Van life travel is a great way to see the world and explore nature; travelling in a van allows you to see places that regular holidaymakers wouldn’t visit and to discover areas off of the tourist track. Living the van life in a compact camper van allows you to travel to places that may be out of reach compared to a large campervan. The easy access to remote locations is one of the reasons that micro campers are gaining in popularity so much; it is fantastic to be able to take your tiny home with you on any off grid adventure. Today we’re going to create a list of the best small campers and discover the best small RV for road adventurers.
But what is an RV? RV stands for ‘recreational vehicle’ and any vehicle with living quarters onboard counts; it could be a campervan, a fifth wheel, a motorhome, a truck camper, or a pop-top camper. Today we’re going to be looking at smaller RVs as, on top of being able to get to remote locations, small campers have loads of positive points. Small RVs are more affordable tiny homes, compared to a large campervan; if you want a cheap camper, then you need to go small. They also take less fuel to run, so keep van life costs low; they are easy to drive and park and contain all of the van life essentials that you will need for an epic adventure. If you are looking to travel in a van and want a more compact model, then read on for the ten best small RVs.
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1. HymerCar Free
First up on our list to find the best small RV is the HymerCar Free. The Hymercar Free is built within a Fiat Ducato van and would make a great first motorhome as it is compact and drives just like a car. This campervan is comfortable to drive thanks to the axially adjustable steering wheel and the seats. All controls are easy to reach and simple to use. The 2019 campervan even has a fully automatic transmission, which can be challenging to find in larger motorhomes. The Fiat Ducato is a comfortable vehicle to drive and is also quiet when on the road, good news for those travelling with young children. The boxy square shape of a Fiat Ducato creates an excellent base for a campervan conversion as space isn’t compromised due to rounded edges, meaning more storage can be squeezed inside.
Inside the campervan and you will find everything you need for the ultimate adventure and can sleep up to five people. At the back of the van is the first double bed that can be easily moved to either side, thanks to a segmented mattress and slatted base, to store larger items of gear (bikes etc.) while driving. The second double bed is found in the optional pop-top roof, which is an excellent option for families, and a single bed can be made by adding an extra cushion to the seating area at the front of the van. As well as the beds this van has a spacious kitchen area with a 65litre fridge, two hob burner, sink, extendable worktop and plenty of storage. To eat and relax, sit at the table at the front of the van that has a two-seater bench seat and the rotating front seats. This is a great space for two to five people and would make a brilliant tiny home. The HymerCar Free starts at £62,250
2. VW Caddy Camp Maxi
From the big to the tiny, up next on our list to find the best small RV is one of the smallest campers out there; the VW Caddy Maxi. Today we are going to be looking at The Caddy Camp Maxi, a conversion by British company CMC. This micro camper is designed for those who want to use their camper as an everyday car, as well as for getting out adventuring. A key element to achieving this is by keeping all five seat-belted seat inside the vehicle to allow the whole family safely on board. When it becomes time to use the vehicle as a camper, these chairs simply fold down and become part of the internal layout.
Inside the RV there is a small, but functional, kitchenette with sink and running water, one ring camping stove, fridge and food preparation space. Hidden beneath the seating area is a portable toilet, which is excellent if you have kids on board. The seating area in the camper converts into a double or single beds and an extra bed can be added in the pop-top roof. The pop-top roof in this VW Caddy conversion is a real game-changer, giving enough room to stand up and sleep extra people, making the whole trip a much more comfortable experience. This conversion (vehicle included) comes in between £36,354 and £38,846 depending on the model chosen, not bad for a campervan and car in one.
3. Sportsmobile Classic 4×4
The next camper on our list to find the best small RV is one for the adventurous vanlifers, the Sportsmobile Classic 4×4. If you’re looking for an RV that will be both comfortable to live in but will also be able to take you wherever you want to go, without needed to worry about road conditions, then this is the camper for you. The Sportsmobile Classic 4×4 is built around a Ford Cutaway Chassis; this is moulded with a steel reinforced fibreglass shell for a streamlined result. With all of the 4×4 add ons this camper is a beast and will easily take you up the most rugged tracks, giving you the best views and camping spots possible.
