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There’s nothing better than the great outdoors!
If 2020’s taught us anything, it’s that sometimes we might just be best off vacationing in our own country. Join the van life.
That’s why every family needs a camper van and why we’ve put together this guide to the best camper vans for 2021.
One thing we would like to stress though is that we wouldn’t rush out to buy a camper van based on reviews alone.
As you’ll see later on, we really recommend that you try one out before you buy it and we’d recommend you rent one through Outdoorsy for a weekend, at a minimum, first.
The 5 Best Camper Vans For 2021
In the 1960s when camper vans started to get popular, there was only one real option when it came to camper vans.
You either bought a VW or you cobbled together some homemade monstrosity and hoped that it stayed in one piece while you were out on the road.
In 20220, you have a ton of choices and most of them are great. So, we’ve rounded up our 5 favorite camper vans but we won’t pretend that they’re your only options.
In fact, there are so many different campers to choose from now that you could spend a year checking them all out.
The Volkswagen California Camper Van
VW is indelibly associated with camper vans and it’s for good reason.
This is a supremely well-balanced model with everything you could expect from German driving technology in the form of top level safety features and with plenty of choice for purists (yes, there’s a manual option, and even all wheel drive!).
The design for the pop-top roof means you can easily get 4 adults comfortably sleeping inside.
The removable dining area is so easy to put away when you don’t need it. Easy breezy van life!
You simply can’t go wrong with the California Camper Van.
It may not look flashy but it’s got everything where it counts. We especially love the model with the pop-top roof and all wheel drive.
Winnebago Revel 4 x 4
We’d argue that the other big brand of camper van is Winnebago, and this Winnebago Revel is a beast of a vehicle.
As you’d expect from a 4 x 4 it can tackle the harshest of terrain without many complaints and even the steepest climbs are simple when you’ve got 325 lbs./ft of torque at your command.
We love the fact that they went with solar power to keep the huge electrical system online at all times.
You’ve got a fridge, a heater, a stove and more. That means you won’t be lugging a load of propane around with you too.
The Winnebago Revel is a perfect little van. Though when compared to other campers it may be a sort of “small camper”.
Chinook Bayside Camper Van
If you want to go upmarket, and let’s not be shy about this, the Chinook Bayside costs as much as a house does in some parts of the country, this is the camper van for you.
You get room for 6 “executive” chairs in all configurations and that’s not all there is to it.
There’s a real porcelain toilet and we know that some people can’t leave home without a proper bathroom facility.
You get an incredible security monitoring system and it’s all built around the Maybach and Sprinter series of Mercedes vehicles.
If you’ve got the cash, you might just fall in love with a van like this one. Join the van life in style!
Outside Van Wanderlust
From expensive to affordable in one quick leap.
This is a Sprinter-based camper van that won’t cost you a fortune and it does so by cutting down on excess and not by sacrificing the comforts that you really need.
There’s very little in the way of flashy “wow” factor but if you spend a lot of time in the great outdoors this won’t’ let you down.
You get a full kitchen, a really big space to sleep in, a generous cargo hold, a massive roof rack (which makes taking bikes or additional equipment so easy) and even a full shower system!
The only thing missing is well, a toilet. So, make sure to park somewhere near a convenience or be prepared to get really in tune with nature.
The Doubleback Van
The inner child in us calls to the Doubleback Van.
This is not so much an exercise in buying a camper van as it is taking the first step in owning a real life TransformerTM.
The Doubleback Van lets you slide out the rear compartment to provide you with an additional 6 feet of indoor space when you’re parked up.
It’s not the lightest thing (that pod weighs 300 lbs. but it’s easy enough to move around) but it can take nearly a ton of additional weigh inside it!
That means if you really want a lot of space when the rain starts coming down, you can have it without compromising on the quality of your ride!
The 3 Best Ways To Get A Camper Van In 2021
OK, before you rush out and buy one of our 5 best camper vans, we think that you might want to consider renting one first as we said at the beginning of this piece – owning a camper van is a very personal thing and they’re not cheap.
It’s always best to try before you buy than to rush out and buy a camper van, drive it for a few thousand miles, hate it and then sell it at a massive loss. That’s not the best use of your money or time.
So, we suggest that you start by renting one.
Rent One (From Outdoorsy)
In our minds, there’s really only one place that you would want to rent a camper van from in the United States and that’s Outdoorsy!
Well, there are, of course, hundreds (if not thousands) of car rental companies including international, national and local. But most of these rental companies don’t specialize in any particular type of vehicle.
Outdoorsy does specialize. They only do RV rentals (including camper vans and travel trailers) and they know what it takes to experience the magic of the outdoors in style.
That means when you rent from Outdoorsy, you get a camper van that’s suitable for camping and not one that’s been stripped down for other uses.
They can connect you with the vehicles that you want and link you directly to that vehicle’s owner – no middleman involved. You can then book your dates, arrange to collect or have it brought to you.
You can also be positive that you are covered by 24/7 roadside assistance throughout your trip for piece of mind.
Once you’ve tried a few different vans then you will probably have a good feel for what’s right for you and then it might be time to buy one. See where the van life takes you.
Try before you buy! Check out Outdoorsy RV Rentals – Your #1 Trusted RV & Teardrop Rentals. Rent Local RVs For Less With $1M Insurance Included. Plan Your Outdoor Family Adventure Now! Check Availability Here
Buy One (Pick One Of Our Top 5)
We’d like to think that our Top 5 van list has got your appetite whetted and that you’re starting to think of adding a camper van as a permanent addition to your life.
As always, we’d encourage you to try out the specific model you are thinking of buying for a weekend or two through Outdoorsy – it really can pay to be certain that the model meets all your needs.
If our 5 favorites above don’t tickle your fancy we can also recommend the Peugeot Rifter 4 x4, the RB Components Sawtooth Touring Van, Fiat Ducato Camper Van, the Sportsmobile Mercedes-Benz 4 x 4 Sprinter and the Hymercar Camper Van as alternative options.
It’s always best, we think, to buy your van through a reputable dealer who can provide ongoing servicing as well as parts and labor as required.
If you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for out there in the world of camper vans, there is one final option. You could build one yourself.
Seriously, check out our recent review of the book Skoolie! which teaches you how to convert a school bus into a camper van.
It’s a really easy process and the big advantage of a school bus is it’s much safer and easier to drive than a camper van and has more space inside.
You could also take a look at this article on Curbed which runs down a bunch of camper vans from last year which were custom fitted by their owners.
We think they’ve got some amazing ideas and they cover pretty much all budget points too.
If you’re DIY-minded then there are some very good reasons to opt for building your own camper van and the project could be a huge amount of fun too. Join the van life with a custom style.
Just make sure that your bespoke vehicle complies with all your local regulations before you put it on the road.
Last Word on Camper Vans
The easiest way to enjoy America is to live on the road.
Whether it’s for a short period of time when you get a vacation or even if it’s for a longer and more permanent way of life. There are so many options for comfortable and useful camper vans now that it seems a shame to miss out.
One thing you might want to bear in mind though is that you almost always need an additional source of power for a camper van. Check out our article on your best choices for portable generators to get some ideas on that front.
Searching for the perfect camper? Check out our guide to the best teardrop trailer campers.