If you’re thinking about a camper vehicle, one of the first decisions you will have to make, is what kind of vehicle is best for you. There are lots of good options out there, each with their own pros and cons. In this section, we’ll walk you through our decision making process. Hopefully, it will help you with your own.

For reference, when we first started thinking about a camper van, we used to go on road trips in a Subaru Outback. We would mostly find dispersed camping on forest land, but we occasionally slept in the car itself.

What vehicle is best for you?

To start off with, it’s really helpful to have a wishlist – a list of your core needs for your camper. Once you’ve thought through your priorities, you can begin to really hone in on what sort of vehicle best suits your needs. Here are a few examples of some of the setups we considered and, in our opinion, their major pros and cons.

At some point, it’ll definitely be helpful to give some of your options a test drive. Although we had no intentions of buying a new van, we visited a few local dealerships to take some of the different vans out for a spin. In addition to doing test drives, ask around for advice! We encourage respectful curiosity (okay, downright nosiness). See someone with a camper set up at a trailhead? Take a glance and if the folks seem chill, ask them a few questions. Learn from fellow van dwellers. Our experience is that they are the best resource!

After a few weeks of test drives and research, we finally brought home our van – the Mercedes Metris!

mercedes metris camper van with bikes on top

It was a pretty good blend of everything we were looking for – the interior was spacious enough for our needs, despite it being no bigger than a large minivan. It’s pretty fuel efficient (25 mpg on the highway), and also quite powerful. It’s got great ride quality, is actually really fun to drive, and has a surprisingly short turning radius.

Its only flaw was the lack of all wheel drive, and average ground clearance. Having off-road and winter capability was pretty important to us, but since we also have a RAV4 to go to places the van can’t, we decided to go ahead with the Metris.

So far, we’ve absolutely loved it.