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Old 02-27-2020, 01:21 PM   #1
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Kelly and I are deciding which type of Class B van we’d like to own. We'd like to lean on the group's collectiove wisdom as we decide which way to go.

There seem to be two classes of B vans - full festured ones like the Travato and Sequence that distill Class A features int a Class B chassis, and then the 'adventure vans' which are simpler.

Here are my thoughts on our use cases as a way to help us decide on features and layout.

We won’t be spending much time at full hookup RV parks. Mostly state and national parks and dispersed camping on forest service and BLM land.

We’d love everyone’s thoughts on the importance of these features.

Shower:
We’ll use the available shower house in state and national parks so no need for an indoor shower. For dispersed camping an outside shower with duck boards and/or greywater catch basin and biodegradable soap will be the ticket. Seems Class B’s have very limited fresh and grey water storage anyway so this seems to be a good compromise. It saves a lot of room on the inside of the van as well.

Toilet:
Definitely a must have for us. I’ll be the turd-herder so a cassette toilet seems to make sense as compared to a full featured grey/black water setup. Maybe an ottoman/footrest/toilet combo will work for us. Privacy is not a big issue – we’ve been married for over 30 years. ��

Kitchen:
We like to cook outside so a minimal kitchen inside will be ok in case of inclement weather. Don’t know much about the induction cooktops but seems to be a good option. Thoughts on these comparted to propane?

Pop-Top
As an ex VW Westy owner, I like the idea of a pop-top because you can keep your bed setup all the time. Maybe I’m emotionally connected to pop-tops and have a blind spot. It seems the current class of pop-top vans is less functional that the Westy's because the beds do not fold up for more headroom when you are not sleeping up there.

Awning – we camp in the desert so this is a must for us.

Generator – we have found the under-chassis generators to be very noisy. Is one really needed, apart from running the AC if you have it?

A/C – this brings a lot of complexity, is it a requirement? We will be camping mostly in the mountains and above the 45th parallel.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts!

Tom
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Old 02-27-2020, 03:35 PM   #2
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Hi Tom,

I'll try and lean back a little.

"There seem to be two classes of B vans - full festured ones like the Travato and Sequence that distill Class A features int a Class B chassis, and then the 'adventure vans' which are simpler."


I think of it a little differently. An 'adventure van' can and some do Have It All, but maybe sit a little higher, with maybe a shorter wheel base. a/c running on lithium batteries with no LOUD ONAN generator, underhood generator, all of it. Then there are minimal featured vans and everything in between.


"Here are my thoughts on our use cases as a way to help us decide on features and layout.

We won’t be spending much time at full hookup RV parks. Mostly state and national parks and dispersed camping on forest service and BLM land.

We’d love everyone’s thoughts on the importance of these features.

Shower:
We’ll use the available shower house in state and national parks so no need for an indoor shower. For dispersed camping an outside shower with duck boards and/or greywater catch basin and biodegradable soap will be the ticket. Seems Class B’s have very limited fresh and grey water storage anyway so this seems to be a good compromise. It saves a lot of room on the inside of the van as well."


Me I won't do without a shower Inside. I do shower more in someone else's shower more often. I also have showered outside, sure no necessity like inside for me. My shower takes up No room inside, space free. It is in the aisle that is used for the shower, my legs/feet sitting on the toilet, and accessing the refer and kitchen counter space. Some take up very little extra space. If the shower is with the toilet, you need somewhere for your leg's, feet anyway. Navy showers don't use a lot water. Oh, I have 25 gallons of water and carry another 3.5 gallons inside.



"Toilet:
Definitely a must have for us."

Me too tom, and it will be sitting over a black water tank. I'll have to pull and push on 2 valves instead of 1. There are many threads here concerning every kind of option concerning this with advantages and disadvantages.


"Kitchen:
We like to cook outside so a minimal kitchen inside will be ok in case of inclement weather. Don’t know much about the induction cooktops but seems to be a good option. Thoughts on these comparted to propane?"

