If you're looking to buy a smaller RV for one or two people, you may come to the point where the alternatives are a truck camper or a class B van. And after some research, I think I found a satisfying answer to this common question.
A truck camper would be more appropriate for people that value off-roading, spending less on fuel, and unmatched versatility. Class B vans would be for RV owners who want comfortable traveling conditions, peak storability, and more living space.
This answer might seem a bit vague, which is why I offer more detail down below. So please, keep reading and let us help make sure you pick the right smaller RV. I promise you won't regret it.
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Truck Camper Vs. Class B Van: Which is better for you?
This section will outline everything you need to know about both these RV types. Once you read through it, the more appealing option for your needs will become clear.
What is a Truck Camper?
Truck campers are built by connecting a camper shell onto your truck. These RVs also go by the names slide-ins or cab-overs and have become a favorite among truck owners. It’s just a convenient way to transition into the RVing lifestyle.
Their convenience isn’t the only advantage these truck campers offer RVers. We’ll discuss all their benefits and disadvantages below. This information will give you a better idea about whether getting a truck camper would be a smart choice.
The Advantages of a Truck Camper
This section will discuss the advantages a truck camper has over a class B van. It will highlight certain situations where these RVs would suit a person’s needs better. And it should give a clear picture about whether your lifestyle meshes with what a truck camper can provide.
Offers More Versatility
A truck camper is the most versatile available to travelers. These RVs offer a platform to capable of towing jeeps, fishing boats, and utility trailers. Truck campers allow you to detach the truck from its camper as well.
People who still work find this aspect imperative. You just detach your truck and drive right into work without having to lug around your camper. It can also be handy during trips to the lake and other outings.
For instance, you could use the truck to collect firewood and put camper somewhere safe. It’s this type of versatility that a class B van can’t match.
Cost Less to Insure or Buy
Since I’m guessing you already have a truck, buying only a camper shell will be a lot less costly. It usually ranges between $3,000 and $15,000 depending on quality and model. This amount is a far cry from what class B vans will initially cost.
Truck campers also don’t classify as RVs in 42 states. This means you won’t have to pay the registration fees and annual license like with other RVs. Truck campers owners benefit from insurance costs being cheaper as well.
In most cases, insurance will be around $20 a month, which is way below what you’d pay for other RVs. But please, don’t go over your truck’s GVWR or your coverage could become voided during an accident.
Provides Better Fuel Economy
Gasoline and diesel fuel prices are something that haunts every RV owner. But truck campers tend to get much better fuel economy than every other RV. In fact, truck camper owners get on average anywhere between 10-15 mph.
Some people have even gotten as much as 20 mpg with these RVs, which is outstanding. This increased mpg comes from using a diesel pickup truck to haul around their campers. It’s another way using a truck camper would be a cost-effective RV option.
Better Off-Road Capabilities
If you’re looking for an RV with off-road capabilities, there’s none better than a truck camper. Their two-axle design and compact size make them perfect for anyone looking to boondock away from civilization.
The four-wheel drive option also helps in this regard. These vehicles can travel down remote country roads and let you explore places any other RV would have trouble navigating.
Let’s say you want to explore the Grand Canyon’s narrow roads; a truck camper would be the perfect option. It’s an aspect that even a maneuverable RV like a class B van can’t match.
The Disadvantages of a Truck Camper
Not everything about a truck camper is perfect. There are actually some severe disadvantages to having one of these RVs. This section will discuss these downsides to provide a better insight into whether getting one is your best option.
May Need Specific Truck Model To Match Camper
It’s entirely possible your truck won’t work with your first choice camper. Certain campers require a specific truck model to function correctly. Finding the right combination will take some time and research on your part.
If you’re looking to jump into RVing right away, a truck camper isn’t the easiest option because of this issue. In this case, you’d have much better luck with a class B van.
The Camper Can be Heavy
The camper’s weight can be a problem depending on the model you get. Specific models need a heavy-duty pickup truck to handle their weight. Sometimes a heavy-duty truck might not even be enough, and modifications will have to happen.
These modifications would include actions like strengthening the suspension system and adding air bags. As you can imagine, paying for these upgrades would put a massive dent in your bank account.
Cramped Space During Hauls
Truck campers don’t provide access to the camper during traveling. In other words, there’s no room to stretch your legs and relax. This issue creates a cramped space, which can become uncomfortable during long hauls.
You now know all the disadvantages and advantages of a truck camper. It’s time to discuss its rival, the class B van.
What is a Class B Van?
