Class B Vans For a Compact Motorhome Life. I’m going to be talking about and giving my impressions of what’s taking place from the Class B Motorhome van market and also what’s taking also place in the van culture. By the way I hold a Class B van for many many years when I lived in San Francisco I would take it to places that included Lake Tahoe the Eastern Sierra all over Arizona New Mexico Texas and of course, Colorado. Very nice. I love Colorado so I have experience driving and camping in various locations including boondocking in a Class B or Motor home.
Let me talk about the benefits of owning a Class B van or Motorhome. Number one on my list and in many persons is the fact that they’re very small and compact and because they’re small and compact they’re also very maneuverable. You can ride them down the highway dirt road, in suburbia and urban environments and you don’t have any issues. It’s just like driving a truck or an SUV, maybe a little bit larger so because they’re so small you know you could also park them anywhere you want pretty much. If you’re going to go to the restaurant or go shopping you can park it in that regular space. You can’t do that with a Class A or Class C and you know definitely not with a fifth wheel. It’s very difficult to take those into any sort of environment that’s outside of the main highway. A or RV Resort Class B vans also serve double duty as people haulers. They have like a three for five extra seat belts on them, the driver the passenger, maybe four more seats at the back on some of these vans that you know have actual seat belts and even for even for child safety belts and you can take the family you know on excursions, be they shopping, take it to school, take them to a band camp, take them to a math camp wherever you want and it’s very convenient because you have a refrigerator there if they want a beverage and you can also think I’ll take a nap. you know if it’s if they need a nap and park in the side road of course you can also go in the bathroom and these year they wash your hands of course. They also serve as vehicles where you can go camping. Yes you can go camping in these and I’ve done it many many times you know and and it fits almost anywhere you want to go.
There’s no excuse for those RV parks or our national parks or you know for boondocking that you can’t find a space and often you don’t not even go to the ones with other motorhomes. You can actually park where they do some camping and save some money and I’ve done that many many times gone camping in this and felt very comfortable,very warm, very cozy. My wife and I have enjoyed it tremendously and so you can definitely go camping in a Class B. The main consideration for a lot of individuals is you can’t take a lot of people with you. You can’t take more at two or three or maybe sometimes four people with you because there’s not that much space. You know you’re limited in space. The big downfall of class B’s is that you don’t have much space but it’s but you know you make that sacrifice because you can go more places and enjoy and do more things. Class B’s also are toy haulers. There are many examples of Class B vehicles out there that you know have an open area; as you open the back hatch and there’s an open area right down the middle where you can put a kayak, a bicycle you know any other kind of a skiing equipment or snowboards. That’s no problem. Some of the newer ones actually have a large cavernous area and you can put something even larger in there.
If you want it’s also can be considered a limousine first. I know some manufacturers are touting their Class B as essentially limousines. They’re marketing them to the more affluent communities of America, the country club set and they advertise them and market them at expensive car shows and car auctions and where they’re selling million-dollar vehicles. So they’re selling these $200,000, $150,000 luxurious class B’s so they’re they can be used as limousines. They even actually have two front chairs and they have two other chairs and they have the silk at the back so you can a lot of people. You drive down the road very comfortably they’re actually marketed I’m again Airstream is specifically is marketing them for people that will have second homes. You can go from your first home to your second home, have a beverage on the way ,take a nap if you need to and watch a little TV for the family in the back. You could you know. It’s a very pleasant way to go and the seats are quite plush and because the one of the things I’ve noticed in a lot of these more luxurious brands is that they have white seats something that’s an essentially anathema to campers. You know you can’t get those things dirty but you know if you’re going out a camping you’re gonna get dirt on you, you’re gonna get stuff on you and to sit on a white leatherette. See it is like it’s not gonna work so these are definitely for people that are dressed up and nice and clean and rarely go outside.
The negatives of a Class B are readily apparent to some. Class B units are quite cozy and in fact a little bit too cozy for some. I’ve gone off into a RV show when they here in Fort Worth in Austin or in the San Francisco Bay Area or LA and heard the complaint from family saying my god how am I gonna fit my four kids in here? Oh my god they don’t have a big-screen TV. Look at that bed it’s barely enough for you and I. You know, stuff like that and they don’t like walking down the narrow halls and there’s your kitchen, there’s your bathroom, and there’s your bed and it’s not very much space and of course typical of most class B’s there is very small amount of space for storage. Outside storage is non-existent in most of these class B’s. They also have very limited tank capacity so if you’re into boondocking. if you want to go out the middle of Arizona or Texas or Florida and do some boondocking you know it’s very difficult because you have very small tanks in the class. Fifth wheel and Class A is better designed for boondocking. You can add a lot of solar around those units and they have big tanks, big waste tanks so you can stay out there for a whole week, maybe 14 days and not have to go out and go into town or to the service station to dump your tanks and you can blow that gigantic refrigerator with all kinds of food that last you and your partner for quite a while and you can also take the kids along if you really wanted to because there’s usually more room in a Class A and Class C and a fifth wheel.
