The camper van is the best unit currently available as a recreational vehicle for the person who loves the outdoors but must make do with one car. It is truly dual purpose, serving to carry passengers and other uses as a family car and doubling as a camping vehicle. Although its appearance is somewhat boxy, it is attractive enough and will give good service both on and off the highway.
Camper Van Conversions
There are a number of conversions possible. The simplest is to purchase a rig made up as a station wagon with windows all around and removable seats. Separate galley and dinette-bed combinations can be bought or made yourself to be placed inside after the seats are removed. Next step is to obtain a camper van with conversion equipment already installed which can be used to carry passengers or as a camper without the necessity of removing the seats and inserting other units. Many car dealers have contacts with conversion manufacturers who produce this equipment on order.
The next step for more comfort is to have a push up top installed. When in the lowered position, this top extends only about six inches above the regular roof and a spring-loaded or hydraulic mechanism enables one to get it up or down in seconds. An additional option is a pair of fold out or roll out canvas bunks installed on each side of the roof opening. They are fine for children and normal adults; I checked one out and it supported my 285 pounds albeit not too comfortably.
The final option is to have a permanent, molded fiberglass raised roof installed. In this conversion, most or all of the camper van top is cut out completely and a fiberglass section, molded to the camper van‘s exact dimensions, put in its place. Because of inherent strength lost from the roof cutout, the better tops are double walled with steel or reinforced fiberglass bows between the walls to re-establish the rigidity and strength of the original top.
Some of the cheaper units being marketed are single walled with insufficient reinforcement and users have found their camper vans sagging inward at the roof line and the body doors going out of alignment. The push up types have not had so much of this difficulty because only part of the roof is removed and a steel frame is securely placed around the opening.
Usable space inside the camper vans is usually quite minimal ranging from 5½ to about 6 feet in width and from about 8 to 10 feet behind the engine. Headroom goes from situp height to six feet or more over a portion or the entire floor area as the case may be. Equipment usually includes a small galley with sink, stove, water tank, and icebox; a dinette-bed combination that sleeps two; clothes closet; cabinets; and battery operated lights. It’s ideal for a couple by themselves or with two small children.
Some camper vans have a more comfortable ride than others. But none were uncomfortable and several.