Honda TC 70. Don was just here but I took this photo in Victorville.

Kevin carries a nice little on-road, off-road motorcycle that works extremely well for him.


  1. Wayne (Wirs)

    I’ve been playing with an app (Idea Bucket on IOS, but I’m sure there’s something similar on Android, etc).
    It allows you to add your options (ie: Van, Travel Trailer, 5th Wheel) and criteria (ie: Comfort, Stealth, Urban Access) and assign “weight” to the criteria (how important is stealth to me?), then generates a graph with the results.
    It may help those trying to decide which rig might be the best for them (for myself, a van just edges out a minibus, but both are far ahead of the van+trailer option (for me)).

    • Bob

      Wayne, I will be interested to hear what you think of the app. Is it helpful or just a gimmick? There is no one right rig for everybody, we are all too different. When I moved from my truck with it’s tiny hand-made camper into the cargo trailer, I was instantly much more comfortable. BUT, I lost a huge amount of freedom. Dragging a trailer around is a pain in the butt as as far as I am concerned. While it’s worth it to me, I can understand if it isn’t worth it to you. A van or minibus (I assume you mean a shuttle bus?) are both great choices. I wish you well in choosing. Bob

      • Wayne (Wirs)

        Hi Bob. No it’s legit. For example, just this morning, as I was washing the dishes and putting on more coffee, I thought, “I should add a criteria for “Feels like Home” and see how that affects the standings. My current travel trailer would rate higher in that category, while a van would probably rate lower, and all would affect the overall score which then may provide insights into a decision.
        And I totally agree, each person will value different attributes—for example, extended stays valued higher than urban exploring—which would affect their decision (and be reflected in the app).

        • Bob

          Hi Wayne, the most difficult (and important) thing in life is to know yourself. So I might think I prefer extended stays, plan for it, then discover I actually miss urban exploring more. I’ve talked to lots of people that thought they didn’t need a high-top, bought a low-top, then when their back was killing them knew they made a mistake.
          Anything that helps you sort that all out is a very good thing! Bob

          • Cyrus Palmer

            That’s why I designed my low top’s interior so that I never have to stand up! When it’s done I’ll make a video walkthrough and send it to you.

          • Bob

            Cyrus, I’m looking forward to seeing it! Bob

  2. JohnNTx

    Thanks for sharing the pics Bob. It’s cool to see so many different ways to live mobile.

    • Bob

      John, there are many good choices out there. Something for everybody! Bob

  3. Kim

    Another enlightening post. What fun to see the gamut (from A to C?). I’m always interested in other people’s rigs and why they chose them.

    • Bob

      Kim, thanks for your kind words. I think you found a truly wonderful rig in your Roadtrek! I’m a big fan of them. They are very comfortable and organized and get really good gas mileage. Best of both worlds! Bob

  4. Steve & Zeke the Mountain Dog

    Excellent blog Bob, never thought of all the differences we have with the choices that are out there, yet with the same goals in mind… me I am the type that will take the interstate, to the two lane, to the dirt road, and then to the trail to the end and find my happiness in seclusion… This is not for everyone, but i personally needed this 4×4 van to get my body and soul completely away from all the others i left at every intersection along the way… Total darkness and completely quiet is where i want to be, alone with my dog and nature undisturbed for the duration of my stay when i need it… Others are completely happy with State parks and comfortable with others milling around and the comforting noise that makes them feel safe and happy, to each there own i say… It is all a personal choice, and their choice of rig that fulfills what they are seeking…

    • Bob

      Well said Steve! Variety is the spice of life.

  5. CAE

    Freedom is a great thing!

    • Bob

      CAE, I couldn’t agree more! Bob

  6. John Lamb

    Great post Bob! Seeing what others use is enlightening and educational, and you pretty well covered all the choices. My 6 x 12 rounded bull nose cargo trailer converted with some extra touches inside for comfort and outside for total stealth works for me…..280 watts of solar and 90 watts of wind gives me all the power I need. Finding your site a couple years ago, along with Randy the Mobile Codger, provided me the impetus to build it and get out here with you guys, and it was a decision I have not regretted even once!

