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Vehicle for camping and cycling

Old 05-27-16, 06:02 PM
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gattm99
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Vehicle for camping and cycling

So, long story short I'm going to be buying a vehicle in the next month probably. I'm looking to buy a used but hopefully lower mileage. We currently have a low mileage civic so we have a small car covered. Wife would like to own a small teardrop camper, because she says she'd like to camp more but has trouble with the tent, mainly getting up and down off the ground due to bad knees. Personally I find this kind of lame, but that's what she says. The camper is out of the question but I started thinking of a vehicle like the Pontiac Aztek which came with an optional camping package. Finding an Aztek is probably not likely, those I have found are in horrible shape with 175K miles.

My Dad says mini van but I don't really think I'm the minivan type. I associate minivans with hauling brats to soccer and not going on adventures, but maybe he's right.

I'm kind of thinking station wagon, but they aren't that common either and removing the back seat to make a bed may not easy or even possible.

We'd like to take a big camping vacation in July. I'll take a bike, and the rest of the caro will just be clothes and camping stuff.

The car will also need to get decent gas mileage, no big SUV. Any suggestions for the ultimate vehicle you can camp in and use as a daily driver?
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Old 05-27-16, 06:09 PM
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They make a camping package for the VW Tiguan -- tent attaches to hatch. Don't know if it's been on the market long enough to be able to find used, though. You might be able to get a good deal on a diesel 😉.
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Old 05-27-16, 06:38 PM
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Ex and I used a minivan on a four-month adventure sports tour and I can certainly recommend one if you get the right one. Take all the seats out and if you like, throw in a couple 2x4 supports and lay plywood for under-floor storage so you don't have to move so much stuff ... or just rearrange stuff when you want to sleep in the back.

Another option is a small pickup with a hard camper shell and an attachable tent. Some friends had one and it rocked. In rain and such they could throw up the tent, dump some gear in it, and sleep in the back of the truck---and when they wanted to get up, they had the tent right there so they could change clothes standing up instead fo trying to maneuver around each other in the back of a pick-up.

Get a crew-cab pick-up and you can store more gear in the truck---less to move to set up the tent. Also you can set up your chairs in the tent for a bug-free sitting room for the evening.

Of course, you have to search for tents which attach to specific trucks ... but the Internet is generally not far away.
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Old 05-27-16, 06:40 PM
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Not a direct recommendation, but check out SUV/car tents. These could open up more possibilities for you.

They're basically tents that go over the back of your vehicle so that you have both a tent and the vehicle's interior space available. You'd be able to use the back of your vehicle for sleeping and have a tent for your other stuff. Just using the vehicle interior seems a bit claustrophobic to me.
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Old 05-27-16, 06:46 PM
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thanks, wife also thought truck with camper shell would be nice. Saw those SUV tents and thought that was kind of cool too. Personally I'm a minimalist, small tent is all I need. Wife likes to borrow her parents huge room size tent you can walk around it.

Maelochs, which van is the right van?
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Old 05-27-16, 06:55 PM
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A van is hard to beat for camping, pull in and no set up, sit up in bed, bikes travel inside. I've considered a Ford Transit Connect for a smaller more affordable one. Some look like delivery trucks, some are quite nice.
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Old 05-27-16, 07:03 PM
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VW Westfalia. I have a '77, it's awesome. Plenty of room. Stove, heater, electricity from auxiliary battery. Makes camping fun.

Downside, 40 years old, plenty of maintainence. An old VW mechanic will be your best friend.

$10,000 will get you a nice bus.

Newer models Vanagon, Eurovan, will get you more creature comforts but repairs can get pricey. Buy from an enthusiast that has done the dirty work and you'll have a great Bus.
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Old 05-27-16, 07:12 PM
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Originally Posted by big chainring View Post
VW Westfalia. I have a '77, it's awesome. Plenty of room. Stove, heater, electricity from auxiliary battery. Makes camping fun.

Downside, 40 years old, plenty of maintainence. An old VW mechanic will be your best friend.

$10,000 will get you a nice bus.

Newer models Vanagon, Eurovan, will get you more creature comforts but repairs can get pricey. Buy from an enthusiast that has done the dirty work and you'll have a great Bus.
One of my friends went this route a few years ago with a 81 model. I admit it's really nice inside and ideal for camping, shame that it breaks down every time he tries to use it. 3 trips, three times towed. I went to a fat tire fest once and some guys pulled one on a trailer, they said only reliable way to use it.
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Old 05-27-16, 07:12 PM
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Big, juicy van
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Old 05-27-16, 07:14 PM
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Originally Posted by sail View Post
A van is hard to beat for camping, pull in and no set up, sit up in bed, bikes travel inside. I've considered a Ford Transit Connect for a smaller more affordable one. Some look like delivery trucks, some are quite nice.
My other friend went this route and is planning on being a van dweller most of summer. He really likes it.
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Old 05-27-16, 07:35 PM
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I confess we just got back from a 2 month trip in our 99 VW Eurovan Camper. I love it, cruise at 75 all day long with FWD and air, all the stuff in back, pop-up. But it's getting old, I do all the work on it, clumsy around town, just not practical for most.
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Old 05-27-16, 07:58 PM
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Works for us ...




Rowan has built a platform in the back so that we can tuck luggage underneath and sleep on top, and we have done exactly that a few times.
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Old 05-27-16, 08:06 PM
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'67 VW camper.

