Smallest vehicle for 5 campers?

JHZR2

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How big are the people and how close together is acceptable? Thinking 5 in a Chevy van might not be too fun unless 3 are little.
Two adults three kids. But obviously the kids will get bigger in time.

There are some pretty reasonable pop-up campers that you might look at. They don't take much to pull around, and you wouldn't have another vehicle to maintain. Several of them would sleep 5 so long as 4 of those people wouldn't mind doubling up. I know you said no towing, but......
I have zero interest in anything that has to be pulled around.

View attachment 115275 These are fine for 5 campers. :D
We aren’t turtles, and for that money and fuel bill we can stay in LOTS of nice hotels.

European "caravans" are typically set up for 2 people. I can't think of anything small that's set up for 5.

Your also wanting HVAC - which means you need power, which means you need to stay at an RV Park or State Park. Most now have rules about sleeping in your "vehicle" that isn't titled as an RV. There trying to keep the van life folks out. So your going to have trouble on that front.

Your going to be more comfortable with a decent tent and 5 cots, and it will be a lot less money. Or just get a small trailer as recommended. Reconfiguring from driving to sleeping each night will take longer and be less comfortable than the tent anyway. If the weather looks bad just head to the Hilton instead.
Yeah, climate has much to do with comfort. In Northern Europe, it’s just comfortable. Currently it’s 45F, going up to 62F. You sure don’t get summer temperatures like that and low humidity in the eastern US. So some airflow/cutting the humidity is desirable. Haven’t thought it all the way through yet of course… RV parks seem to destroy any semblance of economics of camping…

You said van life. I need to look into that more. Perhaps that is what I’m talking about? I’m sure some take it off an obnoxious deep end.

Otherwise, tent camping is what we do when conditions permit. And I’m a diamond member at Hilton otherwise ;)

See if you rent a small setup and see how putting 5 people together works out. My wife and I thought a pop up was a good idea for 5 and we borrowed one but our middle was tossing and turning all night and we slept poorly.

Your pickup is not extracab? Why not a slide in bed camper ?

I don’t want to tow and store a camper. The slide in camper thing is an option, I have a truck that would handle it, and frankly wouldn’t be opposed to buying another truck (crew cab) in time if that is more comfortable. But I’d want to be able to use/drive the truck, so then the slide in storage is another matter I just don’t really have interest in.

That’s why a van or a slim camper type thing is of interest. Pull it into one of my garage bays, keep it out of the sun and rain, and keep it out of sight until the next adventure. While I suspect you could argue we could do that with a pop up or tow along trailer, that’s much less incognito and just not what I’m looking for IMO.
 

JHZR2

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Compromise a bit and get one of these

View attachment 115257

and one of these

View attachment 115258
We have the minivan and other vehicles. We stayed in a number of cabins like you show. The issue is that they are in one place.

I am working towards a beach house. That’s important to us. And that’s in one place. The intent of a van type setup would be to be able to go see a lot more of the country. And do it in more remote places than you can at the typical hotel or even Airbnb. But those are options too… drive/fly and just go somewhere from there (status quo).

My interest in a van is to get a hybrid outcome. Camp some nights, hotel others, etc. Do so to get the most flexibility for where we want to go, how we want to stay/rest, and without the baggage of a giant rv/trailer or something we can’t park when we go to more normal locations (like hotels).

I was in Europe in June. The price of unleaded gas was the highest in Denmark at $9.45 USD a gallon, followed closely by France. Didn't see too many RV's on the road at those prices.
Interesting. Im in Norway now and gas/diesel are around 22NOK/L ($2.20/L or so). RVs are all over. Drive the E6 and it’s non stop campers. Most are these smaller units, like a sprinter or fiat van, some with a bigger rear section.

5 in a van will be tough. The tent in top of a van/truck looks doable, but is a real injury hazard. Bathroom run at night, not a great idea with a rooftop tent. Kid or adult falls breaks a bone ,then you be at the mercy of what ever healthcare you are near.
I think 5 in a van will be a pain and will get old fast . Van capable of sleeping 5 will probably not get much more mpg than a small class c.
That’s an interesting point. But at that point I’ll stay in a hotel room or rent a cabin. I’m not concerned about MPGs, I’m more concerned that I don’t really want some obnoxiously sized thing that I really can’t use for anything else, and frankly, the $100k+ of most of these bigger units creates such a ridiculous economic situation for the whole thing, I can stay in lots of nice places and plan trips for years for that money without the baggage of some big camper thing.
 

Nick1994

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I can't think of anything that can sleep 5 without it being an RV. Well, without being stacked like Vienna sausages.

