The Great Camper Van Debate: Part 2 – The Conflict

Our search continued for a campervan that fulfilled all the items in our long wish list.

Last November the Backroad Buddies flew out to LA to check out a Recon Camper in person. Right Buddy was still impressed with the Recon Camper, a conversion of a Nissan NV200 (a small cargo van). It was well-engineered and made an efficient use of space with great gas mileage. However, Left Buddy was still not convinced, having concerns about enough space for workstations for working on the road.

We started looking at Class B RV's, visiting RV dealers around Denver and walking through their Class B inventory. Right Buddy was not that impressed with Class B's. For one, it was hard to find any that were under $100,000. Then they have full bathrooms with either black tanks or cassette toilets, which is something we really didn't want to deal with.  Also, most of the bathrooms were in the middle of the van, making the vans feel cramped. There were a couple of layouts that put the bathrooms at the back of the van, which was more appealing to Right Buddy as the van interiors felt more open and allowed for better lighting from the windows. However, from what we had researched, most people don't even use their indoor showers as they use the showers available at campgrounds and truck stops which we are fine with, so why take up the space for them?  

Then there was the issue of how many seats with seatbelts the Class B vans had. Most of them only had the front two seats. Some of them had lap belts for the benches that faced sideways. If we were to use the Class B van as an everyday vehicle, where would our two adult children go when we want to go out to dinner as a family? The sideways seats seemed awkward and even a bit unsafe.  Those that had extra 3-point seat belts were either in layouts that we didn't care for or were in a price range above our pain threshold, even for used models.  Then there was the craftsmanship of the cabinetry.  Much of it looked nice but didn't always appear to be good quality.  It seemed like the emphasis was on trying to make it look like a home, with less emphasis on durability.  We understand the marketing aspect of that, but that's not the style or usage for us at this point in time.

Left Buddy was considering buying a Mercedes Sprinter, Ford Transit or Dodge Ram Promaster van and converting it to a camper ourselves. In fact, he felt it should be a Dodge Ram Promaster because of the long warranty, being a bit wider with front wheel drive and using gas instead of diesel. Right Buddy was not so keen on a self build, not because she didn't believe that we had the skills to pull it off, but because she was concerned how long it would take us, as she looked around the house at other unfinished projects.  After a month or two of work, would the after photo look much like the before photo?

So the search continued, with frustration setting in.