So I'm buying a van...


Expedition Leader
Just for comparison.

Here is the Eurovan hiding out in a tight 6'8" parking garage where nobody would ever bother us.

This is exactly one block away with the Sprinter. It's actually longer than this metered space. So risk of being harassed or ticketed just for the parking spot.



Expedition Leader
wow that adds perspective... thanks for sharing

It's kinda funny because on a lot of discussions about Eurovans there are often comments about "just get a Sprinter". They are clearly different!!!!

Here are some more photos for perspective.

A Eurovan "Rialta" full motorhome next to a Sprinter 170.

Eurovan Full Camper next to a Sprinter 140 lowroof poptop (big buck conversion van)



Expedition Leader
FWIW, here is the stock Winnebago Eurovan Full Camper interior again. Just so you have a photo to look at. I can post a bazillion different van photos.

Outside of a nicely set up Eurovan Full Camper.


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nice photos... and is that a burn up there on the sprinter 140? very nice.

i had no idea that the height was so much different, even on the low top. i think when i was looking at detailed specs, i wasn't considering the sprinter...

also love the setup with the boats underneath the platform.


If I were planning what you are planning I would get a ford with the 7.3 Diesel and insulate and build a platform bed in the back. The sprinters are very nice, but are pretty large. The cargo (non EB) will fit anywhere and blend in. You could also get a Rock in roll out of a boneyard conversion van like I did for under 60 bucks, but with a big box bed, you could put your smaller boat inside...

Check out how I did my rock n roll bed here: Pages 7 through 10 I guess...


Expedition Leader
Hi Jen,

I paddle some (ok more than some) and I've had vans and similar dilemmas to you so I figured I'd chime in with my experiences of my two favorites:

Y2K Ford E350 12 passenger van: On balance the best of the lot. This is the standard length van, not the long extended body so its not too hard to manage in town. I put a full roof rack on the top for boats but don't ask me how many fit because I stopped counting at 24 on one Dead River (Maine) shuttle run. The nice thing about the full rack is it extends just over the rear of the van so you can push boats up by yourself without damaging the roof and then climb up. Inside I removed the front and rear bench seats and built a sleeping platform at the back with lots of storage space below. I should have built the platform lower for more headroom but if you're a short-arse like me (5'7") you can sleep across the van easily. There's plenty of comfy space to hang out in front of that. I spent big on some plastic furniture and some bungees and built a redneck camper conversion in maybe an hour. It worked surprisingly well but did show some signs of wear after a month on the road. The stove lived on a plastic dresser so we could make tea inside.

The problem with the big V8 and 4.1 rear end in this van is its thirsty. A friend had an E250 cargo van with the smaller V8 and its significantly better on fuel.

This was years before I got a digital camera but I did find an impromptu video from Colorado. We weren't particularly sober as you can tell!

1985 VW Vanagon Westfalia: Hands down the biggest smile factor when it works. We had this the whole time we had the green monster; it didn't work for much of that time. When I bought mine a friend said I'd love everything above the floor and hate everything below it and he was right! These vans have an unusual wheel size so getting tires in a hurry isn't easy but ground clearance is good and careful driving will take you pretty much anywhere.

For kayakers the biggest problem with the westy (or any pop top for that matter) is the roof is held on with sheet metal screws so its not a good idea to bolt a rack to it and load it up with boats. (Especially half a dozen or more on a dodgy shuttle in the back of beyond.) Yes people do it but I've seen bad things happen to more secure roof racks on washboard roads so don't go there, please! Without a rack you're left with putting people and boats inside the van and it gets beat up really quickly.

The nice thing about breaking down in a camper is you can make dinner wherever it happened and worry about it in the morning.

Along the way 150LB vanished too!


Expedition Leader
Oh yeah and whatever van you get, the lynx leveling blocks which look like orange lego squares are the bomb for making it nice and level for sleeping in. I carted around some heavy wooden ramps I made for years until I discovered those things.

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Glamping Society
I'm here to throw my .02 into the ring for the Vanagon. After lusting after one since high school I finally bought one at the start of the new year. I flew in to Fresno and drove it back to Phoenix, camping along the way. Its a diesel conversion, which was a big selling point for me on this particular van, because I wanted something with really good gas mileage. My trips have been very limited in years past due to the cost of gas over a weekend, not sure if thats a factor for you. I went with just a tin top van, as I'm not a big fan of stealth camping with a pop top, and I also didn't want all the cabinetry and accessories. RV's are nice, and we had one of those too, but at the end of the day I was just trying to get back to basics and wanted fewer systems to worry about, not more. I knew that buying a 28 year old vehicle there would be maintenance issues, so I wanted to cut down on those. Also, if you just do the tin top then you have more options for mounting things to the roof. I try to carry everything inside the vehicle if possible, but I also don't have a kayak.

So far I have been happy with just the 2wd. I survived a '4wd only' road out to Picacho a couple of weeks back with no problems, other than a few spots where I wish I'd had gotten that new suspension installed. After having 4wd trucks for the last several years, I discovered that 97% of the places I wanted to go were nothing more than some rough dirt roads. Is it nice to have when you need it? Sure, but I guess I just didn't need it as much as I thought I would. Thats just me and the style of camping and travel I have evolved into.

So far *knock on wood* the van has not left me stranded, although I did have to do a couple of trail repairs on the last trip thanks to a freak power steering pump failure. Its in the shop right now for new brakes as those were shot, but again these were repairs I knew would have to be done. I had to go into purchasing this van with the mindset of, its old and things will need to be fixed. The good news is the van really is pretty simple to work on with a small learning curve if you are willing to put in the time. There is a huge community and network of people around the country more than willing to help you. People who will come out and help you if they can while you are on the road. Tons of VW shops abound around the world, especially through Central and South America. The van will make you smile, even through all of its troubles. All of these are reasons I decided to go with a Vanagon.

I'll be spending some time over the coming weeks working on the interior, putting in a small cabinet so I can stop living out of plastic bins while I camp. Its nice to have a full size bed for two of us plus a dog. I'm hoping to get it down to Baja in 3 weeks for some whale watching, and planning a 3 week trip out to Pensacola and back at the end of May. If the van and I can survive these trips together, I don't see myself wanting or needing more anytime soon.

With that said, if the possibility of repairs, etc frighten you and you can afford it, then perhaps look into the Ford vans with a diesel. If I had been willing to spend the money, perhaps I would have gone this route. Maybe one day I still will. They are great vans and give you a lot of space.

If you are still considering a Vanagon, check these out:

Look around there are some good deals out there, especially if you are willing to put in the work, or pay someone to put in the work. I'm on a limited budget myself right now, so I have to put in the work on what I can. But I feel that also helps to make me less helpless if something should break while I'm out on an adventure, because now I know the van. Cheers.