    • Bob

      John, man, you are a really smart guy and made a great choice!! And I say that with all humility! Of course I agree with you, converted cargo trailers have a lot of advantages. I too am grateful to Randy for his article on the site that gave me the idea of living in a cargo trailer. I’ve fooled some people into thinking I am smart, but the truth is I hang out with smart people (like Randy) and pay attention to what they say and do. In reality, I am just a sponge!
      I get letters from readers all the time thanking me for promoting vandwelling, and in all this time I have never gotten one that cursed me out because they hated it. Universally, everyone who has tried it loved it, just like you.
      280 watts of solar is great. Where did you get a 90 watt wind generator? Isn’t that unusually small? Bob

      • John Lamb

        The 90 watt turbine is an experiment being funded for me by a company called Gudcraft. It is a vertical axis wind turbine, or VAWT, and the vlades are made of 1/8″ pvc….low wind—needs only a 4mph breeze to start…it is stationary mounted to the roof. Will get you pics on email soon.

        • Bob

          Thanks for the info John. Having a friend with one, I am intrigued by them. I see them working extremely well with solar, but right now the price is prohibitive to me. I hope you can get something going with a 90 watt turbine! Bob

  7. Joy

    Loved the blog! Would love to see more inside pics and interviews of people and their rigs. Maybe one a week or one a month…..just food for thought. Vids would be wonderful, as well.

    • Bob

      Hi Joy, my problem is time. I have lots of things I want to do and not enough time to do them in. But that is a good suggestion and I will try to make it happen. No promises though! Most of the people here are very minimalist, there isn’t much to show. But I will get it done and try to do it once a month. Bob

  8. Calvin R

    Thank you for giving the information about the various vehicles. I especially appreciate the pic and info about Ken’s setup because it’s beginning to look as if I’ll be using something more-or-less similar to that.

    • Bob

      Hi Calvin, a car and tent is a very valid choice. Trisha just got here and she lives in a PT Cruiser which works very well for her. She is surprisingly comfortable in it. The problem in the desert is the wind. You can be stuck inside the car for days at a time, but if you bear that in mind it will work out fine.

  9. Cyndi

    Waaaaaah! I want to be parked among those rigs! It can’t be soon enough!
    Your blog has the best anti spam verifications words. Today’s word is, “connect!” And as a bonus, they are completely readable! No guessing required!

    • Bob

      Cyndi, you will be here soon, and that can’t be soon enough! Bob

  10. Sue

    Just found your blog. I love this post on the styles of travel vehicles. I traveled for 2 years in a 19 foot minnie winnie class c. It worked for me . That was in the mid 90’s before such great internet connectivity. Now I am planning to travel fulltime again in about a year or two form now. Still trying to decide. Am thinking either about a 20 ft. class c. or small travel trailer and vehicle. Leaning towards the class c with a motorbike. One thing is that I have a couple cats and a dog now. I did travel before with a cat. I am not sure how my current cats will do but I suppose they will adapt. Love your blog. I think I will follow it.

    • Abbe

      Hi Sue — as a female traveling alone, I find the Class C all-in-one scenario best for me. One of the reasons is personal safety.
      I used to have a van and trailer, but if I pulled off somewhere in the middle of the night, I would have to move my animals (plus me) from the van to the trailer. In safe areas, no problemo, but once in a while I would be in sketchy areas, or it was pouring down rain. 🙁
      Having everything all-in-one helps so you can just pull off anywhere, turn off your engine, and literally walk right back to your sleeping quarters.

      • Bob

        Very good point Abbe (it comes as a surprise to me you are female!!). That is a huge advantage of a Class C for everybody and especially for women. I should have pointed it out, but didn’t think of it. Fear for my safety is virtually no longer a part of my life so sometimes I forget that for many people it still is. Thanks for bringing it up. Bob

    • Bob

      Hi Sue, this may sound like a bad come-on, but have we met before? I once worked as a campground host with someone who called herself Sierra Sue. I have numerous friends who live in small Class Cs and it works great for them. Have you ever heard of a blog called RV Sue and Crew? I think the way she does it is really great. She tows a Casita trailer with a van. The Casita is very comfortable and light and she gets decent mpg with the van. Check her out:
      Glad you are here! Bob

      • rvsueandcrew

        Hi Bob,
        I appreciate your words about my van and trailer. I’d like to add something re: women and safety. After about 18 months camping in many different situations from a truck stop to an isolated spot on a mountaintop,I found the walk from the van to the trailer is not a concern.
        At first I was going to buy a Class C for that reason alone. I’m glad I didn’t because it wouldn’t have been right for me and my canine crew. I always wonder if women choose the Class C based on the “I don’t have to go outside” fear when another type rig might be more suitable. Nothing against Class Cs… just that one shouldn’t let that one issue carry too much weight when making such a big decision.
        Great post, Bob. Wish I’d thought of it! Ha!