There multiple ways to cook inside as you know, but this is partly determined by your battery capacity, the van's fuel, and more. Heck, I could simply sit a little backpacking stove on the counter inside. Plenty of advantages with induction.

"Pop-Top
As an ex VW Westy owner, I like the idea of a pop-top because you can keep your bed setup all the time. Maybe I’m emotionally connected to pop-tops and have a blind spot. It seems the current class of pop-top vans is less functional that the Westy's because the beds do not fold up for more headroom when you are not sleeping up there."

Plenty of folks leave a bed sit up without a pop top. Many ways to do this.

"Awning – we camp in the desert so this is a must for us."

That settles that.


"Generator – we have found the under-chassis generators to be very noisy. Is one really needed, apart from running the AC if you have it?"

B's use the LOUD OBNOXIOUS ONAN, but some carry a small quiet generator, some none.
The need for a generator is a/c and sometimes microwave.


"A/C – this brings a lot of complexity, is it a requirement? We will be camping mostly in the mountains and above the 45th parallel."

I don't think of a/c as bringing a lot of complexity. LOUD? most are, but that is changing.

I have traveled north of the 45th parallel in the western US every year except one for the last 40+ years and have used a/c, won't do without that option. Some simply go out of their way to not need a/c. Me, I don't want to be forced to change what I want to do because I don't have a/c.

Budget you don't mention, but it appears to matter. I think of a B as a combination of features (trade-off's, advantages and disadvantages) with each of us selecting the best combination of features for our application, how we use the van. So one way think about it: I have $50k or 100 or 300, so now I'll try to get the biggest bang for the buck. Not necessarily simple, straightforward as the manufacturers package features, most include an a/c with it not being an option. But there are Many folks with good rep's that will build whatever. Even the van itself is a feature. One might ideally want the abc van, but the combination of features with the xyz van is better overall for their application.

I'm thinking about a b too. I'll start by 'I want my cake and eat it too, I want it all. Darn, an Advanced RV like that is about $3-400,000, and won't be ready until??? In my case, mostly the only reason I won't have it all is budget. What do I leave out. About the only thing I'll think twice about is a/c with lithium and how many watts.

One could do the opposite, what do I get with the next $?

Hey, this B shopping stuff can be fun, enjoy and thanks for showing up.

Bud
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Old 02-27-2020, 04:38 PM   #3
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W9TR/Tom and Kelly, If you're looking for new, have you considered PleasureWay Tofino? Inspired by Westy Pop-up. Doesn't have an awning, but you could install one. No built-in toilet or shower, but room to haul a cassette toilet and use a solar shower. Substantial solar/lithium battery/electrical system. From another former Westy owner. https://pleasureway.com/models/tofino/
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Old 02-27-2020, 10:22 PM   #4
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W9TR/Tom and Kelly, If you're looking for new, have you considered PleasureWay Tofino? Inspired by Westy Pop-up. Doesn't have an awning, but you could install one. No built-in toilet or shower, but room to haul a cassette toilet and use a solar shower. Substantial solar/lithium battery/electrical system. From another former Westy owner. https://pleasureway.com/models/tofino/
One thing to remember with the Tofino is that it is not extended height, so you will not be standing up in there, unless you are a pygmy, or the top is popped and you are directly underneath (and stare at your sleeping quarters, depending on body height). Yeah and no bathroom.
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Old 02-28-2020, 02:18 AM   #5
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My 2 cents. I have an old PleasureWay B. We leave it set up as twin beds and have quilts on as bedspreads. At bedtime we don't need to make up a bed. It's there. In the morning we don't have to tear things apart. Just make the beds up. A table for eating,if we eat inside, goes between but we often eat breakfast just using the nightstand surface between the beds to set things on. At my ancient vintage I get up at night to use the bathroom 2-3x. So having a compartment bathroom is perfect for us. I've never "showered" in the bath but I have taken Navy showers where I wash from the top of my head to my toes. I've had the RV for about 4 years. I do a Navy shower EVERY morning. Never missed one day.

