The VW camper van is by far one of the most iconic camper vans in the world. It started the van life scene, with fellow vandwellers, surfers and adventure addicts using them to drive away for the weekend with everything they need. Now, after many years of innovation and demand, the vw camper van has got a much needed upgrade, both engine wise and technology wise, but what is the best VW camper van for you?
This post will feature a wide number of VW camper vans, some you may not expect and some most likely out of your price range. But this is going to go over what will fit you best, on any budget and any road trip you have planned. So sit back, grab a brew and continue reading!
Let’s start small and work our way up the best VW camper van list. Starting with the VW Caddy. We can already hear you go “Why would I want that? That’s an electricians van!” But, you’ll be surprised how many fellow vandwellers use this vehicle just for the weekend and small one to two week long trips. It’s actually a vehicle we’ve been keeping our eye on for some time now, it’s one of the best micro campers around and we want one.
The VW Caddy is basically a smaller Transporter with a VW Golf look to it, everything is much more compact and you can get this in a Maxi version, that comes with 60CM+ of extra room, allowing you to add standard bed, kitchen space and more. Camper conversion companies can add a pop top for you too, which turns it into the perfect mini camper. Plus they’re not that expensive, you can get a low mileage great condition caddy for under £10,000.
If that isn’t enough you can add a lot of van life essentials and camping accessories to this little camper, for example awnings, showers, gazebos, tents that hook to the back, it’s a modular camper that’s perfect for adding extra bits and bobs!
The Transporter is by far the most popular VW camper van of all time, and perhaps the most popular small camper in the whole of Europe. It all started with the classic VW Bus back in the 60’s, this is what some what say started the whole van life scene. VW made it accessible for the average consumer, and created a vehicle that will be used for the next 50+ years.
The Transporter can come in a wide number of price ranges. The picture above features a brand new VW T6 which can cost you anywhere of £20,000+, double that if you want customer conversions, a powerful engine and a pop top. It comes with everything, heated steering wheel, electric roof, a built in tablet, and one of the finest conversions you’ll ever set eyes on. But if you’re like us, then there’s no way on earth you can afford this, but the T6 is one of the finest premium small campers in the world, hands down. It will rarely cause you any problems, and drives as smooth butter… unlike it’s older sisters.
You can go a bit older like we did and pick up a VW T25 or a T2 for around £2K-£5K, and then do a DIY conversion on it to turn it into a VW camper van you’ve always dreamed of. This way you’ll learn how to insulate a camper, which is the best camper van batteries to use and what the best camper van awnings are. This is part of the journey and what builds a relationship with the van, before you even drive it!
But going old comes with a number of potential problems, and one we have experience with currently. We picked up the VW T25 picture above 6 months ago, the engine blew, we replaced the engine, still had problems, changed the batterie, still problems, and now just a couple of weeks ago it’s back in the garage with more issues. These old vans will need a lot of TLC and some pocket money spent on them to keep them in good condition. Picking up anything older then the VW T4 is not for the faint hearted, and do not advise it unless you know your stuff. But they are damn cute, and the whole feel of the van makes adventures feel more authentic. No power steering, now electric windows, just pure nostalgic fun.
For us the VW Transporter is the best VW camper van to buy if you’re looking for small camper that can take you anywhere your heart desires in a compact form factor. The caddy might be a little too small for anyone with a family and the upcoming VW Crafter might be a little too big for those wanting to get around small country lanes and who are on a budget. We advise going for the VW T4 or older, you’ll have less problems and more reliability. Plus you still get all of the fun of being able to do your own DIY conversion should you wish too, or buy one that’s already kitted out. Your choice. We absolutely love the VW Transporter.
The VW California is near identical to the Transporter, and you’re probably wondering why it’s rated one of the best VW camper vans in our list, but it’s because the California is specifically built for campers in mind, unlike the transporter which is built to be a commercial vehicle.
VW saw soon the demand for road travellers to pick up a Transporter and get it converted, so they decided to do it themselves. The VW California comes stock with a pop tops, a pull out bed, a kitchen and tonnes of storage, allowing consumers to essentially ‘buy and go’.
These don’t come with small price tags as you can imagine, and most Californias are quite new, so they start at £30,000 and we’ve seen as high as £62,000 for a new 2.0 edition. Putting the price tag aside they are superb vehicles, and really built for small European roads, hence why most European campers are small and not giant overlanding rigs, because we just don’t have the space! These are specifically built for those that want to buy a stock camper, ready to go.
The VW Crafter is without doubt a great VW camper van because it’s quite simply a panel van that you can pimp. Do you want a queen size bed? Do you want a indoor sauna? Do you want a fully fledged kitchen that’s bigger than yours at home? Then the VW Crafter is the perfect VW camper van to pick if you’re looking for size.
You won’t need a pop top on this thing because it already has 6.5″ of head space, it also comes in short wheel base, or long for those of you that want to go on some serious long haul trips. This is the VW camper van that’s perfect for van lifers with a big budget. You can live in this thing without feeling claustrophobic, and if you want you can get some seriously cool conversion companies to convert it for you. The video feature above shows off the infamous Westfalia conversion, and it’s a beauty!
Go for the VW Crafter if you want to start from scratch too! You can find those things with nothing in side, meaning if you want to do a DIY conversion yourself you can do just that. Just make sure you do it right because these things are cheap, coming in at £20,000+ you wouldn’t want to ruin the interior, that’s for sure!
Which VW Camper Van Is Best For Me?
It all depends, but i’ll put this in categories for you. For those of you wanting a budget VW camper van under the £5K mark we advise going for a VW T4, you can get these with low mileage and fairly good condition for that price. These will run smoothly without any problems (most of the time), anything older and you’ll have to keep a close eye on it, and give it some much needed TLC.
Those of you campers with a bigger budget, go for a VW T5 or T6, this will last you many years and a lot of them come already built with the van life necessities. We’re not saying buy a brand new one, go for a second hand one, they’re still near perfect.
And those of you living the van life, the VW Crafter is for you. Just make sure you get it untouched as most of the fun is converting it yourself!