Vans, Trailers, Campers, Oh My! Here’s All You Need to Know About #Vanlife
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Vans, Trailers, Campers, Oh My! Here’s All You Need to Know About #Vanlife

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By Marissa Hermanson
Van life is not just for ski bums and hippies. And these days the recreational vehicle industry is more than massive motor coaches.

There are campers, teardrop trailers, converted vans, and high-end motor homes that include all the comforts of home. And a lot of these homes on wheels take form and function into mind with smart, beautiful design.

Here at Dwell we are paying more attention to nontraditional residences. Along with featuring other fun and unique spaces like cabins, houseboats, and treehouses, our new weekly "Out There" column will explore those who live on the road along with their nomadic dwellings.

If you’re new to #vanlife and considering hitting the road yourself, there’s an endless array of motor homes these days. Not sure where to start? Here’s a few options to help you navigate the vast market of recreational vehicles.

Trailers + Teardrops

Airstream

With four floor plans to choose from, Airstream's Caravel trailer packs all the fancy bells and whistles, like a kitchenette and cozy bath.

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As far as trailers are concerned, there’s the classic aluminum-clad Airstream, which sleeps anywhere from a couple to a family of eight. The Bambi ($48,900+) and Caravel ($60,900+) are Airstream’s most compact and easy-to-tow trailers, coming in at 16, 19, 20, and 22 feet. The pint-sized spaces include two sleeping spots and a dinette, kitchen, and bathroom.

Vintage Overland

Vintage Overland’s super-light Tuco teardrop can be hitched to most small vehicles.

Vintage Overland’s sleek and compact teardrops are designed with function in mind. Each tiny capsule includes solar panels, a Goal Zero generator, and a memory foam mattress. With an aluminum exterior and wood interior, the design is beautiful as well. The Tuco ($12,500) is light enough to be towed by a small vehicle, and the larger Great Escape ($15,000) has a storage boot for gear. 

Happier Camper

Happier Camper's shell is available in seven different colorways, and an interior can be configured however you like.

Happier Camper’s retro design evokes a nostalgic feel. Designed with a modular system in mind, the HC1 trailer allows you to configure the space however you please. Models range from $24,950 to $31,625, and there’s also the option to purchase add-ons to tailor the space to your needs, with upgrades like a dry-flush toilet, outdoor shower and generator.

Tiny Camper

Tiny Camper's boot opens up into a mini kitchen. The teardrop’s exclusive model includes a gas stove, sink with water pump, and refrigerator.

Cute and cozy, the Tiny Camper trailer starts at around $9,800 for the basic Eco model. The Lithuania-based company can ship the teardrop internationally. And they also sells DIY kits so you can assemble the chassis yourself for a fraction of the price.

AntiShanty

While AntiShanty's durable aluminum hull is perfect for stowing all your outdoor gear and heading into the wilderness, it also can be outfitted with the comforts of home.

Out this month, AntiShanty is a sleek 60-square-foot aluminum trailer that caters to an outdoor enthusiast’s needs. The Base model ($29,900) stores all your gear and has a queen bed/picnic table combo. And the Plus ($39,900) is a home on wheels with two queen beds and a stove, furnace, toilet, and road shower, among life’s other little luxuries.

Living Vehicle

Living Vehicle's 2020 model recently launched. It includes all sorts of fun, new high-tech add-ons, making full-time life on the road a breeze.

While most recreational vehicles are for weekends and vacations, Living Vehicle was designed with living on the road full-time in mind. Starting at $199,000 the new 2020 model (out this week) is larger than the original version, has more off-grid capabilities, and is customizable with all sorts of fun upgrades. Think washer-drier combo, drop-down beds, and a home theater.

Campers, Vans + 4x4s

Airstream

Airstream's sleek line of motor coaches includes the Interstate Nineteen, which sleeps two. Coming in at a compact 19 feet, the van is easy to handle on the open road.

While Airstream is known for its timeless trailer, the company also has several lines of sleek motor coaches, which range from the cozy 19-foot Interstate Nineteen ($152,225+) to the deluxe Atlas model ($235,714+). The luxury van interiors include beautiful wood paneling and leather seating, along with fully equipped kitchenettes and bathrooms.

Winnebago

Housed in a Ram ProMaster, Winnebago's Travato model sleeps two and includes a kitchen, dinette, and wet bath.

Known for its big motor coaches, Winnebago also has a line of vans made from the Mercedes-Benz and the Ram ProMaster chassis. The more affordable Travato, which starts at around $118,000 has four floor plans to choose from. And the top-of-the-line Boldt has all the trappings for nearly $200,000.

Rivian

Backed by Ford and Amazon, Rivian's new all-electric vehicles are hitting the market in 2020.

On a smaller scale, there’s also the option of going with a 4x4 vehicle like the all-electric, American-made Rivian. Both available for pre-order with delivery in late 2020, the R1T truck ($69,000+) and R1S SUV ($72,500+) are built with al fresco living in mind. The gear storage tunnel underneath the car to be outfitted with a camp kitchen. And there’s also a tent platform on the bed of the truck.

ModVans

The Ventura, California–based company rigs Ford Transits using a modular design based on each customer's needs. The van can sleep four, and it can even be outfitted with a toilet. 

If you are looking for a van that has been converted into a cozy abode, there are a few companies who can do the work for you. 

ModVans launched their CV1 model in summer 2017. With pricing starting at $78,475, the souped-up Ford minivan has a top that pops and a modular build so that customers can mix and match the features (think furnace and propane tank) that they desire. The company also offers RV financing to boot.

Outside Van

Buy a completed conversion or bring your own van to Outside Van, a custom shop in Portland, Oregon.

Portland, Oregon’s Outside Van converts Sprinter vans and Ford Transits. Buy a camper that is already completed or send them your van to rig to your liking. Since it’s a fully custom shop, the vehicle is unique to you with prices dictated based on your needs. They charge $19,000 for a basic conversion, or you can get all the bells and whistles for $200,000. 

Want to tell us your own "Out There" story? See our submissions guidelines here.

Related Reading:

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The Best Campers and Trailers For Less Than $40K