Having said all that, I would suggest that you look into renting a few different Bs. See how you like the setup of different floorplans and if you're ok with a cassette toilet.

If I were to now buy a new RV, I'd look for the things that I have grown used to in our old one. Twin beds. Bath, etc. So maybe renting would give you some better idea as well.
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Old 02-28-2020, 03:40 AM   #6
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Bud - thanks for your well considered response. Very helpful. We too would like it all but are concerned about the complexity that comes with it. With batteries, inverter and generator all under the chassis I see myself lying in the mud fixing stuff on the road. Just shoot me now and get it over with.

NaZCamperVan - we are looking at the Tofino and adding a cassette toilet in an ottoman. We would also have to add a hot water heater for showers. But we like the simplicity. As Urlauber notes the Tofino has limited headroom. I’m trying to find out how much exactly. This wasn’t a big problem with our Westfalia but we need to investigate. We like the shorter length of the Tofino and especially no stuff hanging under the chassis.

GallenH - we have rented a few RV’s. It’s a great idea. We have seen a lot of innovation in the B van category so it may be hard to find contemporary floor plans for rent. But thanks - a great reminder. We use RV Share and owned a pop-up besides the Westeys we have owned so we have a decent idea of what works for us.

Great thoughts all - keep ‘em coming!

Tom
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Old 02-28-2020, 04:14 AM   #7
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I agree with you. We all have different concepts about how and why we RV. That certainly factors in. Incidentally I once parked next to a very interesting custom van/RV with 4 wheel capability and a very steath appearance. I'm guessing that it had all of the normal things that a typical RV had including hot water, etc. BUT it had an outdoor shower that used a solar bag on the roof! Obviously not for cold weather but.......maybe. This was at Organ Pipe national monument in AZ and there the restrooms also have solar heated showers. Didn't try them......it was cold and rainy but the shower area was wet. Someone did.

Good luck in your quest.
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Old 02-28-2020, 04:55 PM   #8
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Pop-Top
As an ex VW Westy owner, I like the idea of a pop-top because you can keep your bed setup all the time. Maybe I’m emotionally connected to pop-tops and have a blind spot. It seems the current class of pop-top vans is less functional that the Westy's because the beds do not fold up for more headroom when you are not sleeping up there.
As fellow former VW Westy owners I agree about the allure of pop-tops. There's nothing quite like sleeping 9 feet up in the air and looking out over the Arkansas River as the sun rises! Much like having your own mobile treehouse.

But I would second the idea of renting a unit, or two, before committing to the purchase decision. It might help clarify the fixed vs pop-top question. We've rented something similar before purchasing our last two units and it was well worthwhile to sort out our needs vs wants and get a sense of how small design details impact usability.

BTW, love your home base of Salida. Every time Ride the Rockies does a Salida stopover we think maybe we should get something there. Beautiful spot to base your trips from!
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Old 02-28-2020, 06:29 PM   #9
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I know this a forum for Class B vans, but based on your criteria have you thought about a truck camper? If you're more the "go to the hinterlands" type person you might find that a 4x4 pickup will get you to more places than most any van.

And if you like pop-ups, they have those too. Check out the Russos new rig on Youtube.
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Old 02-28-2020, 07:44 PM   #10
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Take a few trips in rented vans. Rent a pop top van and then rent a full height van with a shower. There is no better way to learn what works best for you.
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Old 02-28-2020, 11:44 PM   #11
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The 45th parallel runs right through Minneapolis, MN. That means, upper Midwest of MN, WI, and MI, North Dakota (no mountains), Montana, Northern Idaho, Washington and Canada for mountains. Those are the places we tour in the summer months. I’ve never once ran the air conditioner in those conditions and places in over 14 years. If you ever go south, hopefully in the winter, you seldom run an air conditioner. I ran once in South Padre Island, TX for 3 hours mainly to dehumidify and just recently in Palm Springs because we had a cat on board and spent the day away from our B with friends. Had we been there, we wouldn’t have. We mostly follow the proverbial 70 degrees in our trips. I’m currently in the BLM HiJolly campground 3 miles outside Quartzite, AZ. Since we are camping dispersed in the desert the sun is so low this time of year the B provides the shade. We just move our chairs around the B. Or if you want to stay on the sliding door side, just move the van.

