The Rigs in Camp Now: Which Vehicle to Choose
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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!
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