What Is a Class B RV? A Detailed Guide to Camper Vans
Are you on the hunt for a motorhome and wondering whether a Class B RV is right for you?
Class B RVs are the smallest vehicles in the RV classification system, smaller than a Class A or a Class C RV. They’re also an excellent choice for anyone wishing to live a compact vanlife, without splurging on a large, luxurious motor coach.
In the post below, we’ll walk you through some of the most common features and benefits a Class B camper has to offer, and also introduce you to some prominent models from top RV manufacturers.
Featured Image Credit: Benchmark Vehicles
What Is a Class B RV?
By strict definition, a Class B RV is a camper van; it’s built on automotive van chassis, inside the dimensions of a panel van. We’re talking about anything created with a Mercedes Sprinter Van, Ford Transit, Ram Promaster, or something similar.
These compact RVs range in size between 16-24ft and lack such features as slide-outs or over-the-cab sleeping areas.
A Class B RV may also be referred to as a Class B motorhome, although the term “camper van” is more correct.
What Are the Benefits of a Class B RV?
Though relatively small, these camper vans offer plenty of benefits (and sufficient living space) for solo travelers and families alike. We’ll go through the primary advantages of these RVs below.
Easy to Drive and Park
Class B vans are easy to drive. Since they’re built within the dimensions of a regular panel van, most Class B motorhomes are hardly larger than a big car, and operate much in the same way.
Being small, they’re easy to manoeuvre, too — you shouldn’t have any problems negotiating tight corners or narrow roads.
Parking is also easy in a Class B camper van. These small and agile vehicles will fit into most regular parking spaces, so you don’t need to worry about finding a huge area. This means it’s just as easy to park a Class B RV in the city or a supermarket as it is at a campground.
Can Double as an Everyday Vehicle
Because they’re so easy to drive and park, Class B camper vans can also double as your everyday vehicle. Being able to use your camper van as you transport to work and for other routine tasks means that you don’t need to own 2 cars.
Having one van that serves as your camper and your everyday transportation is also handy as you only have to pay the bills associated with car ownership once. Cutting down on this expenditure means you can save more money for your next adventure.
Great For Stealth Camping
Since Class B motorhomes look like any other panel van from the outside, they make great vehicles for stealth camping. “Stealth camping” is when you stay overnight in areas that aren’t campgrounds, and is a useful practice for sightseeing in cities and towns; you typically want to keep a low profile while doing so.
In contrast, it would be difficult to stealth-camp in a Class A or C RV; their very appearance screams “motor coach,” and they’re often so large that you can’t park them without being noticed.
Being able to stealth-camp opens up a range of places that you wouldn’t usually be able to see in a motorhome, so a Class B van is great for expanding your travel horizons.
More Fuel Efficient Than a Larger RV
Because it’s the smallest type of motorhome, a Class B camper van is more fuel-efficient than other RV classes. Greater fuel efficiency means better gas mileage — you travel for more miles per gallon. This is not only good for your bank balance but for the environment too.
Can Travel More Off the Beaten Path
The ability to travel to beautiful, remote locations is one of the best things about vanlife. However, getting there in a larger RV is a challenge.
Class B vans are fantastic for taking on dirt roads and can even be upgraded to have 4×4 capabilities. If you like heading to quiet scenic spots and prefer wilderness camping to staying at a campground, then a Class B van could be the ideal RV option for you.
Still Has Everything You Need
Despite having a smaller size than motorhomes of a larger class, a Class B van is still the one-stop-shop RV you need for camping trips, or simply hitting the open road.
Some people even live full-time inside these tiny spaces. While you won’t have a 32-inch TV or a massive fridge/freezer in a camper van, you will still find a full kitchen, seating area, wet bath, gear storage, and a sleeping area.
Speaking of size — Class B vans are roomiest when sleeping just two people but can often be designed to sleep and seat up to four.
What’s more, they come with a raised roof — a key feature that lets you stand and walk upright.
If you want to build out your own camper van, you will probably be looking at creating a Class B RV. By converting your own camper, you can make a design that is unique to you.
Buying an ex-panel van is the easiest way to build a camper, with the freedom to add whatever is most important to you.
Different Class B RVs
There are many different Class B motorhomes out there to choose from, whether you want a factory build or a custom camper van.
Below, we’ll look at 5 different models from reputable RV manufacturers to show you what a top-of-the-line camper van has to offer.
*Note that any prices stated below don’t include government fees or taxes.