I like nice hot and long showers when I can but a Navy shower in a wet bathroom gets you just as clean and uses little water. It also keeps your bathroom clean as an added benefit. If you don’t shower, you are going to have the task of cleaning it anyway. Small bathrooms tend to get smelly rather quickly.

I don’t like Bs where you have to make an either or decision of staying up or going to bed or transitioning spaces. So in our current van we have twin electric articulating beds for sleeping or lazy-boy lounging. Currently we use sleeping bags that have gotten us down to -15F boondocking and most recently in Joshua Tree NP down to 34F without any heat. So we deal with a rolled up sleeping bag and a pillow easily tucked away. Our next van will have made up beds with total privacy like a train Pullman. The only transition will be turning the cab seats around with plenty of space.

We are all electric with no propane. Diesel fires our heat exchanger furnace and instant hot water.
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Old 02-29-2020, 12:18 AM   #12
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i have no idea of your finances.

However air conditioning availablity is a must in my opinion. Listen to an Onan generator is a negative.

Get a b with an excellent battery system that can run your air conditioner.


My opinion is the best value for this a Travato K model.

I would not buy a B again without it.

If money is not an issue than an ARV like David has.
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Old 02-29-2020, 01:24 AM   #13
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i have no idea of your finances.

However air conditioning availablity is a must in my opinion. Listen to an Onan generator is a negative.
Agree. But in my case I would emphasize "availability." We usually plan to camp where you don't need it and, if we're traveling through a hot zone and have to stop for the night, we pull into a private RV park where you can plug in and use AC power for the AC. A few years back we drove from Phoenix to Glacier in mid August. Camped 3 nights on the way. Never used AC. Camping spots chosen for higher elevation were cool enough that we didn't need it.

But I can see how that might not appeal to others who want more flexibility.
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Old 02-29-2020, 02:21 AM   #14
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Agree. But in my case I would emphasize "availability." We usually plan to camp where you don't need it and, if we're traveling through a hot zone and have to stop for the night, we pull into a private RV park where you can plug in and use AC power for the AC. A few years back we drove from Phoenix to Glacier in mid August. Camped 3 nights on the way. Never used AC. Camping spots chosen for higher elevation were cool enough that we didn't need it.

But I can see how that might not appeal to others who want more flexibility.
if it's not a financial decision why not get the best
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Old 02-29-2020, 12:50 PM   #15
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These are all great perspectives and have been helpful. Thanks everybody!

rockymtnb - you nailed the reason why I like pop-ups! There is just something about sleeping up high in a tent-like area. I guess we are more "campers with comforts" people than true motor home people. I've done a couple of RTR's and am on the fence for this year. What a great way to see Colorado up close. We love living in Salida. It's got a lot to offer and still a bit under the radar. Stop in and say hello sometime.

LostInWoods - we have a lot of friends with truck campers and they really like them. Very versatile. We kind of have our heart set on a van style camper as we've had one before and like the concept. But you have some great points about access to country less travelled.

gerrym51 - finances are not a huge issue. I kicked my soul-sucking corporate job to the curb 4 years ago. So I guess I am 'retired' but could stretch for something that checks all the boxes. We don't live at the end of the civilized world but you can see it form our deck, so service on the chassis will be an issue. We are looking at the American made chassis primarily because we can get them serviced here in town. A Sprinter would require a 5 hour round trip to the closest service center.

David - you make a great point about the either/or sleeping arrangement. I'm an early bird, Kelly is a night owl so I need to be able to get up and make coffee without disturbing her. So the idea of separate sleeping/living areas is really important and something I have not paid enough attention to. Thank you. We used to live in the Twin Cities (Chaska) and still have a lake home near Shell Lake, WI.

All - your comments on renting are spot on and we are currently looking into what's available within a reasonable drive.

Thanks again for taking the time to share your thoughts.

