We've seen many a camper van designed to pull double duty, commuting around town during the week and venturing out to the forest or coast on weekends. Multipurpose campers like Hymer's own V-Class concept are typically built inside stock vans, but Hymer has taken a different route with its new "Van" series, planting its own foam-insulated aluminum cabin atop a bare chassis. The new Van S is aimed at versatility with its combination of comfy living space with bathroom and compact Mercedes Sprinter-based footprint.
"Modular" has been the buzzword in camper design of late. Modular designs certainly aren't an all-new phenomenon, but they did seem particularly popular throughout 2015. Several of our favorite motorhomes and caravans of the year featured removable/rearrangeable modules, as did one of our favorite car-camping innovations. German camper manufacturer Hymer has its own ideas about modularity, and they look pretty convincing in a camper van design study developed with Mercedes-Benz.
We didn't see a camper quite as wild in 2015 as the seaplane camper we saw in 2014, but we have seen many a cool mobile living solution since we last compiled a list of our favorite RVs. New camper vans followed big events in the van market, including the launch of the Volkswagen T6 Transporter, US launch of the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 4x4, and discontinuation of full Ford E-Series vans. Beyond the Type Bs, there were also versatile expandable trailers and efficiently packaged roof- and chassis-top designs. Here are the coolest, most interesting motorhomes and camping trailers of 2015.
We've seen a number of European camper-in-a-box solutions over the years, including the Swiss Roombox, German Ququq and French Yatoo systems. The Austrian Qubiq system may be the most versatile of them all, finding a middle ground between those all-in-one integrated systems and smaller, single-purpose modules like Buddy Boxes. With Qubiq, campers can mix and match units that cook, wash, refresh and sleep.
Volkswagen introduced the sixth-generation Transporter van back in April, and camper van converters quickly got to work showing their new T6 camper van packages. We saw the new California from Volkswagen itself, and now Dutch converter Tonke, best known for its stylish wood and aluminum-skinned camper modules, has transformed the new VW into a slick, versatile explorer.
Colorado-based outdoor enthusiast Britton Purser has teamed up with his two younger brothers to create a series of lightweight teardrop caravans tough enough to take off road. The Vintage Overland teardrops weigh about 700 lb and provide the makings for a quick and easy getaway, offering shelter for two adults or, with a few additions, even a family of four.
We've just seen one Düsseldorf-debuted camper of the future work its way into the present, and now the Triaca Concept 230 presents another futuristic vision born at the Düsseldorf Caravan Salon. Designed by Italy's Roller Team, the new study is an experimentation with a smarter, more eco-friendly breed of motorhome.
The Volkswagen Transporter may have a richer, more nostalgic history, but when it comes to modern-day camper vans, the Fiat Ducato is the reigning king of base vehicles. Fiat goes so far as to call it "the only base created to be a camper." For this year's Düsseldorf Caravan Salon, Fiat Professional teamed with the 4x4 specialists at Dangel to give the Ducato a bit more capability. The Ducato 4x4 Expedition Camper Show Van opens up new possibilities, letting the Ducato driver stake his overnight claim well off the beaten, paved track.
French company Beauer wants you to get more outdoor living space without having to tow a huge, bulky trailer. Its 3X teardrop features a telescopic design that gives you three times the interior space, creating what looks like a tin can in the woods. Beauer is also working to expand its lineup to include a camper van and large trailer, each with 3x expanding slide-outs.
The North American arrival of the Mercedes Sprinter 4x4 has been making an impact on the camper van market with the likes of the Sportsmobile Sprinter 4x4 and Winnebago Era 4x4. Portland-based Outside Van has taken delivery of its first Sprinter 4x4s and has created the Lava Flow, a light camper van with loads of interior space dedicated to hauling sports gear into and out of the wild. It's a van for the full-time adventurer or weekend warrior who doesn't need all the weight and bulk of a fully equipped camper.