Yes class B’s has a very limited storage again. Like I said earlier you don’t have much space in these units. If you want to go somewhere and take a lot of stuff class B’s are not perfect for that. You needed buy a fifth wheeler Class A or Class C that usually have underneath storage mouths that you can access. You could put all your favorite stuff that you desperately need in those units that the Class B community essentially says they say that themselves we rationalize the existence of class B means that you become a minimalist you don’t necessarily take all the stuff that you think you need. You find out what you really need. You just need some food, some dishes, some water some outfits. Not every outfit.You’re not gonna go to the cocktail log every night and just you know you plan your vacations you go hey I’m gonna go camping out there and I’m gonna do a certain amount of hiking and I’m gonna take a shower every two three days, the meantime taking a sponge bath and using towelettes. Stuff like that I’m not going to take 15 minutes for a shower because I’m not at the resort or with hookups. you can as many class B’s go to a resort or campground with full hookups but you know it’s it’s it’s not ideal for that, it’s not made for that, what’s made for that are these A’s and these fifth wheels. If you go to these resorts it’s like home on wheels.
Class B’s. I’m gonna be very serious with you they’re designed for people on the go, they want to go places and have a lot of fun and they go a lot of places. They don’t go just to a few places. A Class A or a fifth wheel you’re driving down I find the 101 I ten i-35 and just going down those highways you’re not going down through from you know Prescott Arizona down to Asher Rome Arizona going like this and I’ve done that and at night it’s quite difficult. Again you’re playing your little trip, you’re just driving for hours go to that resort for our school of that resort maybe stay at that resort for two three months or old month and maybe do some boondoggle for another few weeks and then go to a resort for a few days just to re-energize and then you go back to boondocking so there are a lot of options out there for people who want to stay a long time at a location. Class B’s are okay but again you sacrifice a lot but what you gain is a lot of independence. Class B vans are not known for their luxurious kitchens and bathrooms. They’re usually very small, they usually contain just a two propane stove top, maybe a convection microwave. Just a microwave and if you’re lucky maybe your stove but that’s about it for the cooking equipment and the showers are usually wet baths and sometimes you have to tilt your head and some of these older units just to fit in there it’s not expansive.
Everything is very compact in a Class B. Let me tell you of some of the luxury brands out there selling for a hundred and fifty to two hundred thousand and they’re quite nice. Again how do you define a luxury brand. They’re the ones with the shiny wood, highly glazed wood and also the white typically they have white leatherette furniture. They’re very plush, sometimes even have a couple extra pieces that say the first two seats the driver in the passenger they also have another pair of seats and the sofa in the back those are typically touring bands they take it from point A to point B and they just happen to have the ability to camp but they’re primarily just glorified limousines. Here are some of the brands. Airstream, lounge and grand tour quite nice and then the Coachman Galleria, beautiful interiors. I love the woodwork in those units and of course a Winnebago, their era series. They have I think four or five different errands out there currently pleasure-way Plateau one of my favorite brands beautifully made and quite a few other brands so if you’re interested in traveling in style not necessarily camping but just traveling in style these are the brands for you.
Let me talk about adventure coaches. These are designed for people on the go. They’re going to include a lot more storage for bicycles ,scuba gear, whatever you want and they’re designed to take stuff and your living accommodations are minimal at best something they have sometimes a bad that comes down it’s not very thick and that’s about it. It’s a pretty Spartan existence but it’s nice if you’re a young person especially. It’s very pleasant because you’re going places, you’re still healthy, you’re still viable, you’re going out there and having a great time with your partner. It’s a lot of fun so these are the brands out there in the currently the market they range from 65,000 to 150,000 Winnebago or Revel which is four-wheel drive and also has a cavernous back area to put stuff and the Paseo also the coachman CrossFit and of course heimeractive which is dominates the European market. There’s all kinds of them out there and if you have a chance check them out. I really am motivated by these. If I had the cash I’ll consider something in this genre. I especially like the Paseo. It’s a beautiful unit.
What types of buyers are there for Class B units. There’s the affluent upscale client which Airstream is really under seriously marketing their products for these are individuals that are going to use them just a little bit just to go from point A to point B, maybe crash at a rest stop once in a great while or take it to the hotels and they’re gonna have plenty of room for all their luggage in and they can It’s going in style. It’s essentially your own personal limousine and you could take two three four extra people with you. Again they have the two seats in the front and two extra seats in a bench in the back so there’s plenty of room for six people so if you got a family of two adults and then four children it’s perfect. Go from your house and Denver Colorado and just drive up the road and you’re going to Jackson Hole Wyoming for the summer to do some fishing and hanging out in front of the fireplace. It’s a great way to go if you have the money and can afford 150 to 200 thousand dollars. Again you’re not going to go out hiking and scuba diving and skiing in these units because once you come inside are you gonna sit on that white leather furniture? Probably not.