Airstream Interstate 19
The Airstream Interstate 19 is a fantastic example of what a Class B van can offer. Built within a 19ft Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Van, this camper offers plenty of space for your essentials.
At the front of the camper, you will find a full bathroom, with a toilet, sink, and shower. Opposite this is a kitchenette that comes complete with a two-burner gas stove, sink, fridge/freezer and a convection microwave. At the back of the van, a generous seating area turns into a bed at the push of a button, giving flexibility and versatility to the precious living space.
The use of multi-functional furniture is common in Class B vans — it ensure you don’t miss out on anything inside.
The Airstream Interstate is finished off with plenty of storage in the form of a wardrobe and overhead cabinets.
This model has a starting price of $161,099.
Benchmark Vehicles are a custom conversion company, who specialise in building out either Ford Transit Vans or Mercedes Sprinter Vans.
Going for a custom conversion is an excellent way to get a van build to suit your needs, completed at a professional level. Whatever you want your camper to look like, Benchmark Vehicles have the experience to make it for you.
This example is ‘Into The Wild’ — a Ford Transit High Roof 250 conversion. Choosing a Class B camper van with a raised roof gives you that extra headroom, making the space feel bigger inside. It also provides more headroom for a raised bed and overhead cabinets.
This conversion example has a roof rack supporting solar panels for the van’s electronics. There is also a light bar — a useful feature for driving down unlit roads — and pop-outs to give room for a lengthways double bed.
Apart from the bed, this camper features a kitchen, toilet, outdoor shower, cupboards and tonnes of gear storage. This van would be the perfect rig for any adventurous van dweller.
Tellaro Class B RV
Next up, we have the Tellaro Class B RV, a brilliant motor coach by Thor. The Tellaro Class B camper van is built on a Ram Promaster Chassis and has all of the external gadgets you could possibly need. This camper includes a bike rack, solar panel, skylight and awning. You can also choose to have a pop-top roof if you want some extra space inside.
If you do opt for a pop-top roof, you have a choice between sleeping in the loft or downstairs on the seating, which converts into a double bed.
There are several different layouts to choose from when buying a Tellaro camper, but all come with a bed, kitchen, bathroom, seating area, swivel seats, and a table.
This is a great little camper with everything you need for a trip away. With a choice in layout, the Tellaro offers something for everyone.
Pricing starts at $91,375.
Knaus is a German motorhome company that offers a great example of a European style Class B van. This camper is built within a VW Crafter and can sleep up to three people. As it can sleep up to three, the Knaus BoxDrive is an excellent choice if you want to bring your child on the road with you.
Instead of a seating area that converts into the double bed, this camper features a fixed bed. This design makes space for lots of storage space below the bed for more substantial items of outdoor gear. The bed can lift to allow better access to the under-bed storage when inside the van.
As well as the double bed, the dinette seating and table area can convert into a single bed. Opposite the dinette is the kitchen, and next to this is the bathroom with toilet shower and sink. The Knaus BoxDrive is ideal for an adventurous young family and comes in at around $72,850.
Lastly, we have Outside Van, another Class B RV custom conversion specialist. With extensive experience ranging from utilitarian and practical gear-hauling machines to cosy tiny homes on wheels, Outside Van can make your dream come true.
‘Rough and Tumble’ is a great custom conversion example, with a stylish design and unique features that make this camper van feel like home. The fixed bed allows for lots of gear storage on the road, and it is great to have a separate seating area. There is also a kitchen, cabinet storage, and a hidden toilet.
Outside Van also sell some ready-made vans. These builds are still one of a kind but can be purchased without waiting for the build to be completed. This is a good option if you want a unique camper but need something as soon as possible. Custom vans can be pretty expensive — expect to pay anywhere between $90,000-$300,000 to get one.
There are many benefits to owning a Class B motorhome; they’re just the perfect adventure wagon.
If you’re an outdoorsy person and expect to spend most of you trips outside, then there is more than enough room in these compact campers.
However, their tininess doesn’t mean that these campers are much cheaper than Class A motor coaches. The only way to get cheap camper vans is to buy second hand and complete the conversion yourself!
More Content From The Van Clan Team
- Take a close look at an Outside Van Sprinter Van conversion to see if they could be the custom company for you.
- Want to complete your own conversion but not sure whether to go for a Mercedes or Ford van? Find out which is best, Sprinter vs Transit.
- Planning on converting your own Class B camper van? Check out these 30 custom van ideas for some inspiration.