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Old 05-27-16, 08:09 PM
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Originally Posted by GeoKrpan View Post
'67 VW camper.
Nice.
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Old 05-27-16, 08:11 PM
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Originally Posted by gattm99 View Post
Originally Posted by big chainring View Post
VW Westfalia. I have a '77, it's awesome. Plenty of room. Stove, heater, electricity from auxiliary battery. Makes camping fun.

Downside, 40 years old, plenty of maintainence. An old VW mechanic will be your best friend.

$10,000 will get you a nice bus.

Newer models Vanagon, Eurovan, will get you more creature comforts but repairs can get pricey. Buy from an enthusiast that has done the dirty work and you'll have a great Bus.
One of my friends went this route a few years ago with a 81 model. I admit it's really nice inside and ideal for camping, shame that it breaks down every time he tries to use it. 3 trips, three times towed. I went to a fat tire fest once and some guys pulled one on a trailer, they said only reliable way to use it.
You gotta have the right mindset. Give the Bus a massage now and then. Never talk badly about it in the presence of the bus, it has feelings too. It will get you through a lot of hard times. Positive vibes man.
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Old 05-27-16, 08:28 PM
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We had an older Dodge minivan. We liked it because it was lower and narrower than most minivans, got decent mileage, and all the seats came out. Easy to drive, easy to park, easy to load and unload, and plenty of room to sleep---and when the weather sucks you don't have to go outside at all.

Among new vans ... no clue. What I would look for is something which doesn't drive like a truck or a luxury sedan. You want a lot of openable windows, low liftover, and max usable inside room ... if it is all armrests and cupholders and such, that's just wasted space.

But since you have a wife who likes pickups or SUVs... crew-cab pickup or SUV with an attached tent would be better. more room to relax, and if you stay at one spot for a couple days, you can unpack and sprawl out a little and still be sheltered. Comfort goes Way up. That way you won't feel guilty if you want to go for a ride and leave the wife at camp ... she won't be cooped up in a tiny metal box.
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Old 05-27-16, 08:46 PM
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I love my Honda Element enough that I convinced a fellow cyclist friend to get one as well, and he loves it also. People puts bikes inside them (and not just the pedal powered kind), camp in them, and it is a great vehicle for dogs too.
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Old 05-27-16, 09:13 PM
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Originally Posted by gattm99
trouble with the tent, mainly getting up and down off the ground due to bad knees
Has she ever tried a camp cot?
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Old 05-27-16, 09:24 PM
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Maybe a Subaru Outback? Not sure it will work for two but my photog buddy has been camping in his for years. He just bought a new one.

All that is too small for me, so I have my eye on a Toyota Tundra with a bed and topper that I can use to sleep in. If I get really adventurous, I'll put a light slide-in bed camper on it.
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Old 05-28-16, 05:48 AM
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OP..An age-old question..a vehicle with lots of room/comfortable, has good options for bike/kayak racks, looks cool, fun to drive, and gets good-great mileage for daily driving. I've been at this for 40+ years. The perfect vehicle doesn't exist. You can get something that is very functional for what you want to do, but it may not look cool..as if that matters. It may not get great mileage either. Or..get something that's cool & fun to drive with great mileage..but it won't be overly functional. Make a list of what you need the vehicle to do and bounce potential vehicles off that list. If every "need it to do" is a must have..you won't find a vehicle.

Target what's most important and everything else will have to be a compromise..that's how it works. My latest attempt at the perfect vehicle landed me on a Toyota 4-Runner...but I ended up getting a Toyota Sequoia with a 5.7L with a front hitch bike rack while I tow, if needed.

Teardrop campers are cool, but they're very pricey for what you get. $5K-$7K (for a teardrop) can take you a long way in other small (used) camper options..like a small popup. You'll also find having a small (for example) popup makes pre-trip packing very easy..just pack your clothes and a little food and you're off...shelter..and assorted equipment is already packed and ready to go.

Lastly...if you blow off you're wife's desires-needs as frivolous..you'll find that soon you'll be doing the trips alone, not at all..or as a single guy.


(no doubt you're thinking..yeah..but I can come up with a new & unique solution to all of this..good luck with that..you're not the first person to try..)
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Old 05-28-16, 05:52 AM
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Originally Posted by GeoKrpan View Post
'67 VW camper.

Very cool. The only downside..price one out..it's eye-popping.
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Old 05-28-16, 08:58 AM
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Originally Posted by fishboat View Post
Very cool. The only downside..price one out..it's eye-popping.
Yes, I know. It's a crime that there's no affordable campers. The price of these old VWs proves there is a demand. I had a '66 VW Sundial camper. Bought it in '75, sold it in '81. Then I had a '74. Liked the '66 a whole lot more.
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Old 05-28-16, 09:00 AM
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For an all around vehicle that can do pretty much everything a 4 door crewcab pickup is hard to beat.
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Old 05-28-16, 09:01 AM
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Sprinter Van with a Motorhome conversion..

Mercedes Diesel drivetrain..
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Old 05-28-16, 09:34 AM
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Originally Posted by rydabent View Post
For an all around vehicle that can do pretty much everything a 4 door crewcab pickup is hard to beat.
Downside to a truck is that you'll be having people wanting to borrow it. We have had our new F-150 SuperCrew (XL trim, 2.7 EcoBoost, RWD) for less than two weeks and we've already had to help our eldest daughter move things to a mini-storage- and that put 226 miles on the odometer. She's already wanting to know if we'll go back later this year to help her move.

Back on topic- OP, you stated initially that you may end up towing a trailer. If this is still an option, then you'll be better off figuring out what kind of trailer and how much it weighs- not just empty, but loaded- then select a tow vehicle that can handle that by a good margin.
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