Gone are the days when you had to choose between blitzing through the backcountry in a cramped off-road SUV and taking to the perfectly paved roads in an massive recreational vehicle. That is to say, you can certainly still do both of those things, but you can also combine them in the form of an adventure van. These killer hybrids are perhaps the best way to enjoy the amenities of an RV with the capabilities of something a bit more rugged – if you know which one to choose.
Luckily, even within such a seemingly small sample space, there are a bevy of different options for adventure vans to cater to your specific needs. If you want a small-scale luxury camper – it’s already been built. If you need a movable basecamp on a 4×4 off-road chassis – well, you’re certainly not the first. The point is, adventure vans are one of the best ways to get out into the wilder parts of the world without giving up all modern amenities across the board. So, if you’re looking to hit the road and you want to buy an all-inclusive vehicle, convert one you already own, or just rent one for a few days, the following 15 options are the best adventure vans out there.
Everything You Need
Fiat Ducato Base Camper Van
Here in the states, we know Fiat mostly as a Mini competitor that builds small, european-looking vehicles. But, as you can see in their Ducato Base Camper Van, they’re a lot more versatile than that. They’re capacious, spatially efficient, and loaded with amenities. And those amenities include things like multi-country roadside assistance, a 5-language user app, a network of service shops, and a mess of creature comforts and modern technology. These vans are also Bluetooth and navigation-enabled, feature rotating captain-style driver and passenger chairs, and have plenty of onboard storage.
Hymercar Camper Vans
If the Fiat van option seems nice, but you’d rather go with something a little more luxurious, you should have a look at the offerings from Hymercar. These after-market adventure vans feature an expandable layout for more sleeping comfort, room for anywhere from 2-4 full-grown people, and even come with the option for a built-in onboard bathroom. And if you’re not fond of Fiat, you can always roll with their Mercedes-Benz Grand Canyon S chassis. They even have a refrigerator and freezer, so you can keep all your food and drink for the trip cold and better kept.
Tiger Adventure Vehicles
It might be a little bit of a stretch to call the offerings from Tiger “adventure vans,” but they don’t quite fit into the RV category either. A part of that is their size, but it’s also because of their sheer capabilities. Honestly, these vehicles are more rugged than most factory-built SUVs or even the donor pickup trucks from which they are built. And that bodes very well for anyone looking to get off-road with their adventure van. Available in three formats – the Bengal, the Mayan, and the Siberian – each a bit bigger and more rugged than the one before it, these monstrous mobile homes are all hand-built in South Carolina and feature a full galley, bathroom amenities, spacious floor plans, and more.
Mercedes-Benz Marco Polo
As any car enthusiast might tell you, buying from a third party modification shop can be a risky endeavor – even if they’ve got good reviews or a long history. If you need absolute confidence in the quality of your adventure van, you might want to buy direct from a brand – like Mercedes-Benz. Their luxury camper, called the Marco Polo, isn’t the most rugged or spacious option, but it’s comfortable, looks good, and still boasts plenty of onboard tech and amenities. They include generous seating, a kitchenette with a functional two-burner gas stove, a sink, a refrigerator, and a number of power outlets so everyone onboard can keep their high-tech gear charged fully. And, of course, if you want a little bit more out of the performance of your Benz, you can opt for an AMG-tuned package.
Outside Van Core Van
One of the coolest things about the offerings from Outside Van is their versatility in their options. Their packages all start with a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van – which is a spacious and capable vehicle in its own right – and then they offer a multitude of different packages from there, including a long list of optional customizations. But, if you’re just looking for the basics, you don’t even have to bother with the list; you can just opt for one of their Core Van offerings and get all the necessities you need to get you and your companions out on the road. Just keep in mind that, with the price of the van itself included, these packages run near the $100,000 threshold.
Outside Van Custom
If you’ve got the cash and you’re not in a hurry, Outside Van also offers completely bespoke custom options when it comes to adventure vans. That means you can get one built to your exact specifications (having chose the options from their long-list of available upgrades, of course) that’s unlike any other on the road right now. If you can afford it, but you’re not feeling all that creative – you can still get a super unique one by picking and choosing from their collection of one-off vans they’ve already built. Hell, they’ll probably even surprise you with a completely singular vehicle that you don’t have to design at all, if you throw enough scratch at them.
RB Components Sawtooth Adventure Van
There’s no rule dictating that interior luxury and external fortitude are mutually exclusive – as evidenced by this offering from RB Components. Called the Sawtooth, this beefed-up adventure van is built upon a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Van (the obvious most-popular donor vehicle for adventure conversions), but the similarities to the original vehicle stop at the silhouette. This upgraded version features a 3,000-watt power system, solar panels, a 69-gallon fresh water system, a custom stainless steel enclosed shower with hot water, an electric awning, bamboo wood tables and a BBQ exterior mount – and that’s the short list. It also comes with beefy Toyo off-road tires, an air spring kit, and a water-fording-friendly snorkel intake.