Inside the Sportsmobile Classic, you will find everything you need with a kitchenette with fridge, microwave, sink and cooktop. A fold-out bed at the back provides a comfortable sleeping area, or opt for the double bed in the pop-top roof. The bed doubles as a comfy seating area in the day which, paired with the swivel seats in the front, allow for plenty of chilling space. There are lots of storage areas, including space for a Porta Potti. Outside there are solar panels to power the electrics, space for gear and units on the doors so you can cook outside. Perhaps the best thing about the Sportsmobile Classic is that it is custom made, so the final layout decision and what extras come with your vehicle is down to you. The cost for this RV depends on your chosen options, but you’re looking at spending upwards of $95,000.
4. Four Wheel Camper
Next up on our list to find the best small RV is a truck camper from Four Wheel Campers. Truck campers are a great option if you already own a truck or would like to be able to go off-road with your camper. Four Wheel Campers are great as you can slide them on and off your truck, meaning it can still be used as a regular vehicle. Their campers pop down, so you have a streamlined driving experience but also have plenty of standing room once inside with the top popped. A Four Wheel Camper can be fitted onto most truck beds, and they have a basic model starting at an affordable $8995 up to the elite flatbed model that is priced from $28,995. Today we’re going to look at a mid-range Hawk slide-in model that starts at $19,395.
The Hawk model features, like all Four Wheel Campers, a slide-out bed above the cab area. The bed is a comfortable double and allows all of the floor space to be left free for the living area. These campers are built to your specifications, so the layout varies but inside you can have a kitchenette with a stove, fridge and sink, a seating area with a table or just a sofa space, an interior shower, a Porta Potti and even an extra fold-out single bed. The inside of these campers are comfortable and, paired with a good truck; you’ll be able to spend the night in the most remote camping spots, surrounded by nothing but nature.
5. Classic VW Bus
We are at the halfway point on our quest to find the best small RV, and with our next camper, we’re going back to basics with the original campervan, The VW Bus. Everybody knows and loves the classic campervan that is the VW Bus, with its retro look and popularity this camper had to make the list. The VW Bus first came out in the 1950s and we are still very much in love with the cute and quirky design. If you’re after something eye-catching, then this is the RV for you. Of course, all models are now second hand, so price and condition vary greatly. Be sure to invest in a vehicle with an engine that is going to continue to run for your upcoming adventures.
Inside the classic VW is a bit of a squeeze, compared to some of the newer RVs out there. However, they can still be a comfortable vehicle to live the van life in with some modern upgrades such as electrics to run a fridge and lights. The classic rock n roll bed allows for a comfortable sleeping space at night and a large chill-out area by day. If you fancy a little more room, then go for a VW Bus with a pop-top roof, this will give you space to stand up and sleep extra people in a rooftop bed. The classic VW is the cutest camper out there, but it might not fare so well on off-road tracks- worth bearing in mind for the modern adventurer!
6. Land Rover Defender Camper
Next up on our list to find the best small RV is this fantastic Land Rover Defender conversion by Camper Hus. By converting a Land Rover Defender into a camper, you are ensuring that you have an amazing off-roading vehicle as your campervan. In this off-road camper, you would be able to call almost anywhere home for the night, as the Land Rover has excellent driving abilities and can cruise along the hardest of off-road tracks. The Land Rover isn’t massive, so it would be a compact camper van, but a pop-top roof adds extra height to the vehicle, allowing you to stand up without compromising the driving experience.
Inside this small campervan, you will find everything you would expect in any motorhome. There is a comfortable seating area that converts into a double bed, a sink unit with two cupboards, a housing for the fridge and several more cupboards, storage under all seats, a portable toilet and a full camper electrics system. Solar panels can also be added to the vehicle to ensure you never run out of power when you’re off the grid. Camper Hus can also upgrade your vehicle with features such as a snorkel, additional exterior lighting and new wheels to ensure your Land Rover is ready for any road. The conversions start at £12,000
7. Ford Nugget
Up next on our list to find the best small RV is the Ford Nugget, a custom campervan from Ford and Westfalia. This mini RV is built inside a Ford Transit Van, known for their reliability and durability. This camper will be able to take you wherever you want to go for years to come. While a Ford Transit Van may be pretty small for a camper, a tilted roof that can open when parked quickly and easily increases interior space. As this pop-top is lowered when on the road, your driving experience will be smooth and streamlined, similar to driving a large car with no road too narrow for a Transit Van and no parking space too small. Driving a small RV opens up the possibilities of when to go, compared to driving a huge camper van.