        • Bob

          Sue, I am very honored to have you reading my blog! You were my inspiration for starting it. I never understood the whole blog thing until I found yours. I was amazed to find that I looked forward to your every post and really enjoyed it. So you inspired me to try it myself. Thank you!! I would encourage all my readers to subscribe to Sue’s blog, I think you will be glad you did.
          I agree totally with you that fears for our safety are generally overblown, especially for boondockers. It’s normal to be afraid of something so new, but the overwhelming experience of many, many male and female boondockers is that we are very safe. A Class C has many advantages but one huge disadvantage and that’s the mpg. Few of them get better than 8-10 mpg. A second disadvantage is that unless you tow a car or a motorcycle, you have to break camp for every trip to town. With a van towing a trailer, you can leave the trailer in camp and drive the van to town for supplies or just for sightseeing. Most modern vans can easily get 16-18 mpg and under the right conditions can get 18-20. Burning half as much fuel every year is very appealing to me!! Bob

          • rvsueandcrew

            I’m stunned that anyone would be honored to have ME show up! LOL
            Blogging can be a lot of work, but the rewards make it worth the time and effort. You’re blog is exceptionally well done. In fact, I was surprised to read I inspired you to blog, as I assumed you’d been at it a lot longer than I have.
            BTW, thanks, Bob, for sending readers my way.

          • Bob

            Ahhh Sue, you are being modest, you are a VERY special person worthy of being honored! Honestly, you did inspire me. Go back and you will see my first post was in August of 2012. You are much older than I am! OOPS, I meant your blog, not you. My websites have been around for a long time, but the blog is new.
            You’re right, it is a lot of work, so maybe I should curse you instead of thank you! Just kidding, I too find it very rewarding. I meant to follow your example and keep track of my expenses on the blog but it was just too much work for me so I gave up. I see you are catching up on that.
            If any of my readers are disappointed I quit trying to record my expenses, go to Sues blog, she is still trying to keep track of them.

          • rvsueandcrew

            Please fix you’re to your… Sheesh!

          • Sunny

            I found your blog thru RV Sue’s blog. I had a 89 class C winnebago warrior 21′, 7.5 mpg gas, in very good condition last year but sold it and moved up to a 96 winnebago winnie 29′, 13 mpg avg, 7.3 powerstroke diesel, this last summer. I love this one! I have fill bedroom and enough kitchen space, lots of storage which I needed in order to have room to take my painting supplies with me ( I oil paint) I was afraid to go very far with the smaller one because of how much gas it used. I could actually live very comfortably in this one.

          • Bob

            Wow, you got a much bigger home and nearly doubled your MPG! That was a great find Sunny! As a bonus that 7.3 diesel is a truly great engine, it should serve you well for many years. I loved your blog post about how you have finished the RV. It is beautiful and extremely homey.
            Hopefully we will camp together sometime and you will invite me over for some of that home-made bread. I could almost smell it looking at the photo! Bob

          • Sunny

            To RV Sue…. Actually, Bob’s use of “you’re” is correct, meaning, “you are right”. “Your” is used in showing ownership, as in “your shiney Cassita” :)Ok, forgive me, who cares anyway, lol.

    • Blars

      Some cats adapt to the traveling life, others don’t. I’ve mostly seen indoor cats that stay in the rig all the time, but have seen one leash-trained one and one that knows to come back.

      • Bob

        Blars, you are very right, some cats love vandwelling, others hate it. Oddly enough we have two cats in camp right now. One is an outdoor cat that freely runs around outside. I can’t understand how the hawks and coyotes haven’t gotten it long ago, but somehow it stays safe. It’s strange to come home at night and see a cat running around in the headlights! The other one is strictly an indoor cat and I have never seen it. My friends Johnny and Jen, the owners of (a site every boondocker should be using) have a cat and he is mainly indoors but does go outside as well.
        So cats can work in this life! Bob

        • Varmint

          Greetings, Bob & company….I had to chime in here when I saw your comment about cats. It amazes me that cat hasn’t disappeared also, as coyotes will sell their souls for a housecat. They just can’t seem to leave them alone up here, especially when raising a bunch of pups.
          I’m in the planning stages of my adventure at this time, so info regarding gear will have to wait. I will say that fuel mileage is a major priority for me, so I’ll be working in that direction, even if I have to do it one piece at a time. I have a background in sheet metal construction & welding, as well as electronics, all of which can be very useful for what I want to do. I’ll eventually share info once I begin building. It’ll be half the fun!
          Thanks for the great posts from you and Sierra Sue….I’ve added both of your blogs to my list!