Class B Vans often goes by two other names: van campers and campervans. These names come from their design, which is usually built on a standard van chassis. This design gives them the maneuverability of a van and enough room for people to walk upright.
Understanding what’s classified as a Class B Van is only half the battle. We must also examine the pros and cons of these RVs to ensure you make the right decision. Let’s start with the positives first to show how a campervan would suit someone better than a truck camper.
The Advantages of Class B Van
Like truck campers, it’s one of the smallest RVs available to travelers. But it does have its own set of perks, which could make it a suitable option for you. The following benefits could make a lot of RVers happy during their travels.
More Usable Room
A campervan doesn’t have a truck bed taking up valuable space in the living area. It creates more usable room to store things or place more amenities. This extra room for features and amenities provides a more luxurious feel than a truck camper.
It also has a better chance of feeling like a second home. It’s a simple matter of having more room for the things that feel dear to you. This benefit might not seem like a big deal now, but it’ll become significant when you start getting homesick.
Access to All Amenities When Traveling
Campervans provide access to everything inside your camper when you’re traveling. This benefit comes from it being one extended vehicle, which gives you more room during hauls. It’s actually possible to get some rest in these vans when someone else is driving.
You could also cook up some food or even watch TV. All these activities are capable of being done during travel with a campervan. It’s a nice benefit to have, especially when you aren’t traveling alone. It’ll make sure you don’t have the constant asking of “Are we there yet?”.
Simpler to Store
These RVs being a single vehicle, makes them easier to store than a truck camper. Even more so than with truck campers, its peak storability means you won’t have to pay for storage space. These RVs should fit right in your driveway or garage without an issue.
Plus, you don’t have to detach any part of it. It gets rid of the extra hassle of having to store a camper shell. It’s one less maintenance task to deal with when you’re getting home from your trip.
Easier to Park
Parking a campervan isn’t much different than with a regular one. You can pretty much fit into any regulation parking spot without much problem. Its lack of extended cab makes sure your mirrors don’t get blocked either. It's something a truck camper can’t always offer.
These RVs don’t have potential camper overhang, which is another valuable benefit. You’ll instead easily slide into the parking spot without having to worry about encroaching into the next space.
The Disadvantages of Class B Van
These positives qualities are, sadly, not the full story. It turns out that campervans do have some severe drawbacks. This section will discuss them at length to help you decide whether a campervan's benefits outweigh its negatives.
More Expensive Initial Cost
Buying a campervan is purchasing a whole new vehicle. It’s not like you already have a piece of the equation such as with a truck camper. This factor results in the initial investment being well above what you’d spend with a truck camper.
Most campervans will cost between $40,000 to $80,000 depending on amenities, size, and type of roof extension. This range doesn’t even include the luxury models, which often hover around $90,000 to $125,000.
Campervans don’t give you the option of detaching. It offers a bit less versatility than a truck camper because of this disadvantage. You’ll have to drive your entire campervan wherever you go, which can be rather annoying.
This becomes problematic when you factor in the potential of mechanical breakdowns. If your campervan suffers one, your entire home might become jeopardized. After all, some amenities inside your campervan rely on the vehicle’s power.
Weaker Towing Ability
Class B vans do offer towing ability; however, their towing capacity tends to be weaker than you’d see with a truck camper. It’s something that could cause some issues when you want to pull a boat or an ATV. Honestly, a truck camper would be a much better option.
But if you do plan on towing with a campervan, check the weight restraints before trying. It’ll provide better insight into its ability to safely complete the task.
After reading all this information about these two RV types, the right choice should be much more evident. But if you need further help, please leave your concerns in the comment section. We’ll provide feedback as quickly as possible.
Saturday 15th of August 2020
Question - I am trying to find out if I can park on a residential street if I have a truck camper. I takes up the same space and is the same width I'm guessing and I can legally park my truck in front of my house. I'm located in Los Angeles proper. I can't seem to find the classification for this particular setup. Please advise. Thank you
Saturday 20th of November 2021
Call the city. No one here will know!
Wednesday 21st of August 2019
Interesting, but it leaves me with more questions. I do not have a pickup, but do like them, so should I buy the truck and camper or go for the class b. Give me some more food for thought. Thank you
Wednesday 21st of August 2019
Tom, as we said in the post, a lot depends on your needs and lifestyle. If you travel a lot and plan on dry camping in cities, a small Class B will probably be easier to go around in and even park on the streets. However, if you plan on staying in a campground for several weeks at the time, exploring off-road in your truck at the same time, a truck camper would be the better solution for your needs.