Inside, the Ford Nugget can comfortably sleep four adults (or two adults, two kids) two on the permanent high-level bed and two on the seating area that converts into a large double bed. These two sleeping options are a clever way to squeeze four people into a small space, allow this to be a vehicle for the whole family. Aside from the sleeping areas, inside there is a kitchenette with a cooker, sink, fridge and countertop space to prepare tasty meals while on the road. There is also plenty of multi-function storage space, perfect for storing clothes and gear and a booth seating area for five with a table in the middle. The use of space in the Ford Nugget shows that small can be mighty. Even mightier is the starting price point of just £56,000.
8. EarthCruiser EXD
At number eight on our list to find the best small RV we have the EarthCruiser EXD Truck Camper. The EarthCruiser EXD is mounted onto either a Ford or Ram, both of which have proven their worth on the road and are known to be reliable, comfortable and durable vehicles. These trucks can tackle off-road tracks, leading you to beautiful and adventurous locations. The EarthCruiser EXD is purchased with the chassis, and it is not designed to slide on and off but to be a permanent camper. This means that you’re always ready to go and that an epic road trip is only a turn of the ignition away.
Inside the EarthCruiser EXD is a comfortable space for two people to enjoy. The roof of the camper pops up to allow for more standing room when inside. The extra space allows for more room to move around and for panoramic views through the many windows, allowing you to feel closer to nature even when you’re inside. The camper has a double bed that converts into a seating area, a kitchenette with sink, fridge/freezer, induction cooktop and storage space, toilet and shower. The leisure batteries that power the camper are charged by the roof-mounted solar panels, allowing you to be off-grid for longer. We love the EarthCruiser that starts at $185,000.
9. VW California Coast
We’re coming to the end of our list to find the best small RV and up next is the VW California Coast (T6.1). We have already visited the original VW bus on our quest to find the best small RV, so let’s see what VW has come up with several generations later. The California Coast is the mid-range option in this current collection of VW campers, sitting between the VW Beach and the VW Ocean and coming in at a modest starting price of €37,000. The VW California Coast comfortably sleeps and seats four so is perfect if you are travelling as a family or with friends. This vehicle has a comfort dashboard with all the techy add on expected in a modern car as well as built-in blackout blinds to ensure a better nights sleep.
The mains living area may be small, but it has everything you need for a comfortable adventure. The manual pop-top roof ensures there is enough room to comfortably stand up inside, as well as providing space for a rooftop bed for two. The other bed is made by collapsing the seating area, allowing space to sleep four. The kitchen that cleverly expands over some of the seats to provide more preparation space is well designed to fit inside the RV. The kitchen comprises of the preparation space, sink and cooker and a 42-litre cooler. Thirty-five litres of water storage ensures that you have enough water on board to last for your trip. There is also enough room on board to store clothes and outdoor gear for your adventure.
10. El Kapitan Custom
Last, but not least, on our list to find the best small RV is a custom-built RV from El Kapitan, master van converters for Mercedes Sprinters, Ford Transit and Dodge Promaster. El Kapitan has been converting vans for decades- since 1984- and deliver to USA, Japan, China, Russia and the Middle East. They are experts in making your dream conversion come true, and each conversion is made from scratch to fit your requests. The van we are looking at today even has a piano in it (a real piano, not a keyboard!) which goes to show that El Kapitan will find a way to make your ideas work.
On top of pianos El Kapitan conversions also offer all the vanlife essentials. Essentials such as generators, lithium batteries, 80watt solar panels, power inverters, sink with hot water, refrigerator, microwaves, range top, bathroom, table, seating, storage space and, of course, sleeping space. The piano van that we’re focusing on today still has space for everything you would need for an adventure, despite the piano taking up most of the side of the van. This van features a sofa that turns into a double bed; a large kitchen that features a cooktop, sink, fridge and plenty of preparation and storage space; overhead cabinetry; a Porta Potti, and front swivel seat. This van has a white and wooden finish, but your camper can look however you like. These conversions are top of the range and would make a beautiful and unique RV for any adventurer.
There are so many small RVs out there that it is hard to choose just one for the top spot, but we hope our list of ten has given you some ideas to explore. We love every one of these vans and think they would make fantastic adventure bases or rolling holiday homes for every type of person. Big doesn’t always mean better; these RVs have everything you need for a comfortable trip away and are much easier to drive and park than a massive motorhome, making your journey stress free. Let us know your thoughts bu joining the Van Clan over on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.