It’s not built for that, it’s not very durable, it’s not going to work. I’m serious. it’s not going to. It doesn’t look right to get all spongy and dirty and muddy white leather furniture. That’s my opinion. The middle class family buyer looks for something that’s preserved double duty because they’re going to be on a budget so they’re going to buy something that’s sixty to a hundred thousand bucks and they’re going to use it to go camping, take the kids camping. If they only have a couple of kids that’s perfectly fine, if more than that it’s going to be difficult. they’re going to have to stay in the tent outside. So you can take the kids camping and have a great time for three or four days. Because you have such small tanks you’re gonna have to only go out for a few days unless you go to a place with hookups. If you gotta go with hookups you can stay as long as you want and the kids can enjoy themselves and you can enjoy yourself. They also are good for taking the kids to school. You can take the kids to school in this bus. There’s plenty of room back there, some of them have four seats that you can strap them in and be safe and it’s great little people hauler. You could take them to like I said earlier a math camp, to band camp, you can take them to a football game, the hockey match, whatever sports or events you’re into.
Concerts, family events you can take the whole bunch and that six-hour trip is not as bad because they can always stop off the road and they can go to the restroom, they can have a soda or beverage or a nice cool sandwich and just hang out for a little bit and then continue down the road and feel comfortable. They can also look at a TV, play video games. They have plenty of plug-ins for USB stuff so kids and adults can enjoy themselves on the trip. The adventure sports buyers are usually younger and I consider myself an adventure sports even though I’m 66 years old, but they’re typically marketing these to 20-somethings and 30-somethings and they’re going out there. You see them looking cool and they’re riding their bicycles out in the country and skiing and snowboarding and having a great time. So you can haul all your stuff and once you get inside you don’t mind that the furniture is going to look a little grubby. It’s just simple cloth furniture that you can wipe off. You get a little mussed up and you only may take a shower every one or two or three days but you can always jump in the river! So these are great great vehicles for the adventure sports buyers and of course you can you have options. You get a small unit, you get a a four-wheel drive unit, you can get a unit with a cavernous back, you can have ski racks, kayak racks, bicycle racks. You can get the whatever you want. You can customize it your way. These are the again for the active community. The active communities are not the people they’re gonna take their fifth wheel and watch the cable television in it all day.
Finally we have van dwellers. These are individuals who live in their van year-round. Yes they live in their van year-round. Some of them are adventure-seeking young kids and adults and they’re traveling around the world and having a great time. Not necessarily the world but across the United States, maybe even Latin America in Mexico in their van and they’re young. They can do this, they have no major responsibilities yet and maybe even they’re doing some online work so they’re going around and having a great time swimming, snorkeling, hiking, fishing. What a great way to live for a couple of years. Some of them just start doing it for a couple years and after that it’s time to have the family, have some kids and live in the suburbs and work from 9:00 to 5:00. That’s not a lot of fun but at meantime they’re having a great time. Also van dwellers include people that are forced because of their economic situation to live in a van. They only make six hundred, nine hundred bucks a month and they cannot afford that house to rent. A house or an apartment or even a studio apartment in Silicon Valley they go for two three thousand bucks or in Dallas they go for eight, nine hundred a thousand bucks so they’re pretty expensive so. They’ve been given the boot by our society unfortunately. They’ve been marginalized and they have to survive on the fringes so they live in their little van. They sometimes buy a used van, a five, ten year old van and they modify. It they put a bed in it, they put a small DC refrigerator which you can store a little bit of food, they have a little cook top. Most of these folks that I’ve seen have a little coleman cooktop, propane stove and that’s their life.
They’re on the road they’re surviving on the fringes and they park in the suburbs, they they don’t want to be known they don’t want to be obvious they’re doing it surreptitiously and also they park in the boondock here and there in areas where they know that they they can have a little camaraderie and be left free and survive on that very small check. Sometimes they even drive to Mexico to get medical attention to save a couple bucks because they don’t have a lot of money. So these are van dwellers on the fringe and one of the main proponents of that community the van dwellers is a Bob Wells of RTR fame the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous. He has that every winter in January and in Quartz site Arizona where thousands of van dwellers gather. Affluent to struggling individuals and Bob Wells is essentially their evangelist, he’s their leader in promoting this lifestyle of trying to survive in current day America.