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Old 06-11-2020, 02:37 PM   #1
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Is an SMB too much for me?

I've been crawling the treads here for a long time now and have been very impressed with the depth of knowledge here. I'm planning my first adventure vehicle buy and, well, there are just so many options now. I've loved the Sportsmobile from the first time I saw one (especially the now 4x4 Classic), but I'm not sure I'd use it as much as a lot of y'all. Therefore, I'm looking for any advice any of y'all might want to offer up.

I first wrote down a list of things I really care about and the most common use case. I probably won't be off-grid for more than 3 or 4 days or so, so that kind of eliminates the need for full kitchen/bath amenities. I have a wife who doesn't totally enjoy camping and two young girls, 3 and 6. I really want to go on some epic road trips, not have to worry about getting a motel everywhere we go, and get out into the middle of nowhere every once in a while for some solitude.

These are the things that are important to me (some of these are probably not totally important to a style/vendor; they were just the things that I could think of):
  • Seating/sleeping for 4
  • Pop-top
  • Lots of organized storage
  • Hauls bicycles
  • Awning
  • Outdoor tables/storage for cooking
  • Entertainment during drive time
  • 4x4 (for getting off-road, on the beach, etc., not necessarily for rock crawling)

Not sure what the budget will be, probably around $100K. Anyway, I look forward to opening up a conversation about the things I should be caring about and hopefully toward making a successful first purchase.

Thank you all very much. Also, if this really isn't the best place for this thread, I'll happily move it.



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Old 06-11-2020, 03:01 PM   #2
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The Sportsmobile vans are awesome. One thing to keep in mind, these are a rolling house with lots of systems. If you want to be sure the wife stays happy, it is very helpful if you have some mechanical skills to stay on top of things. Besides the normal Truck/van maintenance, try to learn about the other systems and their maintenance, which seems to be a constant thing to some extent.

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Old 06-11-2020, 03:40 PM   #3
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"I have a wife who doesn't totally enjoy camping and two young girls, 3 and 6"

Just my 2cents, but I would really suggest you rent a couple of different rigs to see how the family settles in. I know that our RB50 gets tight pretty quickly with two adults and one medium sized dog. If my wife didn't like camping - I don't think she'd put up with the porta-potti in a little tent outside the van. Just saying that keeping the family comfortable while camping may be what makes or breaks your camping adventures.

Best of luck!
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Old 06-11-2020, 04:27 PM   #4
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I've owned a Ford RB and now a Sprinter.

I'd suggest considering the upgraded size of the Sprinter or going to a EB considering that amount of chaos, I mean family, in the vehicle.

The suggestion to try-before-you-buy is a good one.
2017 Sprinter 4x4 144LR. Dialin' it in.
[RIP] 2004-2017 SMB PH, 4x4, E250v8. The wheels fell off.
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Old 06-11-2020, 04:34 PM   #5
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If you're not sure of how much you will actually use the van, I would seriously consider finding a passenger van with a pop top and do a minimal build to start out with. I had a sportsmobile and found that it sat most of the time because I couldn't use it for anything other than the camping trips we went on. I then got a passenger van and built a removable bed platform and it worked out great for us. We would cook and hang outside anyways and just sleep in the van. When we weren't camping, I could still use the van for anything and everything, like trips to home depot, the dump, etc.

We now have a trailer we camp in and use the van to tow it.
2005 E350 Chateau - V10 - Agile Offroad 4x4
2012 CTS-V Wagon - For the baby...
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Old 06-11-2020, 04:54 PM   #6
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Inclined to agree with Steve C on "testing the waters" first. You certainly need to factor in the amount of space the family will be comfortable with - If they prefer to be inside because they desire distance from bugs, insist on AC during hot days, expect to be able to use a convenient shower, more privacy using a toilet, and feel packing-up is an added burden each time you decide on a day trip, then you may be better served with vehicle that'll pull a trailer large enough to accommodate those "necessities"...Unless you're focused on something relatively new, with a 100K budget you'll still be able to satisfy your urge by pulling a trailer with a Sportsmobile.
Either way, you'll have some memorable times with your family.

Edit: looks like I've just duplicated same suggestion as Mikracer
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Old 06-12-2020, 06:39 PM   #7
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Thanks for the advice. mikracer, I was thinking I would probably do something like you did, get a van and then add a few needed components to start off with. The thing that I think about most with that, though, is that I imagine financing with a complete build would be easier to come by than if you built something out piecemeal. My budget is contingent on financing and not so much cash on hand. I worry that if I just got a van first, I would have a great van but it would take me forever to put in the things I want here and there.
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Old 06-12-2020, 10:54 PM   #8
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I really like the van + travel trailer idea. Your family will be a lot happier and you won't have to pack up everything to go exploring. And don't forget, kids grow.
2005 E350 Super Duty Ext Wheelchair Van
2002 Itasca 35U Motorhome
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Old 06-13-2020, 10:45 AM   #9
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The camper van didn't work for us when we had 2 kids. In the winter it was too crowded to hang out after skiing. In the summer we found a tent to be better since we had to unload so much anyhow.

I agree, rent a motorhome and try a trip or two.
2009 E250 RB 5.4L "SilVan"
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Old 06-13-2020, 11:31 AM   #10
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My wife and I have two 7 year old daughters. We bought an SMB when they were four and did a ton of travel and multi-day camping. We loved it, even if it got cozy at times. We just sold the rig, and are getting a Solis. I despise the look of the promaster chassis and loved our SMB, but we needed a different layout, SMB wouldn't do what we wanted, and the Solis matched it pretty spot on, so we made the jump. A few things from my experience:

-You want a toilet. Midnight potty runs with your kids get real tiresome, real fast - especially in bad weather - but it's a constant issue no matter what. Toilets take up a ton of space in a class B. You still want to have it.

-Child Booster seats with 5-point harnesses will let your kids ride safe, but in a Class B, you will likely need to move these seats around constantly. Especially if the kids' travel seats are on your foldout bed as in an RB50 or similar. It gets really annoying. Dedicated seats for the kids is a big ask and another big space taker, but worth it, I think.

-Entertainment is easy. We have a tablet with some content on a gooseneck clamp. Couldn't imagine needing anything more than that.
-Storage is really a lesser issue too, IMHO. You can learn to use the space you have wisely, buy special containers and camping gear, etc., to make organizing easier, buy luggage racks, etc. Even traveling for multi-weeks with four, we never had any real storage issue.

Well - that's my 2 cents anyway.

SOLD: 2011 E350 V10 RB50 2WD
2020 Winnebago Solis
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