          • Bob

            Hi Varmint, it also amazes me that cat is still alive. I came home back to camp in the dark one day and saw some eyes running across the desert in front of me and my first thought it was a bold coyote or kit fox right in camp. But then it came into view of the headlights and it was my friends cat. Cats are pretty tough animals but they are no match for a pair of hungry coyotes.
            I wish you the best on your new adventure! Keep in touch and let us know your progress.

  11. Ken in Anaheim

    Bob, thanks for doing this. Like Joy says….I’d love to see more interiors and hear how the folks are actually “living”.

    • Bob

      Hi Ken, I’ll work on it! Actually, Cyrus gave me the idea to invite readers to send in photos of their vans and tell me all about themselves. That way everybody wins. You all get more ideas, you get to show off your work which you should be proud of, and I don’t have to work so hard!!
      So everybody, send in photos of your vehicle homes and send me as many details about you and them as you are willing to share. Bob

      • Steve & Zeke the Mountain Dog

        Ken the very cool thing is that it is all personnel choice on the interior… Many go all out and some like me like it basic… the sky’s the limit on your balance of comfort and portability… No two vehicles are alike, which is cool upon itself…

  12. Linda D.

    Bob, great post! I too would enjoy seeing the interior set-ups of these different vehicles…if the people who dwell in them are agreeable to that. I presently own a 2001 Toyota Sienna that gets pretty good gas mileage, and am seriously thinking of using it as my “home on wheels”. I also read Randy’s blog, and enjoy his as well as yours.

    • Bob

      Linda, did you all plan on ganging up on me!!? Okay, I get the message, I will do posts with interior lay-outs and interview the owner.
      It is surprisingly easy to live in a car as a boondocker as long as you live in the right areas. Here in the desert you can spend most of your day outside, and just spend evenings and sleep inside. The same is true of many National Forests in the summer. But there are always times of bad weather, so you need to be prepared and able to spend extended periods inside. A tent is a good solution to that problem. However, in the desert we get such bad winds sometimes that you have to take the tent down or it will blow away. Then you have no choice but be in the car so it needs to be pretty comfortable. Bob

  13. HoboBerg

    Thanks for sharing always interested to see what great ideas people come up with. Look forward to checking out the rigs and modifications soon. Learn a few thing, and hopefully teach a few as well. Good day!

    • Bob

      HoboBerg, necessity truly is the mother of invention and many of us find ourselves in deep necessity. So we create some very interesting things! Bob

  14. Cyrus Palmer

    Great blog Bob! After putting a lot of thought into it, I decided on a van. I wanted a high top camper van, but I ended up trading my car for a 1990 ford econoline e 350 cargo van. I’ve been putting a lot of work into converting it, and its been fun and satisfying! I’ve improved on a lot of the van conversions i’ve seen to make it work better for me, and the contractor van look is perfect for stealth boondocking in downtown Tacoma.

    • Bob

      Cyrus, for stealth parking in the city, nothing beats a cargo van! I also think they are much easier to convert. I can relate to it being satisfying. It’s a good thing to make your own home exactly how you want it. Then it’s “homey”. I’ve been in some vans that were very sterile and actually made me uncomfortable to be in them.
      If you are willing, send me some pixs and I will post them. Bob

      • Cyrus Palmer

        I just have to finish the conversion first! I’ve got the floor and bed done, but I still need to insulate, panel, install the electrical system, install the roof vents and build my counter top and storage. Lots of work yet! It should be a pretty nice van when I’m done though. Untill I save up and buy a sprinter van conversion! Outside Vans builds one called ‘The Mothership’, which I WILL own someday!

