In recent years, we've seen many modular camper conversions and camper-in-a-box kits. The hardware can transform an average, everyday vehicle into an overnight recreational vehicle, then be removed when the road trip is over, leaving the base vehicle ready to drop the kids off at school and make the commute to work. Designed by German architect, carpenter and all-around garage tinkerer Gerhard Euchenhofer, the BuddyBox represents an even smaller, more flexible modular conversion option. Not only can BuddyBoxes convert your van into a full camper, they can make it a tailgating party wagon, a picnic in the park, a sports support vehicle and more. When the trip's over, remove the BuddyBoxes and you have your standard-spec van back.
Recreational vehicle camping is a timeless family vacation tradition that provides a fun, memorable and affordable form of travel. While families with children make up a key demographic of the RV industry, that industry focuses its design and features overwhelmingly on adults. Features like illuminated wine cabinets and slide-out espresso machines do little to make the trip better for junior (though we guess they do keep mom and dad jovial). Sure the adults are the ones buying the RV, but as any parent knows, keeping the little ones happy during the trip is priority number one. The CaraKids motorhome and caravan design studies from Weinsberg were constructed from start to finish with children in mind, and they feature a number of smart details that promise to make RV camping more fun and convenient for the smallest campers and, thereby, the adults, too.
The Sprinter isn't necessarily the Mercedes-Benz platform that immediately comes to mind when we think rugged, AWD expedition vehicle. In fact, Mercedes has said that the Sprinter is the number one base vehicle for luxury camper vans, not exactly a description that makes one think of muddy tracks and rocky hill climbs. That said, German camper manufacturer Bimobil has managed to create a convincingly tough expedition vehicle by planting its own living module on top of an AWD Sprinter chassis. This is one Sprinter that can travel and camp virtually anywhere in the world.
After announcing that the new Vito van
would come in front-, rear- and all-wheel-drive configurations a few months ago, Mercedes is using a cold spell in Europe to get the Vito 4x4, the last of the new Vito models, rolling to market. The German automaker imagines the extra grip of the van's 4x4 system being useful to professionals visiting cold, icy worksites and otherwise commuting in slick conditions. The van should also prove popular with Mercedes camper van conversion specialists looking to create all-terrain campers.
Last week's CMT show in Stuttgart, Germany put the spotlight on a highly versatile Volkswagen camper van. The Bett Mobil carries a sliding pod (reminiscent of the DoubleBack van
) inside a versatile camper-in-a-box package. The Bett Mobil's "second story" slide-out bedroom leaves cargo room below and is the key component of a fully modular camper package that turns the Volkswagen Multivan into a full-fledged camper, then removes completely to give the owner a standard van back.
Another year, another few dozen ways to escape urban life and set up camp in the wild ... 2014 has been an interesting year for campers. From the heavy-duty off-road machines of Overland Expo
to ultralight bicycle campers, and from familiar campground designs to new concepts of sea and air camping, the year has seen a large variety of innovative designs from around the world. Here are our picks for the best tents, camper vans, trailers and mobile homes of 2014.
If the Earthroamer XV-LTS
and Mercedes Zetros
don't quite reach the level of luxury-meets-off-road-fortitude you're looking for, may we suggest the Action Mobil Global XRS 7200. This large expedition vehicle combines six driven wheels of off-road fury with a luxuriously appointed living pod that has the look of a chic city apartment. It brings comfort and style to the farthest stretches of desert, highest reaches of mountains and deepest sections of jungle. And it costs several times the average stationary home.
Back in July, Mercedes-Benz announced it would be introducing the new Marco Polo camper
at this year's Düsseldorf Caravan Salon. Now that the show is underway in Germany's Rhine-Ruhr region, Mercedes has revealed both the Marco Polo and the Marco Polo Activity. The Activity brings a light, athletic footprint to overnight road tripping.
The search for the perfect mobile, off-grid living solution continues. Over the past year, we've already seen many such designs, from within the crisp halls of the Düsseldorf Caravan Salon
, to their natural habitat at Overland Expo
, to the occasional EcoTrek
or Fieldsleeper International
debut. Another fairly new design, the ADAK Trailer is what happens when a group of lifelong sportsmen huddled around the campfire get to talking about what's wrong with camper design. It combines ride-anywhere grit and comfy, spacious living.
Sounding a bit like an Eagles song gone awry, Hotel VW California is actually a marketing stunt by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles and LateRooms.com that offers guests one night in a VW California SE camper van in a select UK location.