I know you said no tent, but something like this would keep everyone still together, and you could have a nice air mattress for sleeping. And deflate the mattress during the day and use this for a screened in area to keep away from bugs. And it could keep the vehicle to something more realistic, like your current van.


051C6062-42EE-45F2-B4BB-8B943F39B6E7.jpeg
 
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How tall are the adults?

A late 80's chevy, sheet metal to sheetmetal or conversion window glass to glass, side to side, would allow a 6'3" inch person to sleep side to side, with no headroom or footroom.
The jackknife sofa bed in most conversion vans is wide enough to sleep two adults side by side who are under 6 foot, but the rear insulation adjacent to windows can suck out 5 total inches from this forcing a diagonal position for those who cant just sleep in fetal position the whole night.

Fitting three kids on floor and or on front captains chairs folded flat, is possible, unless they too are 5'7" and more. This of course does not account for the luggage one is carrying, though a trailer hitch cargo carrier can take some of that load.

Keep in mind conversion vans are unsafe, in the extreme, in accidents, especially those with raised fiberglass roofs, as so many supports are cut off and the roof goes flying off, and the bases of swivelling captains chairs often prove to be sub engineered and poorly welded.

What you want to do can be done, with a late 80's conversion van, with caveats, sacrificing comfort.
Expect 13 to 16mpg at 65mph on the highway. 8 to 11 around town.

Hot temps require more than pop out windows, that have no screens.

Airconditioning, parked, engine off, without access to grid power/generator is not the holy grail it once was, but 5 humans make a lot of heat.
A lot of battery would be required, as would a lot of BTU's, and these will cost more than the van itself, which could require its asking price itself put into it, to make reliable.
 

JHZR2

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I can't think of anything that can sleep 5 without it being an RV. Well, without being stacked like Vienna sausages.

I know you said no tent, but something like this would keep everyone still together, and you could have a nice air mattress for sleeping. And deflate the mattress during the day and use this for a screened in area to keep away from bugs. And it could keep the vehicle to something more realistic, like your current van.


View attachment 115314

We already tent camp. The hope was a vehicle we could sleep in at rest stops and campgrounds without the setup and teardown. And be able to do it in more places. I’m not setting up a tent at a rest stop for example.

How tall are the adults?

A late 80's chevy, sheet metal to sheetmetal or conversion window glass to glass, side to side, would allow a 6'3" inch person to sleep side to side, with no headroom or footroom.
The jackknife sofa bed in most conversion vans is wide enough to sleep two adults side by side who are under 6 foot, but the rear insulation adjacent to windows can suck out 5 total inches from this forcing a diagonal position for those who cant just sleep in fetal position the whole night.

Fitting three kids on floor and or on front captains chairs folded flat, is possible, unless they too are 5'7" and more. This of course does not account for the luggage one is carrying, though a trailer hitch cargo carrier can take some of that load.

Keep in mind conversion vans are unsafe, in the extreme, in accidents, especially those with raised fiberglass roofs, as so many supports are cut off and the roof goes flying off, and the bases of swivelling captains chairs often prove to be sub engineered and poorly welded.

What you want to do can be done, with a late 80's conversion van, with caveats, sacrificing comfort.
Expect 13 to 16mpg at 65mph on the highway. 8 to 11 around town.

Hot temps require more than pop out windows, that have no screens.

Airconditioning, parked, engine off, without access to grid power/generator is not the holy grail it once was, but 5 humans make a lot of heat.
A lot of battery would be required, as would a lot of BTU's, and these will cost more than the van itself, which could require its asking price itself put into it, to make reliable.
Im 6’4 or a tad more. Wife is 5’9. Kids are kids and will become our heights at some point.

The metal to metal conversion approach you mention is probably more of what I’m looking for.

I get it regarding hvac. That’s a nice to have, thinking a unit like you see on top of some school busses, run for some time in the night maybe. Or to cool down before sleeping. Don’t know yet. I agree a huge array of batteries or a long term idle aren’t great options, or necessarily safe.

Im thinking more like wall bunk beds, two to a side, but that leaves the +1. And getting in and out. I know that starts to push towards a van with a body on the back….

My ideal is a low top more incognito van, front seats, second bench all OE, regular roof, then the space behind for sleeping.

It would be a fine assumption that every other day was in a hotel or air Bnb.
 

JHZR2

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Ok… tel me about the smallest no-frills teardrop that could sleep five, and why that would be better than the tail end of a 15 passenger van.

Maybe an overland version… maybe not. Maybe a 1960s aluminum shell that we rip everything out of and put in bunk beds…

Thanks!!!
 
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