Tom
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Old 02-29-2020, 03:28 PM   #16
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Our Roadtrek P190 layout would be great for two people with different sleep patterns. The rear bed is lengthwise. If you leave the center bridge off the foot end, either person can easily exit the bed without disturbing the other. The head end is connected so we still feel like we’re sharing the bed.

The center bathroom/galley, and front seating are all accessible without bothering the sleeper. It would be fairly easy to add a curtain divider to muffle sound and block light. I’m the early riser, and I usually go outside for my morning coffee and walk, but in bad weather, I could stay inside.

Quite a few vans have a similar layout, but they’re mostly the longer ones 19’ and up. The longways bed takes up quite a bit of real estate., but after sharing a 45” wide transverse bed in our Scamp trailer, it’s really nice!

We have a full wet bath with a tank underneath. I’d rather have had a simpler set-up with just a porta-potty. But for us it still has to have an enclosure with solid walls. Even if we are married a hundred years, neither of us would ever use a toilet in an open space! And I can anticipate a future in which we appreciate the full wet bath. Some campground facilities are pretty sketchy.

Pop-tops are nice in the desert because they add ventilation and openness. But for travel in cold, wet, and/or wind a hard top is nice. My take is in nice weather you will usually be outside anyway, so I want a camper that’s snug when the weather’s nasty.

One other thing is important to us. Ours has a jackknife sofa across the back that allows for two additional belted positions. It's important that any seating that will be used while driving meet DOT standards.

I don’t think there’s any perfect camper out there. Even if you build it yourself exactly the way you want, you’ll probably find your travel style and needs change somewhat over time. Get as close as you can, anticipate possible future needs, and know there will be compromises and adaptations.
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Old 02-29-2020, 03:45 PM   #17
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We have a Onan 2800 on our RT210 Versatile.
I installed two lawn mower style mufflers (tubular type) in line. One 2ft from the generator and the other 2ft from the exhaust end and it is just ad quiet as a Honda generator.
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Old 02-29-2020, 03:50 PM   #18
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Now that I think about the ideal, for some it would include more than one B - maybe for example with and without pop top. "So I guess I am 'retired' but could stretch for something that checks all the boxes." Ok, so there is a limit.

Anyone here own multiple B's? Ever?
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Old 02-29-2020, 04:50 PM   #19
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Now that I think about the ideal, for some it would include more than one B - maybe for example with and without pop top. "So I guess I am 'retired' but could stretch for something that checks all the boxes." Ok, so there is a limit.

Anyone here own multiple B's? Ever?
No, but we do own a full-featured B and a small, simple camping trailer. We have the option to travel with either or both.

For me maintaining and insuring one motorized RV is plenty. The travel trailer has far fewer systems to deal with.
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Old 02-29-2020, 05:44 PM   #20
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……………………….I guess we are more "campers with comforts" people than true motor home people. I've done a couple of RTR's and am on the fence for this year. What a great way to see Colorado up close. We love living in Salida. It's got a lot to offer and still a bit under the radar. Stop in and say hello sometime.
……………………………
Tom
“Campers with comforts” truly resonates with us. We never look at camping as an extension of home life, it was always camping. We had RVs for almost 45 years, starting with two VW Westfalias (77/85) during the first decade. Growing family forced us to larger RVs but at our retirement phase of life we questioned ourselves why we rarely went camping. This was 2013. After some deliberation we concluded to go back to the future and repeat our experience with Westfalias. Well, the search for an ΰ la Westfalia camper van failed. Our must objectives such as Westfalia layout and 360-degree windows view were not commonly shared. The closest one meeting our objectives was a Safari Condo model from Canada but purchase from Oregon was very cumbersome, so we took the DIY route.

Safari Condo has(d) a model with erectable, galley height, shower which wasn’t blocking windows and we contemplated one for our DIY but based on experience we decided against it. The functional difference between out Westfalias are: high roof, hot water and cassette toilet. We like the high roof van for ingress and egress. Today we would likely purchase one from the growing offerings with similar layout.

See our day/night layout.
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