        • Bob

          Cyrus, Wow! sounds like you are going to have a great little home! I hope you are taking pictures, I would love to post some on the blog when you get far enough along. I too am a big fan of the Sprinter, but I worry about the cost of repairs down the road. Have you heard anything about that? Bob

          • Andy

            I was all set to buy a sprinter van. Had one selected out, good price and ready to go. I felt hesitant to buy though, so decided to google “sprinter problems”. They have some serious problems which are expensive to fix. There are not many shops that can work on them and the ones that can charge high prices. One problem involves the engine suddenly cutting out. No one seems to have solved that problem. A pity because they make awesome vans to live in.

          • Bob

            I totally agree Andy, they are the ideal van to live in! But you’ve laid out the problems they have very well. Dodge dealers no longer service them so finding a mechanic can be very difficult, even if they are still under warranty. Prices are based on supply and demand and so a mechanic can charge anything he wants because where else can you go? Since they are made by Mercedes, all the parts must come from Germany and are extremely expensive.
            As wonderful as they are, I think you are much better off with a a high-top, full-size American made van. Parts are cheap and abundant and everybody works on them! it’s common to get 16-19 mpg with a late model van so the Sprinter only gets 5 mpg better and it will take millions of miles to make up for the high initial price and extremely high cost of maintenance and repairs.
            If you are buying a car, buying Japanese is as good and probably better, if you are buying a van, BUY AMERICAN! Bob

          • Cyrus Palmer

            Interesting… I hadn’t heard about any of that. That’s disappointing. One of the best things about the sprinter was it is diesel, and that is a hard feature to match with an American high top van…

          • Bob

            Cyrus, it’s my understand that both Ford and Chevy are about to drop their entire old line of vans and switch over to European style vans. The federal fuel mileage standards are simply too hard for them to meet with the old vans. Hopefully we will see some small diesels in them. USA emissions standards are very difficult for diesels to meet, so maybe not.
            It will be a long time before those vans are old enough for me to afford them, but we can dream can’t we! Bob

          • Cyrus Palmer

            After driving my E350 for a few weeks, I think my next van will be a vw westie! I do love my van, but it’s a huge land boat and the milage sucks! I do have plenty of space though. But I’d rather have good mpg and easier handling than extra space, but oh well.

          • Bob

            Hi Cyrus, have you considered a mini-van. The Westies are wonderful rigs but are famous for reliability issues. Many min-vans get better mpg and are much more reliable. Many people full-time in Astros. They make great vans to live in. They don’t get the best mpg, but probably better than a Westie. As a bonus they are readily available in AWD.
            However, nothing is as cool as a Westie!!

          • Cyrus Palmer

            Now that I’ve been looking into it, the ford transit connect seems pretty ideal. 22 mpg city and 27 mpg highway! Proably pretty easy to convert too with those vertical walls. Easy handling, and with nice features too. And the price isn’t bad, but it’ll be even better in a few years, and after the full size transit comes out.

          • Bob

            I think you are very right Cyrus. Another one to look at is the Nissan delivery van. It looks ideal also. For now they are expenesive, even used. But, like you said, the price will come down. The Transit looks a little small for me, but I lived very happily in a 6×7 foot camper for 2 years and it is probably bigger than that.
            Along those lines is the Honda Element, I know some people live in them. Lots of good choices! Bob

  15. Izaak Diggs

    There’s also the Toyota motorhomes from the 70s-90s. They got from 15-20 mpg and you can find a decent one for a few thousand. Isn’t any sort of RV a red flag if you are parking in towns, though? Kind of like a flashing neon sign proclaiming “I’m living out of my car!”?

    • Bob

      Izaak, the Toyota MHs are great little rigs. But, they aren’t perfect, they are underpowered and can’t carry much weight.
      You’re right, if stealth is important then an RV of any kind is a poor choice. A Class B has some stealth but is still not a good choice. Nothing beats a van for stealth. If you need more room then a Box or Step van are great choices. I never had any problem finding a place to park in my box van. Bob

  16. Kitty

    Dear Friends,
    My 7 cats live with me in my hightop cargo van. I designed the van with the cats in mind. I have shelves on both sides of the van. The first shelf is 20 inches above the floor, which leaves plenty of room for 4 cat boxes. the next set of shelves holds my clothing, cooking and food supplies. Since I had designed the van as a hightop (added) I was able to get the conversion guy to put in a cat walk around the inner perimeter. I make up my bunk every night with wooden slats between the shelves. I do not have a camera to show the interior. I wish I did have one. I am an urban van dweller, so I do not have much problem getting rid of garbage, I use a double plastic bag lined bucket with pine pellets and pine shaving for a toilet.