If it’s the Ritz-Carlton luxury suite of adventure vans you seek, then you might want to have a look at the Roadtrek Zion (or any of its permutations). For starters, this 5-star hotel on wheels sports 42 cubic feet of storage space, a roof-mounted air conditioning system, an instant hot water system (which feeds the onboard sinks, toilet, and shower), enough room for a pair of bikes and/or a kayak, solar charging, and even an onboard HD TV. Honestly, this motor vehicle is nicer than most of the apartments we’ve lived in throughout our lives. If the top dog is a little over the top for you, however, Roatrek has a whole range of other packages available.
Sportsmobile Ultimate Adventure Vehicle
When a brand has minerals big enough to call one of their products the “ultimate” anything, they’d better be able to back it up. Thankfully, Sportsmobile does with their Ultimate Adventure Vehicle. It starts with a Ford E350 cargo van and ends up way on the opposite side of the awesome spectrum – thanks to its long list of capabilities and amenities. They include a 4×4 engine upgrade, lift, suspension swap, and more – which make this bad boy just as capable in thigh-high water as it is going over some boulders. It also comes with a roof rack and cargo case for all your gear you don’t want to store inside (like a kayak, bikes, SUP, or whatever else) and can fit several full-grown adults comfortably.
Sportsmobile Sprinter 4×4
Sportsmobile is far from a one-trick pony however, also offering another excellent option: their Sprinter 4×4. Available in either a low or a high/low configuration package, this adventure van starts with a 3.0 liter V6 that offers 188 horsepower and 325 foot-pounds of torque – and that’s just under the hood. The conversion also includes a “Penthouse” expandable top, LED lighting, a snorkel intake, and beefed-up wheels and tires. If you like Sportsmobile’s options, but you want an imported donor chassis, they made this one just for you.
Bring Your Own Van
If you want a decent camper van, but you already have a Volkswagen multivan that you’re looking to use as a donor vehicle, then you’re not going to do better than Bett Mobil. Starting at just under $9,000, these inserts will transform your commuter van into a full-sized adventure camper with enough room for several people. The conversions include a luxurious sleep space, plenty of storage space and cabinetry, and even a movable stovetop – so you can cook outside of the van. It’s a pretty killer package for something so comprehensive.
This Moving House
Let’s say, for the sake of argument, you have a van that you’re perfectly happy with from a vehicular standpoint, but you’d like to inject it with a bit more capability in regards to housing – like adding a kitchenette, sleep space, and more. Well, then you’ll probably want to get in touch with British bespoke van converter, Jack Richens, and his company, This Moving House. What started as a personal project for him has now turned into a business – and, frankly speaking, his work is excellent. As is typical, the project began with a Sprinter van, making that the ideal starter vehicle – but we’re sure that if you got in touch with this in-demand converter, you could probably work something out with your van of choice. Just remember, being a one-man-operation limits his availability.
Borrow A Basecamp
Adventure Travel Sport Rentals
If you don’t want or can’t afford to throw down the exorbitant amount of money it takes to purchase most adventure vans, it doesn’t mean you’re out of luck – as you can still get your kicks in small doses with a rental from ATSR. Their offerings – which range in price, size, and capabilities – are about as rugged and capacious as they come and can easily fit you and all the gear you need for even the most off-the-grid adventures. All you have to do is pick which option you like, call, and book – same as you would for a normal hotel room. Except, this one can go with you wherever you wish.
GoCamp Camper Vans
If you’re looking for something a little less Rambo and a little more Finding Nemo, you still don’t have to settle for a cheesy RV wrapped up like a moving billboard. Opt instead for one of GoCamp’s offerings and hit the road in comfort and style with the whole family. And, even though these vans are a little smaller than your standard Winnebago, they still offer a whole range of amenities from kitchenettes, to sleeping space for up to 4+ people, to full cabin electricity and storage. Whatever adventure you choose, this is likely a better option than trying to put together a multi-person camping tent while your kids whine about being bored.
Based out of Denver, Colorado, Native Campervans is one of the best ways to check out the American West without having to spend a huge chunk of your savings. Their prices are reasonable, but they still don’t skimp on the benefits. For instance, each rental entitles you to 24-hour roadside assistance, comfortable sleeping arrangements, a stocked kitchen, a cooler and stove, and up to 100 miles per day included with your daily fee. They’ll even throw in some camping chairs for when you want to take a little time to relax in the fresh Rocky Mountain air.
Best Adventure Motorcycles
Maybe you’d rather be a little more connected with the roads on which you’re riding. In that case, you’ll probably want to check out our list of the best adventure motorcycles you can buy right now.