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Old 09-13-2011, 09:58 PM   #11
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Location: Bend, OR
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Re: Why a van?

I can park it in the garage. I would have to find another place to store a slide-in camper, class C, etc. If left as a camp setup my wife would (understandably) not want to drive it in town, but living in snow country the van makes an easy option if the conditions look too nasty to drive her front wheel drive car. We specifically chose an RB with this in mind.

We didn't want our RV choice to limit our ability to go camp on a whim, even for one evening. I think having to slide in a camper, hook to a trailer, or even pack and set up a tent could deter us from going out for a short trip. The van makes it easy - no excuses.

Don't get me wrong, our neighbor has a new Tundra and Lance slide in and it is a very sweet setup. However, for us the van wins (for now anyway!)

2009 Express AWD, CCV Top & 50-ish home build. Daily driver/camper/kid hauler
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Old 09-13-2011, 11:30 PM   #12
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Re: Why a van?

Blackeye decided he needed something a little larger than his SMB van.


after ... -GXV-Build


... Charlie
EV-2 build is now complete, (yeah right).
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Old 09-14-2011, 12:28 AM   #13
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Re: Why a van?

Reason #1 for me is when you open the side doors of a van, the inside becomes an extension of the campsite. In slide-in truck campers there is a door and you're either "inside" or "outside", which is too much like just staying home.
it was good to be back
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Old 09-14-2011, 12:33 AM   #14
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Re: Why a van?

Originally Posted by vlamgat
- no MAGNIFICENT website for support
Surely a very valuable resource but I wonder how many owners actually lurk here.
Hmmm, I think you'd be surprised...

But back on topic, I will take the van over a pickup for camping and day trips / hanging out, hands down. Ours is our third vehicle. I have to admit I miss my '96 Tacoma for yard work sometimes, but for everything else, I will take the SMB for the reasons stated above.
2002 E350 EB - Voyager top - 7.3 - Quigley 4WD
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Old 09-14-2011, 08:26 AM   #15
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Re: Why a van?

Many thanks for all the interesting responses. So far I have distilled the following as clinchers for a van over a camper:

Immediacy: The SMB set up is almost a load and go device. Other than the preparation one has to do for any camping trip, the van can be kept ready to leave. This does make the presumption that the van is by and large NOT a daily driver. Because one can do exactly the same with a slide on and use the truck bed only on those one in 365 occasions that seem to justify the purchase of most. However that raises the next point:

Complexity: Getting the camper on and off the truck is a complex process with very precise height and alignment issues and then a complex attachment process. But back to the point above - this only matters if you need to remove the camper so besides the need to take Mom's trash furniture to the dump, why else should it come off?

Size: Unless you service your own truck (not easy with the modern diesel) you will have to remove the camper to take it to a dealer as the bulk will/may make the use of a lift impossible. But any modification really means that the rig needs to be treated as such and only taken to places that can handle RVs. Whereas with many vans especially those without hard top extensions are essentially stock E series.

Access: This one rings my bells: The side and rear door access makes the use of the van as a resource store in a a camping environment much different from a camper which is really a very small RV. I also have noted that all but the largest are accessed through one door in the rear which if you tow something is quite difficult to use. Especially if you are in a hurry or carrying something.

Two areas not raised here (except by me) is quality and robust construction. From what I have read, campers seem to generally lack quality and to the extent its claimed by the manufacturer or those who have owned for less than a year of real use, they are not robust. Stuff is installed that has the minimum spec. or the easiest procurement or even lowest cost. Lance seems to get a bad rap for over promising and under delivering but I am sure there are no Airstream Trailer equivalents. Not that SMB is perfect but I am not seeing on this forum the vitriol being thrown at the camper guys. For example there are real questions as to whether some camper support legs can hold the camper with a full load of propane, water and effluent tanks.

I recognize that there is no comparison between a tripped down SMB and a camper when it comes to maneuvering in a parking lot,
Hanging Out
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Old 09-14-2011, 09:51 AM   #16
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Re: Why a van?

Have you seen this article?
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Old 09-14-2011, 09:54 AM   #17
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Re: Why a van?

For us, it comes down to one thing - off-roadability.

I have a CrewCab SuperDuty 4X4, 6.0L that goes to Baja all the time but a Cab-over camper would never survive the abuse and neither would the truck with the weight in the back. A friend with three different campers over the years has had to replace the bed on his '95 F350 twice because it gets torn to pieces. The current bed has been internally reinforced with 2x2 steel tube that is tied directly to the frame to help solve the problem. He no longer has the really heavy Lance but a shelled out pop up Cab-over camper which is also falling apart.

It is my belief that a Van will hold up to the abuse and be more capable off-road.
Four time Baja 1000 winner, four time Baja 500 winner. Solo'ed the Baja 1000 to LaPaz/Cabo twice.
4-Wheeling since 1972, Desert Racing since 1989.
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Old 09-14-2011, 10:15 AM   #18
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Re: Why a van?

Originally Posted by j.whitbread
Yeah, that's a cool article but I really have no plan to go outside the US at this time.
Having a big vehicle would be great but I'm actually thinking of going smaller and have
looked into pulling a Jeep behind my van. Even my van is hindered on the trails I take
but wow, if I could pull a jeep behind one of those big would be nice. Until I hit
the lotto I'm stuck with my little SMB.
2006 Ford 6.0PSD EB-50/E-PH SMB 4X4 Rock Crawler Trailer

Sportsmobile 4X4 Adventures..........On and off road adventures
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Old 09-14-2011, 10:22 AM   #19
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Re: Why a van?

You came to the conclusion that the van can't be a daily driver. I would have to disagree. One morning a couple of weeks ago when I was out of town my wife went out to go pick up our grandson. Unfortunately, the day before he had apparently messed with the overhead light and the battery was dead. So she just unplugged the van(we keep it plugged in for charging purposes) and off she went. We have an EB Chevy 3500 and she has no problems using this as a daily driver. One of the reasons we went for the "B" was that we could jump in with a crowd and go to a game or dinner or a day trip somewhere without a lot of extensive hooking up and preparation. Before we retired we spent several years looking at the various types of RVs. All of them have their pros and cons but we always thought that the "B" gave the most versatility.
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Old 09-14-2011, 11:49 AM   #20
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Re: Why a van?

Another bonus to the SMB with a popup is the openness the popup provides.

Since my floor plan isn't as open like many of the vans owned by forum members, I don't get to enjoy the "extension of the campsite" when I open the one side door. However, like the other popup SMBs, the number of windows in the popup, plus the fact that the popup material is more "temporary" because it's canvas and not a hard shell like the slide-in's really adds to the feeling of being out doors.

When I stand in my van I get to see nearly 360* and with the windows unzipped I still really do feel like I'm experiencing my surroundings. I've never felt this way in a slide-in.

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