    • Bob

      Kitty, I love cats, but I’m afraid to have them out here. If they got out I’d be afraid the coyotes or hawks would get them and that would break my heart. It sounds like you have done a great job converting your van to make it comfortable for you and your family. Bob

  17. Kitty

    By the way, the cats did scream for a week before they settled down to realizing the van was their home. Now three ride shotgun on the dashboard.

    • Bob

      Cats are much more adaptable than we give them credit for.

  18. PatrickA

    I just stumbled on you blog. I have been looking around at it this evening. Looks like there is a lot of good info.
    Thanks for posting it.
    I found it thru a link from rvsueandcrew.

    • Bob

      Hi Patrick, thanks for you kind words, I appreciate them. Like you, I love Sue’s Blog. Bob

    • Bob

      Jenn It’s an older CT 70. Great little bikes!! He choose it over the Trail 90 because it didn’t interfere with the headlights when mounted up front. It’s so light he can just pick it up one end at a time and set it in the mount. It’s a truly outstanding little rig. There are lots of them still around but you have to be careful that they are titled as street legal. Craigslist in Phoenix will probably have one sometime. Bob

  19. rvsueandcrew

    To Sunny… I wouldn’t belabor this, but I don’t want anyone to think I go around correcting other people’s word usage or spelling!
    When I asked Bob to correct “you’re” to “your,” I wasn’t correcting Bob. I was correcting my own mistake of “You’re blog is exceptionally well done.”

    • Sunny

      Oh… sorry Sue, (2 feet in mouth) I once saw a msg on the side of a barn about war veterans, said, “Your not forgotten”. Drove me nuts! I need a plebotome (however its spelled, haha)

  20. LowTech

    Hey Bob, our plan is to arrive there sometime early Jan. . . . Then you can add our rig to the list 😉
    See you soon,

    • Bob

      Hi LowTech, the more the merrier!! I have everybody fooled into thinking I am smart. But really I am dumb; but smart enough to know to listen to smart people and learn from them.
      I’m already looking forward to what I can learn from you!

  21. Curtis

    Great post Bob,
    Nice to see I have many options to choose from.
    I have pretty much settled on finding a extended cargo van but after seeing your set up makes sense eventually to add a trailer to it.:)

    • Bob

      Thanks Curtis, the best thing about camping with so many other people is seeing the huge variety of vehicles that people make work. I’m glad it is helpful to you and hopefully one of these days I’ll be looking at your rig.

  22. Allanb

    Ditto your thoughts on the sprinters. Love the idea and room of one, but my short search turned up mechanical problems also. Doesn’t make sense as many fleet, delivery etc. you see on the road. The kicker for me was that not every Mercedes dealer works on them. Every state has a dealer but how many of them will service the sprinters? It’s a long tow if you break down in the middle of Nevada or Wyoming.

    • Bob

      Allan, they need so much repair work, and it is so expensive and hard to find that you must learn how to do some or all of it for yourself, then they are great. It’s my opinion that the extreme complexity of meeting EPA emissions requirements has made diesels a very poor choice in 2007 or earlier models. Better to buy gas because the cost of repairs will much more than offset any fuel savings.

  23. Allanb

    We can hope that ford will put 4×4 on their new big van in the next few years.
    I finally bought your book bob, thanks again for all the good info. You beat me to it. I should have written it 10 years ago when living in my van, traveling to different construction jobs.
    Sorry to hear about the rtr. Perhaps your fame and success is catching up with you?
    How is the bike working out?

    • Bob

      Allan, a AWD Transit would be a big hit for Ford!! I’m afraid my notoriety may be becoming a problem. Which bike are you referring to? I sold the electric bike sometime back and I will sell the Honda Rebel this fall. I just found I did not ride either enough to justify them.

  24. Allanb

    I was referring to the rebel. Interesting that you don’t use It enough. Figured that would be just the ticket for running into town for groceries, and scouting other roads, beyond walking distance?

    • Bob

      Allan, the problem is that I am always a few miles back on dirt roads and it is not a pleasant bike on dirt roads. Plus if it’s warm/hot, which it most often is, then you still have to wear helmet, glove and coat, get to the store, strip them off, come out put them on, get to the next stop and strip them off and then put them on, repeat over and over again. Then there is cold, rain and wind, which are a big thing in the desert.
      Worst of all, my dog can’t go–and I hate leaving him home.

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